Have been researching the domain of communicating to rural consumers, to prepare content for a workshop that I am conducting at KIIT.
Interesting that, there is very little content which is empirical. Extensive search leads you to a few text books and very few dated cases. The cases at best relate to experiences documented by individuals who have done some promotion activities. Content citing HLL and ITC comprise 80% of the little content that is available. Have been motivated to try and create some content. The need is more personal – to help me to construct a understanding of the rural markets – which lately over the past year has become an interest area for some of my clients. Let’s start with laundry list of observations (am deliberately avoiding mentioning data – as the data available is ‘seriously’ dated – which is readily available. What might help is broad trends / or observation – in the subsequent posts I will try and interpret these in the context of communicating to the rural consumer.
1. Rural markets are heterogeneous.
2. The consumers are scattered - geographically
3. Rural consumer should not be type casted as a destitute – farmer, there are almost equal number of high income and middle income households as in urban India.
4. Also there is significant number of consumers engaged in non farming occupation.
5. The literacy levels are lower than that of urban (obviously) however there are a significant section of the rural consumers who are literate enough.
6. There is seasonality in the purchasing power of rural consumers who are engaged in farming.
7. The reach of ‘mass media’ through satellite television is fast increasing.
8. The penetration of news papers though is not increasing necessarily at a encouraging pace.
9. The consumption of radio (AIR and Vividh Bharti) remains high.
10. While the monthly consumption expenditure in rural India (that is provided we commit the folly of averaging) is lower than urban – however the expenditure on non-durables and essentials is significant enough - a quick back of the envelope calculation – will lead to to an greater volume potential for these items in rural.
11. One observes relatively higher degree of selective recognition, selective distortion and selective recall when communicating to Rural consumers.
12. Colours , symbols etc have different connotations in different parts of rural India (and at times opposite)
13. The channel – retailers play a very critical role in influencing the rural consumer.
14. The ‘respected’ and ‘revered’ village community has a influence on purchasing decision, as consumer do consult them – when going in for a relatively ‘high ticket’ purchase specially durables , agri and financial products.
15. Similarly – the rural youth influence the purchase decisions.
16. Fewer rural consumers believe that advertisements make them buy things that they do not want (as compared to urban consumers)
17. The recall of advertisements delivered over traditional media is lower than that of urban consumers.
18. Fewer rural consumers switch TV channels than urban consumer.
19. The micro and the macro environment in rural India has an impact on the product design (products sold in urban India have to be modified to become relevant for rural consumers)
20. Marketing to rural India while is statistically and strategically the way forward for most brands and product sold in urban India, but how ?
The key objective of 'active communication' is to change behaviors.While 'communication limits it self to conveying a message and does not necessarily solicit (or most times is in effective) action.Chk this out.