50 years ago, life was very different from how we know it today. India was in her teenage years post independence, and still struggling to catch up with the demands of catering to a teeming population.
Those were simpler times – the common man didn’t own a Television or a Car, and Newspapers & Radio were the primary means of mass communication.
Business too, was conducted very differently in those days. There were fewer Products & Services to choose from and consumers had nowhere to turn to if they had an issue with a product or a brand they were using. Demand was so much higher than supply that the power lay firmly with Manufacturers for a long time.
In the mid-60s, a few great leaders of Indian industry decided to come together, to create for the first time, a path breaking platform that gave the consumer power to protect his rights and interests.
And so, on October 2nd, 1966, a full two decades before The Indian Government introduced its Consumer Protection Act, The Council for Fair Business Practices was born.
Being part of the council was no small task. All members of the CFBP had to pledge to adhere to the highest standards of ethical business practices, in order to provide complete satisfaction to their consumers.
This meant putting all kinds of new systems in place to redress consumer grievances, take into consideration their suggestions for improving products, and putting measures in place to ensure that consumers were getting the top quality products and services that they were promised.
Over the years, the CFBP worked tirelessly, to address the issues of consumers across the country. It conducted educational workshops and seminars for industry workers, consumer education workshops for people to be more aware of their rights, established a consumer education course for school and college students, addressed consumer complaints, and invested in a cutting edge research and product testing lab.It also strongly advocated the need for consumer affairs cells in all big companies.
With the dawn of Globalisation and the Digital age, the scenario changed dramatically. Geographical boundaries blurred thanks to advanced communications and transport systems, and people were connected all the time; united by the game changing World Wide Web. Consumers suddenly became aware, connected and spoiled for choice. They had access to all kinds of information about products, services and where to find the best deals on what they wanted.
With the internet spreading to every corner of the globe, and becoming accessible on every cellphone screen, consumers suddenly discovered that they had a whole host of ways to express their frustrations about the brands they were unhappy with.
This realization, that good publicity online could build brands, but negative publicity that went viral could quickly cripple a brand, was the beginning of a whole new equation between buyers and sellers.