The Mother Goddess Tulja Bhavani calls Tuljapur, amongst three and half ‘Shakti Peethas’ in Maharashtraher divine abode. As per Hindu Puranas, Tulja Bhavani, who represents the shakti of the Supreme Being is said to exert moral order and rectitude in the world and quash evil through the yugas. She is the Family Deity of several notable Maharashtrian lineages, such as the great Bhosale dynasty, of which Shivaji Maharaj is a descendant. In keeping with her importance in Hindu culture and society in Maharashtra, women from the state visit Tuljapur in droves during the Navratri season. Since she is also the Goddess of Power, as depicted by the tale of Mahishasura and believed to have gifted the Bhavani Sword to the region’s greatest Maratha hero, she receives the devotion of Maharashtrian men as well. Thus, regardless of gender, the Yatra receives the undivided interest of multitudes of rural masses during the Navratri season. (more…)
The ‘banker to every Indian,’ State Bank of India (SBI) is the country’s largest BFSI entity by revenue, assets and market capitalisation. With 13,000 outlets including 150 located abroad, the branches of this state-owned corporation can be found literally anywhere an Indian might aspire to travel. Its reputation as a trusted banker has been concretised since 1806, so much so, that it was ranked the 29th most reputed company in the world by Forbes in 2009. Indeed, inIndia, SBI represents trust and financial stability, and the company decided to leverage this perception in rural areas.
Despite being a household brand name in rural India, a common belief was that SBI is acutely selective in providing loans and that their systems are cumbersome. In a bid to alter these believes, the bank brought Vritti i-Media on board to promote its loan offerings and position itself as a one-stop-shop for all rural borrowing needs. The offered loans comprise SBI Tractor Scheme loan and crop loans (for farmers), as well as home loans and car loans (for middle class employed people). In addition, the bank promoted gold loans to farmers, small retail businessman and other lower and lower middle class people in Maharashtra. The aim of the exercise was to reinforce the fact that it is easy to get loans from SBI, and that villagers can approach the bank to meet their needs of tractors, a house, farm or dairy purchase.
Before its campaign with Vritti i-Media, SBI invested heavily in terms of cost and time for reaching out to rural markets through newspapers, OOH and below-the-line activities. Vritti i-Media devised an experimental pilot for the bank in 20 locations for three months which worked wonders. The campaign involved the use of Vritti i-Media’s audio network at MSRTC bus stands and audio visual network at food malls and dhabas on national highways and express highways. It not only enabled SBI to change people’s perception, but also established a channel of direct communication with farmers by educating them on various schemes, akin to the internet medium in urban areas. Fantastic results from the pilot drove the bank to extend the geographies and duration of the campaign. Extended from the three-month pilot, SBI will now conduct this campaign at all stations served by Vritti i-Media for a year.
On conducting the campaign, Vritti i-Media and SBI were able to fructify several cherished motives. For instance, with the initial campaign which was conducted for 20 days, SBI was able to garner enquiries worth Rs. 500 crore from varied rural target groups comprising farmers and small businessmen. The promotion also helped SBI in reducing its non-performing assets by directly communicating various schemes available for farmers if they pay their EMIs on time. Conclusively, with promotional help from Vritti i-Media, SBI was able to position itself as a one stop solution for all borrowing requirements of small town folk. It was able to establish itself as a simple, easy and responsive entity to deal with in a bid to encourage financial inclusion. Due to the success of the campaign, SBI recently renewed its association with Vritti i-Media and continues to count on its assistance to connect with Maharashtra’s hinterlands.
Take a glimpse on the audio ads created to reach the non-metros masses of Maharashtra:
SBI Bank’s car loan jingle:
SBI Bank’s tractor scheme jingle:
Traditionally, local eateries like old-school halwais, bakeries and Irani café’s have never had to advertise their wares. It was only aromatic wafts that tempted people walking along these eateries to venture into them and try out a beguiling delicacy. Every city boasts of a few legendary eateries that have managed to maintain a loyal clientele over several decades. Yet, times have changed. In cities, where MNC franchises like MacDonald, KFC and Dominos Pizza have fought tooth and nail to become the giants of a new Indian fast-food space, the likes of Jumbo King, which are well-supported by smart marketing strategies have emerged. By turning the simple vada pav to a newly competitive and dynamic offering, for instance, Jumbo King has turned the fast-food industry on its head with the proposition of an inexpensive, hygienic and tasty food on-the-go. The company’s surprising success shows that new-age branding and advertising tools can do wonders to affordably transform simple offerings by small enterprises.
Pin-pointing the Issue
Fast-food eatery ‘Nalawade Samosewale’, located at Kankavali in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district is a promising eatery that deals in samosas, wadas, misal pav and other fast foods. It is a nascent eatery with a seating capacity for a dozen customers and has already achieved an enviable turnover in its first year of operations. It prides itself on its best-rated and high-demand offerings, such as jumbo wada, Punjabi samosa and misal pav. In order to increase popularity of its products, increase sales and awareness, the eatery kick-started its marketing campaign by partnering up with Vritti i-Media.
Devising a Solution
So, in a bid to increase sales and awareness for its offerings, Nalawade Samosewale decided to create greater interest for his products among the people of Kankavali. Reaching the right audience at the right time and in the right manner was a challenge, and to ease matters, Vritti i-media was brought onboard. Vritti’s i-Media Audio Network is a means of audio advertisement through public address systems at district bus terminals, for which the company has sole authority by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Service (MSRTC). The audio broadcasts of Vritti i-Media at over 80 plus locations across Maharashtra, makes it a formidable mode of advertising in non-metro areas. By meshing commercial advertisements with buses arrival and departure announcements, the medium creates maximum impact.
Mr. Parag Nalawade, the proprietor of the eatery, had heard various audio advertisements by Vritti i-Media at Kankavali bus station himself, and was sure that this mode would certainly achieve the desired popularity and improve business. Being highly impressed with Vritti i-Media’s past achievements, he made a direct enquiry with the company. His advertisement was a 30-second jingle that elaborated on the various fast-foods available at the eatery. Vritti has been running this campaign for the last one month and has been reaping the rewards of this ‘completely dynamic’ medium since then. Some of the attributes of this medium make it simply amazing like the timing and content of the advertisement campaign, which is set to run for three months for this eatery, can be modified in tune with seasons and festivals and communicated in the local dialect.
Reaping the Benefits
The campaign has worked wonders for Nalawade Samosewale and there is a high chance that the advertising contract may be extended. Being a small company, Nalawade Samosewale required efficient use of its modest advertising budget. Vritti i-Media’s Audio Network ensures maximum reach and retention of jingle. On an average, Vritti i-Media Audio Network is said to touch approximately 40,000 people a day at a single location, with it’s per person cost being about 10% of other media. This cost-efficiency and effectiveness has made Vritti i-Media’s solution a critical component of the media campaign by Nalawade Samosewale, and is sure to inspire several local businessmen to promote their products and services in such markets.
Farmers are our bread-baskets. To ensure their well-being, the Central government is increasingly creating several knowledge facilities like the Kisan Call Centre that enlightens farmers about various government schemes, farming tips, and more. Several state governments are mirroring these initiatives to provide similar facilities at the local level.
For Maharashtra, the welfare of farmers in the state is a critical issue at an economic as well as socio-political level. Thus, following the steps of the Central government, the department of agriculture under the Maharashtra government has established an agro advisory feed in 2011. The ultimate objective of the initiative was to provide expert agricultural advice to farmers in Maharashtra. The problem was disseminating this information to rural audiences. For the most part, villagers live in media darkness. Due to illiteracy, they cannot or may not be inclined to read useful and informative printed material. Due to poverty or inadequate local infrastructure, they may not have access to broadcast media like TVs and radios.
Traditionally, melas and haats have been preferred modes of rural communication, since they allow communication with a large number of people with minimal effort. However, such events do not offer an appropriate ambience for educating farmers. The solution was determining where rural folk congregate in adequate numbers and could be in a receptive state so as to readily assimilate the communication.
The audio medium emerged as a perfect mode of broadcasting informative messages, while district bus-stations were thought of as apt venues for the exercise. To this end, Vritti i-Media’s audio advertising network at Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) bus stands became an effective point of contact with the non-metro audience. Sound reasoning supported the selection of this peculiar medium. As media like OOH and public address systems are not dependent on power availability or literacy rate in villages, it is one of the surest ways to connect with rural audiences. MSRTC buses are among the main modes of transport for farmers in rural Maharashtra. Bus stations are, therefore, essentially transport hubs that gather huge numbers of people. This makes them opportune for mass communicating information and promotions. The agro advisories are suggestions by the state’s expert agriculturists and broadcasted in a format where they are intertwined with bus timing-announcements at regular intervals.
Through these advisories, farmers were able to gain knowledge about purchasing quality seeds, recognising the quality and quantity of produce in the coming harvest, simplified information on market prices and seasonal crops, as well as the correct use of fertilisers and hybrid seeds. More importantly, since farmers need financial education to increase their financial stability, the medium is also used to inform farmers about various beneficial government plans, the procedure of application to these programmes and the advantages they may gain from them. In the absence of such an initiative by the state government, farmers would have no means to receive such valuable information.
The Vritti i-Media Edge
Vritti i-Media, being the only agency authorised to run audio advertisements at MSRTC’s bus depots, offers an effective audio medium to advertisers at more than 80 locations in Maharashtra. This medium touches about 10.3 crore people a month. Therefore, the agro advisory initiative has met success in keeping local farmers updated with the latest technologies and techniques in farming and increasing their awareness about conducting agriculture viably.
The audio medium of public address systems at MSRTC bus-stands has ensured the customisation of information. The medium facilitated the dissemination of information or advice specific to the location where it is heard, making the messaging relevant to the types of crops grown in the region. For instance, for the Konkan region, which is the highest cultivator of mangoes, messages are customised to provide solutions for better mango cultivation or how to get rid of the specific pests likely to affect the mango produce given the local climate and solutions. Since this timely, location-specific manner of information dissemination picked-up among farmers in Maharashtra, the state government has received overwhelming response very quickly. The farmers are reaping the benefits of this initiative at no cost, while performing the mundane task of travelling to their destinations. This widely successful campaign enabled the Maharashtra Government to receive a Gold award at the National Awards on E-Governance.
Last year, a study conducted by professors at Sam M Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas, revealed that internet-enabled kiosks that provided valuable information on prenatal and postnatal care for mothers and babies have helped reduce infant, child and maternal mortality rates in ruralIndia. It was seen that these kiosks were more effective than socio-cultural networks in positively influencing rural women to seek and obtain medical care. The assessment was conducted on women across 20 villages, where 10 villages had internet kiosks and 10 did not. About 300 women participated in each village.
The government has already recognised the virtues of this medium in educating rural folk. Welfare efforts are evident in the ‘Gyandoot’ project of the Madhya Pradesh government that disseminated information like agricultural produce rates, land records and offered grievance services to villagers. In Maharashtra’s Warana village, kiosks are being used by sugarcane farmers to receive payment slips. Clearly, these sketches speak of the effectiveness of kiosks in the rural context.
As the first anecdote suggests, kiosks proved to be more adept at providing the requisite information to rural folk than the socio-cultural network itself. The retail sector may learn from this example. In villages that remain more or less media dark, word-of-mouth has an important role to play, where a consumer having used a product/service, informs his social circle about its positive qualities. Since retail and FMCG companies may find it difficult to interact with such far-flung populations through salespeople, a kiosk becomes an interesting and appealing way to interact with village-folk.
Today, several companies have jumped into the kiosk bandwagon to enhance their brand goodwill. ICI India has kiosks to enable customers to choose and mix colours for their paints. In the past, Hindustan Lever used attractive, transportable kiosks to promote Pepsodent. The set-up comprised two monitors, one used as a touchscreen interface and the other for larger audience coverage. For instance, about ten children could watch the kiosk display in action. ITC’s e-Choupal kiosks have long revolutionised the process of purchasing farm-produce like soya from farmers, while offering them information on weather, latest farming techniques and crop insurance. This initiative has created unlimited brand value for the company through 6,500 e-Choupal centres spread across 40,000 villages.
However, the most significant use of kiosks is seen in the BFSI sector. In 2010, ICICI partnered with enterprises to build a network of internet-enabled kiosks in rural areas. The company planned to leverage these kiosks for promoting its banking services in these areas by leveraging its savings and loan offerings. For this, it trained kiosk operators as agents or placed a basic ATM in proximity. To make the kiosks really popular, ICICI also extended loans to farmers via the mentioned e-Choupal network, while at EID Parry sugar factories, farmers were able to buy crop inputs and pay for them on having received payments for their crops.
Another interesting move by a BFSI company in this area is internet-enabled kiosk banking by State Bank of India. These kiosks cover all the basic banking functions, such as cash and check deposits that work like ATMs. A prominent advantage of the kiosk banking system is that it has reduced the account opening cost from Rs 200, which it would cost at a branch office, to a minimal Rs 20 at a kiosk. Previously, it was seen that LIC used kiosks to enable customers in far-flung areas to check the status of their premiums by entering their policy numbers into the system. Banks like HDFC Bank are increasingly setting up self-service kiosks around their premises in small towns to educate customers about their range of offerings.
Financial inclusion remains among the most critical concerns for India’s villages today. A strong and reliable monetary system in the hinterlands will enable India’s growth engine to draw from a strong and well-entrenched consumer base. By promoting banking services, the BFSI sector, along with some retail giants has laid the foundations for a medium that promises to enrich the lives of rural people in a holistic way.
India’s ever-growing telecom market is currently pegged at 770 million subscribers as per the latest data from TRAI. Yet, much more opportunity prevails in rural areas today, as opposed to big cities that are nearly totally saturated. With rural India being highly media-dark for mainstream advertising promotions, the telecom industry has always scouted for innovative media platforms that can quickly and effectively communicate the uniqueness of new products and services to the rural youth and working-class segments.
To this end, Airtel tied up with Rediffusion Y&R to extend the philosophy ‘Atoot bandhan. Atoot Network’ in 2009. The ad campaign which starred actor Shreyas Talpade depicted him as a nervous MLA entering the Parliament for the first time. Carrying the collective hopes of his village, he assures his father that he would never forget his roots. In the true flavour of rural advertising, the campaign hoped to establish an emotional connect with the native population. Similarly, in 2010, Vodafone created a product ‘Ultra-Pocket Sized Tariff at just Rs. 4’ with the rural audience in mind and coupled it with a memorable advertisement featuring an animated talking parrot. By arguing that nothing can be purchased for Rs 4 in today’s day and age, the argumentative parrot drives the point home; another witty attempt by the telco brand that gave the advertising industry ‘Zoozoo’ and the ‘Hutch dog.’
On the other hand, Idea Cellular’s approach to reach rural India included wall paintings and on-vehicle advertising. In addition, the company also attempted to gain some brand exposure through ‘haats’ and ‘melas’ in the past. The company’s focus on this population is reflected in the recent introduction of its pan-India interactive voice response-based value added service (VAS) in association with Handygo, a provider of software and system-enabling VAS called ‘Behtar Zindagi.’ This service provides everyday information to rural India in areas like health, education, finance, weather updates, mandi rates, livestock, agriculture and fisheries.
Yet, although every telco chooses a different approach to communicate with rural India, they have something in common. Idea Cellular, along with Maxx Mobile, Tata Indicom, Lemon Mobile and several other telecom brands have started using Vritti i-Media’s DW+, a technology-enabled media solution, to market their latest products and services to an audience that represents the most important markets for telcos in the imminent years. Maxx Mobile has engaged itself in a 6-month campaign that used Vritti i-media’s audio advertisement across more than 65 ST bus-stands inMaharashtra. This has helped the teleco penetrate and establish its brand in small towns and rural markets in a big way.
Vritti i-Media’s DW+ is a cutting-edge technology used in Vritti i-Media’s audio and audio-visual network. The DW+ system runs on a software platform that was developed in-house and is fully controlled from Vritti’s control room at Pune. Due to the use of sophisticated technology in this innovative advertising solution, there is complete transparency and flexibility in its use. Therefore, there is full assurance that the advertisement will be done at the promised rate, which is a rare case when it comes to rural advertising. By digitalising the entire process, the content can be changed at the drop of a hat and go on-line within 30 minutes. Due to the mandatory listening format, this medium ensures that brand communication penetrates the depths of the market. It enables brands to break through existing media clutter and connect effectively with local audience, which is generally oblivious to media such as newspapers, TV or hoardings, due to unreliable power supply or illiteracy.
India as an emerging market leader has precipitously uncovered its capability by growing at reasonable rate when the global GDP growth was faltering and panting for support. But, even in developing nations, urban areas are reaching saturation points, and smart companies are quickly moving to un-captured rural areas, which are at a promising stage and provide robust market potential.
Many companies have also initiated manufacturing facilities in rural areas to benefit from government concessions like tax exemption. Some look up to the rural market to promote volume growth, while others have intended to reap benefits of low cost and higher profit margin. But the idea is simple. If growth is the only option to survive, rural market is the only way to grow moving forward. And the companies that have taken the initial leaps have not only benefitted from the first mover advantage, but also gained brand loyalty and better business growth momentum.
BMW and Mercedes have been quick enough to recognize this target market and are reportedly expecting a 30-35% sales boost in 2012 from rural markets. India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki, registered sales of 12.70,000 vehicles in 2010-11, with earnings of Rs. 37,522 crore and a net profit to the tune of Rs. 2,289 crore.
In 2011, the auto industry of India witnessed accumulative sales of 2,973,900 passenger vehicles that comprised cars, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and multi purpose vehicles (MPVs). Out of the total figure, 2,520,421 vehicles were sold within India while the rest 453,479 units were disseminated outside the country.
Market conditions are extremely slow-moving. High interest rates are dampening the consumer sentiment and this is leading to the entry-level buyers deferring purchases. Responding to this situation, most of the car companies are opening regional car centres which keep one or two cars on display.
Although India is the world’s 2nd fastest growing car market after China, passenger vehicle ownership here is among the lowest in the world, at 12 vehicles for every 1,000 people. While nearly a third of people living in metros own personal transport, the penetration in rural areas is half, at 15 %. This has led industry observers to believe a major proportion of growth would come from rural market.
Hyundai, one among many trying to penetrate the rural market has asked its dealers to identify 5 probable semi-urban and rural sites for selling its latest offering ‘EON (800cc)’ around their outlets. At some places they have set up a practice where a team of salespersons with mobile vans offer demonstrations and test drives. At other places, Hyundai either put up small sales branches which could display up to two cars or two-way sales and service workshops.
Tier II, III and IV cities are increasingly becoming more and more significant. Early entrants into this market are likely to be huge gainers and a classic example of this is Ford India’s FIGO which draws 60 % of its sales from Semi urban areas.
India has long glowing heritage of beauty. Specifically Indian women have been conscious beautifying and grooming themselves. In fact the Indian cosmetic market growth is accredited to female consumers. However, it was interesting to know that men and women from rural areas are also contributing to the growing demand of cosmetics in India. According to a recent research report by RNCOS on the Indian Cosmetic Sector, Indian rural population has been increasingly shifting towards more cosmetic products. It is also anticipated that the market will surge at a CAGR of nearly 19% till 2014.
The rural folks in India have gradually become conscious about their dressing and looks. Increasing western exposure, media awareness, penetration of local brands and most importantly, rise in incomes has resulted in higher rural market spends in the cosmetic category. Even the mind set of male consumers is changing. The fast emerging men’s grooming products market has also boosted the cosmetic sector. There is a rise in demand for essential everyday items like bath and shower products, hair care, oral hygiene and skin care products. Realizing the wide potential in rural markets, the cosmetic companies have invested heavily on promoting product visibility among rural folk, which has increased the demand for bar soap, talcum powder, lipstick, tooth powder and hair oil in these areas. The Indian rural market comprises of nearly 828 Million people i.e. 70% of the overall country population. These people generally prefer unorganized market to buy a cosmetic product, which usually belongs to domestic players. Although the penetration of the cosmetic products in these areas is continuously increasing, international players are facing quite reluctant environment due to the lack of consumer confidence.
Domestic players in this sector are giving stiff competition to global players in rural markets. With increased demand and consumer awareness, these players have even upgraded their production quality and technology to retain profits in future. On the other hand, big brands have opted for various innovative strategies to lure the rural consumers. One of the most effective strategies is the sachet format which helps the consumers to try new products at cheaper costs. Companies are focusing to expand their product portfolio in various ranges of products, thus giving an array of choices to the consumers. With the objective of increasing brand recognition and reliability in these markets, companies have come up with innovative consumer engagement activities like the FAL (Fair and Lovely) Vani initiative by HUL and more.
At present, the industry size is worth Rs 10,000 crore, the study by industry body Assocham said. The figures are predicted to increase drastically with rising rural consumer spends in this category. It’s uncertain if domestic players will continue to rule the rural landscapes or global players will take away the pie. But certainly the whole phenomenon has resulted in availing high quality cosmetics products at reduced prices to the consumers.
Branding and advertising are essentials for any SME to grow big. However, SMEs face a significant challenge of limited budgets and resources. In such a scenario, cost effective advertising is what can ease the problem of SMEs.
Vritti i-Media, a next generation advertising solution provider in Maharashtra has come up with innovative audio advertising solution for advertisers. Vritti i-Media has partnered with Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) to run audio advertisements at various district bus terminals. They have been appointed as the Sole Authorized Agency by MSRTC to run commercial audio advertisements that are played along with the Buses’ arrival/departure announcements. Thus ensuring 100% compulsory listening for small towns and rural market consumers who travel frequently in MSRTC Buses. Since the advertisements are aired through centralized web server, Vritti i-Media has been able to connect with consumers in the most remote villages of Maharashtra. The audio network of Vritti i-Media is currently spread across 80+ locations of MSRTC bus stands covering key centers, investor hubs, all districts, important taluka places and pilgrim centres in Maharashtra.
Advantages of Vritti i-Media’s audio advertising solution to SMEs in Maharashtra:
- Reach of 103 Million people
- On-air time morning 6am to night 10pm daily
- Broadcasting every 30 minutes
- Passengers on an average change every 30 minutes and that assures your advertisement is heard by new person every time
- Every District bus stand – Average 40000 passenger footfalls every day
- Per persons cost is almost 10% compared to other media and impact is 100%
- Audio advertisement in local language can reach out to illiterates as well
- Advertisement releases at various district place bus stand and repetition throughout the day and month create a brand image
- Advertisement is heard across bus stand and up to 100 meter periphery
- Mandatory listening as the advertisement is coupled with the bus departure announcement. Passengers are actually waiting to hear the announcement
- 100% battery backup to ensure 16 hours running of system
- Advertisement can be changed within 30 minutes
Vritti i-Media assures wider reach for SMEs in cost effective budgets. This innovative concept of audio advertising solution has also won 2 Gold and 1 silver awards at the Outdoor Advertising Awards, 2011. Gold Award for most coveted “Media owner for western region”, Gold Award for “Best Transit Media and Silver” Award for the Best Format Innovation – New Media category.
Vritti i-Media has been responsible for making various brands a house hold name in rural and semi urban areas of Maharashtra. SMEs like Kirti Gold, Maharashtra K knowledge Corporation, Gujarat Tea traders – Vikram Tea, Pitambari, Kalnirnay publications and many more have been successful in building a brand name in rural and semi-urban parts of Maharashtra with the help of Vritti’s advertising network.
The article is authored by Mr. Rajesh Radhakrishnan, Head-Marketing, Vritti i-Media on the official India Mart Blog.Image source: Top News.in
Client: Hindustan Unilever- New Wheel Detergent
HUL used Vritti i-Media’s audio advertising network at Nashik & CBS (Thakkar Bazar) S T stands in Maharashtra in August, 2010 to increase recall of its washing detergent, New Wheel bar. The campaign was targeted towards women, specifically, housewives from the age group of 20- 50 yrs.
In order to assess the success of the campaign, Vritti i-Media conducted a survey through Genesis, a market research firm. Interestingly, the survey showed extremely high recall on the advertisement even though the campaign commenced just 4 days before the survey.Surprisingly, 80% of the respondents even completed the New Wheel punchline correctly.
You can also take a look at the survey findings in the Details research report below:
To know more about Vritti i-Media’s audio advertising solution in Maharashtra, visit: www.vrittiimedia.com