Are brands ready for the big challenge from small towns?

Top marketers at exchange4media's CMO League analyse how tier II and III cities are potentially big growth drivers and highlight the importance of customising solutions for these markets

e4m by Rashi Bisaria
Published: Sep 9, 2014 8:48 AM  | 3 min read
Are brands ready for the big challenge from small towns?

Have tier II and III cities become the real growth drivers for brands and are marketers ready for the new set of consumers? The panel discussion as part of the 'Unmetro' featuring eminent marketers at the CMO League organised by the exchange4media group and powered by Dainik Bhaskar Group in Gurgaon, explored various aspects of this growing trend that is keeping marketers on their toes.

Understanding the milieu 

For online free classified ads, there is considerable potential to be tapped in the small towns. “Today, 50 per cent of the business comes from tier II and III cities. Exposure to media has removed the urban-rural divide,” said Amarjit Batra, CEO Olx India and Head, Asia. “There is no major difference between the aspirations of people in these towns versus those in the metros. In fact, people in these towns are more receptive,” he added.

Kunwer Sachdev, Founder and CEO, Su-Kam, the India-based power solutions provider shared his insights to consumer behaviour patterns in small towns. Relationships in the smaller towns were crucial, he said. Marketers entering this space need to have a local touch if they wish to create a niche for their products. Stressing on the importance of home-grown talent and manpower, Sachdev, also known as the 'inverter man of India', narrated anecdotes from his life as an entrepreneur who faced insurmountable challenges when he set up Su-Kam in 1992. From humble beginnings in a small town, his brand now has a presence in more than 70 countries.

Vice President, Sales and Marketing, NIIT,  Satinder Juneja spoke about how technology was helping homogenise the markets. Giving a fresh perspective to the discussions, he shared how definitions of small towns were changing. “Marketers should pick up the heterogeneity from the markets and take them into account when devising their plans,” he said.

Speaking the local language

There has been a growing interest in products and services from smaller towns, but marketers face several challenges when they venture here. Local manufacturers and brands always have an upper hand, as they have better access to the people and are familiar with the consumer culture of the region. What also creates a hurdle is their own bifurcated mindset, which overlooks the growing similarities in consumer behaviour across India. Speaking about the communication in these regions, Ashish Sehgal, Chief Sales Officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprise Ltd said, “Despite the similarities, it is important to devise different communication for different markets.”

Kaacon Sethi, Chief Corporate Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group described how ‘unmetro’ India had the capacity to surprise marketers. “Earlier, Mumbai was the most important market in the region for us. But recently, we analysed the market in detail and found out that central Maharashtra had a huge potential. The discovery of central Maharashtra as an important market was wonderful,” she said.

So what has kept marketers from exploiting the potential of this emerging market? One reason, as pointed out by Amit Kumar Gope, Head Marketing, Century PlyBoards, was the lack of data and knowledge about these markets. “More data is needed for marketers to evaluate these markets,” he said.

Summing up the session, Manu Seth, Director Marketing, HTC India and also the moderator said, “Marketers have to find out how to expand their customer base in these markets. The need is for customised solution for each of these markets.”

exchange4media’s CMO League was presented by Headlines Today and powered by Dainik Bhaskar. Himalayan was the Associate Sponsor, while Co Sponsor was Tez.

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