Sri Lankan marketers need to capture emerging north and east consumers

Friday, 11 March 2011 01:09 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Peace is in the air after the civil war in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka ended, and it’s highly visible that the regions are facing very high economic prospects. I’m still wondering as to why brands and organisations are not excited about moving their operations and offers into these market segments?

Isn’t it exciting to learn different attitudes, behavioural, socio-cultural and psychographs about the new emerging northern and eastern individual which I call the ‘N&E’ consumer respectively, and offer products and services that suit their attitude and lifestyle?

Brands are piling up each other in Colombo and elsewhere, along with many advertising and communications campaigns and shots been bombarded to the people. I see many foreign owned brands, particularly, those from India, popping up in retail stores – if you can’t fight these, why not sense market leadership elsewhere?

Why aren’t brands and organisations mapping out the north and east market opportunity that will bring in a whole new revenue and profit? The so-called big players in the advertising sector, why not consider moving your operations towards these parts of Sri Lanka? Agencies might be wondering as to what might work in these regions.

Well, let me tell you when we go through this article.

My question is, why can’t the so-called big fashion retailers consider moving on to the north and east with a range of selections that adhere to their culture, traditions and lifestyle? Why can’t newspapers come up with an operational base with a Tamil language daily or weekly paper to these regions?

Why can’t the famous restaurants and hotels move there with offers that adhere to their taste and preferences? Why can’t the big FMCG players? Why can’t banks and financial institutions selectively create packages that meet their expectation and needs?

Why is that when so many organisations from different sectors can get into the north and east, you are once again missing out a market opportunity here? This is the question to ask – doesn’t your organisation have the ability to sense markets and customers? Why not think about some public-private partnerships, for example?

Although much is spoken that there is economic and enterprise development happening in these regions – I don’t see anything moving as yet – isn’t it time your brand spread the risk and enjoyed different customers who have interestingly different characteristics?

Isn’t it a first mover advantage in doing so? Will it not add bottom line value to your investors? I would say that ‘all does’. Moving onto these regions with a mindset of a longer term market share – I’m not talking about short to medium term market share gains (I know that this is exactly the attitude of many Sri Lankan corporates) – but I’m talking in terms of sustainability and longer term profit view for your organisation.

Taking advertising agencies for example, I’m pretty aware that there are many pitching in and fighting out in this sector to win client these days – with increasing considerable from clients towards the whole digital and social media sector, and their changing behavioural patterns.

Clients are not like before anymore – they are much aware than the agencies itself.

Keeping all this in mind, why aren’t these local ad agencies sensing the north and east opportunity? With their client brands moving to these regions, why not also move their operations to these regions? Well, traditional advertising might well work in these regions!

I would conclude the best tools that could well work in these regions are outdoor and vehicle branding – it’s most obvious that outdoor as well as vehicle branding could really work out in these regions – has your agency ever considered this? I’m forgetting about print for now – as no print is particularly established here, why not consider making a move into this sector?

The ‘N&E’ customers hold so much of potential that brands and organisations can really leverage and gain market leadership in the north and east parts of the country.  It’s time that brands and organisations – and yes, ad agencies – really consider and plan out a market entry strategy that might well work in these regions – continue to learn, explore and leverage markets, and make learning a habit.

Don’t think you are experienced, because you might get blind from seeing (and deaf from hearing) – and ultimately lose the sensing power to feel market opportunities.

(The writer is an evolving marketer and strategist, and is the world’s youngest ACIM, and provides practices and knowledge on industry, marketing, strategy, communications, digital and social media, and strategic reputation. You can reach him on [email protected] feedback and services. Browse through his articles on

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