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SEC B households are the second most affluent households in urban India, comprising 1.4% of urban households.
Within this segment, there are at least six million households that are headed by chief wage earners in the mature years. In these households, the chief wage earner has grown-up children and is either a school-educated businessman, the majority in the group, or a skilled worker who has a degree or diploma. Just one-third of the chief wage earners are in regular salaried jobs. Most of them are self-employed, largely in the wholesale and retail trade sector.
This is one sector that gives tremendous scope for those with little education and good commercial skills. There are many households where the family trade has been passed down the generations, whether it is a small grocery shop or a large vegetable or grain merchant business. However, over the years, the younger generation in urban India have had greater levels of schooling, if not college, and they might choose to take up these family businesses or move to different sectors and occupations. The freedom to choose has increased in recent years.
Other sectors such as manufacturing and public administration are also prominent in this segment, while a sizeable proportion of chief wage earners continue to earn with agriculture-related activities.
While this may seem an anomaly in urban India, what is often forgotten is that in smaller towns and cities, where the boundary between urban and rural India is hazy, agriculture continues to occupy a share in occupation. Those who have lower education skills continue to work in the agricultural sector. The younger generation, however, would be moving on to take up more urban activities.
If we take the population as a whole in this sub-segment, Delhi tops the list of cities with a population of more than 2.3 million, followed closely by Mumbai and other metros.
But if we take the affluent households earning more than Rs15 lakh a year, while Delhi leads again, there are three cities from Gujarat in the top 10 here—Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara, all towns with traditionally strong trading history.
Western India is high on affluent households in this segment, as cities from Maharashtra rank in the top 20—Nashik, Nagpur, Pune and Thane, with Mumbai in the lead. Tamil Nadu is another state that features prominently in the list of top 25 cities with affluent households in this sub-segment. Chennai is at the top, followed by Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli and Vellore. While the north is represented by Delhi, Ludhiana and Gurgaon, there is hardly any representation in this list from the eastern states, except for Kolkata and urban areas in North 24 Parganas.
Household sizes are large in this segment. More than half the households have five or more members and two-thirds have minors. It is only in a little more than one-third of the households that the chief wage earner is the sole earner; in most of the houses, the household kitty is supplemented by two or more earning members in these joint families. Since the chief wage earner is well settled, 77% own the homes they live in.
These are more middle-class families than the SEC A segment. Given the relatively lower education levels in this segment compared with SEC A households, the income profile of the households in this segment also comes down one rung.
So consumer durable penetration is also lower in this sub-segment compared with the SEC A households. However, the desire to own gadgets of convenience and move up in life is strong. This segment will show increasing penetration of durables as they become more affordable.