Booming Religious Tourism - A bonanza for marketers to exercise Corporate Market Responsibility


By
A M Sakkthivel
Faculty- Marketing Area
Department of Management Studies,
PES Institute of Technology
Bangalore
E-mail :
sakkthi@yahoo.co.uk

Dr. Bishnu Priya Mishra
Reader in Management
Regional College of Management
Bhubaneswar
 


Religious Tourism knitting hearts

Religion may be a dicey word in recent Indian political lexicon, yet, unites the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. This article does not discuss the intricacies of religion and its role in India; it does discuss the economic face of religion in removing economic disparity across the country. Comparing the different countries across the globe, India is surprisingly possess different religions viz. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Persian to name a few, yet, the people embrace different religions live together. Also, people belong to different religions visit other religions sacred locations which is very unique and surprising. India is a country of complex culture, yet people live with understanding and tolerance. It is always an amazing place for researchers who involve in behavioral science. People belong to different religions; follow different customs, traditions, having different life style, tastes and preferences, which always pose a challenge for marketers and global companies send their global managers to India to get trained as it plays a role of potential training ground. Marketers also focus on encasing the religious believe of the population by targeting religious tourism locations to market their locations viz. Kumbamela at Varanasi, Allahabad, Rajmundry etc. are the hottest locations for the marketers to target their potential consumers. These locations woo many pilgrims across the country and provide a bouquet of potential consumers at one place which provides a platform to companies to reach the mass at nominal cost of promotion. India possesses many pilgrimage locations across the country from north to south to east to west which bridges the economic disparity of the population. Movement of domestic tourists to different places ensures the movement of money to the required places. For instance, Tirupathi is the famous religious location in Andrapradesh which woos people across the country and world. It is treated the richest pilgrimage location next to Vatican. Tirupathi generates employment opportunities to many and supports considerable number of population. Considering the core competence i.e. the ability of the place to generate employment opportunities with certain skill sets of the people of Tirupathi, it contains none.  Yet, with the famous Balaji Temple, it runs like a multinational company spins billions in revenues per year.

Bonanza for Marketers

Many companies target religious locations to promote their existing and new products which they find very opt to reach the target group. Even, companies sponsor religious festivals viz. Ramco, Birla, to name a few, in order to win the hearts and minds of people. Recent 'Kumbhmela in Allahabad and Rajmundry, paved a root to billions of business to local and multinational conglomerates. These places are considered special rendezvous for marketers to promote products and services with nominal cost. Most of the companies set up free food stalls, camping tents, drinking water fountains, medical treatment camps to serve the pilgrims visit the places. This is an innovative approach normally be executed to capture the hearts of potential target group. This would provide a mind space for products and services which they may consider buy these brands in future. These are the practices to create an experience and attitude about brands before the actual usage.

Role of Religious tourism in balance economic growth

In India, religious tourism plays a vital role in narrowing economic imbalance. Most of the places, especially rural areas and the areas which have no core competence or business, survive due to religious tourism. It provides business and employment opportunities to local population helps to take care of their requirements. For instance, 'Sulli Karadu' a small dry rural area near Coimbatore, TamilNadu, India, well known for a rural deity which is very powerful, ought to be worshipped by offering Camphor in big quantities which is available in nearby shops. Devotees stand in mile long queue to offer their offerings. It provides livelihood to local population who sell camphor to the devotees which is supplied by camphor manufacturers. Also, it was interpreted that the whole exercise was orchestrated by the camphor manufacturers to sell their products which has been banned by TamilNadu Endowment Board to camphor in temples, by quoting the reason that would spoil the environment. How ever, this is a classical example on the religious tourism which fed the whole village. Also, a place called "Thadi Kombu" near Madurai, well known for a deity viz. "Shorna Bairavar" which is very powerful to collect the bad debts, it is the believe that if a pilgrim visit the place for 8 times in a particular day of the month, his/her prayers would be answered. This generates employment opportunities in the sleeping semi-urban small town, also generated business for bus owners who take devotees for charter trips on that particular day from far off places. These are all the examples of small places which generates business and employment opportunities for the local population, let alone, many famous places like "Palani", Madurai, Rameswaram, Kanyakumar,  etc. in Tamil Nadu, and well known, "Sabari Malai" in kerala, which generates millions and provides employment opportunities to many. The whole kerala belt has been benefiting from lakhs for devotees visit sabari malai during particular seasons.  These provide tremendous opportunities for marketers to focus on these locations to market their products and services. It is the dual benefit of catering location population as well to promote the products/services.

Strategies to enhance religious tourism through Corporate Market Responsibility (CRP)

Definitely, the marketers would get benefit out of the booming religious tourism as they could find new territories to sell their products and services. They would also take part in developing these Places along with local development authorities.

a) Marketers could participate in providing basic sanitary facilities along with they could promote their products viz. If  X company sponsors the Free or Paid Rest room facilities, its products would only be sold.
b) Marketers could also participate in constructing rooms for devotees to stay and promote their products
c) Marketers could offer free/paid transportation facilities which will carry the promotion of their products/ services
d) Pharmaceutical companies could sponsor free medical camps in which their products could be promoted
e) Food products companies could set up their outlets to sell products with subsidized /actual prices
f) Clothing/Garment companies could set up their stalls to promote their products and services

It clearly shows that there is enough room for marketers to participate in Corporate Market Responsibility which offers the dual benefit of offering services to the society as well to promote their products/services. This would definitely provide a lucrative mind space in potential target group in which would not have done by spending millions on conventional promotion tools. 

Hence, it is the marketers and the state and central government could join their hands to concentrate on these locations in order to generate business and employment opportunities as well to promote their products/services. If this done, the government would not worry about offering minimum 100 days employment opportunities, they will take care of themselves. The government could seek help from marketers to offer necessary infrastructure support viz. transportation, water and sanitation, power and other basic facilities which ensure the influx and pleasant stay of pilgrims.
 


A M Sakkthivel
Faculty- Marketing Area
Department of Management Studies,
PES Institute of Technology
Bangalore
E-mail :
sakkthi@yahoo.co.uk

Dr. Bishnu Priya Mishra
Reader in Management
Regional College of Management
Bhubaneswar
 

Source : E-mail December 15, 2004

 

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