Rural Marketing is Developmental Marketing

Indian rural market is at once fascinating and challenging. It offers large scope on account of its size and potential. It is also growing steadily whereas the urban market is highly competitive the rural market is fairly quiet. In fact, for certain products, it is totally a virgin market. As such firms can certainly reap big rewards from the rural market. The catch is that the market also poses several problems and hurdles. The firms have to face them squarely. They must recognize that rural marketing is primarily developmental marketing and must be willing to take a approach of ‘market seeding’ in the initial stages.

It is often said that markets are made, not found. This is particularly true of the rural market of India. It is a market meant for the truly creative marketer.

Audio-visual/publicity vans: The AV unit or the publicity van is very useful for rural communication. The van is a comprehensive mobile promotion station at the exclusive command of the concerned firm. The firm can exhibit its films and other audio-visual presentations, such as slide shows, sound and sight presentations, puppet shows, etc from this instant promotion station. A portable tent or platform often forms a part of the van. Even public meetings can be organized using the portable tent. Portable exhibition kits can be also carried in the van and exhibitions put up instantly. The van can also be used for sales campaigns in addition to promotion campaigns. It can also be used for product demonstrations. In short the van can be used for carrying and delivering a tailor made communication program to the rural target audience.

Naturally, the AV vans are quite popular with rural marketing firms. Practically all the firms in the agro-inputs business have their own AV vans to cover their marketing territories. Firms marketing consumer softs come second in the use of AV vans followed by those marketing consumer durables. In the third category, the efforts of Philips India deserve a special mention.

Colgate-Palmolive has supply vans that offer free samples and screens video films on oral hygiene. It has on-going rural van program, which covers on an average 80 million rural consumers per year. Vans are supplemented with bicycle vendors who go to villages not accessible by the vans.

Godrej has vans that play music and announce free gifts at the village square. The van the goes to a few shops in the village to sell products.

While the AV van is an effective tool in rural promotion, its cost is rather high as the target population is highly scattered. In market development stage, in particular, the cost involved in the AV vans may be disproportionate to the sales generated. But in view of its effectiveness, big companies make a conscious decision to use the van as long terms market development effort.

Syndicated AV vans: In recent years, rural AV vans have become a sharable service. Firms which cannot afford to operate vans of their own, utilize syndicated AV service offered by independent agencies.

Multipurpose vans: Jain TV’s Video-on-wheels: Recent years have witnessed the emergence of tools that are more innovative than the AV van. Jain TV’s Video-on-wheels is one of them.

Popular entertainment programs like puppet-shows, dance, dramas and mythological songs, specially developed for product-promotion purpose, are now being used in rural markets. These traditional art forms readily render for communication with the rural society. Sales messages can be beautifully blended with folklore to capture the imagination of rural, audience. Village fairs, festivals and fairs are ideal venues for projecting these programs. In certain cases, public meetings too may be used for rural promotion.

Music cassettes are another effective medium for rural communication. It is an appealing medium and a comparatively in expensive medium. Different language groups can be reached with a low budget. They can be played in cinema houses or in other places where rural people assemble.

Communication should be uniquely assembled and delivered: Media selection is not the only aspect that calls for special care in rural communication. The communication as a whole needs unique handling. There is need for specialization in developing and delivering the message. A prototype of a communication that works well in the urban context may not at all work in the rural context. It is also essential that in all rural communication, the rural genius be kept in view. The theme, the message, the copy, the language, and the delivery must match the rural context.

Need for creativity: Evidently, rural communication needs creativity and innovation. In rural marketing, usually a greater time lag is involved between the introduction of a product and its economic size sale. This is because the rural buyer’s adoption process is relatively more time consuming. In the present day context, however, there is great need to compress this time lag as far as possible. It is this context that creativity in communication acquires a special significance in rural marketing.

HLL’s rural specific communication for Surf: For propagating ‘Surf’, Hindustan Lever brought out separate advertisement films for the urban and rural audience. In the film meant for the rural audience, the company took particular care to demonstrate step-by-step the method to be adopted in washing with Surf for getting the best whitening effect. The company knew that an elaborate demonstration was essential for the rural audience.