Social Media from Street Vendors of Mumbai

Social Media Marketing

Before we start, let me 1st say ‘I am not a marketing guru’ I am here NOT to give you a spiel, but to just share my experience and hope to connect with you soon.

You & I kind of have it all. Me here, writing this blog from my AC office & you may be reading this off an iPad, PC, etc. in your own comfort zone. We are all on Social Networking platforms & get all the so called ‘Gyan’ (knowledge) we need off blogs, search engines, RSS feeds, conversations. Basically, there’s a whole lot of content out there and it reaches us with a click of a mouse. Having said that, ever wondered what life would be, if technology never existed? If you were reading this right now in a publication which costs you Rs. 70, in the heat of the sun or a crowded, noisy room. I don’t need to paint the picture for you now, do I?

But sad to say, to some marketers, our technology to market swiftly and efficiently doesn’t exist, nor will it ever. Nevertheless, they do a splendid job and acquire their T.G (Target group) a little better than you & I. Let’s take a walk and meet, our marketing gurus, the street vendors of Mumbai…

Social Media Mumbai

Mumbai formerly known as Bombay has a population of approximately 20.5 million people. Out of that over 10 million people commute by trains and use it as their daily means of transport. Here, lets equal trains to ‘Social Media’. Your T.G is on social media, just like the trains for our local street vendors. Question is, , how do you standout, and crack a deal with these 10 millions busy people?

A – Make some noise: Marketing and especially marketing online is all about making a lot of noise. You can either take empty vessels, keep banging them for a long time, which will surely get your neighbors attention, or you can take those same vessels and create music. If you look at our street marketers, they make a noise too. But the beauty and significance about their noise is, they communicate, what needs to be communicated. It’s short just like the 140 characters in twitter, grabs our attention, (well designed landing page on Facebook) & the best part is you have other people telling you (retweet/share), to travel by that particular train to buy a particular product from that particular person, because of the “Like” factor. It’s that simple!

B – Timing: If you ever get a chance to travel by a Mumbai local train, it’s an automatic system where, you get pushed in and pushed out automatically. Why? Because of 10 million people using this means of transport to commute to work daily! Believe it or not, but in this crazy, insane rush hour, where people are either rushing to get to work on time, or get back home… maximum sales are made! It’s all about the timing. Let me give you a example. I was once waiting at a level crossing and watching this old women sells ‘Boras’ (English word) at 9:20pm in the night! I thought to myself, let me observe, the kind of sale she makes. Much to my surprise she did. I ask her how? She said, she knew that maximum number of the public passes by this way every day past 9:00pm. She has to only park herself there (Your page on Facebook) & just draws people’s attention. At  first she started to yell out “ Rs. 15 for quarter kg’s” A little persuasion, didn’t cause no harm as she went on gently in a meek and calm voice “Please buy some, they are sweet and fresh” she said this to a couple of passerby’s. Even though they didn’t acknowledge her, but her voice was sure to ring in their ears (Brand recall / Top of mind) then she went a step ahead and she knew, this is what is going to grab people attention and get her the “like” factor in her product. She began to say “ A good and healthy substitute for dessert after your dinner tonight, only Rs. 30 per  Kg”  Soon heads began to turn to see, what would be a better substitute than an ice cream for dessert and at  Rs. 30  & hence that brought about ‘engagement’. It’s that simple!

C – The E-Style: Bollywood known to be one of the religions here in India and a trending topic every day, our street marketers know how to use the “Style” factor (Branding & Design) to grab your attention, even if it amuses you. Our Mumbai street marketers don’t have a stall, chair, AC shop to display their products. They have just themselves, their physical state that is. But, you will not miss seeing a single product. Bangles will be dangling from one hand. On his/her fingers they will either be handkerchief’s, railway pass covers, books or toys for children, sometimes chocolates & eatables in another. (Facebook landing page) Let me just remind you however, there is no such thing as branding here, they create a need which appeals to the masses, that’s what marketing is all about. Unfortunately a few of us miss that part of the most. Our Mumbai street marketer, becomes like your landing page on Facebook or a design background on Twitter, telling the public, what your company is all about! One thing which cannot be missed is the ‘e-style’ of selling the product. Many of them will have a unique way of putting forward their message with  a little bit of modulation in their voice as they sell their product. ( Communication Modulation/ Content marketing) You could also link this to using videos to market your product. Funny ones, serious ones, however the product, you should have the ‘e-style’.

Social Media Analyst

At the end of the day, social media or online media is just like our Mumbai local trains or the busy Mumbai streets & we have us ‘Social Media Marketers’ who are no different than our Mumbai street marketers. The only difference is they lack the technology & we don’t. But in the end there’s a lot to learn from them…

There’s so much us digital marketer’s can learn from the the common street vendors who surround us. I invite you to connect with me to share your experience. I can be reached @socialmunky or at

  • Photo credits: Mridula Anand
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