“There are 700 million people in India who live in rural area. We don’t want to neglect them. We see a huge opportunity there,” Coca-Cola Company Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer Joseph Tripodi told reporters on the sidelines of AdAsia 2011.
This clearly states the potential rural markets offer to the product & service category in India. But with opportunities come challenges and in the Indian rural scenario, obstacles vary with geography. The problem faced by marketers in the villages of Uttar Pradesh would be different from the obstacles faced in the hinterlands of Maharashtra or South India. Marketing communication and promotion poses a lot of problem in rural India.
Constraints in rural advertising
From the profile of people to the availability of media, there are various problems that pose barriers to advertising in rural areas. For instance, the literacy rate among the rural consumers being low, the printed word has little use in the rural context. So far TV has been one of the ideal mediums of reaching the rural audience however its reach remains restricted even today. Radio has so far been the most favorable medium in terms of accessibility in rural areas. But according to report by Linterland, rural expert of India, the penetration of radio is not very high in rural areas because many cannot afford to own a radio set.
This goes to show that conventional media has still not been able to find its foot in the rural markets of India. It has been estimated that all organized media put together can reach only 30% of the rural population of India. Lingual diversity compounds the complexity of advertising in these areas. Hence, arrives the need to go beyond the standard forms of media to create a long lasting impact on the minds of rural consumers.
With changing times, marketers have tried and tested various unconventional forms of media which remain exclusive to the rural lands of India. These can also been termed as ‘Rural Specific’ media. The rural specific media with its effective reach, powerful input and personalized communication system has helped marketers achieve their set goals.
Rural Specific Media:
This media has been developed over the years to suit the local taste of villagers and other peculiarities showcased by them. Like, one of the most popular non-conventional forms of advertising is at the social gatherings of villagers, popularly known as the melas & haaths. Such gatherings are organized at a local level in different villages of India. As these occasions are also perceived as sources of new information, marketers have evolved strategies to captivate their attention at such occasions either by setting up branded kiosks providing educational information or having live demonstration of products & services.
It has been observed that advertisement couched in entertainment go down easily with the villagers. As important aspect of rural specific media is the language. Rural communication has to necessarily be in the local language.
Case: The MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) bus network is the key mode of transport for most of the villagers dwelling in Maharashtra. The bus stands from where travelers board their respective buses have an announcement system in place which helps the passengers with bus timings and other crucial information required. The announcement system also broadcasts brand advertisements exclusively in Marathi. As these advertisements are heard between the bus timing announcements, the bus stands serve as a place to captivate the audience attention at the time they want to listen to you. Moreover, the advertisements broadcasted are based on real life instances created in Marathi which has a powerful impact on the people as they can easily connect to the ad and also understand it.
Outdoor hoardings are also used very well in rural communication. In fact, currently many companies are using the outdoor medium imaginatively in their rural communication mix, through hoardings, wall paintings, illuminations and other displays in the rural areas. Moreover, getting one’s wall painted with the product messages is seemed as a status symbol.
Asian Paints promoted its Utsav range of paints by painting Mukhiya’s house or Post office 6 months prior to the launch of the paint to demonstrate that paint does not peel off.
Rural consumers place more emphasis on the experience of others who have used the brands to make their purchase decision. Hence, the Utsav campaign not only won the attention of rural consumers but also built reliability as the ad was displayed on the Mukhiya’s house wall.
The cost effectiveness and high involvement of consumers is what makes these form of media successful in the rural landscapes of India. Rural India is unique in its own ways and exploring each bit of it is a new learning in itself.
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