Starting with when a city becomes an attractive market for a firm to how quickly firms are acting on the new opportunities, a distinguished panel of marketers and experts, moderated by the experienced Mitu Jayashankar, former contributing editor, Forbes India, discussed the issues.
The panellists included Rajiv Mehta, MD, Puma India; K Ramakrishnan, president, marketing, CCD; Rajendra Kumar Khare, chairman and MD, Surewaves; and Vimal Parthasarthy, principal partner, Dentsu Media, Bengaluru.
Speaking his mind, Mehta of Puma said, "It is the right time to enter the non-metro markets and a lot of potential lies in these regions. People here want everything that is available in urban areas and the west, too. Obviously the availability of the products is different than urban areas as the cost of living varies. With the availability of information to all, brands also cannot cheat because people can now crosscheck what is available in which store. Our penetration strategy has always been to identify a region and enter there in full force and then consolidate it before venturing into a new region. In recent years we have increased our headcount on the ground as the business has increased to take care of the sales and operations."
Ramakrishnan of CCD, probably the most successful and ubiquitous coffee chain in India, said, "The concept of approaching the Unmetro towns has slightly flipped as earlier a brand was expected to create the demand first and then worry about the reach while today the demand is already present, it is the reach that has to be taken care of . Before expanding in any of these towns, we first find out how many educational institutions there are as these are the front-runners in our progress. Similar to Puma's strategy, we also enter in a region and then establish ourselves in these areas. It takes around 3-4 years of time before we can judge whether it's profitable or not. One has to keep in mind extra issues like power availability, rather than say, rentals, in these markets."
Parthasarthy pointed out that no one has a clear idea on why the Unmetro regions are branded as Tier I, II or others. He believes that it was part of some old government protocol that is being used by agencies, marketers and brands. "These markets can be classified using different parameters such as incomes, demographics and others. This has to be done by agencies and marketers hand in hand. Also the reports from various regions showcasing different numbers are just one thing, but the real picture is mostly different and quite big when seen from the ground reality. Every market has a different kind of demographic that includes people with different tastes, brands, choices and styles, so a lot of work needs to be done in understanding what kind of work has to be done."
Khare emphasised that every brand has to change its communication while it attempts to reach out to the people in different markets, with different languages, cultures, traditions and other issues. Taking the example of the telecom industry that focuses on the basic need to speak and talk, its customer is primarily every citizen of the country. The players of the industry have to realign their strategy to reach out to the people across the length and breadth of the country.
Organised by afaqs!, Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro brought in key presentations and reportage from the various sessions. For news and relevant data on the Unmetro domain, visit www.unmetro.in.
Surewaves Mediatech was the local city partner for Bengaluru.