Earlier branding for leading brands consisted only of major urban centres and cities. Oft en brands ignored rural centres while engaged in branding activities. But now the focus is shift ing. for a country like india where majority lives in rural side, ignoring the same is almost like suicidal. the opporunities are galore for brands to capture the rural indian market. to lead the market it is essential for brands to tap the vast rural market
Brands have realised the vast potentiality of Indian rural markets. Its sheer vast size and demand base are untapped and if they could tap the opportunity, it will enable the brands to be the leading players in the market. According to the 2011 census of India, of the 121 crore Indians, 83.3 crore live in rural areas. To brands, these are underutilised and mostly under-penetrated market in India which has got immense scope to grow their brands.
Today, more and more MNCs are foraying into rural markets in India with further aggressive marketing and branding activities. Corporate houses take great care in designing branding and marketing activities to capture the rural market and mind share of rural consumers. Despite mega drive taken by the companies to create an awareness of their goods and services, vast segments in the rural sectors in our country, still remain untapped. Moreover the stiff competition in the metros and big cities has pushed the corporate houses in Indian market to go rural for revenue generation. The saturated urban market and cut throat competition among the market players has taken a toll on margins, operating in urban areas.
The changing mindset ofCorporate houses take great care in designing branding and marketing activities to capture the rural market and mind share of rural consumers
The rural lifestyle is also changing. People from rural families who work in the cities when come back to villages are the new role models of other population in the villages. Following the lifestyle in cities they may look out for their favourite brands in the rural shops which might influence the villagers. Word of mouth publicity is after all, most effective publicity in building brand in rural areas.
Catching the rural market
Studies show that for building brand loyalty, influencing rural consumers is crucial. The success story of brands like Lifebuoy, Colgate, Tata, Bajaj, Hero Honda, Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki are cases in point. The concepts of brand is migrated from urban to rural areas. Irrespective of urban and rural,consumers are today aware of national and international brands. Earlier the case was different.
You might be remembering the campaign by major MNC Coca-Cola aimed at capturing Indian market. “Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola” ad campaign had Bollywood Star Aamir Khan coming in six characters and some of them in rural setting. The use of the word ‘thanda’ which means cold became an instant hit and made the journey of Coca-Cola into Indian rural markets easy. The campaign launched in 2002 was also noted for considering and understanding the rural sensibilities. Back at that time,the brand recall in a rural market is mostly with visuals and symbols. The name Coca-Cola might not ring any bell for the illiterate rural guy who is above 30 years old. But the actor is a familiar face and they can easily recall the brand from the actor or its advertisement. An actor who speaks in their tongue will definitely have a better recall value.
How Hindustan Petroleum (HP) took the rural people to use the gas is another classic example of rural branding and marketing. In the rural parts of North India, village women used to cook their food in the public space which is commonly called as ‘sanjha chulla.’ HP introduced the concept called Rasoi Ghar. Literally translated as ‘cooking room,’ the Rasoi Ghar is a community kitchen shared by several households of one village- a modern version of the traditional sanjha chulla. Centrally located in a target cluster of a selected village,Even so you need to study the rural market you aim as the case is different in a rural village in Kerala and a rural village in North India or other states
The concept of the Rasoi Ghar was a strategic component of the HPCL effort to extend LPG use throughout rural households in India. The costs of setting up each Rasoi Ghar is covered by HPCL, with users being charged an average of Rs.4/hour to meet the refill costs of a cylinder- a cheaper daily alternative to having an individual LPG connection installed in ones home. When people realised how easy is to cook with an LPG, obviously the first choice could be HP.
The strength of rural market is in its fast growing huge population with a great level of disposable income. To encash this, products have to be specifically developed to meet the needs of rural markets. Existing products might have to be modified and rebranded to suit these markets too accordingly. Rural product development has the strong edifice on a great deal of research like feasibility studies, rural aspiration, rural profiling and so on.
The success of rural branding starts from the way the brand decides to advertise and catch its rural consumers. The brand name should resonate with something that could be easily remembered. Samsung mobile phone came up with ‘Guru’ brand aiming the rural consumers. If you notice closely it was after well research of rural populations culture, tradition, language, education and most importantly their likings, they took up that name. It filled the blanks correctly- simple name, easily remembered and name itself is regional.
A ‘desi’ (local) approach has a better reach ability than any other techniques inculcated globally. Regional or local names, tag-lines and slogans in native languages, describing features in easy and lucid languages, easy to remember symbols, advertisements in vernacular languages etc. work better in penetrating rural and semi-rural markets. Remember the ad “Pappu pass ho gaya!” by Dairymilk featuring Amitabh Bachchan.The literal translation that Pappu cleared away the exams made it into the minds of consumers and sounded well with consumers especially rural consumers.
Word of mouth is something which works wonderfully among rural consumers. So it is necessary to make your brand stand out with either its logo or brand ambassador. Rural consumers might not be remembering the brand name in the initial stage and it is either communicated through logo or brand ambassadors. When brand ambassadors are engaged, it must be noted that the celebrity must be known well by the rural community or it may not create an impact among the rural consumers. Creating a brand personality, especially in the eyes of rural people is very important in rural marketing. The brand name should be such, that radiates respect, proud and trust. Like Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. Introduced tractor series brands like Arjun,Yuvraj, Swaraj etc. People like these names and associate them with the statures.
Branding in a social perspective also works well in rural marketing. You must be remembering how Lifebuoy took upon the rural market in India. It advertised heavily on the need of hygiene and sanitation. They positioned germs as cause of illness which may reach your stomach through unhealthy hands. Hand and body hygiene were prompted and they got the desired result.
Communication for rural markets is a different exercise. There must be a strong accent on helping the target relate to the message considering there are many rural villages in North and South India where situations haven’t really changed much from the past. The entire communication and media strategy has to devise a system based on research findings. These have to be developed in the regional vernacular languages and set in the local culture for easier acceptance and reach. Unlike communication campaigns in urban areas that rely greatly on the mass media, the strategy will be different in the rural areas. Besides mass and outdoor media, rural extravaganza like temple festivals, melas and other events where the villagers come together can be used for promotions.
In the rural context, one of the best ways to capture the attention of the audience is through event-management or road shows. Since rural areas have limited venues for entertainment, conducting an event in rural areas can bring a good response. A well-planned event can get the product the mileage that needed. Some of the interesting events that can be conducted are Road Shows, Melas, Street- Theatre, Film Shows and so on. These make a visually strong impact and build long term brand recall. Rural public are the target audience and hence the portfolio of event management has to be handled professionally with diligent care and broad perspective. Even so you need to study the rural market you aim as the case is different in a rural village in Kerala and a rural village in North India or other states. You might have heard how Coca- Cola India countered issues such as shortage of electricity and the inability of several retailers to invest in refrigeratorsHoardings invariably enjoy a good position when it comes to rural branding
Media selection strategy is very important in rural marketing. Companies have to consider many aspects like reach in rural media, interest of rural consumers, live demonstration, brand strength etc before choosing the media.Demonstration van with audiovisual equipments is effective than short commercial on Television. Rural melas and exhibitions are best place to demonstrate products and disseminate knowledge on usages and benefits of products among villagers.
Things not to be ignored during rural branding are the advices of retailer/ distributor, Hoardings and Road-shows, TV and Radio Ads which influence rural consumers more. Depending on product and consumer demographics, this may vary- but company should try to achieve maximum effective coverage through this mediums.
Hoardings invariably enjoy a good position when it comes to rural branding. Hoardings can capture the mind of consumers. But the advertising strategy should be in tune with the mindset of rural people. The text should be always short. Bright colours need to be used. Familiar faces especially celebrities will have better recall for the people of rural areas. The slogans should be undoubtedly in rural language so as to better connect with the people.