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Seminar Report


Submitted in the partial fulfillment of the award of PG Degree of

Master of Business Administration
Session 2008-09

Submitted To: Submitted By:-

Department of Management Studies, Ravi
MBA 4th sem. (Marketing)

Executive Summary

A debate continued for a long time amongst the Indian marketers, both practitioners &
academicians, on the justification for the existence of the distinct discipline of rural marketing.
Consequently, two schools of thought emerged. The first school belived that the
products/services, marketing tools & strategies that are successful in urban areas, could be
transplanted with little or no more modifications in rural areas. However, the second school saw
a clear distinction between urban & rural India, & suggested a different approach, skills, tools
& strategies to be successful in rural markets.

What differentiates the two markets is not mere income, but a host of other infrastructural &
socio-cultural factors. Thus, the rural market cannot be tapped successfully with an urban
marketing mindset & would definitely require its thorough understanding. In other words, the
approach toward rural markets needs to be distinct from the one adopted for the urban markets.

Thus, in a large rural economy like India’s, rural marketing has emerged as an important &
distinct internal sub-division within the marketing discipline. This sub-division clearly
highlights the differences between rural marketing & mainstream marketing.

Table of contents

1) Rural marketing 3
2) Evolution of rural marketing 4
3) Nature of rural market 8
4) Rural marketing transactional or developmental 9
5) Classification of rural consumers 11
6) Roadblocks of Indian Rural Markets 12
7) Attractiveness of rural market 14
8) Rural Vs Urban Marketing 19
9) Rural consumer behavior 22
10) 4 A’s approach of Indian Rural Market 25
11) Rural marketing Mix 28
12) Marketing strategies to capture rural market 37
12.1. Product strategies 42
12.2. Pricing strategies 44
12.3. Promotion strategies 45
12.4. Distribution strategies 46
13) Media vehicles 53
13.1. Formal media 54
13.2. Informal/rural specific media 57
13.3. Choosing media vehicles 64
14) Conclusion 65
15) References 66

Rural Marketing

Rural marketing involves the process of developing, pricing, promoting, distributing rural
specific product and a service leading to exchange between rural and urban market which
satisfies consumer demand and also achieves organizational objectives.




It is a two-way marketing process wherein the transactions can be:

1. Urban to Rural: A major part of rural marketing falls into this category. It involves
the selling of products and services by urban marketers in rural areas. These include:
Pesticides, FMCG Products, Consumer durables, etc.
2. Rural to Urban: Transactions in this category basically fall under agricultural
marketing where a rural producer seeks to sell his produce in an urban market. An agent
or a middleman plays a crucial role in the marketing process. The following are some of
the important items sold from the rural to urban areas: seeds, fruits and vegetables, milk
and related products, forest produce, spices, etc.
3. Rural to Rural: This includes the activities that take place between two villages in
close proximity to each other. The transactions relate to the areas of expertise the
particular village has. These include selling of agricultural tools, cattle, carts and others
to another village in its proximity.

Rural marketing requires the understanding of the complexities. Indian agricultural industry has
been growing at a tremendous pace in the last few decades. The rural areas are consuming a
large number of industrial and urban manufactured products. The rural agricultural production
and consumption process plays a predominant role in developing the Indian economy. This has
designed a new way for understanding a new process called Rural Marketing.

The concept of rural marketing has to be distinguished from Agricultural marketing. Marketing
is the process of identifying and satisfying customers needs and providing them with adequate
after sales service. Rural marketing is different from agricultural marketing, which signifies
marketing of rural products to the urban consumer or institutional markets. Rural marketing
basically deals with delivering manufactured or processed inputs or services to rural producers,
the demand for which is basically a derived outcome.

Rural marketing scientists also term it as developmental marketing, as the process of rural
marketing involves an urban to rural activity, which in turn is characterised by various
peculiarities in terms of nature of market, products and processes. Rural marketing differs from
agricultural or consumer products marketing in terms of the nature of transactions, which
includes participants, products, modalities, norms and outcomes. The participants in case of
Rural Marketing would also be different they include input manufacturers, dealers, farmers,
opinion makers, government agencies and traders.

Rural marketing needs to combine concerns for profit with a concern for the society, besides
being titled towards profit. Rural market for agricultural inputs is a case of market pull and not
market push. Most of the jobs of marketing and selling are left to the local dealers and retailers.
The market for input gets interlocked with other markets like output, consumer goods, money
and labour.

Rural marketing in India is not much developed there are many hindrances in the area of
market, product design and positioning, pricing, distribution and promotion. Companies need to
understand rural marketing in a broader manner not only to survive and grow in their business,
but also a means to the development of the rural economy. One has to have a strategic view of
the rural markets so as to know and understand the markets well. In the context of rural
marketing one has to understand the manipulation of marketing mix has to be properly
understood in terms of product usage. Product usage is central to price, distribution, promotion,
branding, company image and more important farmer economics, thus any strategy in rural
marketing should be given due attention and importance by understanding the product usage,
all elements of marketing mix can be better organised and managed.

Evolution of Rural Marketing


I Before Mid-
1960 (from Agricultural Agricultural Rural Urban
independence Marketing Produce
to green
II Mid- Sixties
(Green Marketing Of Agricultural Urban Rural
revolution to Agricultural Inputs
Pre- Inputs
III Mid- Nineties Consumables
(Post- Rural And Urban & Rural
liberalization Marketing Durables For Rural
period on 20th Consumption
century) & Production

IV 21st century Developmental All products & Urban & Urban &
marketing services Rural Rural

1. Phase I ( from Independence to Green Revolution):

Before the advent of the Green revolution, the nature of rural market was altogether
different. Rural marketing then referred to the marketing of rural products in rural &
urban products.
2. Phase II (Green Revolution to Pre-liberalization period):
During these times, due to the advent & spread of the Green Revolution, rural marketing
represented marketing of agriculture inputs in rural markets & marketing of rural
produce in urban areas.
3. Phase III (Post-liberalization period on 20th century):
The third phase of rural marketing started after the liberalization of the Indian economy.
In this period, rural marketing represented the emerging, distinct activity of attracting &
serving rural markets to fulfill the need & wants of rural households, peoples & their
4. Phase IV (21st century):
Learning from its rural marketing experiences after the independence, the corporate
world has finally realized the quick-fix solutions & piecemeal approaches will deliver
only limited results in the rural markets. And, if an organization wants to tap the real
potential of the rural market, it needs to make a long-term commitment with this market.
Its approach & strategies must not focus in just selling products & services, but they
should also aim at creating an environment for this to happen.

The objective of rural marketing in the current phase is the improvement of the quality of life
by satisfying the needs & wants of the customers, not through atand-alone products or services,
but by presenting comprehensive & integrated solutions which might involve a set of inter-
related products & services.

Till recently, the focus of marketers in India was the urban consumer and by large number
specific efforts were made to reach the rural markets. But now it is felt that with the tempo of
development accelerating in rural India, coupled with increase in purchasing power, because of
scientific agriculture, the changing life style and consumption pattern of villagers with increase
in education, social mobility, improved means of transportations and communication and other
penetrations of mass media such as television and its various satellite channels have exposed
rural India to the outside world and hence their outlook to life has also changed. Because of all
these factors, rural India in now attracting more and more marketers.
Increase in competition, saturated urban markets, more and move new products demanding
urban customers, made the companies to think about new potential markets. Thus, Indian rural
markets have caught the attention of many companies, advertisers and multinational companies.
According to a recent survey conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic
Research (NCAER), the purchasing power of the rural people has increased due to increase in
productivity and better price commanded by the agricultural products. By and large this rise in
purchasing power remains unexploited and with the growing reach of the television, it is now
quite easy for the marketers to capture these markets.

Rural marketing has become the latest mantra of most corporate. Companies like Hindustan
Lever, Colgate Palmolive, Britannia and even Multinational Companies (MNCs) like Pepsi,
Coca Cola, L.G., Philips, Cavin Kare are all eyeing rural markets to capture the large Indian

Coming to the frame work of Rural Marketing, Rural Marketing broadly involves reaching the
rural customer, understanding their needs and wants, supply of goods and services to meet their
requirements, carrying out after sales service that leads to customer satisfaction and repeat

Nature of Rural Market

 Large, Diverse and Scattered Market: Rural market in India is large, and scattered
into a number of regions. There may be less number of shops available to market
 Major Income of Rural consumers is from Agriculture: Rural Prosperity is tied
with agriculture prosperity. In the event of a crop failure, the income of the rural masses
is directly affected.
 Standard of Living and rising disposable income of the rural customers: It is
known that majority of the rural population lives below poverty line and has low

literacy rate, low per capital income, societal backwardness, low savings, etc. But the
new tax structure, good monsoon, government regulation on pricing has created
disposable incomes. Today the rural customer spends money to get value and is aware
of the happening around him.
 Traditional Outlook: Villages develop slowly and have a traditional outlook. Change
is a continuous process but most rural people accept change gradually. This is gradually
changing due to literacy especially in the youth who have begun to change the outlook
in the villages.
 Rising literacy levels: It is documented that approximately 45% of rural Indians are
literate. Hence awareness has increases and the farmers are well-informed about the
world around them. They are also educating themselves on the new technology around
them and aspiring for a better lifestyle.
 Diverse socioeconomic background: Due to dispersion of geographical areas and
uneven land fertility, rural people have disparate socioeconomic background, which
ultimately affects the rural market.
 Infrastructure Facilities: The infrastructure facilities like cemented roads, warehouses,
communication system, and financial facilities are inadequate in rural areas. Hence
physical distribution is a challenge to marketers who have found innovative ways to
market their products.

Is rural marketing transactional or developmental in

its approach?

It is true, rural markets have become an attractive proposition for commercial business
The role of rural marketing as such is more developmental than transactional. It is more a
process of delivering better standard of living and quality of life to the rural environment taking
into consideration the prevailing village milieu.

Transactional Vs Developmental: For better comprehension of this role let us distinguish
development marketing and transactional marketing. Table brings out the differences in brief.

Transactional Vs Development Marketing

S.No. Aspect Transactional Development

1. Concept Consumer orientation, Society orientation, societal
Marketing concept concept

2. Role Stimulating and Catalytic and transformation

conversional marketing agent
3. Focus Product-market fit Social change
4. Key task Product innovations and Social innovations and
communications communications
5. Nature of activity Commercial Socio-cultural, economic
6. Participants Corporate enterprises, Government, voluntary agencies,
Sellers corporate enterprises,
7. Offer Products and services Development
8. Target group Buyers Beneficiaries and buyers
9. Communication Functional Developmental
10. Goal Profits Market development
Customer satisfaction Corporate Image
Brand image
11. Time-Frame Short-medium Medium-Long
12. Motivation Profit-motive Service-motive
Business policy Ideological or Public policy

Model: The model of rural marketing represents a combination of the transactional and
developmental approaches.

• Rural marketing process is both a catalyst as well as an outcome of the general rural
development process. Initiation and management of social and economic change in the
rural sector is the core of the rural marketing process. It becomes in this process both
benefactor and beneficiary.
• Innovation is the essence of marketing. Innovative methods of social change for
successful transformation of traditional society are virtual. Such a change narrows the
rural-urban divide.
• The process of transformation can be only evolutionary and not revolutionary. The
growth of the rural market can be a planned evolutionary process based on strategic
instruments of change rather than constitute just short-term opportunities for
commercial gains.

• The exposure of ruralites to a variety of marketing transactions during the change

process puts them in the role of beneficiaries than of just `buyers' of modern inputs and
infrastructural services.

• Communication is the vital element of rural marketing. It should serve to resolve social
conflicts, encourage cooperation and strengthen competitive spirit during interactions
between rural and urban as well as within rural areas. Another critical point for
communication is the point of conversion of ruralite from an "induced beneficiary" to an
"autonomous buyer".

Classification of rural consumers

The rural consumers are classified into the following groups based on their economic status:

• The Affluent Group: They are cash rich farmers and a very few in number. They have
affordability but not form a demand base large enough for marketing firms to depend
on. Wheat farmers in Punjab and rice merchants of Andhra Pradesh fall in this group.

• The Middle Class: This is one of the largest segments for manufactured goods and is
fast expanding. Farmers cultivating sugar cane in UP and Karnataka fall in this

• The Poor: This constitutes a huge segment. Purchasing power is less, but
strength is more. They receive the grants from government and reap the benefits of
many such schemes and may move towards the middleclass. The farmers of Bihar and
Orissa fall under this category.

Roadblocks of Indian Rural Markets

There are several roadblocks that make it difficult to progress in the rural market. Marketers
encounter a number of problems like dealing with physical distribution, logistics, proper and
effective deployment of sales force and effective marketing communication when they enter
rural markets. The major problems are listed below.

1. Standard of living: The number of people below the poverty line is more in rural
markets. Thus the market is also underdeveloped and marketing strategies have to be
different from those used in urban marketing.
2. Low literacy levels: The low literacy levels in rural areas leads to a problem of
communication. Print media has less utility compared to the other media of
3. Low per capita income: Agriculture is the main source of income and hence spending
capacity depends upon the agriculture produce. Demand may not be stable or regular.
4. Transportation and warehousing: Transportation is one of the biggest challenges in
rural markets. As far as road transportation is concerned, about 50% of Indian villages
are connected by roads. However, the rest of the rural markets do not even have a
proper road linkage which makes physical distribution a tough task. Many villages are
located in hilly terrains that make it difficult to connect them through roads. Most
marketers use tractors or bullock carts in rural areas to distribute their products.
Warehousing is another major problem in rural areas, as there is hardly any organized
agency to look after the storage issue. The services rendered by central warehousing
corporation and state warehousing corporations are limited only to urban and suburban

5. Ineffective distribution channels: The distribution chain is not very well organized
and requires a large number of intermediaries, which in turn increases the cost and
creates administrative problems. Due to lack of proper infrastructure, manufacturers are
reluctant to open outlets in these areas. They are mainly dependent on dealers, who are
not easily available for rural areas. This is a challenge to the marketers.
6. Many languages and diversity in culture: Factors like cultural congruence, different
behaviour and language of the respective areas make it difficult to handle the customers.
Traits among the sales force are required to match the various requirements of these
specific areas.
7. Lack of communication system: Quick communication is the need of the hour for
smooth conduct of business, but it continues to be a far cry in rural areas due to lack of
communication facilities like telegraph and telecommunication systems etc. The literacy
rate in the rural areas is rather low and consumer’s behaviour in these areas is
traditional, which may be a problem for effective communication.
8. Spurious brands: Cost is an important factor that determines purchasing decision in
rural areas. A lot of spurious brands or look-alikes are available, providing a low cost
option to the rural customer. Many a time the rural customer may not be aware of the
difference due to illiteracy.
9. Seasonal demand: Demand may be seasonal due to dependency on agricultural income.
Harvest season might see an increase in disposable income and hence more purchasing
10. Dispersed markets: Rural population is highly dispersed and requires a lot of
marketing efforts in terms of distribution and communication.

Attractiveness of rural market

1 Large population
2 Rising prosperity
3 Growth in consumption
4 Life cycle changes
5 Life cycle advantages
6 Market growth rate higher than urban
7 Rural marketing is not expensive
8 Remoteness is no longer a problem

1. Large Population: The rural population is large and its growth rate is also
high. Despite the rural urban migration, the rural areas continue to be the place of living
majority of Indians.

2. Rising Rural Propensity:

INCOME GROUP 1994-95 2000-01 2006-07
ABOVE RS. 100,000 1.6 3.8 5.6
RS. 77,001-100,000 2.7 4.7 5.8
RS. 50,001-77,000 8.3 13.0 22.4
RS. 25,001-50,000 26.0 41.1 44.6
RS.25,000 & BELOW 61.4 37.4 20.2

Thus we see that population between income level of Rs. 25,000- 77,000 will increase
from 34.3% in 1994-95 to 67.0% in 2006-07. The rural consuming class is increasing by
about 3-4% per annum, which roughly translates into 1.2 million new consumers yearly.

3. Growth in consumption:


Punjab 614
Kerala 604
High Haryana 546
7 Rajasthan 452
(Above Rs 382/-) Gujarat 416
Andhra Pradesh 386
Maharastra 384
West Bengal 382
Average Orissa 381
5 Tamil Naidu 381
(Rs. 382/-) Uttar Pradesh 373
Karnataka 365
Low Assam 338
3 Madhya Pradesh 326
(Below Rs. 382/-) Bihar 289

Distribution household’s income wise (projection in Rs Crore)

2001 – 02 2006 – 07
HIGH 0.26 0.07 26. 0.52 0.12 23.1
MIDDLE 12.04 7.73 64. 16.72 10.3 61.8
2 2
LOW 5.7 5.09 88. 3.68 3.52 95.7

TOTAL 18.04 12.8 71. 20.90 13.9 66.7
9 4 6

Spending pattern (Rural Household’s in Rs.)


147 73 95
67 33 43
43 22 28
33 17 21
OTHERS 9 30 15 19
TOTAL 333 166 215

Average rural household spends on consumables excluding food grains, milk &
vegetables are Rs. 215/-.

4. Life style changes:

Income vs. usage of packed consumer goods (% of household using)

GOODS UP TO 350 351 – 751 – 1501 +
750 1500
TOILET SOAPS 57 72 89 93
TALCUM POWDER 20 25 41 63
TEA (PACKAGED) 22 30 48 64

5. Life cycle advantage:



Popular soaps Maturity 2 Growth
Premium soaps Late growth 11 Early growth
Washing powder Late growth 6 Early growth
Skin creams Maturity 1.1 Growth
Talcum powder Maturity 4 Growth

6. Market growth rates higher: Growth rates of the FMCG market and the
durable market are higher in rural areas for many products. The rural market share will be
more than 50% for the products like toilet soaps, body talcum powder, cooking medium
(oil), cooking medium (vanaspati), tea, cigarettes and hair oil.

7. Rural marketing is not expensive: Conventional wisdom dictates that since rural
consumers are dispersed, reaching them is costly. However, new research indicates that the
selling in Rural India is not expensive. According to one research it costs roughly Rs.1
Crore to promote a consumer durable inside a state. This includes the expenses of
advertising in vernacular newspapers, television spots, in-cinema advertising, radio, van
operations and merchandising and point of purchase promotion. Campaign like this, which
can reach millions, costs twice as much in urban area.

8. Remoteness is no longer a problem: Remoteness in a problem but not insurmountable.

The rural distribution is not much developed for the reasons,
 Lack of proper infrastructure such as all-weather roads, electrification and
sanitation, and
 Lack of marketer’s imagination and initiative.

Marketers have so far, failed in analyzing the rural side and exploiting rural India’s
traditional selling system- Haats & Melas.Their near obsession with just duplicating the
urban-type network and that too with very limited success, has kept them blind to the
potential of these two outlets.



1 Marketing & Societal Marketing & Societal
Concepts & Concepts,
Relationship Development
Marketing Marketing &

B) DEMAND High Low
C) COMPETITION Among Units In Mostly From
Organized Sector Unorganized Units
LOCATION Concentrated Widely Spread
EXPENDITURE Planned, Even Seasonal, Variation
NEEDS High Level Low Level
CONCEPT Known Less Known
POSITIONING Easy Difficult
USAGE METHOD Easily Grasped Difficult To Grasp
SENSITIVE Yes Very much
LEVEL DESIRED Medium-high Medium-low
Wholesalers, stockists, Village shops,
retailer, supermarket, “Haats”
specialty stores, &
authorised showrooms
Print, audio visual TV, radio, print media
media, outdoors, to some extent. More
exhibitions etc. few languages
Door-to-door, Occasionally
Contests, gifts, price Gifts, price discounts
PUBLICITY Good opportunities Less opportunities

Special Products for Rural Markets:

• Rural Transporter: Mahindra & Mahindra is busy developing the prototype of what it
calls a ‘Rural Transporter’ – basically a hybrid between a tractor and a rural transport
vehicle. The product at 20-25 HP will be targeted at those who cannot afford a normal
tractor and would also fulfill the need of family transporter that could take in the rural
roughs but would be much more comfortable and safer than the conventional tractor-trolley.
• Sampoorna TV: LG Electronics, the Korean firm has rejigged the TV to appeal to local
needs. It spent Rs. 21 Lacs to develop a set that would have on-screen displays in the
vernacular languages of Hindi, Tamil and Bengali. The logic, rural consumers unfamiliar
with English would still be able to use the TV without being intimidated.
• Titan Watches: A recent NCAER study revealed that there is a great potential for watches
in rural areas. In fact it is considered to be a high priority list. It was also found that a rural
consumer looks for the ruggedness of the watch more than the urban consumer does. He
prefers thick watches than slim watches.

The biggest problem that the Marketers are facing in the Rural Markets is Of IMITATIONS.
Imitations may result in two types of goods depending upon the purpose, commitment, and
competence of imitator. A poor imitator will end up in producing deceptive, spurious, fake,
copycat products. He dupes the gullible customer by offering products having close
resemblance with the original. In quality, it is poor cousin to the original. On the other hand, a
poor imitator may even produce an improved version of the original product.

In this scenario the job of the Marketer becomes even more difficult in the sense that he has not
to fight other competitors but also the imitated products.

The advantages that these products enjoy in the rural markets are that the Imitators who are in
the villages are making these and they are offering More Margins & Better credit Facilities.

To solve this problem the Marketer has to educate the consumer about his product and show
him the benefits of his products over the imitated ones.

Need-Product Relationships and the changes happening in Rural India

Needs Old Products New Products

Brushing Teeth Neem sticks, Charcoal, Toothpaste, tooth powder
Rocksalt, Husk
Washing Vessels Coconut fiber, Earthy Washing Powders, soaps
materials, Brick Powder, Ash and liquids
Transport Bullock Cart, Horses, Tractors, LCVs, Mopeds,
Donkeys Scooters, Motor cycles
Irrigation Wells, Canals, Water lifters, Bore-wells, Motors, Power
Wind Mills Generators, Pump Sets
Hair Wash Shikakai powder, Retha, Shampoos and hair care
Besan soaps

Rural Consumer Behaviour

Consumer Buyer Behaviour refers to the buying behaviour of final consumers - individuals and
households who buy goods and services for personal consumption. All of these final consumers
combined make up the consumer market.

The consumer market in this case is Rural India. About 70% of India’s population lives in rural
areas. There are more than 600,000 villages in the country as against about 300 cities and 4600
towns. Consumers in this huge segment have displayed vast differences in their purchase
decisions and the product use. Villagers react differently to different products, colours, sizes,
etc. in different parts of India. Thus utmost care in terms of understanding consumer psyche
needs to be taken while marketing products to rural India.

Thus, it is important to study the thought process that goes into making a purchase decision, so
that marketers can reach this huge untapped segment.

Factors influencing buying behavior

The various factors that affect buying behavior of in rural India are:

1. Environmental of the consumer - The environment or the surroundings, within

which the consumer lives, has a very strong influence on the buyer behavior, egs.
Electrification, water supply affects demand for durables.

2. Geographic influences - The geographic location in which the rural consumer is

located also speaks about the thought process of the consumer. For instance, villages
in South India accept technology quicker than in other parts of India. Thus, HMT
sells more winding watches in the north while they sell more quartz watches down

3. Family – it is an important buying decision making organization in consumer

markets. Family size & the roles played by family members exercise considerable
influence on the purchase decisions. Industry observers are increasingly realizing
that at times, purchase of durable has less to do with income, but has more to do

with the size of the family & that’s where rural India with joint family structures,
becomes an attractive proposition.

4. Economic factors – The quantum of income & the earning stream are one of the
major deciding factors, which determine to a great extent, what the customer will be
able to buy. Many people in the rural market are below poverty line & for large
number of people, agriculture is the primary occupation. More than 70% of the
people are in small-scale agricultural operation. These factors affect the purchase

5. Place of purchase (60% prefer HAATS due to better quality, variety & price)
Companies need to assess the influence of retailers on both consumers at village
shops and at haats.

6. Creative use of product ex Godrej hair dye being used as a paint to colour horns of
oxen, Washing machine being used for churning lassi. The study of product end
provides indicators to the company on the need for education and also for new
product ideas.

7. Brand preference and loyalty (80% of sale is branded items in 16 product


Cultural factors influencing consumer behaviour

Cultural factors exert the broadest and deepest influence on consumer behaviour. The marketer
needs to understand the role played by the buyer’s culture. Culture is the most basic element
that shapes a person’s wants and behaviour.

In India, there are so many different cultures, which only goes on to make the marketer’s job
tougher. Some of the few cultural factors that influence buyer behaviour are:

1. Product (colour, size, design, and shape): There are many examples that support this

a. For example, the Tata Sumo, which was launched in rural India in a white
colour, was not well accepted. But however, when the same Sumo was re-

launched as Spacio (a different name) and in a bright yellow colour, with a
larger seating capacity and ability to transport good, the acceptance was higher.

b. Another good example would be Philips audio systems. Urban India looks at
technology with the viewpoint of ‘the smaller the better’. However, in rural
India, the viewpoint is totally opposite. That is the main reason for the large
acceptance of big audio systems. Thus Philips makes audio systems, which are
big in size and get accepted in rural India by their sheer size.

2. Social practices: There are so many different cultures, and each culture exhibits
different social practices.

For example, in a few villages they have common bath areas. Villagers used to
buy one Lifebuoy cake and cut it into smaller bars. This helped lifebuoy to
introduce smaller 75-gram soap bars, which could be used individually.

3. Decision-making by male head: The male in Indian culture has always been given the
designation of key decision maker.

For example, the Mukhiya’s opinion (Head of the village), in most cases, is
shared with the rest of the village. Even in a house the male head is the final
decision maker. In rural areas, this trend is very prominent.

4. Changes in saving and investment patterns From gold, land, to tractors, VCR’s, LCV’s

4 A’s approach of Indian Rural Market
The rural market may be appealing but it is not without its problems: Low per capita disposable
incomes that is half the urban disposable income; large number of daily wage earners, acute
dependence on the vagaries of the monsoon; seasonal consumption linked to harvests and
festivals and special occasions; poor roads; power problems; and inaccessibility to conventional
advertising media.

However, the rural consumer is not unlike his urban counterpart in many ways.

The more daring MNC’s are meeting the consequent challenges of availability, affordability,
acceptability and awareness (the so-called 4 A’s)

» Availability

The first challenge is to ensure availability of the product or service. India's 627,000 villages
are spread over 3.2 million sq km; 700 million Indians may live in rural areas, finding them is
not easy. However, given the poor state of roads, it is an even greater challenge to regularly
reach products to the far-flung villages. Any serious marketer must strive to reach at least
13,113 villages with a population of more than 5,000. Marketers must trade off the distribution
cost with incremental market saturation. Over the years, India's largest MNC, Hindustan Lever,
a subsidiary of Unilever, has built a strong distribution system which helps its brands reach the
interiors of the rural market.

To service remote village, stockiest use autorickshaws, bullock-carts and even boats in the
backwaters of Kerala. Coca-Cola, which considers rural India as a future growth driver, has
evolved a hub and spoke distribution model to reach the villages. To ensure full loads, the
company depot supplies, twice a week, large distributors which who act as hubs. These
distributors appoint and supply, once a week, smaller distributors in adjoining areas. LG
Electronics defines all cities and towns other than the seven metros cities as rural and semi-
urban market. To tap these unexplored country markets, LG has set up 45 area offices and 59
rural/remote area offices.

» Affordability

The second challenge is to ensure affordability of the product or service. With low disposable
incomes, products need to be affordable to the rural consumer, most of who are on daily wages.
Some companies have addressed the affordability problem by introducing small unit packs.
Most of the shampoos are available in smaller packs. Fair and lovely was launched in a smaller
pack. Colgate toothpaste launched its smaller packs to cater to the travelling segment and the
rural consumers.Godrej recently introduced three brands of Cinthol, Fair Glow and Godrej in
50-gm packs, priced at Rs 4-5 meant specifically for Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
— the so-called `Bimaru' States.

Hindustan Lever, among the first MNC’s to realize the potential of India's rural market, has
launched a variant of its largest selling soap brand, Lifebuoy at Rs 2 for 50 gm. The move is
mainly targeted at the rural market. Coca-Cola has addressed the affordability issue by
introducing the returnable 200-ml glass bottle priced at Rs 5. The initiative has paid off: Eighty
per cent of new drinkers now come from the rural markets. Coca-Cola has also introduced
Sunfill, a powdered soft-drink concentrate. The instant and ready-to-mix Sunfill is available in
a single-serve sachet of 25 gm priced at Rs 2 and multi serve sachet of 200 gm priced at Rs 15.

» Acceptability

The third challenge is to gain acceptability for the product or service. Therefore, there is a need
to offer products that suit the rural market. One company which has reaped rich dividends by
doing so is LG Electronics. In 1998, it developed a customized TV for the rural market and
christened it Sampoorna. It was a runway hit selling 100,000 sets in the very first year. Because
of the lack of electricity and refrigerators in the rural areas, Coca-Cola provides low-cost ice
boxes — a tin box for new outlets and thermocol box for seasonal outlets.

The insurance companies that have tailor-made products for the rural market have performed
well. HDFC Standard LIFE topped private insurers by selling policies worth Rs 3.5 crores in
total premium. The company tied up with non-governmental organizations and offered
reasonably-priced policies in the nature of group insurance covers. With large parts of rural
India inaccessible to conventional advertising media — only 41 per cent rural households have
access to TV — building awareness is another challenge. Fortunately, however, the rural
consumer has the same likes as the urban consumer — movies and music — and for both the

urban and rural consumer, the family is the key unit of identity. However, the rural consumer
expressions differ from his urban counterpart. Outing for the former is confined to local fairs
and festivals and TV viewing is confined to the state-owned Doordarshan. Consumption of
branded products is treated as a special treat or luxury.

» Awareness

Brand awareness is another challenge. Fortunately, however, the rural consumer has the same
likes as the urban consumer — movies and music — and for both the urban and rural consumer,
the family is the key unit of identity. However, the rural consumer expressions differ from his
urban counterpart. Outing for the former is confined to local fairs and festivals and TV viewing
is confined to the state-owned Doordarshan. Consumption of branded products is treated as a
special treat or indulgence.

Hindustan Lever relies heavily on its own company-organized media. These are promotional
events organized by stockiest. Godrej Consumer Products, which is trying to push its soap
brands into the interior areas, uses radio to reach the local people in their language.

Coca-Cola uses a combination of TV, cinema and radio to reach 53.6 per cent of rural
households. It doubled it’s spend on advertising on Doordarshan, which alone reached 41 per
cent of rural households. It has also used banners, posters and tapped all the local forms of
entertainment. Since price is a key issue in the rural areas, Coca-Cola advertising stressed its
`magical' price point of Rs 5 per bottle in all media. LG Electronics uses vans and road shows
to reach rural customers. The company uses local language advertising. Philips India uses wall
writing and radio advertising to drive its growth in rural areas.

The key dilemma for MNC’s ready to tap the large and fast-growing rural market is whether
they can do so without hurting the company's profit margins.

Evolving a New Marketing Mix for Selling to Rural

12.2% of the world lives in Rural India. Put in a different context, this works out to 1 in 8 people on
Earth. Being able to successfully tap this growing market is every marketer’s dream. However, myths
abound. India’s rural markets are often misunderstood. A clear distinction needs to be made with regard
to the reality versus the image of rural India. If such a distinction is not made, we will be unable to
distinguish between the serpent and the rope and the rope and the serpent.

The rural market is not homogeneous. Though the aggregate size is very large, individual subsets of this
market tend to be rather small and disparate. Geographical, demographical, statistical, logistical
differences are very apparent. Positioning and realities regarding the potential of each of these market
segments differ and lie at the very core of forming the strategy for the rural markets.

The face of Indian agriculture is changing from dry land and irrigated agriculture into high-tech and
low-tech agriculture. Farmers in states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have reaped the benefits of
adopting new age farming practices, including green house cultivation, fert-irrigation and hydroponics.
This has radically changed the economics of farming, with the investment in these systems lowering the
cost of cultivation, increasing yields due to integrated crop management practices and reducing the
dependence on rainfall. As a result, disposable income has grown sharply. The aspirants are becoming
climbers showing a sustained economic upturn as purchasing power is increasing in the rural markets.
The proportion of very rich has increased five- fold. The growing incomes have modified demand
patterns and buyer behaviour. Moreover, the need for a product or service is now adequately backed up
with the capacity, ability and willingness to pay.

However, the market still remains largely unexploited. At most times, potential markets need to
be found and at times, even created. Such creation of demand needs efficient management of the
supply chain. To increase market share, behavioural change needs to be at the forefront of any
strategy. Further, due to the diversity of this market, marketers need to think, plan and act locally.

It is therefore essential to develop an accurate Marketing Mix for selling to rural Indians.

The Rural market is not a homogenous set of customers with preferences frozen in time. When
developing products in any category, marketers must identify the typical rural specific needs. Urban
products cannot be dumped onto rural markets without modifications. Tailor-made products are better
received by the rural audience as the consumers feel empowered and tend to dentify with the offering.

For instance, shampoos or soaps with distinctive, strong rose or jasmine perfumes are very popular with
the rural women in South India. The urban women do not identify as strongly with these perfumes.
Sachetization is also a distinctly rural-driven phenomenon. As demand in several categories is being
created, intensity of use is quite low. On average, rural folk would use a shampoo only once a week.
Habits take time to change and making unit sachet packs affordable is the key to inducing trial and

Systematic, in-depth research that can help understand the depths of the mind of the villagers,
their buying criteria, purchase patterns and purchasing power are an essential input while
developing rural specific products or services.

A common error has been to launch a completely stripped down version of the urban product in the rural
market, with the objective of offering the lowest possible price. This is not what a rural consumer wants.
What is required is to introduce a product with ‘essential’ features, whose needs are recognized and for
which the consumer is willing to pay (value-adding features). Product developers should aim at
eliminating all the cost-adding features, i.e., features which a consumer is unwilling to pay for as he sees
no obvious utility. This would “redefine value” in the minds of the consumer and tremendously increase
product acceptability.

Product development is severely constrained by legislation in the case of agricultural inputs like
fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides. In the case of fertilizers for instance, though levels of deficiency
of nutrients have increased significantly over the past decade, no significant changes in formulations
notified under the Fertilizer Control Order have taken place. This has severely restricted the availability
of cost effective specialty fertilizers of global standards to Indian farmers. Technological know-how for
manufacture of such fertilizers exists within the country. However, farmers using modern farming
practices are unable to get an assured supply of such farm inputs due to draconian legislation. A move to
liberalize the sector could perhaps consider the accepted worldwide norm of allowing manufacturers
with a strong R&D base to decide their own formulations with the government machinery conducting
checks on market samples of finished products to ensure that they live up to the labelled specifications.

This would be a major policy initiative that would give a huge impetus to innovative product
development in the farm sector.

Product life cycles as are becoming shorter and these are having their impact on company life cycles.
Thus for any company wishing to develop its product portfolio, allegiance to the classic American P-A-
L Principle of Partnership - Alliances - Linkages is a basis for survival.

Every marketer must realize that the rural consumer is not a miser. He is not simply looking for
the cheapest product in every category. He understands and demands value for money in every
purchase that he makes. Pricing therefore is a direct function of factors including cost-benefit
advantage and opportunity cost. Pricing offered to consumers should be for value offerings that
are affordable. Price sensitivity is extremely high and comparison with competitive prices is
common. Consumers seem to create narrow psychological price bands in their minds for
product groups and price elasticity beyond the extreme price points is very high. The perceived
utility or value of the product or service is the ultimate decision making factor.

It is certain however, that buying cheap is not the primary objective. Rather, it is “buying smart”. A
study revealed that the average rural consumer takes approximately 2 years to decide on buying a watch!
He will not do so unless he is totally convinced that he is getting value for Money. Impulse buys and
purchases for conspicuous consumption are also extremely few and far Between considering the “value
for money” factor that reigns supreme in most rural purchase decisions.

It must be remembered that the rural consumer does not have a budget problem. He has a cash flow
problem. This is because the village folk receive funds only twice a year. At these times, he is capable of
making high volume purchases. At all times, however, the unit price is critical and so is the pack size.
Because of this, in the lean season when there is a cash flow crunch, marketers need to provide financial
products, schemes or solutions that suit the needs of the rural population.

Promotions & Advertising

There are a lot of barriers that militate against homogenous media and message delivery. These barriers
stem from the fact that rural markets vary immensely in terms of tastes, habits and preferences leading
to different expectations of every segment of the population.

However, one fact is certain across all areas. The rural consumer likes to touch and feel a product before
making a choice. Demonstrations are undoubtedly the most effective promotional tool that shapes
purchase decisions of the rural population. Demonstrations establish the credentials of any new
technology used in developing the product.

In today’s information era, it is very important for companies to wise-up on emerging technologies. It
has in fact become a medium to attract larger audiences for a product demonstration. Technology must
be used to prepare a database of customers and their requirements. The use of video using mobile vans
and even large screen video walls at events should be arranged.

The classic conundrums of reach and coverage of the media are shattered. Several creative
communication media have been used by various companies to tackle the problem of having to use
visual communication and non-verbal communication to reach the rural audience. This is required
because a large proportion of the rural population cannot read or write. Alliances with cottage industries,
dharmsalas, panchayats, post offices and police stations for advertising have also helped immensely.
More importantly, in rural India, experience has proved time and time again that word of mouth is the
key influencer.

Intermediaries are the foundation to rural distribution. If the intermediary understands and is constantly
reminded about your product, then the end user will not be allowed to forget. The companies must
reinforce this highly effective medium and use all their innovation and money tom develop more
dramatic point of sale and point of contact material. This becomes all the more important when in rural
India, more often than not, the overlap between the product categories sold in a single outlet in
tremendous. For instance, a store may call itself as a grocery store but will stock everything from
groceries to vegetables to fertilizers and may at times even stock medicines. In such cases, the point at
which the customer actually comes in contact with a product may not be the point at which the sale is

The re-use capacity and colour of the container in which the product is packed is also a crucial factor. In
fact, reusable packaging is considered a major aid in promoting sales for products in the rural market.

Consumer and Trade schemes that Incentivise Spending using discount coupons, off season discounts,
free samples, etc. encourage spending. Lucky draws and gift schemes are a major hit in most states.

The use of local idioms and colloquial expressions are an excellent way to strike a rapport with the rural
consumer and must be borne in mind when developing media plans and public relations programmes.
No high voltage publicity is required. The rural consumer is very down to earth but equally discerning
and marketers need to step into the shoes of the rural folk while creating product promotion campaigns.

Another unique feature of rural markets is that the Decision making process is collective. The persons
involved in the purchase process - influencer, decider, buyer, one who pays can all be different. So
marketers must address brand messages in their campaigns at several levels. Apart from regular
household goods, several agribusiness companies have also started providing gift schemes with offers
for free jewellery that influences the ladies to pressure the farmers to purchase agricultural inputs from
select companies. This promotion strategy thus makes women influence purchase decisions that they
would ordinarily not be involved in.

Youth power is becoming increasingly evident in villages. Rural youth bring brand knowledge to the
households. This has forced several companies to change the focus and positioning of their products and
services towards this segment that is growing in absolute number and relative influence.

There are other attributes in the promotion strategy which are explained as under:

1. Mass media: In the present world mass media is a powerful medium of communication.
The following are the mass media generally used:




Print media: Handbills and Booklets, posters, stickers, banners, etc.

2. Personal selling and opinion leaders: In personal selling it is required that the potential
users are identified and awareness is created among them about the product, its features, uses
and benefits. This can be achieved only by personal selling by highly motivated sales person. In
fact the word of mouth information holds lot validity in rural areas even today. This is the
reason why opinion leaders and word of mouth are thriving among rural consumers. An opinion
leader in rural areas can be defined as a person who is considered to be knowledgeable and is
consulted by others and his advice is normally followed. The opinion leaders may be big
landlords or politicians or progressive farmers.

3. Special campaigns: During crop harvest and marketing seasons it is beneficial to take up
special promotion campaigns in rural areas. Tractor owners (tonee) conducted by MRF Limited
is one such example. Brooks Bond carries out marches in rural areas with band, music and
caparisoned elephants to promote their brand of tea.

Mandi and Mela magic

At last count, India witnessed over 50,000 melas. Of these 25,000 meals are held to signify religious,
cultural festivals as well as local fairs and events. On an average, visitors at these melas spend between
Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 50,000 a day. For example, 3 lakh people visited the annual mela at Navchadi which
lasts for 7 days in Meerut. The largest such mela is the Maha Kumbh Mela which is visited by an
average of 12 crore people.

There is however, a caveat when an organization is considering using mela for marketing their products.
Is the audience at this mela fit for promotion of the product at hand? What are the psychographics of this
audience? What is the motivational and behavioural impetus that brings visitors to each of these melas.
On considering these questions, it has been observed that melas are fit to generate product exposure,
package familiarity, brand reminder and word of mouth. However, for products that need concept
marketing and those that have high prices, such melas are not suitable promotion media. This is because
the time and the mood of the people that visit these melas are not right to digest technical information or
for making large purchases. People come to melas to have a good time and are not reminded of such
high technology or high priced products when they return home. In the words of Mr. Neville Gomes,
Managing Director of Multimedia Aquarius, promotion at melas is like a “one night stand”. There will
be no reminder later. Thus, a large amount of qualitative judgment is indeed in planning promotions at
melas by media planners.

place is the major reason behind the evolution of rural marketing as a distinct discipline. A village as a
place for promotion, distribution & consumption is very different from a town or city, thus the general
marketing theories can’t be applied directly in rural markets.
Reaching the right place is the toughest part in today’s rural marketing, as most of the products reach up
to the nearest townships of any village, but due to higher distribution costs, these products fails to reach
the village as the distribution channel fails to put in the required efforts. Most of the times, the rural

retailers themselves go to the urban areas to procure these goods. Rural markets imply complex
logistical challenges that show up as high distribution costs.

Significance of Distribution
No matter how well devised a company’s product, pricing or promotion strategy, the most crucial link in
ensuring the success of rural marketing efforts is distribution. Distribution must be strengthened and this
would raise investment cost barriers for new entrants.

In Rural India, the selection and use of distribution channels is a nightmare. The reason for this is very
clear when we consider that on an average, Urban and Rural India both have approximately 3 million
retail outlets. However, Urban India has only 4,000 towns where these outlets are located. On the other
hand, Rural India’s 3 million outlets are located in 6.3 lakh villages. Thus, marketers are faced with the
problem of feeding 3 million shops located in vastly diverse areas each of which records an average sale
of only Rs.5,000 per outlet. Further compounding this problem is the fact that even this meagre sale is
mostly on credit. The diversity in the distribution of shops is the self-limiting factor in terms of servicing
the rural distribution network.

The distribution of outlets however shows that a marketer need not be present in all markets at all times.
Being present in 6 lakh villages is virtually impossible for an organization of any size. Rural wealth and
demand is concentrated typically at satellite towns, district headquarters, assembly markets and such
central locations. Rural distribution has a rigid hierarchy of markets that make channel decisions
relatively structured.

It is essential for rural marketing companies to understand this hierarchy. Rural folk are habituated to
travelling once a week for their weekly purchases to a satellite town. They do not expect such items to
be present in every village. For durables where the outlay involved is typically large, the purchase would
be made in an assembly market for reasons of choice and availability of adequate cash flow. This is due
to the fact that it is at assembly markets that auction yards are present where the farmers congregate to
sell their output. After such sale of produce, they are cash rich and can afford to make such purchases. It
is therefore not necessary for a marketer of TV sets to take their distribution channel all the way down to
the village shop. A TV will not be sold there as the cash flow does not exist at that point in the hierarchy
of markets. A television distributor must be present at assembly markets which are much smaller in
number, more controllable, easier to reach and service. Keeping the hierarchy in mind will help decide
the optimum level of penetration required to reach a critical mass of rural consumers.


Haats are the nerve centre of Rural India. They are a readymade distribution network embedded in the
fabric of rural society for over 1000 years. They have been held on a regular basis across the length and
breadth of the country for over 1000 years. Right from the time of Chandragupta Maurya, Haats are seen
as a place for social, cultural and economic interchange.

One in every five villages with a population of over 2000 has a haat. In villages with less than 2000
people this figure reduces to 1 in 20 villages. Typically, an average haat will have close to 300 stalls. A
haat usually serves around 5000 visitors. Considering that the average population of an Indian village is
approximately 1000, each haat serves 5 villages. A study estimates that 47,000 haats are conducted in
rural India. These rural super markets are much larger than all the world's K-marts and Wal-marts put

A lot of re-distribution also occurs through haats. This is because, a large number of retailers and sub-
wholesalers buy from haats for their village stores. What is most attractive to marketers is that 90% + of
sales in haats are on cash basis. Traditionally, in village shops a lot of credit sales occur due to the fact
that in a small geographic area of a village, everybody knows everybody. Considering that over 5000
visit a haat from 5 villages, the system gets derelationalised. Apart from the 90% cash sale, 5 to 7% is
conducted on barter system and the rest 3 to 5% is on credit. Also attractive to companies wishing to use
the system is the low selling overheads. Participation fees at haats are a flat Re.1 to Rs.5 per stall and
this rate is common to a giant like Hindustan Lever and the smallest local seller.

Distribution costs must be reduced through optimum utilization of the network. Thus, incorporating
haats in the distribution strategy of a rural marketing organization selling consumer goods and FMCG
products (typically once a week purchase items) is a tremendous opportunity.

Perhaps the other most important factor to consider while developing rural distribution strategy is that
the move from transactional marketing to relationship marketing is most evident in the village market. A
strong bond needs to be created with every consumer even in the remotest village and the smallest town.
Marketing in Rural India is undoubtedly a long-haul exercise and one that involves great expense. Only
those with a strong mind, a tough heart and stiff hands survive.

There is also a need to realise that the dealer is the company's "unpaid" sales force. It is essential
to educate and involve him as he is the local company representative and is the only member in
the channel of distribution that is in direct contact with the final consumer. The dealers' feedback needs
to be obtained as the direction for future strategy emanates here.



The first step is to develop & implement any strategy for the rural market should include the
appropriate segmentation of the rural market. The important thing is that appropriate
segmentation basis need to be applied. Different product categories have different rural markets
to cater to & these can be selected by applying different criteria of segmentation. The
organization can do the following thing to start with:
 Focus on select markets.
 Focus on select villages.


Companies are coming up with new technology and they are properly communicating it to the
customer. There is a trade of between Quality a customer perceives and a company wants to
communicate. Thus, this positioning of technology is very crucial. The perception of the Indian
about the desired product is changing. Now they know the difference between the products and
the utilities derived out of it. As a rural Indian customer always wanted value for money with
the changed perception, one can notice difference in current market scenario.


The companies have realized the importance of proper communication in local language for
promoting their products. They have started selling the concept of quality with proper
communication. Their main focus is to change the Indian customer outlook about quality. With
their promotion, rural customer started asking for value for money.


If one go to villages they will see that villagers using Toothpaste, even when they can use
Neem or Babool sticks or Gudakhu, villagers are using soaps like Nima rose, Breeze, Cinthol
etc. even when they can use locally manufactured very low priced soaps. Villagers are
constantly looking forward for new branded products. What can one infer from these incidents,
is the paradigm changing and customer no longer price sensitive? Indian customer was never
price sensitive, but they want value for money. They are ready to pay premium for the product
if the product is offering some extra utility for the premium.


Companies have recognized that social and cultural values have a very strong hold on the
people. Cultural values play major role in deciding what to buy. Moreover, rural people are
emotional and sensitive. Thus, to promote their brands, they are exploiting social and cultural


The customers want value for money. They do not see any value in frills associated with the
products. They aim for the basic functionality. However, if the seller provides frills free of cost
they are happy with that. They are happy with such a high technology that can fulfil their need.
As "Motorola" has launched, seven models of Cellular Phones of high technology but none
took off. On the other hand, "Nokia" has launched a simple product, which has captured the


Companies are picking up Indian models, actors for advertisements as this helps them to show
themselves as an Indian company. Diana Hyden and Shahrukh Khan are chosen as a brand
ambassador for MNC quartz clock maker "OMEGA" even though when they have models like
Cindy Crawford.


MNCs are associating themselves with India by talking about India, by explicitly saying that
they are Indian. M-TV during Independence Day and Republic daytime make their logo with
Indian tri-colour. Nokia has designed a new cellular phone 5110, with the India tri-colour and a
ringing tone of "Sare Jahan se achcha".


Companies are promoting Indian sports teams so that they can associate themselves with India.
With this, they influence Indian mindset. LG has launched a campaign "LG ki Dua, all the
best". ITC is promoting Indian cricket team for years; during world cup they have launched a
campaign "Jeeta hai jitega apna Hindustan India India India". Similarly, Whirlpool has also
launched a campaign during world cup.


Companies are now talking about normal India. It is a normal tendency of an Indian to try to
associate him/her with the product. If he/she can visualize himself/herself with the product,
he /she become loyal to it. That is why companies like Daewoo based their advertisements on a
normal Indian family.


Many companies are developing rural-specific products. Keeping into consideration the
requirements, a firm develops these products. Electrolux is working on a made-for India fridge
designed to serve basic purposes: chill drinking water, keep cooked food fresh, and to withstand
long power cuts.


Companies use Indian words for brands. Like LG has used India brand name "Sampoorna" for
its newly launched TV. The word is a part of the Bengali, Hindi, Marathi and Tamil tongue. In
the past one year, LG has sold one lakh 20-inch Sampoorna TVs, all in towns with a population
of around 10,000.


As Indian brands are operating in India for a long time and they enjoy a good reputation in
India. MNCs have found that it is much easier for them to operate in India if they acquire an
Established Indian Brand. Electrolux has acquired two Indian brands Kelvinator and Allwyn
this has gave them the well-established distribution channel. As well as trust of people, as
people believe these brands. Similarly Coke has acquired Thumps up, Gold Spot, Citra and
Limca so that they can kill these brands, but later on they realized that to survive in the market
and to compete with their competitor they have to rejuvenate these brands.


Media Rural marketing is being used by companies. They can either go for the traditional
media or the modern media. The traditional media include melas, puppetry, folk theatre etc.
while the modern media includes TV, radio, and e-chaupal. LIC uses puppets to educate rural
masses about its insurance policies. Govt of India uses puppetry in its campaigns to press ahead
social issues. Brook Bond Lipton India ltd used magicians electively for launch of Kadak Chap
Tea in Etawah district. In between such a show, the lights are switched of and a torch is flashed
in the dark (EVEREADYs tact).


Proper distribution channels are recognized by companies. The distribution channel could be
big scale Super markets; they thought that a similar system can be grown in India. However,
they were wrong; soon they realized that to succeed in India they have to reach the nook and
the corner of the country. They have to reach the "local Paan wala, Local Baniya" only they can
succeed. MNC shoe giants, Adidas, Reebok, and Nike started with exclusive stores but soon

they realized that they do not enjoy much Brand Equity in India, and to capture the market
share in India they have to go the local market shoe sellers. They have to reach to local cities
with low priced products.


MNCs have realized that in India celebrities enjoyed a great popularity so they now associate
themselves with Indian celebrities. Recently Luxor Writing Instruments Ltd. a JV of Gillette
and Luxor has launched 500 "Gajgamini" ranges of Parker Sonnet Hussain special edition
fountain pens, priced at Rs. 5000. This pen is signed by Mr. Makbul Fida Hussain a renowned
painter who has created "Gajgamini" range of paintings. Companies are promoting players like
Bhaichung Bhutia, who is promoted by Reebok, so that they can associate their name with
players like him and get popularity.


Melas are places where villagers gather once in a while for shopping. Companies take
advantage of such events to market their products. Dabur uses these events to sell products like
JANAM GHUTI (Gripe water). NCAER estimates that around half of items sold in these melas
are FMCG products and consumer durables. Escorts also display its products like tractors and
motorcycles in such melas.


A picture is worth thousand words. The message is simple and clean. Rural people like the sight
of bright colors. COKE, PEPSI and TATA traders advertise their products through paintings.

Product Strategies

The specific strategies, which can be employed to develop or modify the products to targets the rural
market, can be classified as follows:

.1. Small unit packing: Given the low per capita income & purchasing habits of the rural
consumers, small unit packages stand a good chance of acceptance in rural market. Single serve
packets or sachets are enormously popular in India. They allow consumers to buy only what
they need, experiment with new products, & conserve cash at the same time.

This method has been tested by products life shampoos, pickles, biscuits, Vicks cough drops in
single tablets, tooth paste, etc. Small packing’s stand a good chance of acceptance in rural
markets. The advantage is that the price is low and the rural consumer can easily afford it.

Also the Red Label Rs. 3.00 pack has more sales as compared to the large pack. This is
because it is very affordable for the lower income group with the deepest market reach making
easy access to the end user satisfying him.

The small unit packing’s will definitely attract a large number of rural consumers.

2. New product designs: Keeping in view the rural life style the manufacturer and the
marketing men can think in terms of new product designs. The rural product usage environment
is tough because of rough handling, rough roads & frequent power fluctuations. Thus, all these
environmental factors must be considered while developing the products meant for rural

Nokia’s 1100 model is a very good example of a customized model for rural markets. Its design
has been modified to protect it against rough usage in rural environment; it is dust resistant &
has a small torch light in view of the frequent power cuts in rural India. It is also introduces
messaging in Hindi language now, in some of the economically priced models in order to cater
to the semi-urban or rural consumers. This is in real terms, thinking global & acting local.

3. Sturdy products: Sturdiness of a product is an important factor for rural consumers. The
product should be sturdy enough to stand rough handling, transportation & storage. The
experience of torch light dry battery cell manufacturers supports this because the rural
consumers preferred dry battery cells which are heavier than the lighter ones. For them, heavier
weight meant that it has more over and durability. Sturdiness of a product either or appearance
is an important for the rural consumers.

4. Utility oriented products: The rural consumers are more concerned with utility of the
product and its appearance Philips India Ltd. Developed and introduced a low cost medium
wave receiver named BAHADUR during the early seventies. Initially the sales were good but
declined subsequently.

On investigation it was found that the rural consumer bought radios not only for information
and news but also for entertainment.

5. Brand name: For identification, the rural consumers do give their own brand name on the
name of an item. The fertilizers companies normally use a logo on the fertilizer bags though
fertilizers have to be sold only on generic names. A brand name or a logo is very important for
a rural consumer for it can be easily remembered. Many a time’s rural consumers ask for peeli
tikki in case of conventional and detergent washing soap.

Nirma made a peeli tikki especially for those peeli tikki users who might have experienced
better cleanliness with the yellow colored bar as compared to the blue one although the actual
difference is only of the color.

e.g.: Coca-Cola targeted the whole Indian rural market with the positioning of “Thanda Matlab
Coca-Cola” advertisements because most of the villagers say when wanting a drink refer to it as
Thanda…… so Coca-cola used that word.

Pricing strategies

1. Low cost/ cheap products: This follows from the product strategy. The price can be kept
low by low unit packaging’s like paisa pack of tea, shampoo sachets, vicks 5 grams tin, etc. this
is a common strategy widely adopted by many manufacturing and marketing concerns.

2. Refill packs / Reusable packaging: In urban areas most of the health drinks are available.
The containers can be put to multipurpose uses. Such measures can a significant impact in the
rural market.

For example, the rural people can efficiently reuse the plastic bottle of hair oil. Similarly the
packages of edible oil, tea, coffee, ghee etc can be reused. Pet jars free with the Hasmukhrai
and Co Tea, Ariel Super Compact.

3. Application of value engineering: in food industry, Soya protein is being used instead of
milk protein. Milk protein is expensive while Soya protein is cheaper, but the nutrition content
of both is the same. The basic aim is to reduce the value of the product, so that a larger segment
can afford it, thus, expanding the market.

4. Large volume-low margins (Rapid or slow penetration strategy): Marketers have to

focus on generating large volumes & not big profit margins on individual products. If they price
their product at a level which can lead to good volumes, then they can still generate good
returns on the capital employed.

5. Overall efficiency & passing on benefits to consumers: For rural products, the strategy
should be to cut down the production, distribution & advertising costs & passing on these
benefits to the customers to further increase the turnover. Most often, it has been observed that
advertising has less to do with product sales in the rural areas. If an organization gets the price
point right, then it can work in rural market.

6. Low volume-low price strategy: This strategy of reducing prices by reducing the package
size in order to make it appear more affordable, is delivering very good results for a large
number of FMCG product categories, in the rural markets of India. In categories where
maintaining the price point is extremely critical, this strategy is delivering very good results.

7. Ensuring price compliance: Rural retailers, most of the times, charges more than the MRP.
The manufacture has to ensure price compliance either through promotional campaigns, as was
done by Coca Cola, or by ensuring the availability of products at the retail outlets directly.

Promotion strategies

Customized promotional media & messages need to be developed by the organizations to

effectively target the rural market. The following strategies can be considered while developing
promotional campaigns for the rural markets:
1. Think Global Act Local
Rural population is diverse, but the commonalities of their ethos & simple living habits
need to be understood for advertising to succeed. For that, the theme of the
advertisement needs to revolve among universal themes, such as family-love. But the
context, storyline, language & idioms should be such that the rural audience of different
rural market segments can relate to.
2. Think in Local Idiom
This is the need of the advertising professionals who can think like the rural people. The
only we can have insights like ‘Thanda matlab Coca Cola’. There should be the use of
language writers who understands the rural & regional pulse better.
3. Simplicity & Clarity
All promotional messages targeted at rural audience need to be simple & clear, which
can be easily understood, & they should not include any confusing elements. It is
preferable that it has only a few propositions at a time. Bombarding rural consumers
with too much, in less time can easily confuse them & leave them bewildered.
Promotional message should highlight only the functional values of the product &
explains how those values can make the consumer’s life even better & solve any of his
4. Narrative Story Style
The promotional message can be delivered in the form of an entertaining story with a
message depicting how the brand delivers “larger good” to the family & society. The
theme of the story line can be about how the product can solve the problems of the rural
5. Choice of Brand Ambassador

Brand Ambassador for the rural markets need to be picked carefully as urban successes
might not get replicated in the rural markets. That is why Govinda in the Mirinda as
boosted the sales of the drink in the rural markets. An organization might spend a lot of
money in hiring a brand ambassador only to find out later that it had little impact on the
rural consumer.


Many companies view the rural markets as great opportunity for expanding their sales but find
distribution as a major problem. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to transplant strategies
which work successfully in urban markets onto rural markets, namely, extensive retailing and
sustained pull generation through mass media advertising.

The road blocks to reach the rural customers are:

• Lack of adequate transport facilities.

• Large distances between villages.
• Lack of pucca roads connecting villages to nearest townships.
• Lack of proper retail outlets
• Lack of mass media infrastructure.

The marketers were of the opinion that the villagers would come to nearby towns and buy the
products that they want.

What has been found is that if we have to serve the rural consumer we will have to take our
products to him through the channels that he is using and some innovative ways of getting to

The following distribution strategies formulated for the rural category.

1. Coverage of villages with 2000 and above population: Ideally, coverage of villages with
up to 2000 and above population could be the break-even point for a distribution setup. By
doing so the percentage of villages covered comes to only 10% of all the villages, but the rural
population covered will be substantial, to the extent of about 40 to 45 percent. With a
distribution network in about 55,000 villages, which have a population of 2000 persons &
above each, one can cover about 25 crores rural consumers. This strategy is good to begin with
& then subsequently, villages with lesser populations can be added.

2. Segmentation: the number of villages in India is huge & it is not viable to contact & serve
all villages directly. Therefore, companies or distributors can carefully examine the market
potential of different villages & target the villages that can be served in a financially viable
manner through an organized distribution effort.

3. Use of co-operative societies: There are over 3 lacks co-operative societies operating in
rural areas for different purposes like marketing cooperatives, farmer’s service cooperatives and
other multipurpose cooperatives. These cooperatives have an arrangement for centralized
procurement and distribution through their respective state level federation. Such state level
federation can be motivated to procure and distribute consumables items and low value durable
items to the members to the society for serving to the rural consumers. Many of the societies
extend credit to the members for purchases.

4. Utilization of public distributory system: The PDS in the country is fairly well organized.
The revamped PDS places more emphasis on reaching remote rural areas like the hills and
tribal’s. The purpose of PDS is to make available essential commodities like food grains, sugar,
kerosene, edible oils and others to the consumers at a reasonable price. The shops that distribute
these commodities are called fair price shops. These shops are run by the state civil Supplies
Corporation, co-operatives as well as private entrepreneurs. Here again there is an arrangement
for centralized procurement and distribution. The manufacturing and marketing men should
explore effective utilization of PDS.

5. Utilization of multipurpose distribution centers by petroleum/oil companies: In order

to cater to the rural areas the petroleum/oil companies have evolved a concept of multipurpose
distribution centers in rural areas. In addition to petrol/diesel, lubricants, these outlets also stock
consumables agricultural inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and seeds. It is estimated that there
are about 450 such outlets in operation in the country. The rural consumer who has tractors, oil-

engine pump sets and mopeds frequent these outlets for their requirement. These outlets can be
profitably utilized for selling consumables and durable items also.

6. Distribution up to feeder markets/mandi towns: Keeping in view the hierarchy of

markets for the rural consumers, the feeder markets and mandi towns offer excellent scope for
distribution. The rural customers visit these towns at regular intervals not only for selling the
agricultural produce but also for purchasing cloth, jewelry, hardware, radios, torch cells and
other durables and consumer products. From the feeder markets and mandi towns the stockiest
or wholesaler can arrange for distribution to the village shops in the interior places. This
distribution can be done by mopeds, cycles, bullock-carts, camelbacks etc. depending upon the

7. Shandies/Haaths/Jathras/Melas: These are places where the rural consumers congregate

as a rule. While shandies/heaths are held a particular day every week, Jathras and melas are
held once or twice a year for longer durations. They are normally timed with religious festivals.
Such places attract large number of itinerant merchants. Only temporary shops come up selling
goods of all kinds. It can be beneficial for companies to organize sales of their product at such
places. Promotion can be taken, as there will be ready captive audience. For convincing the
manufacturing and marketing man with regard to the importance of these places from rural
marketing point of view a visit to such places is necessary. It is estimated that over 5,000 fairs
are held in the country and the estimated attendance is about 100 million rural consumers.
Biggest fair ‘Pushkar Mela’ is estimated to attract over 10 million people. There are 50 such big
rural fairs held in various parts of country, which attract urbanite also like ‘Mankanavillaku’ in
Malappara in Kerela, Kumbh Mela at Hardwar in U.P. ‘Periya Kirthigai’ at Tiruparunkunaram
in Tamil Nadu.


• Convenience: The entire market can be related to large departmental stores in cities,
where the advantage is a one-stop shopping exercise. These outlets crop up every week,
providing consumers immense choice and prices.

• Attractive: The weekend shopping is not only convenient but also entertaining. The
markets start early and will be over by lunch. Afterwards, there will be entertainment. In

respect of transactions, it is an attractive place to those who want to buy second hand
durables and to those who prefer barter transactions. Further the freshness of the
produce, buying in bulk for, a week and the bargaining advantage attract the frugal and
weeklong hard working rural folk.

• Availability: It is a market for everyone and for everything. Household goods, clothes,
durables, jewellery, cattle, machinery, farming equipment, raw materials and a host of
products are available.

8. Agricultural Input Dealers: Fertilizers should be made available to the farmers within the
range of 4-5 km from their residence, as per the essential commodities act. This is why there are
about 2 lakh fertilizer dealers in the country, both in cooperative & private sector. Example of
Varana Nagar in Maharashtra proved an eye opener in this regard where the sugar and milk co-
operatives have totally changed the life style of people. The supermarket in Varana Nagar
caters exclusively to rural consumers. Similarly a co-operative supermarket called ‘Chintamani’
in Coimbatore (T.N) arranges free transit of rural consumers to the supermarket of their

9. Joint distribution by Non-competing Companies: As the cost of distributing the products

in the rural market through distribution vans can be unviable for a single company, different
non-competing companies can come together to jointly operate distribution vans for the rural
market. This will enable them to share the cost of operating the van & on account of the sharing
of the cost by four or five companies; the entire operation can become financially viable for all
the players.
10. Personal Selling Network: It is very successful distribution channel being developed by
companies like HUL. It adds a personal touch to the marketing, as the salesmen are the resident
of the village or community itself, making it easier to sell the product & maximise sales for the


The historically available people & places for distribution include: - Whole seller, Retailer,
Vans, Weekly Haats, and Bazaars & Shadies.

1. Wholesalers

The Indian wholesaler is principally a Galla – Kirana (food-grain) merchant who sustains
the belief that business is speculative rather than distributive in character.

He is a trader / commodity merchant rather than a distributor and therefore tends to support
a brand during boom and withdraw support during slump.

The reason for this speculative character and dormant role of wholesalers are: -

• Indian market was largely sellers market. There was no need for active sales growth.

• Companies laid more emphasis or retailers in urban areas, who are very large in
number. As a result of retail based distribution was weakened.

• Rural markets were neglected by many. The occurrence of retail outlets was low.
Therefore many companies were dependent on whole salers.

The current need is to activate and develop wholesaler of the adjoining market as a
distributor of products to rural retail outlets and build his loyalties to the company.

2. Retailers
There are different kinds of retailers.
• Shops within the village
• Shops located on the main road and not exactly within the village
• Kasba market or the tahsil market.
Village retailers have traditionally been among the most mobile of rural residents.
Often doubling up as money lenders.
Their multi – person interaction in the closed village society.

As a result retailers play a significant role.

 He enjoys the confidence of the villagers.
 His views are accepted and followed by the rural people whose awareness
and media exposure levels are low.

(- The urban retailer is not trusted.

- He is seen as a businessman with profit motto.
- His view points are evaluated with other sources of information.)


 His role as influence leader is indisputable. From tender twig of neem to
washing powder retailer testimony has been vital part of the product
adoption process.
 The role of urban retailer is weak.
 The urban consumers have numerous sources of information.
 Although retailer’s opinion is sought it may not be 100% believed and


 In rural market retailers remains the deciding factor to sell particular brand.
 Retailers helps in identification and selection of brands, there is less
influence of shelf displays and point of purchase promotion.
 Presence of spurious brands is an ample testimony to this view.

(- The urban retailer has a limited role as a brand promoter.

- He cannot directly, recommend the brands.
- He is to intelligently drive home his recommendations, as
urban consumers do not trust him completely.
- It is through shelf displays and incentive offers that he has to push the



 Village retailer practices relationship marketing.
 He caters to a set of buyers who have income from immovable land
resources and would be static over a much longer time span.
 The relationship could extend beyond three generations, backed by historical
credibility of the retailer as a product referral.
(- on the contrary, the urban retailers have to make an effort to adopt
relationship marketing.
- His customers base comprises largely the mobile service class prone to
shift residence at least once, if not more, in less than a decade. This
limits the time span and perspective of the retailer – customer

 In an environment relatively isolated from external developments, he has
been harbinger of change.
 He is one of the main sources of information and opinion as well as
supplier of product and services.

(As against this, we find urban retailer, wielding limited influence in changing
the product choices and quality of life of consumers.)

3. Vans

Mobile vans long since, have an important place in distribution and promotion
of the products in villages.

JK Dairy launched whitener ‘Dairy Top’ in small 50 gm sachets priced at Rs.

6.50. It decided to make a concerted foray into rural India in 1996. It hired vans to
penetrate the rural interior, each van traveling around 125 km a day, 25 days a

4. Weekly Haats, Bazaars, Shandies

The haats are the oldest outlets to purchase household goods and for trade. These markets
are very well organized with shopkeepers having pre-assigned spaces for them to sell their
wares. A typical market is in an open field with ample space for displaying all sorts of
goods. Its location changes every week. These markets have different names in different
regions. But they are strikingly similar in what they sell. It is reported that there are, in all,
about 47,000 haats held throughout the country.

Media Vehicles

Through the rural markets offer big attractions to the marketers, one of the most
important questions frequently asked is “How do we reach the large rural population through
different media and methods?

Mass Media Local Media Personalized Media

Radio Haats, Melas, Fairs Direct Communication
Cinema Wall Paintings Dealers
Press Hoardings Sales Persons
TV Leaflets Researchers
Video Vans
Folk Media
Animal Parade
Transit Media

 Formal media

It includes Press and print, TV, Cinema, Radio, and Point of purchase and Outdoor
advertisement. Reach of formal media is low in rural households (Print: 18%, TV: 27%,
Cinema: 30%, and Radio: 37%) and therefore the marketer has to consider the following points:

 Newspapers and magazines:

English newspapers and magazines have negligible circulation in rural areas. However local
language newspapers and magazines are becoming popular among educated facilities in
rural areas. Examples: Newspapers: Eenadu in A.P., Dina Thanthi in Tamil Nadu, Punjab
Kesari in the North, Loksatta in Maharashtra and Tamil magazine Kumudam are very
popular in rural areas.

 Television:

It has made a great impact and large audience has been exposed to this medium. HLL has
been using TV to communicate with the rural masses. Lifebuoy, Lux, Nihar oil etc are some
of the products advertised via television. Regional TV channels have become very popular
especially in Southern states. Examples: SUN TV is very popular even in rural areas in
Tamil Nadu and Asianet is a preferred regional channel in Kerala. Many consumer goods
companies and fertilizer companies are using these TV channels to reach the rural customer.

 Radio:

Radio reaches large population in rural areas at a relatively low cost. Example: Colgate,
Jyoti Labs, Zandu Balm, Zuari industries are some of the companies using radio
communication programme. There are specific programmes for farmers like Farm and
Home/Krishi Darshan in regional languages. The farmers have a habit of listening to
regional news/agricultural news in the morning and the late evening. The advertisement has
to be released during this time to get maximum coverage in rural areas. Another advantage
is that the radio commercial can be prepared at short notice to meet the changing needs of
the rural folk. Example: Release of a pesticide ad at the time of outbreak of a pest or disease
in crops.

 Cinema:

About 65% of the earnings from cinema are from rural markets. Film viewing habits is high
in certain states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Village theatres do
roaring business during festivals by having four shows per day. The monthly charge for
showing an ad film is within Rs.500. Local distributor or dealer who has good contacts with
cinema houses in villages can easily monitor this activity. Examples: Films on products like
Vicks, Lifebuoy and SPIC fertilizers are shown in rural cinema halls. Apart from films, Ad
slides can also be screened in village theatres.

 Outdoor advertisements:

This form of media, which includes signboards, wall painting, hoarding, tree boards, bus
boards, dealer boards, product display boards etc, is cost effective in rural areas. Symbols,
pictures and colours should be used in POPs meant for rural markets so that they can easily
identify the products. Generally rural people prefer bright colours and the marketer should
Utilize such cues.

 Point of purchase:

Display of hangings, festoons and product packs in the shops will catch the attention of
prospective buyers. However a clutter of such POP materials of competing companies will
not have the desired effect and is to be avoided.

 Direct mail advertising:

It is a way of passing on information relating to goods or services for sale, directly to

potential customers through the medium of post. It is a medium employed by the advertiser
to bring in a personal touch. In cities lot of junk mail is received by all of us and very often
such mails are thrown into the dustbin whereas a villager get very few letters and he is
receptive to such mailers.

 Wall paintings:

It is an effective and economical medium for communication in rural areas, since it stays
there for a long time depending upon the weather conditions. The cost of painting one
square foot area is just Rs.10. Retailers welcome painting of their shops so that the shop
will look better. Walls of farm houses, shops and schools are ideal places for painting and
the company need not have to pay any rent for the same. The walls have to be painted at
least one or two feet from ground level. It is better to take permission of the owner. Very
often the owner takes responsibility for taking care of the wall painting. Painting to be
avoided during election time and rainy season. The matter should be in the form of pictures,
slogans for catching the attention of people. Companies marketing TV, fans, branded
coffee/tea, toothpaste, pesticides, fertilizers etc. use wall painting as promotion medium in
rural areas.

 Tree boards:

These are painted boards of about two square feet in dimension having the picture or name or
slogan of the product painted on it. The cost of such a painted board is about Rs.80. These
boards are fixed to the trees on both sides of the village road at a height of about 10 feet from
ground level. These boards attract the attention of slow moving vehicles like cycles, bullock
carts and tractors and people walking on the road. Considering the poor condition of roads,
even the buses move at slow speed through village road. Fertilizer and pesticide companies in
rural areas extensively use tree boards. These are low priced promotion items and can be used
by consumer goods companies too.

 Informal/Rural specific media

These media with effective reach and personalized communication will help in realizing the
promotional objectives. Companies to suit the specific requirements of rural communication
are using a variety of such media effectively and some of the more important media and
methods are given below.

 Farm-to-Farm/House-to-House visit:

Rural people prefer face-to-face communication and farm visits facilitate two-way
communication. The advantage is that the sales person can understand the needs and wants

of the rural customer by directly discussing with him and answer his queries on products
and services. Potential customers in the village are identified and the
company’s/distributor’s representative makes farm-to-farm visits and highlight the benefits
of the products. The person carries with him literature in local language and also samples of
products. The person does not sell the product but only promotes the use of the product.
Very often the local dealer also joins the representative in making farm-to-farm visits. The
dealer clarifies the terms and conditions of sale and also makes independent follow up visits
for securing orders. Example: This approach has been found to be very effective for
agricultural machinery, animal health products and agricultural inputs. Many LIC agents
and companies dealing with high value consumer durables have tried this method with
success in rich rural areas.

 Group meeting:

Group meetings of rural customers as well as prospects are an important part of interpersonal
media. The company is able to pass on the message regarding benefits of the products to a large
number of customers through such meetings. Group meeting of key customers are conducted by
banks, agricultural inputs and machinery companies in rural areas. The bankers visit an
identified village, get the village people in a common place and explain the various schemes to
the villagers. Such meetings could be organized in prosperous villages for promoting consumer
durables and two wheelers also. Example: MRF Tyres conduct tractor owners meet in villages
to discuss repairs and maintenance of tractors.

 Opinion leaders:

Villagers place more emphasis on the experience of others who have used a
product/brand to make purchase decision. Opinion leader is a person who is considered to be
knowledgeable and is consulted by others and his advice is normally followed. Such opinion

leaders could be big landlords, bank official, panchayath-president, teachers, extension workers
etc. Examples: a) Mahindra Tractors use bankers as opinion leaders for their product. b) Asian
Paints promoted its Utsav brand of paint by painting the village Sarpanch’s house a few months
prior to the launch if the branch to demonstrate that the paint does not peel off.

 The Melas:

Melas are of different types i.e. commodity fairs, cattle fairs and religious fairs and may be held
only for a day or may extend over a week. Many companies have come out with creative ideas
for participating in such melas. Examples: a) Britannia promotes Tiger Brand Biscuits through
melas. b) The mahakumbh at Allahabad is the biggest mela in India. HLL has put up 14 stalls in
the mela grounds for promoting Lifebuoy. Handcarts have been deployed for increasing access.

 The Haats:

Traditionally on certain days of week, both the sellers and buyers meet in the village to buy and
sell goods and services. These are the haats that are being held regularly in all rural areas. The
sellers arrive in the morning in the haat and remain till late in the evening. Next day they move
to another haat. The reason being that in villages the wages are paid on weekly basis and haat is
conducted on the day when the villages get their wages. For the marketer, the haat can be an
ideal platform for advertising and selling of goods. By participating in haats and melas, the
company can not only promote and sell the products but also understand the shared values,
beliefs and perceptions of rural customers that influence his buying behaviour.

 Folk dances:

These are well-appreciated form of entertainment available to the village people. The folk
dance “Kuravan Kurathi” is popular in Tamil Nadu. The troupe consists of dancers,
drummers and musicians and they move in a well-decorated van from one village to another
village singing and dancing. In a day the troupe covers about 8-10 villages. As soon as the

van reaches a village, film songs are played to attract the attention of the villages. This is
followed by folk dances. Mike announcement is made about the company’s products and
leaflets are distributed. After the dance programme, queries, if any, about the products are
answered by the sales person. Folk dance programme costs about Rs.5000 per day and
therefore these programmes are conducted during the peak season in selected villages.
Examples: Fertilizer and pesticide companies organize folk dance programmes during peak
season in selected markets. Thumps Up has sponsored Lavnis, the folk dance programme of
Maharashtra and over 30 programmes have been arranged in selected rural markets.

 Audio Visual Publicity Vans (AVP Vans):

AV unit is one of the effective tools for rural communication. The van is a mobile promotion
station having facilities for screening films slides and mike publicity. The sales person makes a
brief talk about situation in the village, the products and the benefits. The ad film is screened
along with some popular film shots and this continues for about 30 minutes. At the end of the
film show, he distributes handbills and answers queries of the customers. The whole operation
takes about 1-2 hours depending upon the products under promotion, number of participants in
the meeting and time taken for question and answers. The vans move to the next village for the
second show. The cost of running a fully equipped AVP unit is about Rs.4000 per day and AVP
van operation has to be considered as an investment for business development in rural areas.
Example: Companies such as HLL, Colgate, and Phillips have made effective use of AVP vans
for popularizing their products in rural areas.

 Product display contests:

Package is an integral part of the product. Its main purpose is to protect the product during
transit, to preserve the quality and to avoid any loss in quality and quantity. The main purpose
of this contest is to remind the customer to buy the product as soon as he enters the shop.
Another objective is to influence the dealer to stock the product and support the company in
increasing the sales. The display contest has to be announced well in advance and promotional
materials to be distributed to all the selected dealers in a geographical area. Prizes for best
displays are announced to motivate the dealers; the contest lasts for about a month. A well-
planned product display contest not only increases the involvement of dealers in the company’s
products but also increases the sales during the contest period. This is used for promoting
consumer goods such as shampoos, soaps and toothpaste.

 Field demonstration:

This is based on the extension principle “seeing is believing” and is one of the most effective
methods to show the superiority of the company’s products to the customers. A progressive
farmer who is an opinion leader is selected and the demonstration is conducted in his field in
the presence of a group of farmers in the village. The farmers observe the results in the field
and the local dealer calls on them in their farms and persuades them to buy the particular brand
of pesticide or fertilizer. Examples: a) Spraying a particular brand of an insecticide against
insect pests and showing the farmer how effectively the insects are controlled. b)
Demonstrating the use of tractor/implements for different agricultural operations. c) Hawkins
pressure cooker has demonstration representatives who carry out demos in rural households.
The representative receives 1% commission for every customer who approaches the dealer via
demonstrations. e) Similarly effectiveness of detergents, pressure cookers, vaccum cleaners and
mosquito coils could be promoted by demonstrations in selected markets.

 Field days:

These are extension of field demonstrations. One of the main objectives of following modern
agricultural practices is to increase the yield. The company organizes demonstrations in a piece
of land belonging to progressive farmers. All the fertilizers, pesticides, nutrients etc. are applied
after making field observations. Just before harvest, all the important farmers are invited to see
demonstration plot and see for themselves how the yields are better in the plot compared to
other fields. Field demonstrations/field days consume lot of time and efforts and therefore have
to be planned well.

 Information centers:

They provide latest information on cultivation of crops, fertilizer application, weed,

management and control of pests and diseases. Experienced agricultural graduates who make
frequent visits to the field and
advice farmers on modern agricultural practices manage the centers. They also provide
information on farm implements, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, diesel engines, sprayers and
tractors etc. Many consumer goods companies have opened show rooms in prosperous rural
areas. Example: Hero Honda has opened extension counters with show room facilities in major
rural markets.

 Life-style marketing:

Each rural market segment has certain special features i.e. they share common life-style traits.
They include village sports, religious events, prominent personalities and role models.
Examples: Textile mills maintaining community gardens, Mineral water companies supplying
clean drinking water during summer festivals in villages and Consumer goods companies
sponsoring Kabaddi.

Choosing media vehicles

The choice of different media vehicles for any market is based on an analysis of the standard
features like: reach, frequency, cost & availability. Depending on the factor of reach &
frequency, the different media can be classified into the following categories. This
categorization can help the marketer to make a decision about which type of media would be
more suitable to the product & the organization.
(a) High reach High frequency
• Jeep based advertising
• Wall painting
• Bus stand & bus panels
• Haats
• Hoardings
• Postal branding
(b) Low reach High frequency
• Co-operative notice board
• Shop front painting
• Tin plating – house
• Dealer boards
• Village boards
• Well tiles
• Calendars/labels
(c) High reach Low frequency
• Van based advertising
• Melas
• Direct to home
• Folklore group
• Exhibitions/created events
(d) Low reach Low frequency
• Tin painting – tree/shops
• Leaflets
• Posters & banners
• Streamers

• Danglers


Thus looking at the challenges and the opportunities which rural markets offer to the marketers
it can be said that the future is very promising for those who can understand the dynamics of

rural markets and exploit them to their best advantage. A radical change in attitudes of
marketers towards the vibrant and burgeoning rural markets is called for, so they can
successfully impress on the 230 million rural consumers spread over approximately six hundred
thousand villages in rural India.
The rural market is very large in compare to the urban market as well as it is more challenging
market. The consumer wants those products which are long lasting, good, easy to use and
cheaper. The income level of rural consumers is not as high as the income level of urban
consumers that’s why they want low price goods. It is one of the reasons that the sell of sachet
is much larger in the rural area in all segments.
It is necessary for all the major companies to provide those products which are easy to available
and affordable to the consumers. It is right that the profit margin is very low in the FMCG
products, but at the same time the market size is much large in the rural area. The companies
can reduce their prices by cutting the costs on the packaging because the rural consumers don’t
need attractive packaging. Application of 4A* is also a major task for the major companies in
this area.
Rural market has an untapped potential like rain but it is different from the urban market so it
requires the different marketing strategies and marketer has to meet the challenges to be
successful in rural market.

1. www.thehindubusinessline.com/nic/073/index.htm
2. www.coolavenues.com/know/mktg/
3. www.indianmba.com/Faculty_Column/FC658/fc658.html

4. business.mapsofindia.com/rural-economy/state-
5. www.icmrindia.org/casestudies/catalogue/Marketing/MKTG081.htm