Focusing primarily on customers in India’s major metro areas may be costing marketers critical sales in the tier-2 and tier-3 towns across India. Dainik Bhaskar Group is helping marketers gather critical information about this rapidly changing segment of the Indian population that has been christened “Unmetro.”

Unmetro may be loosely defined as non-metro urban India – urban India outside of the top metro areas. Accounting for 80% of all urban dwellers and more than 70% of all urban consumption of goods and services in the country, Unmetro is an economic terrain that is fast reaching critical mass.

It’s here that the India’s 21st growth story is being written. 

These are about 8,000 cities and towns across the Unmetro, beyond the traditional top metros also referred as to as the rest of urban India, Middle India, or tier 2/3/4 cities. Unmetro includes 45 cities with a population of more than 1 million and another 480 cities with a population of 100,000 or more. 

Unmetro has undoubtedly become the destination for marketers across sectors, and there has been an apparent shift in focus of advertisers from being Metro-centric to Unmetro-inclusive. Enhanced infrastructure, rising affluence, and literacy rate act as catalysts in this tectonic shift.

This was brought to life to core advertisers, marketers, and media agency professionals in three half-day conclave hosted by Dainik Bhaskar Group in the three main metros: Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangaluru.

In addition to data analytics presentations and panel discussion, the conference featured a few brand owners and custodians sharing their success in Unmetro, which is forcing brands to re-evaluate their market strategies.

At the conferences, marketers demonstrated that some of the previous notions they’ve had about the Unmetro are changing at a fast pace. Long considered to be full of consumers primarily tolerant of lower-quality goods and driven to buy chiefly by value, advertisers are learning that these are simply fallacies. 

One speaker at the conclave said her company had learned that although Unmetro consumers in smaller towns do factor in value as part of their purchases, marketing techniques once thought not to matter — like customer service, store atmosphere, and quality presentation — are critical.

A major point of reference at the conclave was the saturation of demand and consumption in few categories in India’s major metropolitan area. Although it may sound so, Unmetro is not a new market. Technology and infrastructural changes are helping create new means to reach consumers.

Marketers are learning the importance of making sure their products available online are also available in Unmetro stores, especially in smaller cities, because technology is increasing the demand for products. 

Discussion around the subtle differences between cultures in different regions of the Unmetro took center stage at the conclave. Unmetro residents pay attention to these differences. If the marketer is conscious of this fact and demonstrate to the Unmetro market its sensitivity and understanding, it helps to make a mark.

Speakers pointed out that northern and southern regions of Unmetro India almost behaves like two different countries. Marketers are becoming more aware of their differences as they focus more on these rapidly increasing markets. 

The conclave further led to creation of www.unmetro.in, where one can find relevant case studies, interviews, articles of interest, and summary on Unmetro conclaves.

The Unmetro market push is far from over. The Dainik Bhaskar marketing calendar for 2014-15 will focus with new a set of initiatives while continuing to hold these conclaves.