It is said that when the going gets tough the tough get going. Some of the strategies companies are employing to beat the downturn are:
- Find New Niches: Some companies are finding new niches which are more visible, easier to record and have a lower cost of acquisition. Maruti is targeting priests in Tamil Nadu and turmeric growers in Nashik. Groundnut and cotton growers in Jamnagar due to the bumper harvest are cash-rich and are buying mid range and high-end Maruti cars. The sales team was also able to sell 40 Eeco vans as a cost-effective mode of transport to restaurant and motel owners on the highways of Ahmedabad and Baroda.
The niches can be in rural market too where there is more scope for growth vis-à-vis the urban centres. Mayank Pareek, the CMO of Maruti has identified 300 new niches which account for 10% of company’s growth which include potato growers in West Bengal, blue-pottery makers in Jaipur, timber merchants in Gujarat, granite polishers in Hyderabad, painters in Madhubani in Bihar & Nut-bolt manufacturers in Sonepat.
For the migrant workers in Mumbai using entry-level feature-phones, Vodafone launched an application of booking train tickets on IRCTC , says Vivek Mathur, Chief Commercial Officer, “with an application much cost-effective than a connection of MBs of a data plan.”
Godrej was selling Aer, its car freshener as a FMCG product through its traditional trade channels. But the response was not encouraging. The consumer care research team found that the car owners are possessive about their cars and the accessories and may not visit the conventional FMCG outlets to buy a ‘freshener’. Godrej changed the strategy and appointed different distributors mainly from the car accessory market. The sales started picking up.
2. Get out of the Office: Axis Bank is coming out with similar initiatives which include involving senior citizens to open accounts. The Senior Citizen Privileged Account offers health checks, bill payment, an ID card for medical emergencies and a CD of old movie songs. Manish Lath, head of marketing says, “it is not about acquisition business but more of people relationship.”
3. Listen to the Sellers: Dealers, retailers considered as an extended arm of an organization are the important touch-points with the customers. Aircel has launched a new reward scheme for the retailers who sell the highest number of mobile connections. The star performer’s wife is eligible for a brand new Hyundai Santro car and the runner-up gets to meet MS Dhoni in person. Chandu Virani, MD of Balaji wafers has meetings with 800 dealers in group of 40-50. The purpose is not about sales and achieving the numbers but to listen to them and resolve the bottlenecks.
Whatever business you are in; can you identify the new niches which were hitherto untapped and with whom there is a greater fit between your offerings and the niche’s requirement?