Introduction The emergence of a big middle class, which is once again divided into three classes, like the lower middle class, the middle class at the middle and the upper-middle class, has forced the Marketing WizKids to re-formulate their strategies in Marketing. Certain positive and more transparent trends are also now seen in terms of using social media, not only by the marketers but also by the customers themselves. This is having profound implications for the growth or decline of many businesses.
Some ramifications in this regard are a) Emergence of new forms of Markering by the Retailers b) Localized discount sales for the "touch and feel" syndrome c) The One shop Experience d) Advertising with a Big purpose of Engaging customers e) The emergence of Online Marketing and e) Branding as a big weapon.
New forms of Markering by the Retailers The Big Boss of Organized Retail, Kishore Biyani, with his Big Bazaar chain of huge discount stores, has already re-written the rules of the game. However, even he has just touched the tip of the iceberg. Realizing that he needed more personalized services to compete with the friendly neighborhood Kirana guys, he has launched hundreds of small retail shops what will be opened nearer to the residential areas in all towns, across India. His target is to reach 450 big Big Bazaar outlets and 8000 to 9000 small-format stores by 2027. This is a very significant development, and it remains to be seen if he can replicate the success of the huge Big Bazaar stores that offered a new shopping experience to millions of young customers. Even the common man is attracted by the discounts that Kishore Biyani offers. He now has a turnover of Rs.40,000 crores ( approximate figures ) out of which an estimated Rs.5000 would have come from the small store format. He has also launched an online platform for a small fee; the customers do not mind paying this, as they can order goods over the phone and these are delivered home. He has 7,00,000 such customers and hopes to grow this to 1.7 million customers by the end of 2019.
Big Bazaar is not alone. The Aditya Birla table is already very active. Alongside these big giants, in every city, there are local players who are also playing the same game. They offer great convenience, as the customer can still feel the product before he buys it.
Localized discount sales for the "touch and feel" syndrome Hook on to the local TV channels in Tamil, if you know the language. It is very easy to understand the cultural context. Since the average Tamilian is so much used to songs and dance in each Tamil movie, the TV advertisements of big players like Pothy's, Chennai Silks, Jayachandran Textiles and so on, have milked the sentiments of all classes of the middle class and even the rich. To top it all, there are hundreds who do their shopping to get the massive discounts that these retail giants offer. They now have a pan-Tamil Nadu presence and are virtually drawing hundreds of thousands of customers through high decibel advertising. Once this is done, the retailers know what to offer and how. It should be noted that at least thirty percent of the buyers are those who are afraid or uneasy with online shopping. This works to their advantage. This figure of thirty percent is a rough estimate, obtained through some trade sources. This is now sought to be replicated in every State. Every big city has such stores.
The one-shop Experience Shops such as Saravana Stores offer so many things to so many people. The branded FMCG items are also available and there are discounts. The rich and the upper-middle class also flock to such stores to just "feel" the experience and sometimes buy one or two items.
However, the lower middle classes spread a good message by word of mouth. They find that they get value for money. This is a self-perpetuating phenomenon. The "he is our man" kind of feeling about the owner also has its own effect. Similar shops are reportedly doing roaring business in other cities as well. In every State, there are equivalents to the Saravana Stores model, and this is not confined to just Big Bazaar. There are powerful local competitors.
Advertising with the purpose of engaging customers No advertisement ever aims to just talk about product attributes. Today, there is so much of engagement of the customer. He is the center of all action. For example, take the Hamam advertisement. It tries to hook women customers. It jolly well knows that Haman is already strongly positioned in the minds of millions of customers as a family soap.
Cut to advertisements for televisions or air-conditioners. The "Mr. Murthy" figure in all Volta's advertisements is so famous even today. The suggestion is that the customer should be as intelligent as Mr. Murthy to conserve energy by using only intelligent Voltas air-conditioners. The advertisement of Asian Paints, which shows a middle-class family totally amazed by the quality of painting in a house where the prospective bride resides, has caught the imagination of middle classes like never before. This is exactly what we call engagement. Asain Paints has now launched a home painting service. This sort of customization is enough for it to remain the market leader.
The emergence of online marketing The likes of Swiggy and Food panda are growing by leaps and bounds. Online marketing is in. Though this is now restricted to the cities, they might penetrate smaller towns in the near future. Such is the reach of online marketing. According to Wikipedia, the revenue that is now projected through online retail is expected to be $100 billion and $35 billion of this will come through fashion online e-commerce, by 2021. Though it is still small, social media is now engaging customers like never before. People are hooked to Facebook and opinions about specific products get discussed in great detail. The Youtube videos on restaurants in various cities and in various languages are enough to keep the sales increasing day after day. Online Marketing is now slowly coming of age.
Branding as a big weapon This will always be a very important part of Marketing., Every single product is now being advertised for unique qualities. However, this has the danger of making any product a commodity, if the customer starts feeling that all products are similar. That is why there is always an emotional component thrown in. When such emotional elements also describe the brand, the customer often remembers the emotion behind the advertisement and the brand.
The best example of this is the highly successful advertisement of RIN, the detergent from Hindustan Uniliver, (now called Unilver India Limited), with a highly memorable tagline "don't judge a book by its cover" featuring a very young and assertive girl. There is Domex, which claims to clean up all germs. Another memorable advertisement is of Dabur Redpaste which shows a small girl talking about all the product attributes, with an element of humor in it.
Conclusion In the years to come, online marketing will from a bulk of all sales. However, the touch and feel brick and mortar model will also thrive, as the local big players will jump into all formats and try to beat the likes of Big Bazaar in markets in the big metros and in the B-class cities. In the smaller towns where Big Bazaar cannot grow, the Kirana guys and the small supermarkets will continue to keep defining the rules of the game. In any case, the customer has never had it so good!