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Business  21, Jan 2014

Indians love to hoard; Can online classifieds change their psyche?

Goods worth S$4454M that are no longer wanted by owners are lying in urban Indian houses, as per an OLX, IMRB survey. But are Indians willing to sell?

Dedicated closets and sometimes entire rooms to serve as shelter to an array of objects that are not in use anymore is a significant element of Indian homes. Most times, these objects are retained due to emotional attachment and other times, due to the feeling that you might need it again. In fact, there are times when people are not even aware that they are hoarding certain items for no reason.

“Until a few years ago, people were reluctant to sell and buy used goods as they didn’t know what their goods were worth,” said Amarjit Batra, CEO, OLX, a leading Indian online classifieds website. “In just urban India, there is an estimated INR 22,000 crore (S$4554M) of what we call ‘Brown Money’.” Brown Money is a term coined by OLX to describe money that has emerged from the dust gathered on goods not wanted or required by their owners any more.

According to a recent report by the classifieds website, the amount of the hoarded items in India (read S$4554 M) almost equals to the amount that is likely to flow into the Indian social sector from the CSR activities from entire Corporate India in 2014-15.

From stocking to de-cluttering, Indian online classified segment has had a lot to deal with. However, in spite of cross platform campaigns and constant communication, has the online classified sector managed to change the Indian psyche?

From clutter to de-clutter!
According to the survey conducted by OLX and IMRB International, a multi-country research, survey and consultancy firm, 24 per cent respondents stock used goods because they feel they will use it later; 20 per cent respondents feel that they cease to find value in using a product, thus implying a change of taste; 17 per cent respondents claim to have emotional attachment to products which makes them hang on to it.

Read Also: Indian C2C site OLX claims 6M downloads for its mobile app

However, the arrival of online classified websites such as OLX, Quikr and Click has helped Indian consumers understand the value of the goods they stock up.

“Presently the online classifieds industry in India is estimated to be at INR 1500-1800 crore (S$310-372M),” expressed Batra. “The industry has seen a lot of vertical growth with numerous segments such as matrimonial, jobs, etc. over the years,” he added.

Sell and upgrade
The survey indicates that 70 per cent of respondents now sell used goods to earn quick cash and use it to upgrade to a better product. Space constraint, non-functionality of product (to the user), and maintenance cost leads to about 60 per cent, 59 per cent and 51 per cent of the respondents selling used goods, respectively.

“People want to de-clutter their homes, and sell the things they no longer have use for. This somewhere indicates a larger change taking place in the country,” added Batra.

The study further highlights that women usually clear goods that they do not need after cleaning the house and during shifting of homes. Also, 91 per cent of the respondents do not wait for any particular occasion while disposing off used goods, whereas four per cent wait for special occasions and festivals such as Diwali.

The potential of re-commerce
While online classifieds have managed to get people to enter the re-commerce space, it has also influenced the Indian buyers’ mentality, getting them to cross the ‘second hand’ goods barrier. The survey exhibits that 87 per cent of respondents are of the view that used good marketplaces offer items that are less expensive and 83 per cent respondents believe that buying them gave them a good brand at a much cheaper price.

Read Also: The Indian e-commerce saga: A look at the year that was

The year 2013 was abuzz with advertisements from online classified websites. While OLX came up with its ‘OLX pe bech de’ (sell it on OLX) campaign, Quikr introduced ‘Give missed call to Quikr’ campaign. With the concept of buying and selling of used items reaching to consumers from various platforms, Indian online classifieds websites have managed to scrape through the tradition of hoarding.

Featured Image Courtesy: Feng Yu / Shutterstock

Saloni Surti

Saloni Surti

A writer by heart, Saloni loves pouring words about anything and everything under this sky. Short stories and philosophy writing come to her naturally.

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