Prachi Srivastava

Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro: "For every car I sell in a metro, I sell 6 in a mini-metro" - Kamal Basu

The marketing head of Volkswagen India shed light on how automobile companies look at the unmetro consumers.

Kamal Basu, marketing head of Volkswagen India was one of the many eminent personalities present at the Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro Conclave held in Mumbai recently. To him, there is no differentiation between metros and unmetros. "This line between metros and unmetros doesn't exist anymore. It's not the top eight metros today, but top 40-50 metros. It's one large marketplace that everybody is vying for," he declared.

He explained this further with two examples from his presentation (below) that showed how people in different regions are consuming the same kind of news. He also pointed out how the movie 'Sholay' was released across the country in 200 screens. And by the time it went down to tier I, II, III, IV towns, it was six weeks and beyond. On the contrary, 'Dhoom 3' was released in 2725 screens, simultaneously. "The person watching the movie in PVR, Palladium, had exactly the same experience as a person sitting in a PVR in Hoshiyarpur. The lines have diminished," he said.

Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro: "For every car I sell in a metro, I sell 6 in a mini-metro" - Kamal Basu
So, what is it that has changed? "It is the confidence these people have in themselves, and the inspiration they have taken from people who come from small cities and are national figures today. They have started believing in creating their own destinies," Basu answered.

People like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Mary Kom, Kangana Ranaut have all come from relatively smaller places and have become inspirations to a much larger mass/community. "This is reflected in many ways. One of the examples being the participation of people from every nook and corner of the country in reality television programmes. It is fascinating to see how parents are pushing their children in the direction where the child's heart desires to move. That's a huge leap the country has taken," he observed.

As per his interactions with these consumers, he believes that, while an unmetro consumer is progressive, he is rooted deep in to the value system. They are traditional in their behaviour but progressive in their outlook. Their aspirations are not limited by boundaries. They are living in an age of access - the mobile phone as a lifeline to the aspired life is ubiquitous, rendering geography irrelevant.

Basu shared that top e-commerce sites record 50 per cent of their sales from tier II and tier III cities. Also, with 4G around the corner, with skyrocketing rates of smartphone penetration, consumers are constantly adapting to the next new in real time, just like the people in metros.

The youth in these cities, too, have a contemporary way of life which reflects in the choices they make. Be it fashion, gadgets, movies, they are in tune with the latest trends. "Being exposed to media simultaneously has led to this," Basu opined.

How does the automobile world look at this market? Hero (two-wheelers), according to Basu, is a leader because of its sale in these unmetro markets. For Volkswagen, every car the company sells in a metro, it sells six cars in a mini-metro, he revealed.

The people in these cities and towns buy cars for multiple reasons. According to Basu, owning a car here is a status symbol. Also, they are value conscious. He shares that Volkswagen's new Polo witnessed over 2,60,000 (in nine months) test drives post its launch across India, with high interest levels amidst the younger generation in tier II cities.

However, the challenges these cities pose include - reaching through an unorganised media, purity of fuel, poor infrastructure, lack of service centres and facilitation of finance.

See the presentation below.