February 1, 2019

Why it makes sense to take your content to Tier II and Tier III cities in India

Indian man from one of the new cities smiling into the camera lens

It truly is a great time to be alive if you are a content junkie. Even 15 years ago, we didn’t think that our movies, music, and the entire internet would come along with us wherever we go. The world is shrinking, and our media consumption has truly become media-, device-, and location-agnostic.

Brands are creating customised communication for consumers in Tier II and III cities, the government is pushing rapid development, and the digital revolution is penetrating further into the country. In short, it is an exciting time to take content beyond the metros.

Let’s take a look at the major factors that are driving this change.

1. Increased access to the internet and mobile services

This has to be one of the major factors, if not the most significant one. It is through ready access to the internet and the easy availability of mobile devices that India’s Tier II and Tier III populace is being introduced to a lifestyle otherwise only identified with their urban counterparts.

According to Cisco’s 13th annual Visual Networking Index, the number of smartphone users in India will rise to 829 million by 2022, which is 60% of the population. Compare this to the 27% of Indians who were using smartphones till last year.

Experts opine that data consumption on mobile phones is likely to grow more rapidly in new wave cities because mobile penetration is higher in these parts.

The telecom wars between the major service providers have only boosted these numbers and will continue to do so. It wouldn’t be surprising if this were to positively affect internet penetration as well.

Scatter’s association with Airtel Payments Bank is a perfect example of how financial service providers are recognising the potential of smaller towns. While launching Airtel Payments Bank, India’s first payments bank, Scatter helped the company introduce a new form of banking with engaging and unique content.

Scatter’s content strategy began with identifying consumer pain points across the country and solving them through content across formats, platforms, and languages.

2. Rapid reach of social media

Mobile and internet penetration will provide the obvious fillip to social media activity. Everybody loves to have an opinion and express the same; social media offers that opportunity to all. There is some content going ‘viral’ every day on the internet, and it isn’t just being consumed in the metros.

Facebook is making a conscious effort to reach out to the population in smaller cities. The platform has taken an aggressive approach with its initiative for women-led startups – SheLeadsTech – in Tier II cities with the SheLeadsTech Roadshow. An example such as this shows how seriously the smaller cities are being taken by brands as big as Facebook.

With social media platforms finding favour in these new wave cities, as a brand, your content and messages will find more takers.

Consider this. India is Facebook’s largest market in the world. So much so that the country has been marked as a separate region with a board that reports directly to Facebook’s headquarters in California.

And this is just the story of one platform. When one considers others like popular messaging platform WhatsApp, microblogging platform Twitter, image-sharing platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, the potential this country – and particularly the smaller smart cities – present for quality content is mindboggling.

Also readHow to choose the right social media monitoring tool

3. The new wave marketplace

That e-commerce has revolutionised the idea of shopping in India is clear for everyone to see. What it has also done is democratise it for Indians. The finest of brands and products are only a click away, and your location doesn’t matter.

Flipkart announced how among its growing seller base, almost 45% of merchants are from Tier II and Tier III cities. Myntra Unforgettables is a classic example of a digital campaign that exemplifies how seriously the e-commerce phenomenon is gripping new wave cities:

Over 50% of Myntra’s customers are from smaller cities in India, and through the campaign, the online fashion company celebrates such loyalists.

Clearly, content is being created with the new wave cities and its people in mind, and the line between metros and non-metros is rapidly blurring.

4. Growing purchasing power 

Financial services company Mastercard is betting big on its next leg of growth that will be focused on non-metros. While this is being led by the current government’s emphasis on digital transactions, it also illustrates the brand’s belief in the increasing spending capacity of people in smaller towns.

Similarly, leisure travel brand Thomas Cook is increasingly looking at markets like Madurai, Bhubaneswar, and Gaya. It realises how its customers from the non-metros have more disposable income than ever before and are choosing experiences over savings.

Reports suggest how cities like Jaipur, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Patna, Indore, and Kochi among others are fast becoming hot retail destinations. Whether you explain it with the higher retail rentals in the metros or increasing demand among the people in the new wave cities, the growth is apparent.

5. The boom in startup havens

Smaller cities are also being considered as ideal places for startups to establish themselves. In an interaction with entrepreneurs last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated how 44% of startups are found in Tier II and Tier III regions.

This is a testimony to the innovation culture and creative solutions that one can find, especially among the youth, in these new wave cities.

An interesting example is Mumbai-based entrepreneur Ashutosh Pande. His decade-old venture Bajaao.com sells musical instruments online. Ashutosh chose to focus more on the interiors of the country rather than chasing the urban customer aggressively.

This is because while it was easier to access quality musical instruments in the metros, the latent demand in smaller cities showed a lot of promise. Pande’s success story is one of many when it comes to the booming startup culture in non-metros.

There is also the added promise of lesser competition among brands as compared to marketing in Tier I cities. While brands are looking at the non-metros, there is still a lot of potential for more business leads and easier customer acquisition.


Gone are the days when India shone with its development stories in just the eight mega cities. With rapid urbanisation, development, and population growth, the story is being told probably better in Tier II and III cities of the country.

There are opportunities galore now in cities other than the usual suspects; people are looking beyond Delhi, Mumbai, or Bengaluru. Malls in Lucknow, luxury brands in Jaipur, the vibrant pop culture boom in Chandigarh and many more examples will tell you how the action has shifted to smaller towns. Dismiss the metros at your own peril, but there is a lot more being discovered in these new wave cities.

Your content and communication are travelling the length and breadth of the country, and as a brand, a communication strategist, or a content developer, you will do well to realise and capitalise on the immense potential of the India that lives beyond the metros.