To understand the buying behavior of rural consumers, we must go to the factors that influence their buying behavior. The factors include:
1. Socio-economic environment of the consumer
2. Cultural environment
3. Geographic location
4. Education/literacy level
6. Exposure to urban lifestyles
7. Exposure to media and enlarged media reach.
8. The points of purchase of products.
9. The way the consumer uses the products
10. Involvement of others in the purchase.
11. Marketersâ€™ effort to reach out the rural markets
Some of these points are discussed in some detail below:
Influence of culture: Culture and tradition influence perception and buying behavior. For example, the preference in respect of color, size and shape is often the result of cultural factors. Rural consumersâ€™ perception of products is strongly influenced by cultural factors.
Geographic locations: Rural consumer behavior is also influenced by the geographic location of the consumers. For example, nearness to feeder towns and industrial projects influence the buying behavior of consumers in the respective clusters of villages. We are discussing this aspect in detail in the section on market segmentation in rural markets. To cite one more example of how geographic location affects buying behavior, we can point out the fact that the lack of electricity in many rural households acts as a barrier to the purchase of certain consumer durables.
Exposure to urban lifestyles: Extent of exposure of rural consumers to urban lifestyles also influences their buying behavior. An increased exposure and interaction with urban communities has been the trend in recent years.
The way the consumer uses the products: The situation in which the consumers utilize the product also influences their buying. The example of lack of electricity affecting buying behavior illustrates this point as well. Lack of electricity automatically increases the purchase of batteries by rural consumers. Similarly, since rural consumers cannot use washing powders/detergent powders that much, as they wash their clothes in streams or ponds, they go in more for washing bars and detergent cakes.
Places of purchase: Buying behavior of rural consumer also varies depending on the place of purchase. Different segments of rural buyers buy their requirements from different places/outlets. Some buy from the village shopkeepers; some from village markets/fairs; others buy from the town that serves as the feeder to the rural area. It is also seen that the same buyer buys different requirements from different laces. For understanding the buying behavior of the rural consumer correctly, the marketer must ask the question: Where from do they buy the products and why?
Involvement of others in the purchase: Involvement of others in the purchase in the purchase decision is yet another relevant factor in this regard. There has been a change here in recent years. In the past, the head of the family used to make the purchase decision all by himself. In contrast, the involvement of the other members of the family in the purchase decision has been growing in recent years. An increase in literacy coupled with greater access to information has resulted in this development. The marketer has to reckon the role of the influencers while sizing up the buying behavior of rural consumers.
Marketersâ€™ efforts to reach out the rural market: In recent years, many corporate companies have been trying hard to develop a market for their products in the rural areas, investing substantially in these areas. This has brought about some change in the way buyers purchase different products. Developmental marketing has created discriminating buyers and hitherto unknown demand in the rural market.
All the above factors influence the buying behavior of rural consumer and hence their responses to the marketing mix variables, and the reference points they use for purchase decisions.