With the emergence of small towns as future growth engines in markets like India, there is considerable interest in teenagers from these small towns.
Growing up in a vibrant economy, teenagers of middle class families in small towns have largely experienced an upbeat economic mood and the safety of increasing wealth. Indulgent Asian parents have showered their children with all the opportunities and commercial goods that money can buy.
19 y.o. Radhika from Aurangabad (population of 1.2 million) lives with her mother a nurse, an absentee father (a policeman) and a younger brother still in school. In her small 2 room house on the first floor she has a computer all to herself. Her mother paid 3 months salary to buy the computer for Radhika’s school work. On the table is a studio shot of Radhika and her friend, taken just for fun when they completed school. Two dressed up girls in their best clothes pose and smile gently at us from the photo frame. Radhika is impeccably groomed. Wearing jeans and a fashionable blouse she talks about going clothes shopping every fortnight as she wants to look her best at all times. She goes out often with her friends to restaurants, catch the latest movies and to get pedicures at the neighbourhood salon. Radhika does not have much to worry about. She is now part of the new ‘consuming class’ in emerging markets.
Listening to a day in Radhika’s life you begin to think about a James Dean style Rebel without a cause kind of story.
Yet as Radhika begins to talk about her future and the life she wants, you begin to see her determination and focus emerge. She has decided she wants to be a successful entrepreneur in IT and first plans to get a job that will help her develop the contacts she will need later. Her job will also help her finance her higher education. Marriage is also part of this plan but with the right person and at the right time.
There are many Radhika’s in small towns in emerging markets. Living indulgent lives supported by parents yet with a drive and a purpose not just for a better life for themselves but for the betterment of their entire families. That is the story behind the projected 23 trillion USD contribution emerging cities are likely to make in the future.