In this article, we will talk about key strategies for Rural India in marketing, sales & advertising.
We will talk about the below things in this article. You can directly move the section you are interested in:
What is Rural Marketing?
Rural Marketing is a high-level understanding of how consumers vary between the developed urban geographies, where disposable income & lifestyle is high, compared to rural geographies which are in a nascent stage of development.
Identification of key behavioral & infrastructure differences in terms of communication touchpoints, price sensitivity, product availability, logistics, and buying frequency comes under rural marketing.
As a brand manager or a sales manager, we need to show a clear intention of unlearning everything urban & write new rules for the rural market.
What are the major differences between an Urban Market and Rural Market?
The below image shows the stark difference between an Urban and a rural consumer. Although the stats are quite old, you can gauge the difference in infrastructure. ownerships, consumptions, and facilities.
Obviously many things have improved in the last 15 years but the difference will remain between urban and rural.
You can download the more detailed SEC classification by MRSI in a PDF Here. MRSI report has some cool data points and a truck load of statistics.
In essence, there are 9 major differences that need complete rethinking while strategizing for a rural market. We will study them in detail in this article along with tangible executable ideas for each difference.
Household infrastructure (Water, Electricity, Internet)
Public Infrastructure (Banking, Government, Library)
Logistics (Private Transport, Railway, Bus, Airport)
Place of gatherings (Mall Vs. Mela culture)
Taste preference (Both for edible & other products)
Element of Attachments (Religion, tradition, cattle, etc.)
But, before we integrate the above differences in the typical 4Ps of rural marketing, we need to understand rural consumers & 4As of rural consumers.
Which points to consider while understanding a rural consumer?
High utility orientation & value-seeking from each purchase.
Open to being connected through digital channels.
Price-sensitive but willing to spend on trusted brands.
The majority of shopping is done on special occasions such as Diwali, Holi, Ed, etc.
Aspires to mirror their urban counterparts.
Strongly attached to local culture & language
Opinions of social media matter after the ubiquitous access to the internet post-Jio revolution.
4 A of Rural Marketing - The key factors
A planned trade-off between distribution cost & market penetration to ensure the product reaches remote areas.
Modifying the product according to the rural conditions and facilitating ease of usage to make the user comfortable with using the product.
Using traditional ATL marketing activities like TV/Radio ads to improve brand recall & connection.
Lower SKUs to prompt low-risk trials, along with convenient loans or money-lending facilities for bigger purchases.
Integrating rural customer preference in 4P (Marketing Mix) while making a plan/strategy for Rural Markets.
What are the Product Strategies for Rural Market?
Modifying product design to provide the convenience of usage to the RM.
Smaller SKUs to improve trials for first-time users
Improving sturdiness & power to improve attractiveness to RM.
Increasing utility over fancy features to provide maximum ROI
Adaptive brand-building according to the audience’s tastes & preferences
Examples of change in Rural Product Strategy:
1. LG Electronics introduced Sampoorna TV aimed at the rural audience, India’s first TV with a Devanagari script on-screen display for vernacular languages.
2. ISPAT industries branded its corrugated sheets as “ISPAT Kavach” & Tata Steel branded their product as Tata Shakti in order to connect strongly to the rural audience & improve top-of-mind recall
How do Pricing strategies vary for Rural geographies?
Differential/reduced pricing as compared to urban areas
Low Unit Price (LUP) packing or “paise packs” of even premium brands
No-frills Economy pricing – Coinage pricing, value pricing
Discounts for special events according to local festivals & events
Schemes for retailers like offers & quantity discounts to increase loyalty
Credit facilities & promotional offers according to the agricultural cycle
Free gifts that provide additional utility
Bundled pricing to promote maximum value for money
Examples of change in Rural Pricing Strategy:
1. CavinKare introduced 4ml sachets of CHIK shampoo priced at 50 paisa each at a time when other shampoos were sold in Rs.2 packs
2. “Thanda matlab CocaCola” gave the beverage company a breakthrough in the rural Indian market. They also launched an Accessibility campaign to bring the smallest SKU at Rs.5, competing with other drinks like tea & lemonade
What are the novel Distribution (Place) strategies in Rural India?
Local Markets/ Haatsto reach out to the maximum consumers.
Fairs & festival grounds/melas to grab high attention.
Wholesalers & Kirana retailers to reach out to all neighborhoods.
Vans/ mobile traders in order to have a deeper penetration into remote areas of rural India.
Syndicate Distribution to sell & distribute non-competitive goods together through a common distribution channel.
Hub & Spoke model of distribution to cover dispersed crowds.
Self-help groups that can be employed for door-to-door selling.
Exclusive bazaars/ retail outlets like ITC e-choupal.
Examples of change in Rural Distribution Strategy:
1. Dabur "Pudinhara" set up 22ft tall Pudinhara bottle along with "Thandak zone" in Nauchandi mela which is a festive congregation of several villages. Rustic connection is simply top-notch in this campaign.
2. HUL’s rural sales promoters educate women in villages on the distribution & selling of HUL products through Project Shakti.
How to innovate in Promotion strategies for Rural customers?
Mass media like television, radio, films, newspapers & in local magazines.
Rural-specific media like audio vans, posters, and pamphlets.
Door-to-door selling through trained salesmen/locals.
Outdoor campaigns with billboards and painted walls.
Entertainment programs like folk dance, street play, and puppet shows.
Mobile publicity vans with short film screening capacity.
Utilizing the opinion leaders (Village head or any other respected person in the village) as a promoter.
Word-of-mouth promotion is facilitated through referral schemes.
Product demonstration & free sample distribution in public gatherings.
Examples of change in Rural Promotion Strategy:
1. Khushiyo ki Doli by Hindustan Unilever:
‘Khushiyon Ki Doli’ is a rural marketing initiative of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) that was launched in March 2010 in three states – Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. During the year, 14 million consumers in 35,000 villages have been set as the target for contact, with the aid of Ogilvy Outreach.
According to an explanatory note from HUL, "The main objective of the campaign is to reach out to media dark villages with HUL brand messages and to engage with consumers deeply to rapidly change brand adoption metrics." The way they’re going about it is to change the attitude of the rural audience to inculcate good hygiene, and in the process, the company hopes to create greater preference for its brands. The note elaborates, "Through a multi-brand approach, Khushiyon Ki Doli also helps to create a cost-efficient rural activation module. It involves various personal care and home care brands of HUL including Wheel, Surf Excel, Fair & Lovely, Sunsilk, Vim, Lifebuoy and Close Up."
2. Asian Paints promoted the Utsav paint category by painting the Mukhiya/post office of a village 6 months before the launch and organizing painters’ meet in the villages.
3. HDFC Festive treats where rural and semi-urban consumers will be able to avail offers specially created for them, like discounted processing fees for loans, reduced EMIs, and discounts on 1000+ brands.
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