Friday, April 4, 2008

Deciphering the Aam Aadmi....

Rural marketing workshop Session by Mr. M.P. Nandakumar, Director, Anugrah Madison Advertising Private Limited

It is fascinating to see how powerful a medium cinema is ....It has a history of creating revolutions in the world and in our own backyard it has been responsible to make or break individuals. People associate themselves with the stars on the silver screen so very well that they end up making them Demi – Gods and literally worshipping them. This was one of the important medium used by Mr Nandakumar, Director, Anugrah Madison and his team from Anugrah Madison to communicate to the rural population in the countryside of Tamil Nadu..

Mr Nandakumar shared with us the challenges involved in communicating to the rural masses , as it is a completely different sets of lifestyle, priority and belief system that they are catering to.

The session with him helped us analyse and understand the complexities involved with developing a communication strategy for people in rural India and the efforts taken to reach out to such a mass.

Understanding a communication and reacting to it depends on the play of the semantics, semiotics & syntactics with the mind of the consumer. Here is where the critical point lies. The mind of an urban consumer is extremely different from that of a rural ‘dimag’. After all , what is responsible for a particular type of perception by a urbanite is not the reason for a person from small town to think that way. This is what makes the job of communicating to the rural mass even more challenging and exciting.

The easy route to the mind of the consumer in the rural areas is things that he relates to easily, one of them being cinema and the cine stars. Hence the communication strategy devised by Mr.Nandakumar and his team had excerpts and catchy one liners ( called 'punch dialogues' in filmy lingo) from various movies of Mr.Rajnikanth, for the rural promotion. This was lapped up by the masses out there and created a buzz among the people regarding the product. So, in this part of the country, Who is telling what is equally important like what is being told !!
The needs and desires of the consumer in rural areas are much different from their urban counterparts. How much would one think of before buying a product like watch in the urban areas? ...Not much, in fact today watches are a lifestyle product in the urban market. But the scenario in the rural market was completely different when Mr .Nandakumar and his team went about promoting Titan Sonata Watches in the interior parts of Tamil Nadu.

Sonata was Titan’s premium brand in the urban market and was also priced accordingly. But the need to bring it to rural TN and create a necessity for such a product was a part of the case study he discussed with us. The way they went about achieving this and successfully positioning Sonata as an affordable ‘must have’ proposition for the success of every family was something to write home about.

The problem they faced in these markets was the absence of a felt need for a product like watch. Hence their campaign included tasks involving make them realise the need for such a product and thereby making it an essential part of every villager’s life. The TVC that they used specific to rural markets also spoke about this idea.

The TV ad they used portrayed a commoner, who doesn’t find the need for a watch, follows his day to day activities, keeping track of time purely on the basis of some events happening everyday in the village, which included a bus reaching the village at a particular time signifying a part of the day. Then using an emotional appeal to strike a chord with the audience they are speaking to , the problems associated with not possessing a watch was conveyed through the villager. This way they brought in the impact of a watch in the life of a common villager.
The impact of such a campaign had placed Titan Sonata in an enviable position in those markets for years to come.

This was one of those sessions which started with a topic which was not so relatable for a person from the metros, but it ended up with these words lingering in my mind about a rural customer-“Jaana Pehchaana , Phir Bhi hai Anjaana”. That’s the ultimate fact of life, we think we know everything about him, yet he remains a stranger to us. Added to that is the complexity of communication in this country where there are atleast 1500 rationalized mother tongues which may include various dialects !! So communicating in a country which writes in many languages and speaks in many more voices is definitely a task in itself. Well, not for experts like Mr.Nandakumar, who speaks atleast 8 languages easily like his mother tongue !!! But more than that, the way he and his team have packaged the whole communication, like an expert master chef, made us to realise that there is much more in rural marketing in terms of engaging the audience and driving the brand elements than a simple understandable communication.

By Pradeep, Marcom Varsity, CBS

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