It has been almost a decade when Fuzion was transformed into a Regional PR agency from a market research & analysis firm. While working for numerous prestigious brands and leading Fuzion from a small office in Chandigarh to now being India’s strongest and largest Regional PR firm with 14 company owned offices and a team strength of 80+, this decade gave me a chance to look at communication transition in Regional India has undergone, very closely. Though the initial 5 years would have only been concentrated on Fuzion’s growth, building the desired client portfolio and strengthening internal team, last 5 years we have consciously worked towards increasing the role and scope of Regional PR in India. From a scenario where Regional communication was just a side-lined part of the overall strategy to being an important yet dormant part and to now becoming an integral part & a separate division at most corporate communication teams, the journey has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride. This column ‘Regional Flair’ with Reputation Today is another effort in the same direction to share insights about how communicating with Regional India audiences is a rainbow changing colors every day and how ignoring this change can impact a brand’s reputation management in more ways than we can contemplate. In my first column of this series, I just wish to start by extending my heartfelt gratitude to the entire community for the support throughout this journey. To everyone who has been a pillar of strength for me and Fuzion PR Pvt Ltd, those who have been critics for us to learn and grow imbibing lessons, and most importantly to our prestigious clients & an amazing team of Fuzioners, a gratitude filled Namaste from Regional India!
If I was writing this in 2005, I would start with explaining the importance of Regional India, 80% population that resides beyond Metros, increasing disposable incomes and majority of business for brands across sectors moving towards the tier 2-3-4 zones. If it was 2010, I would have a few examples of brands taking an edge over competition, not only in reputation management but also being a solid pillar to their marketing & sales teams, by understanding the need to have a different communication strategy for Regional India. By 2010, Indian corporate communication teams had started realising the potential these zones had to offer and also that having a specific strategic outlook was needed instead of replicating the campaigns devised for consumers residing in Metro regions. That was the time when the term ‘Regional PR’ started being mentioned in the annual plans, specific budgets were allocated and Regional Communication was on its way to become a specialised domain in the overall communication strategy sphere.
Today, Regional is the new National. Brands, communication firms, political parties and even celebrities from every strata realise the huge impact Regional India can have in achieving their communication objectives. The transformation in economical and social statistics of regional India has made our communication business sail in the same word-boat and hence the need to shift focus to Regional India.
The saturation hitting the metro regions is an indication to a sphere where ‘Regional Trumps National’ in the communication business. We have seen various top global brands wrapping up India operations and the reason invariably has been the struggle to realise this change in the powerhouse centers and rising aspirations of Indian consumers. Even in the digital domain, Regional India is catching up and the next five years would be about it becoming the primary pillar in any brand’s communication planning. With every brand wakening up to this transition, the struggle will be to understand the rapidly changing consumers and adapting our communication in synchronisation. We have been feeding the entire country a streamlined communication, expecting them to respond to it. The time now is to treat the different geographies individually, to understand their social fabric and devise communication in the same thread of emotions.