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BW Businessworld

The Future Lies In Small Urban Markets

The growth that was possible from our magnet-Metros has tended to slow down. As the bigger metros get saturated with numbers, and as lifestyles alter dramatically with the availability of time and money, big cities are not necessarily big any more, in terms of opportunity for brands to grow

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The growth that was possible from our magnet-Metros has tended to slow down. As the bigger metros get saturated with numbers, and as lifestyles alter dramatically with the availability of time and money, big cities are not necessarily big any more, in terms of opportunity for brands to grow.

Brands, both product brands and services, need to look for frenetic growth numbers for the future, from the smaller towns of the tier- 2 and tier-3 varieties.

The big city is still big in consumption of services, just as the smaller towns are very big in terms of consumption of products.

Two currencies are at play in the consumer markets — money and time. While money is aplenty in both the big cities and the smaller towns, time is a precious piece of currency that is in very short supply in the big cities. Marketers will, therefore, need to divide up their marketing strategies to cater to the time-starved in big cities, and the ‘money-in-plenty’ and ‘time-in-plenty’ generations thriving in our small towns.

It is very important for brands to think dual-branding. Old branding is all about “one brand for all with one common proposition”. New branding is about taking the same brand to the big cities with an accent on time-starved solutions for a time-starved generation. In the case of the smaller towns, the proposition needs to be the right reverse even.

The years ahead are about customisation of brands, offerings, products, services, delivery-mechanisms, service-mechanisms, advertising, marketing, PR, selling and literally everything around the product and service. The one-size-fits-all was really not strategy. It was a piece of marketing ease — a slice of lowest-common-denominator marketing, something marketers indulged in when what was being attempted was plucking the low-hanging fruit. Let’s realise that there are no low-hanging fruits in marketing anymore. Even green chillies are growing on tall trees!

The consumer in the smaller towns is really ahead of the curve of consumption than many in the big cities. Depending on the category of product, you will see different stages of consumer evolution in terms of usage, habit, franchise and repeats. The consumer in the smaller towns is as in touch with product quality as the one in the big city. In fact, the consumer in the smaller town is that much more knowledgeable when it comes to brand offerings. He and she have a lot more time to explore brand offerings. To an extent they even enjoy brands that much more than those living hurried lives in the big cities. The analogy could be one that compares those who enjoy their food at the table, relishing every munch, as opposed to those who grab a hurried bite as they need to get somewhere fast very soon. In the big cities, the brand is that much less enjoyed, than in the small towns of the day.

The future very simply lies in the ‘small Urban’ markets as we call them. The fact remains that these kinds of urban agglomerations are more in number than the big cities of today. Secondly, there is a pause in the movement from the rurban to the urban. The frenetic pace of urbanisation that has defined the last several years is slowing down. There is greater joy in being rurban. The lifestyle of the rurban consumer is that much richer and more balanced than that of the urban Indian. The tier-2 town family is actually asking the big question: Is it worth moving geography at all? When I can enjoy a better lifestyle being where I am, why should I move?

The happy fact is that the big city has come to the small town already. The rural layer is many layers deeper than all this. There are opportunities galore out here too. But for now, the creamiest layer of them all is the tier- 2 and tier -3 town of the day.

(As told to BW Businessworld)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Magazine 15 April 2017 advertising branding consumer

Harish Bijoor

The author is a brand-strategy expert & founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

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