MUMBAI: India's smaller cities and towns have been prioritised in the expansion plans of Big Bazaar, one of the country's largest retailers, its head of marketing has said.

Speaking to Pitchonnet, Big Bazaar CMO Rashi Bisaria said cities like Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Gwalior and others all have potential and are seen as "critical for the Big Bazaar establishment".

Lucknow and Kanpur, in particular, make an important contribution to the company's annual revenue, he said, adding that Big Bazaar has gained from consumers in mid-level cities being open to the modern retail format.

With about 18 to 20 stores located in tier-II and tier-III towns in northern India, he explained that the company's prime focus is to understand consumers in these target areas.

In some northern towns, for example, the company sought to position itself as a fashion retailer by hosting activities, such as educational workshops to help consumers choose particular fashions.

"We study the profiles of consumers entering each store and try to provide favourable offerings for that consumer," he said. "It is important to understand the local tastes and aspirations."

Already operating 300 stores in India, Big Bazaar plans to build up its portfolio to 500 stores by the end of this year and, although TV remains "very important" as a promotions channel, the company still sees a substantial role for print campaigns.

Print makes up 80% of its marketing spend, Bisaria said, because it is the medium that the company believes connects with the entire market.

"For Big Bazaar, we have covered 37 to 41 markets through print advertising, perhaps the largest depth to which any brand has ever gone in the country via the medium of print," he said. "Our reach via print is quite strong."

Data sourced from Pitchonnet; additional content by Warc staff