It was the year 2000 when an attempt was made to make purchases online instead of the buyer being physically present in a market place. Following, many ups and downs sometime after 2005 online purchases through website or an app picked up. Today many consumers who are willing to spend more time, efforts and costs for obtaining goods/services easily, love this unusual trend!
How can anyone shop without physically feeling or experiencing the goods/services available virtually?
To solve this mystery, I listed down a few usual suspects … like the Internet, electronic devices (mobile phones/ computers) and Social Media businesses. But there might be more to these suspects than its meets the eye.
With the tip of my fingers acting as the quizzing glass, I hysterically began probing the suspects involved in this investigation. And what I found was the most remarkable although apparent perpetrators who have enabled this trend to grow dramatically.
On one of my WhatsApp groups, a friend was looking for home remedies for treating fever/flu among her kids. Another friend was looking for an alternative to lead-based non-stick cookware on the same group. Within minutes, answers were instantly exchanged and both the friends got what they were looking for at minimal costs. As I probed into this further, I found out that the homemakers in our group contributed to sharing most of the information about relevant markets for select goods and services…creating a CONSUMER SURPLUS!
Intriguing, isn’t it? My friends are able and willing to spend lot of money, time and effort for searching for specific goods/services. But my homemaker-friends directed them towards specific markets, brands or shops/people, thus reducing their time, effort and costs of searching, choosing, and purchasing, thus creating a consumer surplus.
Homemakers …are the real suspects, whose contributions are excluded while calculating India’s GDP…And without them the other three suspects make no sense at all!
Bhakti Joshi is Teaching Assistant at Meghnad Desai Academy of Economics.