India has a rural population of 900 million and you need a separate strategy to integrate them into your consumer base.
Marketing strategies can make or break a business. It determines the customer bases you target, the modes of communication you choose to build brand awareness, the kinds of messages that you put out, and pricing and distribution strategies.
Now, owing to marketers being urban citizens, businesses being situated in urban locations, and the comparatively easy accessibility to urban audiences, the rural market is largely ignored by a lot of brands. It results in a lot of lost opportunities for businesses, especially for those who are trying to compete in a saturated market.
If you are a business owner, CEO, a marketing executive, for a small or midsize business, rural marketing can open a lot of doors for you.
What is Rural Marketing?
According to G.N. Murthy “Rural marketing is the study of all the activity, agency and policy involved in the procurement of farm inputs by the farmers and the movement of rural products from farmers to consumers”.
According to T.P Gopalaswamy – “Rural Marketing is a two-way process which encompasses the discharge of business activities that direct the flow of goods from urban to rural area (manufactured goods) and vice versa (agriculture products) as also within the rural areas”.
So, in simple terms, rural marketing is the attempt to understand the rural consumers as well as the rural producers and then find out how you can benefit by expanding your customer base by including the villages.
Why should you be concerned with Rural Marketing at all?
Well, the main reason is that the rural population makes up 65% of India and 37% of India’s GDP. The rural GDP in India has been growing at a rate of 10% per year and has a fair bit of headroom for further growth. Most important, thanks to the telecommunication revolution brought into India by Jio, the rural population is more and more aware of the world around them.
Ignoring the rural markets entails two negative effects. 1. You market your products to a smaller consumer base while competing with every company that’s doing business in India. 2. You never explore the profitable ideas that can spring up from building marketing and distribution channels with villages.
How are Rural Markets different from Urban Markets?
There are quite a few prominent distinctions between urban markets and rural markets both in terms of infrastructure and consumer psyche.
There are a number of infrastructural limitations that you face while building your rural marketing strategies. For instance, the quality of roads in villages is more or less sub-par. There is a total absence of concrete roads in a lot of areas.
Roads aside, telecommunication is also an issue when it comes to villages. There are still a lot of areas that do not have stable internet.
The scarcity of banks, ATMs, and internet-enabled banking facilities pose a lot of challenges to businesses.
The basis of any marketing strategy is understanding the customer. The rural customer is different from the consumers in metros and cosmopolitans. Rural India is still largely agrarian. A lot of rural people depend on farm yields and regulate their lifestyles preparing for the worst-case scenarios like a flood, drought, and pest infestation, which may severely affect the crops and land the farmers in debt.
26.5% of India’s rural population is illiterate. It creates some challenges in terms of communications and advertisement.
The rural population is often driven by opinion leaders. A few families in the village carry the power to sway the opinions of an entire village. Every campaign has to be very carefully drawn.
Traditionalists by nature, rural citizens are slow in adopting something new. But once you penetrate the market it is rather easy to command loyalty.
The unreliability of employment in rural India makes rural consumers very reserved about spending money. They are extremely driven by price. They will always look for the best value for their money in terms of quantity first and then quality. Few are interested in frills or colors. Fewer yet want to spend an extra buck for a better look.
The scope of Rural Marketing
The villages are changing. The youth is more and more interested in trying out new products, new careers, and a better quality of life. This gradual change in the psyche is driven by the internet, the growth of education in rural India, and the marketing strategies employed by a lot of businesses that have been able to touch the rural audience. Dabur, for example, has far exceeded its expected growth in villages in recent times.
Connecting your business with the rural market means
- You find better sources of raw material
- create employment for the rural youth
- unlock a market away from the competition of cities
- Accelerate growth.
90 crore people live in villages in India. That’s the exact number of consumers you can potentially target with rural marketing strategies. The population is scattered, influenced by various religious and social dogma, superstitious, but yet growing interested towards new brands.