Far beyond the clichéd shadows of a religious gathering of pilgrims, the mela gave B- school students lessons on strategy, marketing, advertising and brand recognition.

With the aim to understand the management concepts of Kumbh Mela 2019, management students took home some strong and effective rules of looking at business and enhancing the brand appeal among rural consumers.

Students of Kohinoor Business School, Mumbai who visited the recently concluded Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, refer this as an experience that changed their perception on marketing, advertising and brand building. For Ajit Singh, Ratnesh Tiwari and Varun Dubey, this was an experience that helped them look beyond books and connect with the core Indian consumers.

Tiwari who is pursuing an MBA (Marketing) highlights that several corporate giants used the mela as a platform to test the reach and consumption of their flagship products. “What thrilled me most was how irrespective of the response they received from the visitors, the companies used the opportunity to launch themselves.”

Singh, an MBA (Finance) student, was impressed with the way multinationals used effective slogans to highlight social issues such as cleanliness, greenery, clean water, in sync with the Kumbh theme ‘Swachh Kumbh’. Several visitors from rural areas, and tier II and tier III cities got the first-hand experience to enjoy urban food such as instant noodles, coffee, burgers, and even hotdogs.

Brand perception can be instilled in the people, who make a huge impact on the purchasing but are not aware of the array of products available in the metros. “There were a string of roadside stalls that were selling noodles, burgers, and hotdogs at a cheaper rate and were enjoyed by many visitors who decided to discard their traditional eating habits. Kiosks selling coffee, dip tea that is not easily available in many cities and villages were being consumed like hot cakes,” Singh adds.

Talking about the marketing mantra that corporate firms used at the mela, Tiwari says, “FMCGs particularly focussed on the brand building of daily use items such as toilet cleaners, toothpaste, soaps etc. to promote their products.”

Singh says, “In a bid to promote the CSR activities, plastic cups discarded by instant noodles were used to pot a sapling. Similarly, companies highlighted that besides building toilets inside houses, the usage of toilet cleaning agents is also crucial for increased hygiene and cleanliness.”

“There was a machine installed by a tea company that dispensed a cup of tea offered for free to a pilgrim, who dumped garbage into the bin,” he adds.

Dubey, an MBA (Marketing) student, referred it to be a platform where companies interacted with customers, particularly women, to learn more about their choices. “By including marketing schemes that concerned issues related to the daily lives of the locals and people from the villages, the companies spurred the latter to embrace new changes while staying honest to their traditional beliefs.”

Author: Sharangee Dutta