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Psychographics of Young Pakistani Couples Aged 25-35 This study of consumer behavior is based on friends, family-(cousins and all), neighbors, friends of friends, as well as just sitting in a public place and observing strangers interact with each other. So its probably biased as hell. Still, the insights it provide wont be that far off from the ground realities.

Let us not even call it a study. That tends to lend an air of scientific method to it, which it isnt. In a nutshell, its an observation of the emerging trends of the young Pakistani married couple belonging to middle and upper middle class over a period of four years. And it goes without saying that both of them are educated, in fact both have one of those professional degrees that are socially acceptable in our society, viz. engineering, medicine and business.

  • As opposed to the last millennium, this millennium has seen an upsurge in the males irrespective of their class and social status getting married before they turn 30, the most common nuptial age being 25 and 26. One of the underlying reasons they go for the early marriage is because of their long-term family plans, like at what age theyre going to have an offspring and then how old is he or she going to be when the man retires, this line of thinking figures prominently in the decision to marry in the 20s.

  • On the other hand, their female counterparts are marrying late compared to their kind of a decade ago. This also translates into less age difference between the male and females, hardly 3 or 4 years compared to 5, 10 or even 15 years in the past.

  • In the past the age difference of 3 or 4 years was only possible when there was a love marriage. Today this age difference holds true irrespective of whether its love or arranged.

  • The larkay waley of today place more emphasis on the girls education than her looks and complexion, two factors which used to be the most dominant factors in the past. It still holds some weightage though in the lower-middle class.

  • The larki waley on the other hand focus on how much the lad is earning, whether he (i.e. his family) has his own cribb or are they living in a rented house. And of course, he should be at least as educated as she is but preferably more.

  • Inter-sectarian marriages especially between Shia and Sunni are becoming quite common. The love blossoms as in the old days at the university, but while in the past the couple had to run away to get married and then let some time elapse before the two families reluctantly accepted the nuptial agreement, these days families are more tolerant.

  • In the post-engagement but pre-wedding phase, the fiance is brought along in almost every university event to be introduced to the classmates. This is true of both the sexes. What is the underlying reason is not known. Whether its I am-betrothed-and-youre-not complex, or something entirely different.

  • The male makes a conscientious effort to groom himself just before the wedding getting his teeth scaled (spoilt by years of cola drinking), having a few facial sessions- spending anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 on his beauty treatment.

  • The prospective groom doesnt shave every day but every other day. One-day stubble is increasingly becoming acceptable at the workplace. In fact in some cases, he keeps the shave growing for as long as a week before wiping it off, that is, if hes one vacation, or runs his own business.

  • With respect to shave, theres another trend prevalent. Keep a week-long stubble for your mehndi occasion and then wipe it off on the wedding day. The logic is that if you shave on all the three occasions (mehndi, shadi and valima) you wont appear fresh enough on the two main ones. Whatever the logic, every single male follows this advice religiously.

  • Maybe theres a case of branding possible here. For instance a cream that catalyzes the growth of beard in super quick time without having to wait for a week to grow the same length and having to explain this unkempt appearance to your boss. Grow a great stubble in just two days! That could be the tagline.

  • Dowry is another thing which has seeped imperceptibly into the minds of this segment. Although some of the males acknowledge the fact that its not acceptable, they keep silent on it, and accept whatever the bride brings along with her, even if its household appliances they already own. They justify their silence with the claim that larki waley have a reputation to protect as well. If they dont give any dowry, the khandan waley would bad-mouth them in front of everyone.

  • The Haq Mehar is usually set anywhere between Rs.1 lac and Rs. 1.5 lac. For some inexplicable reason, it doesnt go below 1 and above 1.5.

  • There are two types of Haq Mehar Muajjal and Muwajjal. Muajjal is the strict type where you have to give the complete Mehar before the consummation of marriage and is thus very rare. Muwajjal is the lenient type where it is not necessary to pay the Mehar before the consummation. It is thus the most commonly applied one by the larkaay waley, because they dont have to pay the six figure amount they have set as Mehar right away. In fact in many cases just a nominal amount is paid by the groom and the rest doesnt figure until theres a divorce. The husbands line of thinking is that since hes already paying for all her expenses, what does she need the Mehar for?

  • The man goes on a shopping spree just like the larki-walas before the big event. His shopping list includes amongst the usual sherwani,suit and khossa; an entire collection of lingerie items. Maybe the old ones are too worn out (maybe even to the point of being disgusting) and can freak out the new wife.

  • This insight has already been used fantastically by the Indian advertisers. Remember the Indian ad about Hanes underwear where the man is shown cutting off an itchy tag off his underwear on his wedding night in front of his wife, and the wife is horrified that he is cutting his.. Well, you get the idea.

  • The favorite destination for the honeymoon is Malaysia and not Dubai. However, if there are budgetary constraints, the second preference is Murree and its surrounding resorts like Ayubia, Nathiagali and Bhurban. Dubai just doesnt figure in the newlyweds list of honeymoon priorities.

  • He still watches porno, unbeknownst to her while she has gone to her Maeka. Its an addiction that he has carried from his younger days. Whether its just the momentum from his youth or is there an underlying reason for this (maybe to bring more creativity into his sex life), that has to be probed deeper.

  • Theres a correlation between the career of the wife and her inclination to indulge herself in a job. The MBA wife is more likely to continue her pre-marital job whereas the engineer or doctor wife is more likely to sit at home and be the typical housewife. However, exceptions abound. The freelancer wife is very rare, at least in these traditional professions. The fashion designer wife is the most likely to continue her day-job.

  • The wife has a strong affinity for lawn exhibitions, which she visits religiously while the husband not so keen on these events has to tag along. In fact, its not only a window shopping expedition but an actual shopping spree. Whether this is spurred by the hordes of women indulging in buying at the exhibition (herd mentality) or the ambience of the location (in most of the cases the exhibitions are held at an upscale hotel mostly Marriott) is not known. It is worth mentioning that theres no discount or introductory price at the exhibition to induce the frantic buying that is witnessed at these lawn exhibitions, so there probably is a definite correlation between the location and the behavior.

  • Another very distinct pattern is the offspring phenomenon. The working wife and husband may delay the arrival of the stock, but for the rest of the bunch (working husband and dedicated housewife), its a race against time to conceive a child in record time before the maamies and chachies raise cries of impotency. Or at least thats what seems to be the line of thinking.

  • However, the dominant partner in this critical decision is the wife. While the rookie husband may be in favor of having some fun time before the added responsibility of an additional family member, its the female who wants to get started right away, probably because the brunt of the criticism if the couple doesnt concieve soon enough is borne by the female in the Pakistani society. This in turn is driven by the widely accepted false notion that impotency is a female syndrome. So her fear of this is so great that at least on this occasion she becomes the dominant partner so much so that while the male has arranged all the contraceptives in accordance with his wait decision, he gets dissuaded not to use them at the last minute by her.

  • But what after the first child? This is where it gets interesting. After heaving a sigh of relief that they can reproduce for sure, the young couple refrains from having another kid for ages. At least thats what has been observed over the four-year period. Those who married four years ago are still stuck at the first kid.

  • Just a couple of generations ago, the trend was to go for kids one after the another. Thats not the case now. One of the reasons probably is the wife wants to shed off baby fat before embarking on another pregnancy. In contrast to the days of yore where the young wife was bulky with three kids in tow after just a few years, now you see a slim and smart wife with just one kid in as much the same time.

  • The secondary reason is of course, money. The young couple wants the best for their child, even before the child is born. And that includes the best gynecologist and the maternity clinic. The place of choice is Agha Khan Hospital in spite of its exorbitant rates. When asked why, the usual response is that it offers the best nursing you can get in Pakistan, and that it ensures the young mother before and after the event is taken care of in the best way. However, the maternity charges do not affect the young couple financially because the man is most probably employed at a major company, local or MNC, which covers all the maternity charges.

  • But from there on, its an unending battle. They get their first born all the branded stuff from diapers to nutritional supplement. Then comes the education and its an even steeper uphill task from there.

  • One other cardinal rule the couples religiously follow is the celebration of the first birthday of the newborn. For some inexplicable reason, it has to be a grand affair akin to their wedding celebration, and literally everyones invited from the distant relatives to the distant friends. It can happen anywhere depending upon the financial position of the young parents. From hotel ballrooms, shadi halls to seaside huts, you name it. The only common trait is that its extravagant.

  • Like many other traits, it doesnt make much sense, because the poor kid is not even aware of whats happening. The rational thing to do would be to save that money and spend it when the child is a few years old and can truly enjoy his or her occasion. By that time he or she would have a few friends as well. But at age one, its just to show off to the world.

  • Majority of the young couples first child is a girl. And since theyre not going for the second shot anytime soon, their world is going to be rotating around a female child for quite sometime. I cant fathom the biological reasons for that happening, but this simple fact is going to help marketers and advertisers position different brands in the minds of these young couples. Green Star made use of this fact in the first video of their song Suno Zara, when they showed the couple having a girl as the first born.

  • The offspring, even when its just half a year old, is brought along on every wedding occasion, even though the occasion lasts well into the night. This does not bother the young parents at all that their newborns sleeping regimen is being disturbed.

  • Gone are the days of entertaining the newlyweds at your home. These days the couples friends and relatives dont go through this hassle but instead entertain them at a restaurant, mostly upscale. Again a good marketing opportunity here for the shrewd restaurateurs.

  • The modern couple eats out at least twice a month. What sort of restaurant depends entirely on the specific couple. It could be an upscale restaurant on Zamzama or just a run-of-the-mill Usmania or Lasania.

  • Couples going to their friends house for a random visit like they used to in the past has become a rare commodity. Nowadays, the favorite rendezvous point is mostly a wedding of a common friend, or the post-wedding party. Apart from these occasions, it is extremely rare for the couples to get together. Mostly the husband and wife have their separate get-togethers with their friends no spouse allowed.

  • Public show of affection in newly married couples is also becoming somewhat common. Not the kissing part, but anything below that like holding hands and leaning on each other is fair game. However, the affectionate displays disappear altogether after the proverbial honeymoon period.

  • Pregnancy has ceased to be a hindrance in food outings. Couples would readily venture out into the food jungle even when the first-time pregnant wife is in the final stages of the pregnancy, as opposed to the previous generations practice of keeping a low profile and not doing outdoors at all.

  • Now coming to the conveyance part. Unless the male is provided a car by his company, which inadvertently is a Suzuki Cultus, and a white or silver one at that, he goes for the Honda brand. Since he cant afford a zero metre, he sets his eyes on a second hand one. Lets say his budget for the car is Rs. 400,000. Instead of buying a brand new Suzuki Mehran or Alto, hell go for a Honda Civic or City even if its ten years old and he knows hell be spending a lot of time at the mechanic getting it fixed.

  • Living alone is out, and the extended family system is in. Its not exactly the joint family system of the yore where all the uncles and aunts used to live together. But the nuclear family system is becoming rare at least in Pakistans middle to upper middle class. Whether the reason is budgetary constraints, or having able baby-sitters (in the form of grandparents) to look after the child while the young parents venture out for work is not clear.

  • Another revealing fact is that both the partners remain active on online communities like Facebook and orkut even after marriage. Facebook is the most popular, taking over from Orkut. While the men usually indulge in this activity at work, their female counterparts indulge at home. Marriage photos are duly posted on Facebook profiles for all the world to know what transpired at the event.

  • Linkedin is the new kid on the block whose popularity has more to do with the rumor that some have got their dream jobs through this network rather than any great feature available on it. Who are these people and what did they do on this network to grab their dream jobs, no one knows other than the fact that they are friend of friend. In any case, Linkedin and not Orkut is the strongest contender to dethrone Facebook especially with respect to the segment under study.

  • When it comes to cellphones, the Nokia N-series is the most popular amongst this segment followed by Sony Ericcson series. Nokias Xpress Music and other brands have just not been able to create a connection with this segment. And the most popular amongst the N-series is the N70. The most desirable being N95. However, the iphone is fast becoming the No.1 item on the wishlist. Blackberry and even PDAs fail to attract this lot. However, people belonging to the same class but having just a decade more to their age are more likely to go for Blackberry.

  • About moving to greener pastures, the husband has a definite desire to move to the Middle East before marriage. However, in the post-marriage period, this desire wanes considerably, but does not cease to exist. A close friend of his getting a job there in this period boosts up this desire though.

  • The favorite destination for offspring shopping is two-fold. If the attire is being bought for some occasion or outdoor stuff, then it is Zubeidas. However, for casual stuff to be worn at home, the favorite haunt is Madinah and Zainab Shopping Centre, where children clothing can be had dirt cheap, think Rs.50 for a shirt or knickers for a 1-3 year old.

So what do you think? How much of this really reflects the behavior of this segment? If not, do you have any other insights, or would you like to add to what Ive already discerned?

Someone should now dissect some other segment of the target market.

// couple