Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro: The Unmetro consumer is taking over

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing
Last updated : December 19, 2013
Experts discussed the biggest changes one can expect in the next five years in Unmetros, its implications for marketers and other aspects.

In earlier days they said, 'India resides in its villages'. However, today the right statement would be 'India prospers in its towns'. This was the thought that was highlighted in the panel discussion titled 'The way forward: What to expect in the next 5 years', held at the Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro Conference in Bengaluru on Friday, December 13.

Sridhar Ramanujam

Suparna Mitra

Sridhar Rajaram

Moderating the panel, Sridhar Ramanujam, founder and CEO, Integrated Brand-comm, highlighted the changes visible to everyone when it came to urban India, from the time spent by marketers in these markets to the disposal of fallacies like these markets being 'value' driven and more 'tolerant' of lower quality, and whether some brands had higher aspirational value in urban India than in main metros. Ramanujam opened the floor for other panellists, inviting them to speak about their experiences of doing business in small town India.

Presenting Titan's example, Suparna Mitra, business head, South, Titan, spoke about Titan's jewellery format called Gold Plus which is specifically aimed at the small towns in South India and Maharashtra. "Gold Plus is configured differently than Tanishq and is a very good case in point for the consuming patterns of a metro consumer vis-a-vis a small town consumer," she added. While the commonalities in a lifestyle business exist, in smaller cities, the difference comes from the perception of value.

"In smaller towns we find that consumers are more value-driven and value-conscious and want more for the price they are paying for the product. Even in retail, when a small town shopper steps into store, he demands the same level of ambience, display, consumer schemes, service and they actually feel insulted if there is any kind of shortcut," she added.

Making his point, Ranjan Malik, director, Erehwon Consulting, pointed out that India is both a first world nation and a third world nation at the same time, traditional and modern at the same time and hence the opportunities for a product are immense. He highlighted how products are increasingly dependent on how the consumer or user uses it. Thus, youngsters, who have just played a high end game on a mobile might expect more from their two wheelers. He also highlighted a new mantra for the times, 'Smart is big', rather than just big or more expensive.

Sridhar Rajaram, group manager, marketing at Madura Fashion and Lifestyle was of the opinion that metro markets in India have reached their saturation point and there are new consumers to be found in small town India. Highlighting an instance, Rajaram said that once a consumer came to the brand's Pathankot store asking for a specific kind of belt which he saw online. "The consumer took out his phone and showed the picture and asked for the product. That made us realise how important it is to match the product portfolio on ground with your online presence. Moreover, the digital media has bridged the gap between smaller towns and metros in India," he added.

Consumers are also effectively repositioning the brand in their own ways.

E-commerce, according to him, helped Madura's premium brands like Louis Philippe expand reach by a huge number of towns than ordinarily possible. Highlighting the subtle cultural differences among regions, he mentioned how consumers in the south prefer a more subtle or smaller brand logo, while in some northern states, a premium logo was considered relevant enough to be flouted in a larger size.

Answering Ramanujam's query about the diversity in India, Suparna Mitra said that South India and North India behave like two different countries. "South India acts like a developed economy, but also faces problems like saturation of markets and slowing up of population. The growth challenge is higher as compared to a region like East India," she added.

Organised by afaqs!, Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro brought in key presentations and reportage from the various sessions. You can also track news and relevant data around the Unmetro domain, at www.unmetro.in.

Surewaves Mediatech was the local city partner for Bengaluru.

First Published : December 19, 2013

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