Posted on June 27, 2016
Dhaba on Highway is a Great Medium of Marketing
What is a Dhaba?
Dhaba is a road side food stall, mostly catering to the travelers of highways all across India. The customer base largely consists of truck drivers and therefore Dhabas traditionally also serve as truck stops. An apt comparison can be made with its western cousin called the roadhouse across USA. They serve local cuisines and are known for providing a spicy menu to impress the drivers. However, over the year the traffic at highways have increased and therefore the guest coming in Dhabas have diversified. Like everything else, even Dhabas have come a long way since their arrival and not just their appearance but also their functions have changed.
The Transformation- beginning and the end
The best way to summarize the transformation of Dhabas is through the following pictures. While earlier Dhabas were your typical road side stalls with dainty and temporary construction, they have now become hip and trendy places you want to visit for the experience. In spite of this change, the older categories have not ceased to exist- All three now co- exist.
How can Dhabas be used for Marketing?
With the change in appearance and audience served by the Dhabas, its utility has changed too. As they grow into businesses run by ambitious hoteliers, more doors have opened up.
In 2008, Dabur adopted 150 highway Dhabas with plans of changing their brand connectivity, this strategy allowed them to have a direct channel of communication at lower costs. The idea behind the acquisition was to promote the post meal consumption of their product Hajmola. Dabur started with renovating the Dhabas to attract more audience by creating a more welcome ambience and simply offered Hajmola instead of the conventional fennel seeds (saunf). The simple move garnered the brand a lot support and increase in sales through these Dhabas, soon after this move Hajmola managed to grab 65% of the total market share.
Dabur paved the way for the birth of a new medium of marketing – Dhabas, untapped channels that brands were missing out earlier. For long, it was believed that they are best suited for small regional brands but many FMCG giants have busted this myth. Highway Dhabas, if chosen can provide a very effective touch point for rural marketing. Few factors such as the following should be considered while making the selection of Dhaba as a medium:-
- Type of product
- Target audience
- Brand strategy
What are the advantages of using Dhaba as a medium?
- First and foremost, sticking to its conventional roots, Dhabas can be a great way to tap into the trucker’s community. Since they are travelling a lot, what better way to introduce them to a new product then during their refreshment break?
- Most of the highway Dhabas come with a lot of land, space that is otherwise empty can be used for advertising through pasting banners, posters or ads.
- Kiosks can be placed at such Dhabas to introduce new products or conduct product testing.
- The method does not ask for heavy investment and therefore does not create a charge on the profit.
- The arena is still developing and presents less competition from the rival for the space and limelight.