Psychographics of the Pakistani Consumer aged 25-35: Getting Married
The institution of marriage still survives in this part of the world in the face of steady influx of pre-marital and extra-marital values. However, there has been a paradigm shift in the way couples are getting married, interacting with each other, having and raising kids, and spending their disposable income. This has a direct bearing on how marketers ought to seamlessly integrate their brand into the lifestyle of this married segment of the target market.
This study of consumer behavior based on family, friends, neighbors, and friends of friends, is by no means comprehensive or even impartial. But it’s a start in the right direction and the insights it provide won’t 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 isn’t. In a nutshell, it’s an observation of the emerging trends of the young Pakistani married couples belonging to middle and upper middle class over a period of five years. And it goes without saying that both of them are educated, in fact both have probably 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 getting married before they turn 30 irrespective of their class and social status, 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 they’re going to have an offspring and then how old is he or she going to be when they retire, 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. Their reason has more to do with acquiring professional education (5-6 years) and then working full-time for a year or two before settling down.
- This 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 it’s love or arranged.
- The ‘larkay waley’ of today place more emphasis on the girl’s 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. This hasn’t changed much from the previous decades.
- Inter-sectarian marriages especially between Shia and Sunni sect are becoming more 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 it’s ‘I am-betrothed-and-you’re-not’ complex, or something entirely different.
- ‘Mangnis (engagements) overall are on the decline. They are being replaced by the Nikah which is increasingly being held in the mosque mostly after the Asr prayer. It’s a perplexing trend considering the fact that there’s no Islamic injunction endorsing it to carry extra blessings. Another equally perplexing trend is to have an additional full-fledged ceremony at night to celebrate the Nikah, a ceremony which rivals the actual wedding ceremony in all regards.
- In the old days, Nikah was held prematurely only if the prospective groom had to go abroad and it made sense to hold the Nikah early so that he could prepare the documentation for taking her abroad, and even then there was no ceremony as such. The insistence of Nikah in place of a ‘Mangni’ comes from the Larki-waley who probably need an iron-clad guarantee since a ‘Mangni’ these days is cut off at the drop of a hat. Like the Mangni, the Nikah is held at least a year prior to the actual wedding.
- Another trend in the old days about the number of occasions was to have a Mayun, two mehndis- one for each side, shadi and valima. Now it’s down to total three events: one combined mehndi, shadi and valima. Mayun is on the decline whereas the Nikah ceremony (discussed earlier) although not that popular, is picking up acceptance.
- However, even if the Nikah is scheduled along with the other ceremonies and not a year before, it is never held at the actual wedding night but either a couple of days prior to the D-day, or on the afternoon of the D-day. This trend is prevalent even as we go up the social ladder.
- However, as one goes up the social ladder, the number of occasions increases, including a number of Dholkis and now even Quran Khwani. But for the middle to upper middle, three occasions is the standard except in the case of Memon community, who irrespective of their social standing has an extended fanfare with Dholkis and all.
- Today’s male makes a conscientious effort to groom himself just before the wedding – getting his teeth scaled (spoilt by years of cola drinking and beetle nut craze), having a few facial sessions- spending anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 on his ‘beauty treatment’.
- There’s a peculiar trend prevalent with respect to the shave of the groom. 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 won’t appear fresh enough on the two main ones. Whatever the logic, every single male follows this advice religiously.
- Maybe there’s 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 of this cream.
- The prospective bride two to three months prior to the D-day joins a fitness club, or more aptly a slimming centre to try to get in shape. However, this fad hasn’t found wide level of acceptance in this segment.
- Dowry is another thing which has seeped imperceptibly into the minds of this segment. Although some of the males acknowledge the fact that it’s not acceptable, they keep mum on it at the time of reckoning, and accept whatever the bride brings along with her, even if it’s household appliances they already own. They justify their silence with the claim that ‘larki’ waley have a reputation to protect as well. If they don’t 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 doesn’t 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 don’t 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 doesn’t figure until there’s a divorce. The husband’s line of thinking is that since he’s 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 undergarments. Maybe the old ones are too worn out (possibly 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 doesn’t figure in the newlyweds’ list of honeymoon priorities.
The rest of the pyschographics of pakistani couple aged 25-35 will be continued in the next article of marriage and beyond.