Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro: Innovation is key to win the non-metro market

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | February 16, 2015
A panel, featuring experts across industries, delved into the importance of innovating marketing strategies to reach out to the consumers effectively in non-metros.

Dainik Bhaskar's Unmetro Conclave, held in Gurgaon, to discuss the potential in tier II and tier III towns, had eminent panelists discuss whether 'One Size Fits All?', when it comes to marketing strategies. The discussion was aimed at understanding how brands are devising innovative marketing and advertising strategies to reach out to their consumers in the unmetro markets.

Anisha Motwani

Nalin Sood

Piyush Kumar

Roopam Garg

Saguna Sodhi

Sudha Natrajan

The panel comprised Anisha Motwani, director and CMO, Max Life Insurance, Nalin Sood, CMO, SC Johnson, Saguna Sodhi, director, Ernst & Young, Piyush Kumar, marketing manager India, Rado at Swatch Group and Roopam Garg, general manager, MEC Global. The session was moderated by Sudha Natrajan, partner, The Media Café.

Motwani declared early on in the discussion that that to her the 'ambition' in young consumers in the non-metros is far higher than metros. Product categories which are essentially seen as 'metro-centric' like conditioners, mobile phones and laptops have grown at a far higher rate in small cities.

"The aspiration has manifested itself in the consumption pattern in the non-metros. The biggest example of that is the e-commerce revolution in the country which is fuelled by tier II," she said.

Motwani believes that, as a marketer, the 'digital' medium is extremely crucial for reaching out to small town consumers as they do not have physical presence of the brand. Apart from this, a non-metro consumer is still traditional at heart and brands must maintain their core values while communicating with him/her.

Giving a fresh perspective from the FMCG industry, Sood said that the definition of metro and unmetro is changing. Earlier, there were just two metros and then it became six.

"According to our industry a 'metro' is a city with over 10 lakh population, hence, for us, this number is large. There are divisions even on lifestyle and aspirations. For example, Chandigarh has the largest per capita income in the country, and pockets in Delhi like Shahadra do not even come close to it in terms of purchasing power. For me, Chandigarh would be a focus market," he stated.

Highlighting that one size does not fit all and depending on the product category, panelists said that industry marketers need to constantly innovate in terms of competitive pricing, reach, product packaging and communication.

Sodhi observed that most of the popular campaigns from companies having pan-India presence have small town connect. She exemplified this with Coca Cola's popular campaign 'Thanda matlab Coca Cola'.

Rado's Kumar asserted that non-metros are ready for all kind of product consumption and that brands need to position themselves right. The awareness about most of the lifestyle products is high in these towns.

"We are cautious about our media mix. Advertising in regional newspapers has always delivered results, as the consumer in small towns is attached to his roots," he informed, adding that the company has roped in Bollywood icon Hrithik Roshan to further create connect with consumers beyond the metro cities.

Rado, which only sells exclusively through its retail stores, is not looking at the digital medium for sales, Kumar said, noting that buying a Rado watch is an 'experience' which they carefully craft by training their floor staff in stores.

However, he agreed that for a luxury brand like Rado, penetrating in the unmetro markets further will be done through the judicious mix of digital and exhibitions in future.

Giving a media perspective on the topic, Garg delved on why advertising spends are high for metros (45%), when 80 per cent of consumer durables sales come from unmetros.

"Metros give higher ROI. There are certain pockets in unmetros which also give high ROI. Depending on the brand categories, brands need to identify them," he suggested.

According to Garg, Colgate is one brand which has a fair presence in both metros and unmetros. It reaches consumers in regions where media penetration is low, through innovate advertising on mobile and keeping the consumer informed and engaged.

Reiterating the panel's sentiment, he further added that digital and e-commerce is continuously blurring the boundaries between metro and unmetros, making it easier for brands to reach consumers.

Speaking on the role of media in marketing, panelists remarked that while digital is helping brands to reach consumers in small towns, print, in turn, has become cluttered with jacket ads in newspapers continuously forcing brands to battle for visibility. However, local on-ground activations continue to benefit brands in unmetros.