DELHI: Rural India may be increasingly digitally connected, but for Tang, the powdered drink brand, sampling and TV remain the most important parts of the media mix to reach consumers in these parts.

Giridhar Ayanur, associate director/Marketing G&C and Powdered Beverage, India, at Mondel─ôz India Foods, explained to Impact magazine how the brand has "taken up sampling in a huge manner" as it moves into smaller towns and rural areas.

TV commercials illustrate how easy it is, even for children, to reconstitute the drink, but "driving home the taste was one of the biggest challenges for us", he said, hence the shift to sampling.

"We have seen that the more products we sample the greater is its acceptance," he added. Consequently the marketing strategy for the brand now involves sampling across almost all states of north, west and south India, and where that activity might once have lasted for one month in summer, "now we do it for three months".

"We are driving scale on this because our strong belief is that if you taste the product, you will love it," Ayanur declared.

Accordingly, the brand has introduced "Tang Stations" within modern trade stores and people in a Rocket Man costume with a tank of Tang dispensing samples, all backed up with POS material and takeovers of display shelves to increase product visibility.

It is an approach that has proved effective in introducing new flavours: Ayanur reported that acceptance of mango, orange and lemon was high and the new apple flavour being launched this year would be given a similar sampling drive.

This policy has helped it to become a market leader in modern trade, where Ayanur claimed it now has more than a third share of the total space. It has much less presence in traditional trade, "but we are adding share significantly as we go".

Another important factor in the strategy's success has been its rural distribution network covering seven states, which has been vital to the push into rural India.

"We have close to about 500,000 outlets for Tang across the country," noted Ayanur, "which is good for a brand that started four years back."

Data sourced from Impact; additional content by Warc staff