That the geographical layout of Mumbai lends itself to direct marketing is clear. But what are the specific areas where the city scores over a Delhi or a Bangalore?
One key advantage that the city has over Delhi is its narrow concentration. Most office-goers - and these include some of the seriously rich - travel by train or road along a narrow perimeter from Nariman Point to Andheri or beyond, on a straight line. On the other hand, offices in Delhi are spread out - from Nehru Place to Connaught Place, from Greater Kailash to Gurgaon. This means that office goers, given to impulse buying, have to be targeted precisely. Even then, Connaught Place, with its upmarket crowd, is a favourite spot for mobile selling units, who peddle everything from broadband Internet connections to fruit drinks. The difference is that in Mumbai almost the whole city offers the advantages of CP in Delhi; so the positioning of mobile units in Delhi can be a logistical nightmare.
Indeed. Vendor-based or off-the-street or stand-marketing plays an important role in Mumbai. To take just one example, the popular tabloid Mid-day sells 1,25,000 copies per day - 80 per cent of them on the road or off-the-stands. Only 20 per cent of its readers are subscription-based. "Going by ETS - exposure to sales - Mumbai has major advantages. People cluster at several locations, such as railway stations, bus depots, junctions etc, and the instant availability of products is much higher," points out Anil Aradhye, a Mumbai-based marketing consultant. In fact, for many FMCG products, Mumbai registers a significantly higher amount of instant purchases at kiosks, or stalls set up along the roadside.
This is the logic behind street vending in Mumbai - a city in which, according to some estimates, half the population is on the streets at any given point of the day. The city currently has approximately 4,00,000 street vendors. Most of them are economic refugees from villages, who need a very small amount of money to start off. They are the main distribution channel for a large variety of products of daily consumption - fruits, vegetable, readymade garments, shoes, household gadgets, toys, stationery, newspapers, magazines and so on. In fact, NGOs active in hawker issues argue that if hawkers were to be eliminated, it would lead to a severe crisis for fruit and vegetable farmers, as well as small-scale industries, which cannot afford to retail their products through expensive distribution networks of the organised sector.
Most of the goods vended by the unofficial hawkers are instant consumption goods - or goods which lend themselves well to impulse buying. It is a tactic that the legal outdoor marketers have also adopted. However, physical problems also exist. Temperature, for example. Says Shripad Nadkarni, vice-president (marketing) Coca-Cola India, "Ours is an imagery-driven product, and outdoor marketing helps us to connect directly with our target audience. However, as far as selling on the roads is concerned, as Coke must be cold, it is sold out of outlets."
Among other fast sellers are consumer goods and financial services, such as credit cards, debit cards, and even insurance policies, or investment schemes. Outdoor units are a good way to introduce potential customers to financial services, complicated at first glance to the average consumer who wishes to invest. Typically, these tend to cluster around the city's financial landmarks. "In the case of consumer marketing it is impulse buying - I saw it, I liked it, I bought it. But in the case of financial services, it is convenience. You need not come to us, we come to you is the principle," says Ajay Kakar, executive director and division head (financial), O&M.
Another set of goods that move fast is items that have immediate uses in the household. Thus, while heavy industrial goods, or products into which a lot of buying or branding investment goes in (such as detergents) are rarely sold, "on-the-spot" stuff move quickly - from watches and torches to the peelers and juicers … Opines Ashish Bhasin, president, Initiative Media, "The amount that may be sold at a particular junction may be small, but over the day, it becomes a significant amount. Books, periodicals etc, which do not face competition from the unbranded market, have an advantage here."
While topography helps, buying habits accentuate the process. Some analysts feel that people in Mumbai are more prone to buying on the spot; others feel that not enough effort is being put in to sell stuff in Delhi. While that would be a classic chicken-and-egg question, going by statistics it's apparent Mumbai has been tapped real well by the fraternity of direct marketers and outdoor sellers, who've converged on the city from all parts of the country.
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