Special: How to reach out to the affluent?

By Narayan Iyer , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media | September 06, 2010
The affluent mindset is one that is driven by knowledge (most admit to doing a lot of research before a purchase) and practicality (they look for value in their purchases and need to see the tangible benefits of spending more on a product)

Is a Mont Blanc customer affluent or a broadband connection holder? Is a Tata Safari owner in Rohtak affluent or a technology company manager driving the Honda City? This target group is a nightmare for media planners who are grappling with getting the right mix of medium and media to reach out to the target.

According to the Ernst & Young report on the New Market Shehers, there has been a significant uptake in the leisure and lifestyle spends on consumers in the key urban towns (KUT) as well as rest of urban India (ROUI). "Media spends are moving towards non-metros, with the KUTs and ROUI increasing their share of ad spends and volumes," says Ashok Rajgopal, partner, Ernst & Young. The report pegs KUTs and ROUI to potentially command 40-50 per cent of India's urban advertising spend.

Unlike brands in the luxury sector (Bentley or Armani), affluent brands are more easily within the grasp of ordinary consumers. Says Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar Universal, "The traditional way of profiling an affluent consumer by demographics, psychographics or through SEC classification is passé. Now we map by the number and kind of durables in a household." Affluent products are considered by consumers to be those which are better than the norm, but still affordable - a plasma TV or a C-segment car. "With technology being able to map consumption pattern it is now possible to gauge affluence by mindset mapping, through credit card usage, financial investments and lifestyle indicators," she adds.

Identifying the medium

Says Amin Lakhani, head, exchange, Mindshare Media, "I would be cautious and go according to the client's need before working out the right media for the product and brand to reach its desired target." Take the Tata Sky set-top box. Amin recollects the debate revolving around this product was largely if it was for the affluent or not. "To ask someone to spend Rs 4,000-odd on a box and then pay monthly charges to watch TV was daunting," he recounts. With multiple touchpoints reaching this target, it is important to get a mix that appeals them.

"Imagery is of essence while talking to the mass affluent. No medium per se can deliver imagery. The aspirational element is best brought alive through a premium looking TVC or magazine ad which is aired in niche channels and large format ads in magazines," says Sudha Natrajan, CEO and president, Lintas Media Group. The output through this media mix is different for each product category. When Audi launched in India, it mentioned its arrival by detailing showroom locations. "Most often, a consumer looks at a product or a brand, gets curious and looks up the net to figure out details on price and location before getting on to consuming the product," says Lakhani.

"Different companies have different strategies. For example, companies have tied up with magazines like Elle, Cosmopolitan and Vogue to launch affluent products catering to women," says Dias. In-film placement of premium brands in the recently-launched Aisha is an example of using a medium to target the affluent. "OOH, too, can reach the affluent in a very effective way. The placement of screens and the streaming targeted advertising in recent years has been very effective," says Lakhani. "For the super affluent, a credible platform for engagement is critical. Brands usually work on customised events and media properties to engage this TG," adds Natrajan.

Cut the clutter

Advertisers and media planners agree that a mix of above the line (ATL) and below the line (BTL) advertising is what works in good dose. For a brand like Samsung that has products for the affluent across geography and class, a combination worked well. It adopted road-shows, event partnerships in KUTs and ROUI for BTL activities, while advertising on mass media.

More and more brands are looking at celebrity endorsement. "Getting Aamir Khan for the Tata Sky commercial set the brand imagery and perception in place for the target," explains Lakhani. Aviva uses Sachin Tendulkar from time to time to interact with existing customers and serious prospects.

High-end affluent consumers are best targeted by creating environments for them to feel their power and exclusivity. "Limited access to word-of-mouth experience is fairly common with this category," says Lakhani. But, these are found to work most often with luxury brands, where the snob value is more. Since luxury consumers place a high premium on heritage and exclusivity than the price, it is best left to create an imagery that fits into this target through BTL initiatives. Traditional advertising for this class is more a matter of information. "Placing ads in niche magazines, airport lounges or duty-free shops tend to work better for these products and targets," adds Lakhani.

One cannot miss out the power of social media and the internet. With internet gaming not restricted by any barriers, it is interesting to note that 50-60 per cent of Bigadda's registered users are from non-metros. According to the Ernst & Young study, the portal is increasingly gaining advertising from consumer durable manufacturers and high-end FMCG products for its draw with the non-metro consumer. When Westside decided to launch its youth brand, Nuon, it tied up with MTV and went for an advertiser funded programme with them.

There are instances when the communication fails to achieve the desired results. "Direct mailers are assumed to work with this category, but I have found instances when it has failed to do so," recounts Dias. The mindset that luxury products are best advertised in glossy magazines is also a myth. Mont Blanc and Rolex find equal placements in newspapers.

The affluent mindset is one that is driven by knowledge (most admit to doing a lot of research before a purchase) and practicality (they look for value in their purchases and need to see the tangible benefits of spending more on a product).

Media planners can play the role of helping the affluent with information, while reaching out to them through their most preferred media platform.

Inputs by Ankit Bhatnagar

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