2013 is predicated to be the year of mobile marketing; with increase in mobile data consumption, experts believe that it can prove to be the medium that bring in not only richness but also mass effective. Rural advertising is largely driven by mobile marketing today and is gaining high confidence of brands to promote their proposition through these small screens.
In conversation with exchange4media, Yugal K Sachdeva, Business Development Leader – Fasal, Intuit India, talks about the increasing momentum of mobile marketing in India and on Fasal, a newly developed mobile marketing tool by Intuit India.
Are we pragmatic in the high expectations that the industry has from mobile in India? Why?
Mobile phones in India have penetrated well beyond what any of us could imagine. Today there are over 900 million mobile users in India. We have seen that the mobile phone penetration is significant in rural India; every household has at least one mobile phone. Unlike urbanites, who have multiple communication channels available, for a rural person the mobile phone is often the only communication channel available. Given the largely untapped rural markets, increasing rural consumption and need for information, the mobile phone provides a unique opportunity for the industry to engage with a large segment of their customers through direct and targeted communication, which the traditional mass media does not allow.
How has marketers’ demand from mobile changed in recent years?
Mobile marketing started as a cost effective and easy tool to connect with customers. Today, marketers want the capability to not only send information to their customers, but also to target and engage with specific customer segments on an on-going basis. What started as a mass marketing tool a few years back has now evolved into a targeted marketing tool for marketers, allowing them to reach out to their customers based on their needs, interests, profiles and location.
With the increasing reach of mobile phones, marketers are now also demanding to establish a connect with a wider set of customers, including the largely untapped rural markets. The increase in the number of mobile subscribers from rural areas has opened new and innovative ways to reach out to the highly lucrative segment.
In 2009, Intuit launched Fasal, an easy-to-use SMS-based platform, which provides personalised, reliable and real time wholesale market prices to farmers free of cost. Today, the service is being used by over a million farmers and is helping 90 per cent of them make 14 per cent more money each year (IMRB study 2012). Over time, Fasal has evolved to be one of the most effective communication platforms for rural marketers. Over the last three years, we have run many innovative marketing campaigns for brands and businesses to effectively and successfully engage with their customers.
What are the challenges faced by brands in the mobile marketing space today?
The mobile marketing space faces similar challenges as any new technology does. Being a new technology and communication medium, brands need to understand the technology and its impact.
Mobile marketing is a very powerful tool with the ability to reach customers based on their profile and preferences. Today, one of the biggest challenges a brand faces is the availability of relevant and updated customer database. Unless you have such a database, mobile marketing will not give the desired results.
What are key elements that a brand needs to key in mind while making a mobile media plan?
Firstly, the brand has to clearly understand the customers’ needs. The needs could vary from one geographic location to the other. Thus, the plan needs to incorporate these variable factors as this is a highly targeted medium and its success depends on reaching out to the right customer. Also, keeping a track of the market will be a deciding factor. Then, the plan has to be tested in the initial stage with various vendors and gauge the best possible outcome. Another aspect that brands need to keep in mind is on messaging. For example, when brands that advertise on Fasal make a small change in copy, it leads to significantly different result. Given this, it is important for a brand to work with a partner who understands mobile marketing and customer behaviour.
Could you elaborate on the recent tool that you have introduced for rural businesses?
Fasal allows national, regional brands and local rural small business owners to communicate personalised and targeted information about their products and services directly to the rural customer via mobile technologies (SMS and voice). Fasal, not only provides businesses with a tool to reach over a million farmer base, but also provides the ability to target their communication by demographic, agricultural and income profile of Fasal’s farmer users. Rural businesses, large and small, can benefit from this opportunity to reach rural markets effectively to grow their businesses.
Fasal offers a unique yet relevant tool to connect with rural India, especially farmers. With Fasal, a brand can not only send information, but also get response from interested customers in real time. We have worked with leading companies in the FMCG (soap, shampoo, oil and lubricant brands), banking, auto (tractor, cargo, three wheeler and LCV brands) and agro input domains for increasing awareness, promoting their offerings and connecting to interested potential farmer customers. These brands have witnessed an increase in awareness by up to 40 times and sales conversions of up to 5 per cent.