Going Deep & Wide: How to reach Bharat’s new internet users

Regional Marketing

Listing a few learnings from homegrown brands and platforms like Clovia, Bewakoof.com and ShareChat through their experiences scaling growth with a targeted approach towards regional advertising and marketing.

Why regional marketing is important and how Tier II and III cities can drive the next phase of growth for your businesses? Abhimanyu Mishra, Head of Marketing, Bewakoof.com, Soumya Kant, Founding Member, Clovia, and Palkush Rai Chawla, Head of Product and Monetization, ShareChat share some tips, tricks, and learnings.

Engaging With Bharat’s New Internet Users

As of August 2021, India is home to around 800 million Intenet users of which 450-500 million users are active on social media platforms. As custodians of leading brands and platforms, how do they reach and engage with Bharat’s new internet users?

According to Somya, the human side of the brand has become very important. She adds, “When a user is connecting with you, s/he is looking for something specific and you need to get their attention in two seconds while they are endlessly scrolling. To do that we use a lot of vernacular content and memes.”

Every piece of communication at Clovia is centered around joy as a keyword.

At ShareChat and Moj, the content is by default organized in someone’s language. The keyword here is relevance, “If we are able to find that relevance from the language and cultural point of view, and if we are able to surface that among millions of content pieces which are on the internet, rank it better for our users then automatically they are more engaged and spend more time on our platforms,” says Palkush.

He further shares that matchmaking is a vast problem both on the supply and demand side. It has more than 250 million users on ShareChat and Moj and 2 billion content pieces surfacing every day. So it becomes a matchmaking challenge. The platform wants to do justice as a marketplace and make sure that the right content reaches the right audience which leads to relevance and engagement.

For Bewakoof.com, it’s important to be present where the audience is. On an app called Changa which is a regional short video app, the brand has 500k followers and they are present on around 25 social platforms.

“The kind of content that goes on YouTube is very different from what would go on Changa.  Instagram and Facebook also have a big difference – within the platforms itself the formats you consume, story, reels, posts, etc. We have got a good mix and know which audience is consuming what content and what works on which platform.”

Semi Urban Markets – Consumer Insights & User Behaviour

New social apps have democratized content creation for consumers in semi-urban markets. What are some of the differences seen in audiences from urban and semi-urban cities and how do you as a brand, leverage those data points?

“One of the problems that these cities face is the unavailability of products, limited resources,” says Somya. One of the biggest reasons why Tier II and III customers are shifting to the internet is for the width and variety of options available online.

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“When you build in that regional preference into your product and provide a bridge to the premium range, you bring in almost a mall experience but online to their homes – that is what makes all the difference for them. While from an urban customer point of view, the availability is there even in local markets. For them transacting online is more focused on ease,” she adds

Until 2014-15 the inspiration for shopping has largely been TV and Bollywood, notes Palkush. Because of internet penetration and especially the content wave, a lot of this inspiration has proliferated beyond urban cities. Due to this inspirational content, the aspirations people follow and now you have digital celebrities as well driving a lot of this inspiration.

“The only roadblock is accessibility. Even then the e-commerce platforms are able to solve this problem through distribution or marketing channels. We want to build a video shopping experience within MOj and ShareChat where brands would be able to share their catalogs with the influencers and they tag their content with the catalog and the users can buy with a simple funnel from that video surface itself in few clicks,” he shares.

For Bewakoof, social media is not about sales but reach. The brand reaches out to about 260 million through social media handles and engage with 8 million of them in a month.

Abhimanyu adds, “Sales is the bi-product that we see. Reach, accessibility, and influencers driving the buying behavior. The products that get sold – there’s a lot of difference across different markets. 33% of our business comes from Tier II markets and beyond.”

Challenges Of Entering New Markets

Bewakoof.com launched different language products in Telugu, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, and Tamil. Reaching out to these audiences was another challenge as the user preference varies every mile. The kind of success it saw with Bengali and Marathi, Telugu failed to deliver.

“And how do we reach out to the audience is primarily influencer marketing, ” Abhimanyu says. “There was a Bengali influencer who drew 3 million views on our YouTube video. Apart from that in terms of distribution, we have a significant amount of investment in West Bengal and Assam markets. The major downside is heavy investment and distribution with influencer marketing.”

Every 100 miles body types and color preference change in India and hence the product launches at Clovia are focused around regional insights. Somya adds, “We don’t follow a brand ambassador kind of model, influencers who are big in specific regions and create content that a particular region is consuming.”

According to Palkush, regional marketing through influencers makes a lot more sense than finding this audience through Google marketing.

The panelists shared their thoughts at Samosa Talks Live. You can watch the entire session here:


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