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Marketers should tune in to small town India

There was a time when Indians viewed television only for prime time news, weekend specials like Ramayana, Mahabharata, or the Hindi movie on Sunday evening. A few fortunate people owned a television set, and were kind enough to let their neighbors watch special programs in their house. Advertising on TV was such a breeze back then. Fast-forward a few decades, and the story is rather unwieldy. Habits are changing fast.

To keep with the times, TAM Media Research, that measures TV viewership, has again changed the rules of the game by including Less than Class 1 (LC1) (under 1 lakh population) towns in their survey, since 2009. The growing consumer base in small town India is the focus of a lot of marketing initiatives. Nobody can say they’ve cracked the formula for television advertising in these markets as yet.

Earlier, marketers and industry players often criticized TAM for having a very narrow sample to represent the television ratings. To counter it, they have come up with this formula that represents Indian TV habits more comprehensively. In January 2013, TAM included a whole new set of towns, across five regions – Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh (including Uttaranchal), Rajasthan and PHCHP (Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh), besides Maharashtra. Now, TAM covers 92 per cent of the urban Hindi speaking markets (HSM), from the earlier 74 per cent. The five new LC1 markets carry 20 per cent weightage in the new HSM universe among which Uttar Pradesh (UP) LC1 has the maximum weightage.

This has caused a disruption in the so-far confident functioning of the TV ratings. The survey reveals habits of viewers that are nothing like their counterparts in larger cities, to which the TAM people meters were limited to until recently. Yet, surprisingly there has been hardly any talk about these numbers.

It has been four months, and no significant analysis has been put out using this mine of information. The ongoing digitization in metros seems to have drawn all the attention of the advertising and marketing fraternity in recent times and as a result, no major initiatives have been taken using this information on the lower town classes. This article is an attempt to shed some light on the TV viewership behavior in small town India.

A closer look at the data and some of the conclusions reveal interesting perspectives.

Data doesn’t reveal that power cuts in LC1s cause lower viewership:

There is no doubt that small town India, or for that matter most of India is reeling under heavy power cuts. Marketers are under the assumption that poor infrastructure and power cuts are leading to viewership going down according to the data presented. Since power cuts are more prevalent in smaller towns, TV viewership should automatically be lower.

However, looking at the LC1 data by TAM, other than UP, which shows some difference between the LC1 markets and the rest of the state, all other LC1 markets are virtually on par with the rest of the state. This is especially true in the prime time which is the key viewership time band. The evidence is not strong enough to indicate that massive power cuts are causing lower viewership. For marketers focusing on UP as a key market, a detailed analysis is needed to make the required changes in their plans since prime time TV is likely to deliver significantly lower numbers as compared to other states.

 

 Market 600 to 1200 1200 to 1800 1800 to 2400
 UP L C I  5.4 8.3 15.6
 UP – Total 5.5 8.4 19.1
 RAJ L C I 4.9 8.0 20.0
 RAJ – Total 5.2 8.5 21.3
 PHCHP L C I 8.6 9.0 19.8
 PHCHP – Total 8.4 9.2 21.4
MP L C I 4.5 9.9 22.3
 MP – Total 4.7 9.7 23.1
 GUJ L C I 6.5 10.5 20.9
 GUJ – Total 5.6 10.0 21.5

 

Media planning with HSM lens may not work for LC1 markets:

The TAM data reveals that other than UP, Star Plus is the leader across all LC1 markets. This might make it an obvious choice for a high reach campaign. However, a movie channel like Zee Cinema, which would normally figure as the 7th or 8th channel when analyzed at a HSM level, has a much higher share in the LCI markets than a general entertainment channel (GEC) like Sony and is ranked at number 4. When looking at channel selection with respect to a focus on LCI, channels like a Star Utsav could be a part of the mix. Star Utsav usually ranks 14th – 15th when analyzed at a north-west market level. An obvious inference is that Star Plus and Zee Cinema are safe bets in LC1 markets.

 

Channel

LC1

GUJ L C I

UP L C I

RAJ L C I

PHCHP L C I

MP L C I

UP

RAJ

PHCHP

MP

GUJ

HSM

Star Plus

10.4

9.9

9.4

8.0

12.2

12.3

10.5

9.4

11.5

11.5

11.6

9.3

Z Zee TV

9.2

5.6

13.3

4.8

9.4

7.3

10.6

5.4

9.5

7.5

5.9

7.6

Colors Viacom18

6.3

6.9

5.9

6.2

5.6

7.6

8.5

8.8

6.5

8.6

6.7

7.4

Z Cinema

5.3

4.9

5.6

6.2

3.3

6.5

4.9

5.0

2.9

5.2

4.3

4.0

SONY TV

4.6

4.9

3.8

5.8

5.1

4.6

4.9

5.8

5.7

5.6

6.7

5.8

SONY MAX

4.3

4.2

3.7

5.2

3.4

5.3

4.4

4.6

3.3

4.5

3.9

3.9

SONY SAB

4.1

7.1

3.3

5.8

3.3

3.4

3.6

6.2

3.2

4.3

8.2

4.3

Life OK

4.1

3.9

3.4

4.5

4.1

5.0

4.7

4.6

4.5

5.1

4.6

4.4

Star Gold

3.9

3.9

3.9

4.4

3.2

4.4

4.0

4.0

3.0

4.2

3.6

3.5

Star Utsav

3.9

2.2

4.6

4.3

2.1

4.9

2.3

3.2

1.3

3.9

1.4

1.8

 

A combination of 2-3 GEC’s based on the key markets and 2 top movie channels would ensure high coverage in LCI. Such a combination could garner more efficient GRPs and reach than a plan which has a very high investment on all the top 4/5 GEC’s and low presence on movies. It must, however, be noted that the deliveries need to be balanced depending on market priorities

Advertisers need to look at genres other than general entertainment, movies and music:

GEC’s (Hindi) and Hindi movies are key genres included in a plan to ensure the delivery objectives for each state in North West. Apart from the two key genres, music and Hindi news also help build reach in these markets. News, however is still a genre which is usually included only when the main TG is males.

In order to build reach beyond GEC, Hindi Movies and Music it is worth looking at the data.

 

Genre 2013 LC1 MARKETS GUJ L C I UP L C I RAJ L C I PHCHP L C I MP L C I
Gen Ent 46 43 46 44 45 48
Hindi Movies 22 20 22 25 16 24
Music 5 5 6 6 3 5
Total 72 68 74 75 64 78

 

In the PHCHP market the combined share of the three genres – entertainment, movies and music is the lowest. This is mainly due to the underperformance of Hindi movies – 16% share. The top 3 movie channels (Zee Cinema + Gold + Max) which contributes anywhere between 14% -17% of the share in the LC1 markets, only has a 10% combined share in PHCHP. This is one of the main reasons why the tasks of optimizing reach for PHCHP is quite a challenge using only the Hindi channels. Here, the inclusion of Punjabi channels to the plan becomes important for the market. However this is not the case for all markets.

Regional Channels are not always better than National Channels in LC1 markets.

In UP the shares of the regional channels in LC1 is far lower compared to the 0.1-1mn and 1mn+ markets. It has been deduced that the regional channels in the state mainly cater to the bigger towns. While Punjabi and Gujarati channels cater almost equally to all the sub-markets within the state, in MP and Rajasthan regional channels deliver slightly higher in the LC1 markets. Given that UP has the highest representation among HSM markets, for a brand with a deep focus on smaller town in UP national channels actually prove more important.

 

Genre Share in respective LC1 Share in respective 0.1 – 1Mn Share in respective 1Mn+ State Market % Diff (LC1 Vs State)
Reg – Guj 2.9 2.9 3.0 2.9 -2
Reg – PHCHP 8.3 9.8 8.5 9.0 -8
Reg – UP 0.9 1.7 2.0 1.4 -41
Reg – MP 1.6 1.3 0.9 1.3 24
Reg – Raj 0.9 0.8 0.6 0.8 13


Cable channels are an option worth exploring for advertisers as compared to Regional TV in LC1s:

Cable is still dominant in some of the LC1 markets. In PHCHP the share of cable is at par with that of regionals, hence could be used to supplement the regionals. In Gujarat, the share of cable is almost four times that of the regionals, again a case for inclusion. Coming back to UP, the market where regional TV is still not strong enough, cable advertising could certainly add on to the reach generated by Hindi channels.

Genre Cable TV Share
2013 LC1 5.1
GUJ L C I 8.7
MP L C I 2.4
PHCHP L C I 8.4
RAJ L C I 3.3
UP L C I 4.3