As India’s mobile and digital explosion continues unabated, marketers are now turning to online campaigns to engage new audiences and align their brands with causes including safe sex and women’s empowerment.
Three senior agency figures in India were interviewed about the role of content marketing in targeting today’s consumer in India – particularly in rural areas – and their views on what would be key for marketers to find success in the discipline as it matures.
Understanding of local content consumption is key
Content targeted at rural and semi-urban India needs to address the language challenge, as different states and different regions have different local languages and dialects. This is as much about understanding local media consumption habits as the languages themselves.
“Content relevance needs to be of paramount importance. As internet access increases in rural and semi-urban areas, so will the need for individual content viewing, which is a departure from group content viewing in the TV era,” said Arun Iyer, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer at Lowe Lintas in Mumbai.
Going forward, Iyer believes local language capabilities for video and social media content marketing will be very important, especially in rural areas.
“45% of OTT users consume content in regional languages. With increased digital adoption across the rural geographies, this is bound to go up rapidly and even disproportionately. Some estimates say that by 2021 rural content consumption could comprise almost 70% of the national consumption.”
And with India’s rural internet connectivity booming as residents get mobile phones for the first time, marketers need to be mobile inclusive – ideally, mobile first – in the engagement strategies for rural and semi urban areas.
“The content, hence, will need to be on-demand, binge-worthy and snackable. Be mobile first. Explore content syndication possibilities with platforms such as Biscoot, Vuclip, etc, for local content dissemination,” Iyer said.
Others feel differently: Prem Narayan, Chief Strategy Officer at Ogilvy & Mather India, believes that that in many categories such as FMCG or retail or even certain durables, there is hardly any difference in the way urban and rural audiences consume video content and social media.
“We must not treat semi-urban and rural as a totally different world from urban. The sensibilities and aspirations of this audience visa-a-vis urban may not be as starkly different as some of us might perceive… At best there may have to be regional or local language nuances. With the wide spread increase of data consumption, the gap has further reduced between urban and rural in the last couple of years,” he said.
“If content marketing is to build brand engagement or create brand love, what works for a city suburb may well work in a village. What we need to watch out for is to not ‘westernise’ our thinking when we create video content. The opportunity may be to ‘tell real stories of their lives’. Local and real may work really well.”
There may be a huge opportunity in the world of education and ‘entertaining how to videos’ as these audiences start experiencing newer and newer things. In this regard, the behaviours of rural and urban consumers may not be too different as they learn about new products via online videos and social media. As categories move from low to high penetration, this may play a critical part in driving adoption and action.
Dhunji Wadia, President of Rediffusion Y&R in India, believes content needs to be useful and relatable, too: “The content needs to be useful to the audience, it should help them in their lives in some way,” he said.
“Useful does not mean boring or serious… on the contrary fun helps to change human behaviour. It’s all about persuasive power, even here one needs to break the clutter and connect at an emotional level.”
It’s a strategy which paid off for the agency in its campaign for Tata Motors, ‘Use Dipper At Night’ to promote safe sex for Indian truckers. Dipper was a low cost condom that Tata Motors promoted to the audience. But how do you reach an audience that is constantly on the move, how do you talk to truckers in remote media dark highways? Painting the trucks themselves with the message, so that truck drivers in rural areas couldn’t miss it.
“It was a clever idea. It did not preach or sermonise, it made it real and relatable for the truck driver, by borrowing language and design from the trucking industry itself,” Wadia said.
Think long term to build brand love
Narayan feels video and social media content marketing is here to stay in India.
“It has multiple dimensions. At a basic level it will drive brand salience and create brand love. Therefore marketers should start treating it as a long term brand building tool rather than a direct marketing or one-off tool. Even here, doing many interventions may be more productive than putting out one-off emotional videos,” he said.
“Leverage other networks to reach the right audience: A lot of videos are spread through user groups on Whatsapp – like painters/masons etc. They even use them as their marketing tools with their end customers. If brands use video content as much as a B2B or as a tool to empower the influencers they may have huge gains.”
This article was originally published on WARC