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DTH, print media have bridged rural-urban gap

AVINASH OZA, Group Director - Brand Communications, DDB MUDRA MAX talks to MOHD MUSTAQUIM about the impact of brand ambassadors and increasing media penetration in rural market


Avinash Oza
Group Director (Brand Communication), DDB Mudra Max
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What is the impact of brand ambassadors on sales in rural India?
An ambassador is not a sole reason behind purchase. Low-unit packs, availability at next door retail outlet, double income households, kids’ pocket money and rural retailers proximity to a rurban /urban pocket are few reasons behind soaring FMCG sales. For example, teenagers between the age group of 12-16 (10-20k pop strata) get Rs 100 as pocket money per month and they spend Rs. 40 on Maggi. Few retailers and kids remember Amitabh as brand endorser for Maggi, but taste, convenience, easy-to-cook, and any happy moment to be celebrated with Maggi are few reasons to buy it.

What criteria do you consider in choosing a brand ambassador?
Thanks to DTH, print media reach which have left no gap between our counterparts. Rural consumers do read and know about personal lives of celebrities and what a celebrity is famous for. They also relate brand endorsers’ qualities like strength, maturity, likeability, area of expertise, perception and other commons with the product. A good marketer will always ask if my endorser is scoring high on other criteria like believability, trustworthiness, reliability, consistency, etc. In certain categories where the celebrity influence is low or is a misfit, use of look-alike people, from the community will have great impact on sales. In agri product categories a USP or many USPs act a celebrity than a celebrity.

Do you choose different brand ambassadors for rural market?
Believability factor of consumers in the brand ambassador is most important and the believability scores should be known before bringing brand ambassadors on board. For example, while discussing with rural audience once they said “a celebrity (cricketer) owns a Ferrari, why is he promoting a moped brand? Also how the celebrity is socially active, easily connects with audience in any geography will work wonders. Amir Khan will have high believability scores than Govinda as he connects better.
 
How do film stars and sportsmen differentiate each other in brand endorsement?
Everyone likes money and fame, but celebrities should check balance between brand imagery and their imagery. One should not overpower each other. Dhoni is a perfect fit for tractor brand as he is a trustworthy, reliable, dependable and from a non-metro background.

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