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Advertising, marketing and PR is a fast developing sector in Sri Lanka and although it remains relatively small compared to other Asian countries, many companies are springing up around Sri Lanka offering these services. Global firm WPP has 15 subsidiary companies based around the city of Colombo. This growth is mainly due to the increasing availability of technology and various media, such as the internet and satellite television.
PR services are often outsourced to specialised companies although it is sometimes done in-house. Leading integrated communications firms in Sri Lanka include Cameron Pale and Medina which offers both advertising and PR services.
The development of the sector is reflected in the widespread availability of professional training and qualifications. It is possible to qualify to the Chartered Institute of Marketing through five institutions in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing is the statutory body which aims to promote and develop Sri Lanka’s marketing sector.
The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report (2012-2013) ranks Sri Lanka 34th out of 144 countries in extent of marketing with a score of 4.9 out of 7, well above the world mean of 4.1. In this scale 1 indicates that little use is made of sophisticated marketing tools and techniques and 7 means that they are extensively used. Buyer sophistication in Sri Lanka is also high; it ranks 16th out of 144 and scores 4.5 out of 7, again comfortably above the average of 3.5. This indicates that buyers in Sri Lanka base their decisions more on sophisticated analysis of performance attributes than on the lowest available price.
Print media and online versions of papers remain popular for companies and personal advertisements. Broadcast media are also well-used by advertisers in the country. Sri Lanka boasts the first radio station in Asia, Radio Ceylon which, in the 1950s, developed a lucrative advertising business in its Hindi language branch.
Internet marketing and advertising is a growing sector and although in 2012 only around 7% of Sri Lanka’s population used Facebook, uptake has shown steady growth since mid 2012 with a total of some 1.4 million users in December 2012. Sri Lankan businesses have taken up social media as part of a modern, integrated marketing campaign. Social media marketing companies often offer SMS broadcasting as an option for companies which want to reach those people not on social media sites.