Whenever I walk into NGO offices talking about brand marketing, advertising and sales promotions they look at me with bunched up faces as if they were drinking Guinness. “Our arch nemeses,” they say “are those advertising executives who sell BS (or ‘dung’ in Queen’s English) for a living.” Being of the Reformer segment in the Y&R 4Cs they express themselves differently because they are doing good in the world, unlike their materialistic counterparts in the business sector.
The do-gooders prefer to use softer and vague terms for their media communication, such as ‘external affairs’ for their hard-nosed PR, ‘mass outreach’ for their advertising campaigns, and ‘behavioural change interventions’ for their marketing promotions. The esoteric name they have for their entire set of customers is ‘stakeholders’ which sounds holistic and rolls easily off the tongue.
The consumer segment that is often ignored by the no-nonsense marketing executives is the Resigned Poor, who they generally consider to have no money to spend on brands. If they do buy brands they will buy the smallest packs that have negligible profit margins, and if the Establishment Survey data from KARF is anything to go by, this group is decreasing in number as the economy grows.
It really is good news that the size of the poorest population is decreasing with time, and contributing to this progress is the work of the benevolent NGOs that have the Resigned Poor as a key stakeholder of their programmes. The people in this segment are considered net receivers as vast proportions of cash and resources spent by not-for-profit organisations and other earning consumer segments are directed to them.
They live off their land through subsistence farming and by keeping domestic animals that supplement their nutritional needs. In the event that they have a medical emergency that requires a hospital visit, they will happily sell one of their herd to settle the bill. They mostly occupy what we know as deep-rural, and the little money that they use to buy necessities is usually received in the form of gifts from relatives who live in urban areas.
The Resigned Poor are ardent subscribers to traditional values and they take their community responsibilities seriously. It is of no surprise that they tend to be older and their best days lie in the past, which they think about with a warm, nostalgic glow.
Brand managers have come to realise that they cannot afford to ignore this market segment and it is mainly because they are net receivers of goods and services. The telecommunications companies earn income from the proportion of phone calls and mobile money that streams to them. Packaged goods companies that are fighting tooth and nail for market share have found that supplying those tiny packages in the rural areas increases their sales universe.
However the alcoholic beverage companies are still struggling to serve this segment because they form the majority of consumers that enjoy both traditional and illicit brews, which constitute up to 50 percent of the volumes imbibed annually.
They live a truly day-to-day existence devoid of external influences and are pretty much stuck in their ways and so they chose brands that are well established and unchanging, preferring safety and economy above all else. Their core motivation in life is survival.