A match between star and product vital for rural

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    Do brand ambassadors help stimulate the sales of FMCG products in rural India?
    Why do brands employ brand ambassadors? They want to influence majority of their target audience to engage with their brand more, buy more and consume more. Hence the question to ask is, will a brand ambassador be able to do that? If yes, the next question should be – what kind of qualities should s/he have such that majority of their target group associates the brand with the ambassador. Sometimes, the question will be no – maybe an awareness campaign, free sampling or packaging change will accomplish the job to be done in the most effective manner. If the management asks these questions and does what is best for the brand in the given situation, sales should follow.

    What factors guide a marketer in choosing a particular brand ambassador?
    When you are an ambassador, you are representing the brand and its values, hence a match in the personality is crucial. Equally important is that the target group should also be able to relate to this ambassador. I think a good match that considered both these factors was when Sushil Kumar, the Rs 5 crore winner of Kaun Banega Crorepati, was named by the Centre as the brand ambassador for its flagship rural job guarantee scheme MNREGA. He was himself a beneficiary of this scheme and his rags to riches story had made him a household name. He was a good fit with the brand and also was someone with whom the target group could relate to.

    Do you choose different brand ambassadors for rural market?
    It entirely depends on what is the job to be done by the brand. Is the task the same? Does the ambassador have the same equity with both the target groups. While most of the brands usually have the same person to represent the brand in both these markets owing to various constraints. Unfortunately, this becomes an ineffective exercise because it is very rare that the brand will be in its same product life cycle phase in both the distinct markets. A ‘blanket’ solution at such times might not be the best thing in the long run.

    How does a film star and a sports person differentiate each other in brand endorsement for rural markets?
    What differentiates them is their already existing image and personalities. And for actors, this image is formed by the genre of the latest films that they are doing; for sportsmen it could be their recently gained popularity. Fortunately or unfortunately, the page 3 phenomenon is less pronounced in the rural markets, and hence the personal lives may not have as much of an impact as the popular mass media does in shaping their perceptions.
    Finally, If these celebrities want to form a very distinct image, they should stick to choosing endorsements that compliment this image and not sign on to every assignment that comes on there way. This would just dilute their imagery, and in the long term, they will fail to lend value to the brand.

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