Jai Lala, Rajeev Jain and Mitesh Desai shared their views on growth and opportunity in small towns and rural areas during e4m and Hindustan Times webinar series – Naya Hindustan – Discovering the Hindi Heartland
exchange4media, in collaboration with Hindustan Times, organized a series of webinars titled “Naya Hindustan – Discovering the Hindi Heartland” to understand from marketers and media the opportunities in the Hindi language market and what it would take to win on these markets.
Chaired by Neeta Nair, Associate Editor, IMPACT, session panelists were Jai Lala, CEO, Zenith, Rajeev Jain, VP, Marketing, DS Group, Mitesh Desai, Head of Sales Excellence and Partner Partnerships agencies, HT Media Group.
At the start of the session, Lala said that much of the marketing space was focused on Bharat and the regions between India and Bharat. “I wouldn’t attribute it just to the pandemic, but it’s a trend that’s been going on for probably five to seven years, where the focus is definitely shifting to the heart of Hindi. And India is basically divided into two parts, one is urban India and the second is what we call Bharat. The essence of much of the marketing space is now focused on Bharat and between India and Bharat we call it the ‘Rurban’. It is therefore an area that has received immense attention. And it’s growing because that’s where India’s real next phase of growth is going to happen.
It is not that the urban is at its maximum. Urban continues to drive growth and there is huge potential in urban markets. It used to be completely dark in the media, but now with accessibility things have changed. With the advent of free television, free food, television channels, reaching out to them, you obviously had the print media, reaching out to them. And now, with the advent of digital, we have seen that the maximum growth in digital penetration is in this area. Thus, it becomes quite a lucrative market now to reach consumers.
“It is very true that the story of India is moving towards tier 2-3 and rural areas. I will divide it into three categories basically – cities with population above 10 lakh, cities with 1-10 lakh and cities below 10 lakh. The population penetration of more than 10 lakh of any product is already quite high. This does not mean that there will be no more growth, there will be growth. But certainly the penetration of any product the further down one goes in the strata of the population is relatively less. So it certainly gives more opportunities for any trader to reduce production in those areas for higher growth,” Jain said, while sharing a marketing perspective on growing tier 2-3 and rural markets.
Elaborating further on the factors driving growth in Bharat, he explained, “The drivers of growth can be diverse. The first is that the disposable income of the rural population and Tier 3 cities also increases. Secondly, digital also plays a very important role and more and more rural audiences are embracing digital now. Today, OTTs are heavily penetrated and before OTT, satellite channels were present as such in rural areas. All of these things have increased consumer aspirations in Tier 2 cities and when they have aspirations and income level is as well. And in fact, companies are reaching out to them. And I too agree that this is not a phenomenon that started during the pandemic, it started before that. But it accelerated further during the pandemic because the effect of the pandemic was a bit less in rural areas.
Talking about the media consumption habit of consumers in Hindi-speaking markets, Desai shared, “Before, what India did today, Bharat did tomorrow. But not anymore. What we see is that the trends move faster and sometimes in parallel. So we’re no longer looking to watch what metropolitan cities or India are doing and then replicate it elsewhere, but trends are changing faster. In terms of media consumption, we see that the Hindi Heartland is changing significantly. So, at first glance, the trends are largely consistent with any large metro. So we are seeing increased adoption of digital platforms, which include digital news, entertainment platforms such as social media. Now, all of this is essentially facilitated by low bandwidth costs and cheaper, more powerful mobile devices. Smartphones today are around $5000 which is the cheapest smartphone and we know bandwidth costs have come down.
He further claimed that the maximum number of Midshipmen and Engineers in IAS are from the Hindi speaking belt. “And what has changed is that the COVID situation has only accelerated the adoption of digital platforms, not only the way people consume media, but also they introduce digital platforms in various fields. of life, such as education, shopping, content consumption and entertainment. However, what we have seen is that the basic need for space for news and information from these markets has remained essentially the same. And make no mistake, this belt produces the largest number of aspiring IAS, engineers in the country, in addition to being home to 50% of the population. So what we have seen are markets like UP, Bihar, Jharkhand which were relatively dark in the media and so print media has always played an important role in how Hindi Heartland has consumed news and information. The belt was always hungry for high quality information due to their aspiration to be in touch with politics, world news and general knowledge. So, inspired by that, at HD Media, we have followed the evolution of consumer behaviors and evolved the print and digital platforms with very intuitive functionalities. In fact, we were inspired by the way digital media is consumed, whether it’s social media or whatever.
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