Rural is the Way

It’s all about potential. Any brand wanting to tap into an Indian market,  has the opportunity to grow widespread if targeting the rural areas of India. Let’s paint the picture.

It is a devastatingly lower  number of online users in India, so launching a full online media campaign to reach the Indian market would lack visibility to an overall target audience. Statistics show that only about 1 in 10 Indians use the Internet on a regular basis. All in all that is roughly 100  million people tapping into the online world. This is an insignificant comparison to the excessively large mobile phone users, which on average receives 8 million new subscribers each year.  Which is why a promising influx of mobile marketing has taken off in India. Yet, many companies have been apprehensive about looking to this medium due to the National Do Not Disturb (NDND) Registry of telecom regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) which seeks to curb unsolicited commercial communications (UCCs).

Why not entirely online? The  infrastructure is one of the biggest setbacks in growing the Internet usage in India. Phone cables and lines are usually old and have poor quality. In rural areas, however, there is literally no connection at all. This has been one of the actual contributing factors for wireless phone services prosperity.

Second, the target audience for most consumer products are feeling the brunt of the economic downturn.  These are the online users specifically in those metropolitan areas of India. Yet, it is a massive and untapped demographic open for contact. Many companies are now focusing their efforts to reach the rural areas in India. Rural areas form 72% of the total households, which means 720 million customers that companies and brands could target.

If you’re going to reach them, the Indian Knowledge @ Wharton,  best described it has using the four A’s: Affordability, awareness, availability and acceptability. You have to reasonably price your products. In order for rural Indians to generate any conversation or loyalty to your brand, they have to be able to afford it.  ITC or the Indian Tobacco Company has been able to prosper from this very idea. An ITC representative states that,

“The level of affordability in rural India is low. For consumers to buy products, you have to first put more money in their pockets. We are creating a virtuous circle of higher income, higher productivity and higher consumption.”

Companies are going to have to make an investment to connect with the people in rural communities.  If they choose to invest in social media outlets, they have to understand how to reach them. It may take some groundwork before being able to generate online socially. Yet, if asking Vijay Rayapati, the people of India would love companies and brands to have more of a social presence.

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2 Responses to Rural is the Way

  1. You rightly focus on the big potential of mobile marketing for the rural areas of India and cite some powerful statistics and happenings in the world that help to prove that point. In doing so, though, you seem to discount the potential benefit of an online strategy for other brands who may not focus on targeting rural customers. For these groups, a population of 100 million online users (most of whom likely have higher than poverty incomes) would be anything BUT an insignificant audience.

    It raises the danger of falling into the trap of focusing too directly on only one case and inadvertently dismissing other potential uses though they may be perfectly valid in other situations. (2)

  2. paulfbove says:

    It’s interesting to see that India also has a National Do Not Disturb (NDND). For whatever reason, I always figured it was just an American creation. Marketers overall are facing new challenges in trying to ensure that their message reaches consumers. If it’s not the technology, then it’s do not disturb initiatives. I’m curious if you found any stats on how this has affected Indian marketers?

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