Saturday, April 23, 2011

The young spenders!

Teens live like mini adults as credit cards and ample allowances power their expenses on eating out, fashion accessories and dating, says Seema Sinha

Mumbai college student Miloni Ruparelia yearns for a credit card. "My dad will throw a fit if I ask for one," she sighs. She gets Rs 2,000 as pocket money, which often has to be replenished when she splurges Rs 1,500 on clothes, her passion, in two days. Miloni has never repeated an outfit for a party. She has two mobile phones - a Black Berry and a Samsung - and recently picked up a pair of fancy shoes at Rs 4,000. Her parents had to shell out Rs 6,000 for a huge stuffed toy.

A snap poll conducted by TIMESLife! in five metros - Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore - on the spending habits of youngsters, indicated that only young Kolkatans seem to be saving, from their average allowance of Rs 2,000 per month. Girls saved up to 13 per cent while boys kept about nine per cent aside. The rest of the country's youngsters seem to be blowing up their entire allowance and not managing to save anything.

Mumbai girls lead as far as expenses on clothes is concerned with 22 per cent of their monthly allowance spent on them, while Delhi girls spend exorbitantly on beauty treatments. Most college-going students from affluent families in Delhi and Chennai were found having credit or debit cards, sometimes even two to three. Says Sushant Shivram, a student from Jaihind College, Mumbai on what he has observed among his classmates, "Every month about Rs 500 cash is given in hand for their daily requirement, the rest they pull out from the ATM, but the bank statement goes to their parents."

Seventeen-year-old Apurva earlier spent about Rs 1,500 every month but now flashes a credit card. Adds Raisa unapologetically, "I have a lot of friends I need to stay in touch with. And if they buy a top or jeans then it doesn't look good if I don't have trendy clothes."

Looking good and appearances are important and youngsters across India spend the most each week on clothes, mobile phones and going out as per the study. Food also tops their passions. On an average, about 30 per cent of their pocket money is spent on food, as per the survey.

Says Harish Nambiar, a college student from Bangalore, "Bangalore has no beach and no other places to hang out, which is why we go to cafes to eat. About half my pocket money goes on food." Girls spend the most on clothes, cosmetics and toiletries as compared to boys who spend maximum on computer games and equipments. Gadgets (including mobile phone), recreation and holidays, hobby classes, fitness activities, parties, beauty treatment are taken care of by the parents, found the survey.

Sulekha Sharma, a working mother based in Delhi, is aware that her 13-year-old daughter Sakshi has started dating and buying gifts for her boyfriends. "Secret whispers have begun," laughs Sulekha, whose pockets are invaded for Sakshi's blow drying and other beauty treatments.

Boys from the South were found more romantic as compared to their counterparts in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. In Bangalore and Chennai, boys spent 18 per cent and 13 per cent respectively on their girlfriends while Mumbai and Delhi boys spent five percent and Kolkata spent just one per cent on dating and girlfriends.

"Youngsters believe that a swipe of a card can buy them anything. PSP games, ipods, different colour shoes, perfumes, deos... they are all very brand conscious, want to show off, be popular, so there is no upper limit to money. And then they get bored with these things very fast and want to replace these," adds Sulekha.

With independence being more intoxicating than money itself, most youngsters get happiness when they pick up the phone and order pizzas and colas themselves, say parents. "Some have already started mixing vodka in cola. They want to decide what they buy. They want to be treated like young adults," says Manju Kapoor, a parent.

Observes K Ramakrishnan, president - marketing, Café Coffee Day, "The youngsters who frequent our outlets largely spend money on eating out, entertainment and fuel. An average customer in the 15 to 21 age bracket would spend nothing less than 45 minutes to an hour at the café over several cups of coffee and food to go with it."

At a television show held recently for youngsters, when Chennai students got ipods as gift, they were thrilled whereas the Mumbai team was indifferent. Youngsters from middle class homes in Chennai on an average draw about Rs 500 to Rs 800 per month as pocket allowance. "I spend largely on junk food and movies, watching movies is much cheaper in Chennai than in Mumbai or Delhi," says Nikhil Arvind, a student from Chennai, who gets just about Rs 200 every month. However, the survey showed surprising results among the affluent class and college students in Chennai are getting anywhere between Rs 8,000 and Rs 15,000 as monthly allowance.

Ask and you shall receive...a lot of money. That's the commandment at the core of parents turning their kids into carefree big-spenders. It is the face of the emerging new and young India.