Focus on East: Marketers deep-dive into potential of the market
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the East, especially the North-East, market has been rather low in brands’ and marketers’ radar. While the rest of India gets a lion’s share of the ad spends, the East and North East markets often remain under-explored.
But this market offers a huge opportunity for brands and marketers, with a highly aspirational youth TG, high levels of brand awareness and the desire to experiment.
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With a very special discussion on ‘An Advertiser’s Perspective: A View of the Eastern Market’, Adgully’s endeavour is to put the spotlight on a market that is yet to be a part of mainstream marketing strategies. The special Webinar, to be held on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, between 4 pm and 5 pm, will explore indepth the market potential of the East and North East Markets. The Webinar is presented by News Nation.
Joining in the discussions will be an elite panel of marketing experts:
Jai Lala, CEO, Zenith India
Monaz Todywalla, CEO, PHD India
Poulumi Roy, CMO, RSH Global (Joy Cosmetics)
Sushant Panda, Team lead, Marketing and Communications strategy, Digital initiatives & International Business expansion, McENROE Consumer Products
Suparna Mucadum, Head of Marketing and Brand Custodian, Keventer Agro
For the ease of better understanding the East Market, we are trifurcating it further as the larger West Bengal market, the North East market and the Odisha market.
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According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), West Bengal is India’s sixth largest state in terms of economic size. Its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is expected to reach Rs 14.44 trillion (US$ 206.64 billion) in 2020-21. The state has a mix of agriculture and industry based market structure. It has a sizeable private sector presence, has a significant share of the IT market, and is well connected via road, air and sea.
The Bengal market sees the modern and the traditional co-exist profitably – with the age-old saree shops and latest in international brands existing side-by-side. While brand activity is seen throughout the year, it reaches a crescendo around the Dussehra-Durga Puja-Diwali festive period. The Bengal market sees a significant share of brands’ ad spends during sports events, mainly football and cricket. Cultural/ musical fests also serve as a melting pot for the young Bengali TG, who is aware, has a strong presence on social media and is highly aspirational.
Moreover, Bengal also serves as a window to neighbouring country Bangladesh market for Indian brands.
The North East
The Seven Sisters – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura – have now grown to eight with the addition of Sikkim. While the North Eastern states are well known for their scenic beauty and pleasant weather most parts of the year, apart from that not much is explored about this part of India. North Eastern states are mostly not covered in mainstream media unless there is some kind of calamity – usually the annual devastation caused by floods or some terrorist activity.
But the situation is gradually changing now – thanks to opening up of the air routes, more people from NE are travelling to other parts of India and the world. Digital and social media is bringing the NE states at par with people from the rest of India – at least in terms of awareness and connectivity. The NE region is rich in natural resources, flora and fauna, natural produce – mostly tea, sericulture, oil, coal. The economy is led by agriculture and minerals. There is hardly any presence of the private sector or big industries
The NE markets have traditionally been dominated by unbranded retail shops selling apparel, Gulla Maal (neighbourhood grocery) shops, which are mostly run by the Marwaris and Biharis and to some extent the Nepalis. Besides neighbourhood jewellers, who serve several generations of families. Consumers were not very brand conscious and went by either the price factor or whatever the shopkeeper recommended.
However, there has been a wave of change in the last 7-8 years and the NE market has seen setting up of malls and multiplexes, multi-cuisine and specialty eateries, entry of Ola, Uber and Rapido services, Zomato and Swiggy spreading their presence, and growth of brand preferences among consumers.
Travelling, media consumption and social media now dictate brand and fashion preferences. The largely youth TG is highly aspirational. There are now some strong youth icons from the NE region – Bhaichung Bhutia, Mary Kom, Hima Das, boxer Lovlina Borgohain, singers Zubin Garg and Papon Angaraag Mahanta, film director Reema Das, actors Adil Husain and Seema Biswas, the NorthEast United FC football team of the Indian Soccer League, among others.
The pandemic times and the lockdowns saw scores of youth employed in the rest of India return to their villages and hometowns. While staring at unemployment, a lot of the youth are turning into entrepreneurs – with fishery, piggery, sericulture, vegetable cultivation, bamboo and cane handicraft as the prime preferences. The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region has been providing further growth impetus to local businesses and helping the entrepreneurs find a wider market base for their products.
As a market, Odisha shares a lot of similarities with West Bengal. Rich in mineral and natural resources as well as traditional handicraft, Odisha is on track to become a modern, bustling market for the national players. The annual Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra attracts a heavy brand presence and so does the Dussehra-Durga Puja-Diwali festive period.
However, as in the case of the North East, very less data is available about brand engagement in the Odisha market and vast audience base in the state.
Without doubt, the East and North East Markets offer immense scope for growth and investment by brands and marketers. Our endeavour is to generate conversations, a far greater interest and a deeper understanding of these markets by brands, marketers and media planners.