Wooing the Un-Metro Guy

Rapid urbanisation is one of the key factors impacting the socio-economic fabric of our country.

Rapid urbanisation is one of the key factors impacting the socio-economic fabric of our country. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates cities will house 40% of India’s population and account for 70% of GDP by 2030. From a marketing perspective, rapid urbanisation is interesting as it leads to new psychographic consumer segments and provides opportunities for brand growth.

In fact with rapid urbanisation, the workplace is likely to be filled with more white collar migrants in the near future. For a marketer, this segment is exciting as it did not exist two decades ago. Prior to economic liberalisation, most people who were born in smaller towns were made to stay at home due to the lack of opportunities elsewhere.

As a result, there are many new consumer segments that have emerged over the past decade. Our focus here is on the Un-Metro Guy, which is a psychographic profile — defined by his stage in life. We chose to understand him better using the social media content generated by Un-Metro Guys themselves — using our proprietary research technique

called Netnography. Based on our analysis, here are five points that could help marketers target and address their needs better.

What we must ask ourselves is who is the Un-Metro Guy? He is young, male and belongs to SEC AB. He lives in a metro but is a graduate from a smaller town, currently working in a company. What he typically wants to buy/use in his everyday life is: branded apparel (online and offline), mobile applications (for entertainment, communication, information and commerce), motorcycles, travel services (inter and intra city), financial services (banking, loans, credit cards) and household related items (FMCGs, etc).

The second thing to note is how does the Un-Metro Guy interact with the world? What we have found is that this segment behaves differently from the Urban Born, both in terms of language and expression. They use extensive use of vernacular words in vernacular script on social media, gifs , poetry and movie clips etc. They curate and create rich and varied material to express themselves.

Image Projected

This segment appears to project two types of self images based on posts, gifs, images and videos shared. The images here overlap—perhaps triggered by their state of mind while posting on social media. They are typically confident and poised in an urbane situation—posing in dark glasses on a mobike, holding a drink at a pub, hanging out with female co-workers, going on road trips with buddies, posing in front of key landmark buildings, foreign locations etc.

This segment is also typically caring. They often share posts about missing their families (especially mothers), crib about unsupportive bosses, lament the lack of a special someone, express financial worries etc. They also post inspirational poetry, spirituality related gifs, religious quotes etc. In contrast to the Urban Born, they reveal vulnerability and share their struggle to fit into life away from home. It is this interesting dichotomy of self image that needs to be addressed by brands looking to tap into this segment.

Role of Brands

Brands can look to address this segment in two ways — depending on their positioning. They can use Mass Urban Icons which help create an Urban Trible of Badge Value. These brands are symbols of urban life and so the Un-Metro Guy will buy Levis (on sale), wear RayBans, drink Coke and bank with ICICI. They want the comfort of ‘big brands’ that help them fit into the big city life — just like the rest of the Urban tribe. They are not yet ready for niche brands or cool cult players.

Brands also need to be niche solution providers; they should help ease the transition of the Un-Metro Guy into big city living. Currently a slew of mobile apps are helping this segment of consumers find a place to stay, eat ‘homely’ food, manage their finances, find the right places to hang out and much more. Perhaps the beauty of mobile apps is that it allows the Un-Metro Guy to overcome his ignorance in privacy while providing much needed information that is currently not available to him.

The Un-Metro Guy is a well defined consumer segment that is likely to grow rapidly with urbanisation. While they are likely to aspire for Mass Urban Icons — the untapped growth opportunity appears to be with brands who will help them survive the transition. Marketers need to address the needs of this segment by respecting their challenges and helping them adjust to big city life. Brands that are authentic, speak their language and gain attention via word of mouth, peer endorsements and third party recommendations are likely to succeed.

Rini Dutta

The author is co-founder and principal, Centric Brand Advisors

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