The human quest for advancements in technology has rendered a progressive attitude among the marketers. Technology is never confined to a few figureheads. It has indeed resulted in a huge transformation- from a mundane world to a digital world. However, many litterateurs do away with the abstraction of rural marketing- a term they often see with contempt. However, Philip Kotler, in a profound sense called it ‘A Pillar of Support’ and deemed it a blessing in disguise that can accentuate the businesses to scale summits of success.
The manifestation of saturation in urban markets is evident, and hence companies are excited about the perspectives and prospects of rural India. To name a few companies that have focused on the rural sector, the list comprises the celebrated Philips, Parle, Proctor & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Godrej, Bajaj Auto, TVS, Atlas Cycle HUL, and Dabur. However, many companies feel that the road to success lies in making tremendous strides in rural markets. Ala a phoenix from the ashes, the companies’ market penetration and market share figures are bound to sky-rocket. As a consequence, a fair share of profits, decisive apportionments of fame and rich dividends shall be in the offing.
Without any further ado, let us dig into the formal definition of rural marketing: “Rural marketing is a process which starts with a decision to produce a salable farm commodity and it involves all the aspects of the market system and includes pre-harvest and post-harvest operations such as assembling, grading, storage, transportation, and distribution.”
Consumer buyer behavior refers to the buying patterns of final consumers, individuals, and households who buy goods and services for personal consumption. Thus, consumer buyer behavior is an umbrella term encompassing the whole gamut of the consumer market. The consumer market, in this case, is Rural India. Consumers in this huge segment have displayed vast differences in their purchase decisions and product use. Thus, the utmost care in terms of comprehending the consumer psyche needs to be taken while marketing products to rural India.
Factors Influencing Buying Behavior:
Environment and Geographic influences:
The environmental vibes or the surroundings within which the consumer lives are the cornerstones of the consumer buyer behavior patterns. For instance, factors such as electrification and water supply may affect the demand for durable products. Villages in South India embrace the changes and advancements in technology much quicker than their counterparts in other parts of India. HMT, the pioneer in many desirable products, thus sells more winding watches in the north. However, it enjoys the privilege of selling quartz watches in the south.
Influence of Occupation:
The clan of landowners and service purchases more of Category II and Category III durable products than the agricultural laborers and farmers.
Place of Purchase:
As much as 60% prefer HAATS due to the virtues of better quality, variety, and price. Companies inspire the necessity to assess the influence of retailers on consumers at HAATS. Interestingly, more often than not, many villagers have nothing to bargain and barter in HAATS (As per a survey).
Creative Use of Products:
Innovation is an intangible asset that yields rich dividends. Godrej hair dye is used as a paint to color the horns of oxen. To simulate the likes of accomplished virtuoso s in marketing, one of the prominent washing machines manufacturers came up with an amazing idea of churning lassi in the washing machine itself. This idea brought a smile on the face of the villagers and yielded rich dividends to the company due to the manifold use of the product.
Brand Preference and Loyalty:
The more sophisticated, renowned, varied and brand intensive products are fuel-driven with the crucial objective of gaining the loyalty of rank and file.
Here are a few reasons for companies to focus on Rural Marketing and capitalize on the potential of rural markets:
Large Population and the accompanying rural prosperity:
According to the 2011 census, the rural population is 68.84% of the total population. Nonetheless, it is scattered over a wide range of geographical areas. India is a home to 5 lakh villages. The average income level has steadily improved due to industrialization, migration to urban areas and remittance of money by family members settled abroad. In addition, the urban-rural disparity ratio has declined greatly. As per the statistics from the National Sample Survey, the rich segment is envisioned to treble from 50 million today to 150 million by 2020. Thanks to their mathematical acumen, rural India now accounts for 56% of the country’s income. It is a ‘one-trillion dollar’ economy.
To all intents and purposes, nobody can gainsay the fact that the lifestyle of rural customers has changed considerably. Brand awareness has also increased. Not to forget the vital cameo of the growth of TV channels, a major impact on the consumption pattern of rural customers is intelligible.
Rural marketing is economical. While a marketing campaign in urban areas involves number crunching in millions, the concept of number crunching is a far-fetched thought in rural areas.
From a commercial perspective, the omnipresence of regional rural banks, scheduled commercial banks, and cooperative banks has furthered bolstered and glistened the sheen of rural India. Every Panchayat village is propounded to have access to the internet. Over 70% of rural homes have electricity supply. Government schemes such as REST- Rural Electricity Supply Technology and PMGY – Pradhana Mantri Gramodaya Yojana are admirable. In some states such as Gujarat, almost 95% of the villages and towns are connected by roads.
The government of India is investing billions of rupees in rural India for uplifting rural masses. Policies like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme are improving the lot of rural unemployed. The health of the rural masses is being taken care of by several health schemes such as National Rural Health Mission.
It is fitting that companies are in the hot pursuit of rural markets. Market Research Analysts are being sent vagabonding about the world. Rural Marketing has altered the picture of marketing in striking ways. Rural marketing courts a longing for revolution, a longing for glory and the move towards this enlightened marketing can be initiated at the earliest.