Pitch Brainstorm sessions came to an end with an enthralling conference at Pune on Saturday, 10th January 2004. A large gathering of captive audience and a savvy and highly interactive panel did the trick. Topic of the discussion was ‘Lessons from Regional Markets.” The evening was sponsored by Lokmat, a leading Maharashtra daily.
On the panel were Anil Khera, Director Marketing & Sales, Sansui India, Nandini Dias, National Media Director, Lodestar, Sanjay Vakharia, Marketing Director, Spykar and Sandeep Tarkas, President, MPG. The session was moderated by Anant Rangaswami, Dean and Director, EMDI.
Khera in his discussion focused on the point that India is a nonhomogenous market and there is a lot of disparity from region to region and hence ‘best strategy is to consider every state as a different country’. He added, ‘you require different horses for different courses’. Discussing the media habits of people in various parts of the country he stated that people in different states view different channels and have very different reading habits. Two universal genres that cut across all regions are Cricket and cinema. He illustrated through examples how two states like Kerala and UP are totally different from each other and hence require totally different marketing strategies.
Tarkas, the next speaker of the evening, raised the question that with the changing times is the need to get more regional focused or more national in our marketing and media strategies? He stated that there is a sea change in media consumption patterns across the country. Changes in smaller cities are much faster and they are catching up with the bigger ones. People in various parts of the country have same aspirations, and the biggest competitors of the biggest brands everywhere are the local players. However, on the other hand share of Hindi channels in the regional markets has dropped by 30% in the last three years in the regional markets. Regional publications are growing faster than English publications. Differences are on the basis of regions and not states alone. He added that 1/4th-marketing money by quite a few leading companies is spent on substate actions trying to get under the skin of the consumer. Hence, while adopting a media strategy one can’t forget the important factor that India in a way is getting homogenized but on the other hand consumers from various regions want their differences to be maintained.
Vakharia stated that for a youth brand like Spykar which was into Jeans and fashion apparel regional barriers were almost non-existent. “Youth are youth in any part of the country”, he stated. He explained that for a youth brand differences occurred on basis of SEC, language spoken and education and not only region. If a brand catered to SEC A or had a lot of aspirational value then communicating in English, as per Vakharia was perhaps the best option.
Dias, in turn, presented seven learnings from regional markets. These lessons, as per Dias, are: regional boundaries exist mainly in the mind of the marketers, emotions are not a product of any region, habits & customs are, Focus on product categories may help in defining regions more accurately (for instance – categories like Chocolates and tractors will require totally different segmentation), going micro helps the macro, regional niches can be amplified into a cult following, there are lot of David and Goliath stories in every region – more so in FMCG category, monetary strength helps one to progress from global aggression to regional precision.
The discussion was lively and brought into focus the need for a more reliable readership research, in spite of claims of having more than 100 channels only few are really watched, growth of news channels, need to map mindsets and a number of other relevant subjects and issues.