The first debate of Season 2 kicks off with Atul Phadnis, Sadashiv Nayak, Ronita Mitra and Amitabh Pande as speakers
Sarmistha Neogy | Mumbai | December 1, 2014
IAA Debates Season 2, organised by International Advertising Association (IAA) India Chapter and presented by Dainik Bhaskar Group, saw industry leaders debating whether ‘Metro markets are losing their sheen to Tier II and Tier III towns for consumer products and services.’ The event took place on Friday, November 28, 2014 at Gallops, Mahalaxmi Race Course, in Mumbai.
The speakers who spoke for the motion were Atul Phadnis, CEO, What’s ON and GM (APAC) of Gracenote, and Sadashiv Nayak, CEO, Future Retail. Spwakinf against the motion were Ronita Mitra, Senior VP, Brand Communication & Insights, Vodafone India, and Amitabh Pande, Senior Director, Consumer Insights & Strategy, Pepsico India Region. The session was moderated by Mini Menon, Executive Editor, Bloomberg TV India, who made sure that it was a “structured debate”.
Phadnis kicked off the debate saying that the metro markets were very costly and also challenging at the same time, whereas in Tier II and Tier III markets, one can get the resources at much cheaper rates. There is also a high level of saturation in the metro markets and they are very crowded because not only are the Indian brands competing against one another, but there are a host of other brands including those from MNCs and other foreign labels jostling with each other to manage a space in this competitive world. “While the metros are growing at a rate of 4.5 per cent, the tier II and III towns are witnessing a 6 per cent growth. I am not saying that metros are history, but yes, they are surely losing their sheen,” he said.
PepsiCo’s Pande summed up his views against the topic in four points. “Metros are not losing their sheen because facts don’t seem to suggest that. Two years back it was yes, but not now; in fact, majority of businesses are still coming from the top 8 metros. Secondly, metros are shining and they need to shine. Marketers are going out of their way to make this possible. Thirdly, metros can shine; and finally, to say that metros are not shining is just pure lazy marketing.”
The third speaker of the day, Future Retail’s Nayak, spoke of greater consumption in smaller towns compared to metros. He said, “Look at the amount of time that people in Tier II and III towns get to spend with each other, everything is located so close by; they don’t spend time stuck in snarling traffic jams while commuting great distances. According to me, the few hours which you save adds to consumption. It is very similar to the concept that happy hours build consumption. On the other hand, look at what people in the metros are doing: we have this habit of reclaiming things which are meant to be there, for e.g., a simple candle light dinner to just spend quality time with your partner!? Finally, cities are polarising people and the disparity between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is humongous.”
Rebutting Nayak’s claim, Mitra from Vodafone said, “Yes, in cities we have distances to cover, but that is where technology comes into place – people are catching up with their lost time with the help of internet on their mobiles. Sixty per cent of the population using social media are from the metros and social media is all about opinions and influencers. Metros are where the future is and they are the trendsetters in everything. Yes, there is a difference between a served and a serving class, but nowhere will you find a better example of an egalitarian society, where a person sitting in a BMW and also in an auto rickshaw are stuck in the same traffic jam and no one is able to do anything about it. It is the best place for women, and thus, you can find majority of them shifting to metros from smaller towns, running away from the shackles of patriarchy. Metros are where the best educational institutes thrive and development of art and theatre happens which is a proof of progress.”
At the end, moderator Menon urged the audience which had taken a stand at the beginning ‘for’ or ‘against’ the motion, to revise their positions based on the arguments made by both teams. Based on the response, she declared the team speaking ‘for’ the motion as the winner. The verdict therefore was: ‘Yes, the Metro markets are losing their sheen to Tier II and Tier III towns for consumer products and services.’