The potential of 'real India' (the markets beyond the metros) is no longer just a potential but rather a fact. There is evident change taking place in the consumption and behavioural habits of any given consumer and is based on three major aspects - lifestyle and socio-economic facts, affluence and media.
Now, 32 per cent of real India can read English and the number is growing faster than the metros. This is clearly a sign of prosperity, especially in the internet and the digital generation.
"So while it is believed that it is the regional language that is at the heart of India, this is telling that even commercial language in India is showing huge growth," she averred. She noted that while 30 million people in the metros speak and read English, its 70 million people in real India who know and speak the language.
The growth of this language is 25 per cent in non-metros versus 17 per cent in the metros on a smaller base and 1.3 crore English speaking people have been added in the last five years in the non-metros.
Citing the examples of various super markets and hyper markets, de Souza noted that Trent has 15 hypermarkets including small towns such as Aurangabad, Surat and Kolhapur, Bharti Walmart has a presence in Tier III towns like Ludhiana, Guntur, Meerut, Agra and Amravati, while Spencers is present in 35 cities and Big Bazaar is present in more than 70 cities and towns.
"This is an indicator of just one year of growth. In fact, according to a study done by Nielsen (the retail store audit), the growth of FMCG products in real India is 19 per cent versus 11 per cent in the metros. And this is just Q4 over Q1 in 2011," she said.
Talking about the influence of media, de Souza noted that as advertising clutter grows, a major pie of the money spent is being targeted at the non-metro regions. For example, in the last five years, print's investments in real India have doubled when compared to the metros in the last five years. For TV, it has been 228 times more than the metros while for radio, it has been 154 times more.
According to 2011 Connections, a proprietary research conducted by the Lintas Media Group, the reach of media is almost the same in Tier II (which is the real India component) and the metro.
As far as digital is concerned, while a metro consumer spends 93 minutes on the internet (www), 90 minutes on mobile internet and 91 minutes on social networking, for the Tier II market, the numbers stand at 77 minutes, 78 minutes and 82 minutes, respectively. "This indicates that there is a significant time spent on the digital media in the non-metro markets as well," said de Souza. However, internet is used more for knowledge search and to improve lifestyle and personality for Tier II than being connected with others.
Evidently, she noted, Hindi GEC channels are also shifting their focus to real India. Therefore, shows like Afsar Bitiya (Zee) is set in Darbhanga, Punar Vivaah, Mrs Kaushik Ke Paanch Bahuein (Zee) and Kairi (Colors) are set in Gwalior, Naa Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha (Colors) is set in Indore, Phir Subah Hogi is set in Bundelkhand and Kuch To Log Kahenge (Sony), Shubh Vivaah and Ruk Jana Nahin (Star Plus) are set in Lucknow.
"Average weekly gross impressions of Hindi prime GECs has gone up by 136 per cent in real India, as compared to107 per cent in metros since 2009," she said.
This afaqs! event was presented by Zee Bangla.