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Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro: Small town consumers have both, money and confidence

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | September 16, 2013
A panel discussion at the conference revealed that Unmetro India ranks high on aspirations, digital literacy and confidence.

The first of two panel discussions at Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro was about the nuances of Unmetro India.

Bedraj Tripathy

Madan Pandey

Sandipan Ghosh

Himanka Das

Panellists comprised Sandipan Ghosh, associate vice-president, marketing, consumer brands division, Ruchi Soya Industries; Bedraj Tripathy, senior general manager, marketing, Godrej Interio; and Madan Pandey, head of sales, Marico. The session was moderated by Himanka Das, senior vice-president, West, Carat Media.

Godrej's Tripathy declared early on in the discussion that to him the divide between metro and non-metro is something the media and marketers have created, given their pressing need to classify and brand everything. His co-panellist, Ruchi Soya's Ghosh, called this the 'segmentation syndrome'. "From a 'volume of business' perspective, there is not much difference between the metro and non-metro cities," Tripathy said, corroborating his claim by sharing that 60 per cent of his brand's revenue comes from non-metro India.

While Tripathy agreed that markets do tend to differ depending on location, he insisted that the need to improve one's life is common across metros and non-metros. "Sure, I can't sell the same sofa set across Kochi and Haryana but at a very basic level the difference between metro and non-metro markets is not much," he said.

Speaking more as a representative of the FMCG segment than a Marico hand, Pandey stated that Unmetro India or "Middle India" is the missing link between urban and rural India. For the FMCG category, around 20 per cent of the total business comes from this region, he said. He attributed this to the rising disposable income of people from these towns as well as an increase in overall education and awareness levels. In fact, as per his observations, women and children in Middle India have become "powerful" as far as purchase decisions go.

His second observation was that there is a high level of digital literacy in non-metro India. In fact, 80 per cent of Livon's e-commerce sales come from smaller towns.

And, speaking about the similarities between the metro and non-metro consumer, Pandey noted that today, unlike earlier, the small town consumer is as confident as the urbanite. He/she is no longer defensive about his/her wants and needs. "Previously, the small town consumer may have had money but lacked confidence. Today this is not the case; today they have both, money and confidence!" said Pandey.

On a related note, he shared that the demand for premium goods (such as olive oil and deodorant) has increased in non-metros of late. "Aspirations run high here," he inferred.

Agreeing, Ghosh stated that as far as the non-metro consumer's pre-purchase sentiment goes, the previously prevalent under-confidence -- best summed up through the conviction 'this product is not for me' -- has given way to what he calls "affordable indulgence". Here, the insight for marketers is: ensure you offer low-unit packs (Rs 2/Rs 5 sachets) of premium products in non-metro towns so that everyone gets a chance to fulfil their newfound desire to purchase and experience these items.

Ghosh also recommended advertorials with strong visual cues (for example bright colours and less body copy in ads) in non-metro towns. "The creative format has to change while marketing to these regions," he said.

Unmetro was a one day event held in Mumbai. The first leg of the event was held in Delhi.

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