Distribution strategies for Rural Consumers: HAATS, Mandis, Public distribution System, Co-operative Society27th March 2021
Research indicates that only those companies could perform brilliantly that developed multiple distribution centers catering a limited geography. Thus, they can reach the consumers quickly. There is a better control on product promotion and distribution.
A few essential things for effective distribution
- Focus on the local market is essential for a better grip on the situation. Since localized distribution hubs are supposed to cater a limited geography, they can work in a better way.
- All the stakeholders should be provided with adequate training. Yes, it is very much required because everyone has to be on the same page when you address the needs of rural consumers. Align your customers, vendors, and employees before you derive and implement effective marketing strategies.
- Tweak the product promotion and marketing tactics to the local needs. Since there is incredible diversity in cultures, traditions, and languages in rural India, the model has to be flexible and adaptive.
- Your company should make effective use of technology to reach the masses. Yes, there are ways to unleash the immense potential by thinking out-of-the-box ways of reaching people. Companies like Vritti iMedia have proved it. They made outstanding use of bus stands to promote products and services. Audiowala Bus Stand is a brilliant example of creative thinking and innovation.
- Service delivery is equally important. Marketing strategy shouldn’t be limited to promotion and distribution only. Rather, it should be equally efficient when it comes to delivering services.
- Always remember that an emotional touch works excellently in the rural areas. Once the trust is developed in the product, it is important that you live up to it.
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. These mandis located in agricultural area with population more than 10,000 on an average cater to 1,36,000 people. Cash-rich farmer can be directly contacted by setting up brand stalls in mandis. Sampling, free gifts can be provided along with the consumer research at these places where farmers have time and are in joyous mood. These mandis are also good platforms for promoting high-end durables, besides agri-input products.
The country’s oldest tradition holds the key to solving the promotion problems of the corporate world. 75% of the mobile supermarkets of rural India are held once a week, 20% are organized twice a week and rests are held daily. Rural people have evolved these systems of selling and communicating which have served them well for centuries. Corporate marketers have not used these platforms effectively, so far. There are 42,000 of such haats, each catering to daily needs of 10 to 20 villages. These haats can serve as good platform to promote brands through demonstration.
Public distributory system: The PDS in the country is fairly well organised. The revamped PDS places more emphasis on reaching remote rural areas like the hills and tribals. 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.
Co-operative societies: There are over 3 lacks co-operative societies operating in rural areas for different purposes like marketing cooperatives, farmers service cooperatives and other multi-purpose 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.
Distribution upto 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, jewellery, hardware, radios, torch cells and other durables and consumer products. From the feeder markets and mandi towns the stockist or wholesaler can arrange for distribution to the village shops in the interior places. This distribution can be done by mopeds, cycles, bullock-carts, camel-backs etc. depending upon the township.