With smartphones now becoming so common throughout India, all types of brands, including those from fashion, FMCG, and more, are aiming to target consumers, especially women, in Tier 2 and Tier III cities now. The brands are doing so to expand their consumer base and to get the majority share of an almost untapped market.
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A Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report said that with the growing internet users, digitally influenced shoppers and online shoppers have more than doubled in recent years to reach 260-280 million and 210-230 million respectively in 2021.
In addition, Indian women are rapidly increasing their presence in the internet marketplace, where they already make up about 43% of the country’s new post-pandemic shoppers, the report stated.
According to Nisha Sampath, Brand Consultant and Managing Partner at Bright Angles Consulting, women's exposure has grown in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities due to various factors like internet penetration, travelling and affluence growth. However, access to these factors still lags in comparison to metro cities, creating a natural gap that marketers can now look to fill.
To do this, marketers are coming up with innovative ways to target prospective consumers in these cities. For example, many fashion brands travel to small towns to do truck shows, which includes carrying a part of their collection to attract buyers, said Sampath.
Prashant Sinha, Co-founder and COO, Momspresso, said not only D2C brands but a lot of FMCG brands are also targeting women in Tier2 and Tier3 cities aggressively. For this, they are using a platform called ‘MyMoney’ which is all about word-of-mouth marketing.
This platform has regular people who speak to other consumers in the world about a particular product. Women use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp to create video content to promote the product. This helps brands reach out to women in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, said Sinha.
Year on year, the penetration of smartphones has increased amongst the female gender in non-metro cities, according to Sumeet Singh, Group Chief Marketing Officer of InfoEdge.
She said the pandemic has brought ease of online use amongst women. Even women who are housewives have started using online mediums beyond the use of just WhatsApp and entertainment consumption. The sales rate of the products in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities reveals the increase in the trend of online shopping here.
However, the BCG report also shows that moderate and heavy shoppers are almost as likely to be over 45, female, and (often) from smaller cities—as they are to be metropolitan millennial males, the more traditional online buyers.
It is a known fact that women have a significant influence on business and branding strategies, whether it be through purchasing behaviour, the development of brand strategies keeping them in mind, or more reasons.
A shift in women consumer behaviour in T2 and T3 cities and the driving force:
According to a KPMG survey of 2,376 respondents based in Tier I, Tier II, and III cities, the willingness to adopt online channels among Tier-II and III consumers has increased by almost 27%. From 29% before Covid, 56% of Tier-II consumers were looking to buy goods online while the share for Tier-III consumers increased from 36% to 63%.
There was a significant uptick in the online behaviour of women seen after the pandemic. Purchasing immunity-related products for children, and increased shopping beyond Amazon, on platforms like Meesho and more was increasingly witnessed, said Sinha.
Sinha added that Momspresso receives a lot of requests from women belonging to non-metro cities who are looking for fitness, health, yoga and food recipes which clearly shows their shift in consumer behavioural patterns.
According to Sampath, a combination of factors can be the driving force behind the change in consumer behavioural patterns of women.
Giving an example, Sampath explained that the way Mamaearth markets their product in these cities are quite authentic and are more focussed on conscious living. The whole marketing story of the brand is about being eco-friendly and organic, so every product consumer buys capture their imagination and probably this is appealing to most of the women consumers in these towns and cities.
The word of mouth marketing is scaling up in T2 and T3 cities
Consumers in T2 and T3 markets typically rely more on recommendations from family, neighbours, and friends, and word of mouth plays a significant role. Brands are leveraging these schemes to attract more target audiences in marginalised markets.
Citing one of the best examples, Singh noted, “We have a business called 'Jeevansathi' where both females and males come and make their profiles because they're looking for a life partner. It always used to be that the number of female profiles posted by parents and siblings was higher than that of males, but over the years we have seen a change taking place in female consumption on the platform, a good number of women have started making their profiles, probably due to more word of mouth marketing taking place.”
Brands aggressively use influencer marketing and content creation tactic to target women in T2 and T3 cities
With the boom in social media, we see it is now expanding to almost all the platforms ranging from YouTube, Instagram and even Facebook. Many of the upcoming businesses are now targeting audiences from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities using these platforms. This is giving them more revenue as compared to the metros, especially if we talk about B2C businesses.
Storytelling, in Sinha's opinion, is crucial for drawing in customers, which is why Momspresso invests heavily in video content. There are two areas where content is produced: a blogging platform and a platform for making videos.
He said, “We have 75,000 creators who can create content for brands and if you want to promote this content through other people, then you can leverage it from the MyMoney platform.”
According to Singh, language can be a barrier for the brands to market their products in T2 and T3 cities. Hence, using vernacular language for advertising and roping in micro-influencers who have local outreach can create higher engagement opportunities in those areas.