At the AC Nielsen & #BANNER1 & # Annual Client Conference 2006, Emerging Markets seemed to be the buzzword among the marketers gathered there. Faced with the topic, 'Is Emerging India the Key to Your Success?', speakers such as Dr Rakesh Sinha, executive V-P, Godrej Consumer Products; Sanjay Badhe, director, Shopper's Stop; and Sanjeev Agarwal, president, marketing, Pantaloon Retail, dealt with the marketing issues that surround Class 1 towns (also called Emerging India or Emerging Markets). The session was moderated by Jagdeep Kapoor, managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants.
The panelists unanimously agreed upon the aspiration factor that was settling in the Emerging Markets. People here have similar aspirations as the people in metros and should not be looked down upon by marketers. This means that a marketer needs to upgrade his brand, not downgrade the consumer. For instance, cities such as Jaipur, Nashik, Sangli and Ghaziabad have affluent, fashion savvy and demanding inhabitants. In addition, the housing boom has affected the retail market in a big way.
Kapoor posed a question to the panel to understand what efforts are being undertaken by the companies to garner a share in the Emerging Markets. "Do decision makers need to be physically present at these locations or should things operate out of head offices in big cities?" he asked. The panelists, in general, felt that physical presence in and detailed research of these markets were mandatory, if not setting up a base there.
The panel also spoke about 'intense relationships' between the brand and the consumer and about their endeavours to build and strengthen these relationships. Sinha simply said, "If one is true to the consumer in terms of the benefits offered by one's product, satisfaction is guaranteed."
On the other hand, Agarwal emphasised that it was the service factor that could foster trust in the consumer and that had to be at par across all classes.
Kapoor also alleged that marketers are too 'geometry' and 'calculation' driven. Instead, according to him, it's the geography that needs to be focused upon. For instance, he spoke of the little metros existing within metros (such as Thane and Vashi, which surround Mumbai).
In response to this, Agarwal of Pantaloon shared some of his trade tricks. "We identify the catchment areas and study them," he said. "After identifying their specific needs, we customise our offerings and present the relevant merchandise."
He cited the example of a Big Bazaar outlet in Kandivli, which had exclusive offerings for the Gujarati community.
The panel also discussed the growing importance of exploring the psychology and demography of the consumer; this, it was felt, was more important than segregating them in a socioeconomic classification (SEC). It was agreed that marketers need not abandon the SEC altogether, but they should broaden their understanding of consumers.
It was observed that the onus of tapping India's Emerging Markets rested with the marketers, who needed to abandon their reservations about potential markets.
Kapoor concluded on a light note, saying that marketers needed to change their viewpoint. It was not an Emerging Market that they should target, as these markets have already emerged. "It's just that they appear submerged to the eye of the marketer and need to be discovered," he said.
Whether emerging or submerging, the panelists converged on the unanimous inference that Class 1 and 1A consumers are ready and raring to go; it's the marketer who needs to gear up and explore them in a new light.
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