Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro: Growing Aspirations and Opportunities

By Devesh Gupta , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | February 16, 2015
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Marketers are fast realising the importance of making a strong non-metro strategy as the growth from the metros is no longer as swift as it was in the past and the cost incurred is very high.

The day-long 'Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro' conference, held in Gurgaon, kicked off with the welcome address from Pradeep Dwivedi, CCS and MO, Dainik Bhaskar Group. He pointed out that there is an increasing aspiration among the consumers in the non-metros, as the business class is rising in this market and so is affluence. Marketers need to understand how to gauge the quantum of this aspiration and how to tap it.

Pradeep Dwivedi

Kaacon Sethi

Damodar Mall

Kaacon Sethi, CMO, Dainik Bhaskar, said, "Today, unmetros are completely different from what they were a few years ago. People there do not have any different mindset from the ones living in metros. India is divided into eight top metro cities followed by 7,800 towns. Marketers are aware that the next level of growth will come from these regions and are finding it difficult to get the increasing share of the market from the metros."

She further added that people in the non-metros are the ones who chose to live there. "They are not the migratory population and their lifestyle indicators, expenditures and other economic decisions are calling the shots in the growth of the country. Be it the FMCG, food, personal care, banking, automobile or any other sector, all are getting good numbers from these areas. Every marketer should clearly remember that a large youth population resides in this decision," she stated.

The keynote session, 'Emerging Consumer Demand: The rise of Unmetro India - A top retailer's Perspective' was addressed by Damodar Mall, CEO, Reliance Retail. He observed that even though big and premium brands might not feature some regions in their distribution plan, it does mean not that people in those areas do not want to buy those products, and at that point of time, supermarkets come into play where they get all these premium products for the consumers. "The number of supermarkets in India is growing and so is the consumption from these markets. A few years ago, it was a different scene where people shied away from buying products from the supermarkets, which removes the physical shopkeeper between the consumer and his shopping experience."

Mall further added that a mall gives the local daughter-in-law of the region an option to shop according to her choice, without being advised by the shopkeeper who has been the family shopkeeper for several decades. "He added that his core Tg excluded HNI's, who do not shop from these supermarkets or send someone else on their behalf. Today, almost every brand wants to be on the shelf of these supermarkets. We service the catchment we are in, and it is the customer that calls the shots. We do not believe in metro or non-metro, we believe where there is a demand there will be a supermarket to service them. The reasons for this growth are increasing awareness among the people, growing fashion consciousness, people travelling more, increasing e-commerce distribution, social media awareness, increasing footprints of national chains and others. And this consumption increases around the festival time, when people, especially women, have the license to spend. Over the few years, trends have shown that women have been increasingly spending heavily during festivals," Mall said.

Arvind Vohra

Arvind Vohra, country CEO and MD, Gionee India, shared the story of how he made a Chinese product popular in the non-metro regions of India. He said, "We initially launched the product in these areas without making much noise about them, as we did not have much to spend on marketing. Our key focus was to target trade and create service centres for our customers. Today, we are leaders in some of these markets, despite being a Chinese product. Our strategy was always to choose the right partner and right player for our growth, because that was most necessary and we never compromised on it. We always believe that in a crowded market, there is always some space, but one has to identify that space and run towards it. We identified that smartphones were growing and there is an aspiration in the non-metros and addressed that space. More importantly, for the consumer in these smaller cities, the smartphone was a truly critical decision, one for which he was willing to stretch his budget significantly for the right features. One reason why Gionee never compromised on its specifications, despite price pressures. As a result of which we have grown. We had several challenges - such as being an unknown brand, distribution challenges and the biggest being a Chinese product."

Vohra further added that the company's media plan initially included only trade media. "Once we felt that we had established that well, we decided to connect with the masses via a national campaign, and, today, our media spends have increased manifold. Digital has played an important role in our promotions as we generate content, and connect with the masses across all age groups giving our brand the strength it needs. But, this medium has enough power to build and destroy your brand; so one has to be true to one's values and promises."

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