What is a Dhaba?
Dhaba is a roadside food joint, mostly catering to the highway travelers all across India. The visitor base largely consists of truck drivers and therefore Dhabas have traditionally served as truck stops. An apt comparison can be made with its western cousin called the Roadhouse across the USA, however in India the Dhabas have a common lodging facility for all.
Over the years 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
While earlier Dhabas were your typical roadside joints 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 reached out to 150 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 ambiance and simply offered Hajmola instead of the conventional fennel seeds (saunf). The simple move garnered the brand a lot of support and increase 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 Marketing Medium?
- First and foremost, sticking to its conventional roots, Dhabas can be a great way to tap into the trucking community. Since they commute lot, what can be a better way to introduce them to a new product during their refreshment break?
- Most of the highway Dhabas has a lot of space; and most of them welcome advertisements in the form of banners, posters or ads.
- Kiosks can also be placed at 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 space and limelight.