Mid Day Multimedia's Metro Project chugs along with the recent launch of a new local edition from Borivli, a northwestern suburb of Mumbai. At the heart of the Rs 94-crore group's strategy is to woo the 'ultra' local advertiser - the shopkeeper who wants a very specific target audience, and is not willing to shell out any large sums of money to spread his message even a bit away from his audience. "Many of these small advertisers are ultra-conservative when it comes to advertising. So the hotel owner in Borivli, for example, is unwilling to advertise in even the local edition of papers, for he knows that his clientele is confined to Borivli only," explains a senior media planner.
To overcome this and to tap into a largely untouched market, Mid Day crafted its strategy around one simple premise. To focus on localising to the maximum possible extent through the launch of special metro supplements that are confined to ever the expanding localities in the city, with a print run of only 20,000 copies (per edition). And all distributed free.
The Borivli edition comes close on the heels of the launch of the Chembur edition of Mid Day Metro (in July), which the group claims is doing 'extremely well'. Says Arindam Mitra, director (operations), Mid Day Multimedia, who is spearheading the project, "When we started Project Metro, we decided that we would launch newer editions only if the pilot project did well. The rate at which we are launching editions speaks for itself."
The group estimates that the city of Mumbai represents a local advertising market worth Rs 325 crore and is largely untapped. Local cable channels, yellow pages, and other media vehicles like banners in metro supplements of newspapers largely service this market. But the prospect is immense as the local advertising pie is growing at an average rate of 15 per cent every year. While specific figures are not available for specific city areas, media planners concur that it will grow as competition increases in almost every field, from teaching shops to hotels, and as people gradually wake up to the power of the media.
Another advantage that Mumbai has is an enormous floating population, which does not exist in the smaller towns, where advertisement for local shops etc is more by word of mouth. With new people coming into the city everyday, the easiest way to find one's way about is by checking the yellow pages, or the local edition of a paper. By making the metro editions locality-specific Mid Day is leveraging its knowledge of Mumbai.
However, ironically, the difficulty lies in convincing the local chaps to advertise. Even with cheap rates. Despite an advertising rate of Rs 100 per column centimetre against the group's flagship Mid Day's Rs 550 per cc, and a 50:50 ad to edit ratio, the wary local hotelier, or shopkeeper must be given enough sops to advertise, aver media planners. "This is a market making area. We are stressing that this is a quality product, at an affordable rate, that reaches 20,000 (per edition) SEC A consumers," says Mitra.
But the task is not easy given that most of the potential advertisers have an ultra small advertising budget. Says the owner of a mid-sized garment shop in Borivli who didn't wish to be identified in the story, "Sometimes we may have a budget to the tune Rs 1,000 per week, but again I would rather split that between leaflets, posters and tin plates, than going for a single vehicle, if only to increase the chances of more people noticing it." There are other reasons that might hold back the local businessman from tapping only one localised media vehicle. The owner of a Chembur eatery told agencyfaqs! he may not want to attract newer clients as he is unable to expand his infrastructure beyond a certain point. And that, word of mouth is still very powerful. Another reason cited by a local gym owner was that he wished to attract the attention of a select clientele and a local paper defeats that purpose. As one media planner points out, cheap rates could also mean a "clutter" of advertising, and a glut of local advertisers clambering on. "Some might just decide to keep out of it."
However, Mid Day is working on this, sending out aggressive marketing teams to evangelise, and to bring the message of advertising to the local business outfit. Also, with the continued growth in the local advertising market despite the odds, one is definitely going to see more such editions coming out of the Mid Day group. © 2002 agencyfaqs!