Emerging Profile of Rural Markets in India25th March 2021
The rural market has been growing steadily over the past few years and is now even bigger than the urban market. About 70 per cent of India’s population lives in villages. More than 800 million people live in villages of India. ‘Go rural’ is the marketer’s new slogan. Indian marketers as well as multinationals, such as Colgate-Palmolive, Godrej and Hindustan Lever have focused on rural markets.
Thus, looking at 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.
About 68.84% of the consumers live in rural areas and more than half of the national income is generated from rural areas. Of the 121 crore Indians, 83.3 crore live in rural areas while 37.7 crore stay in urban areas, Our nation is distributed approximately in 6,30,000 villages which can be sorted in different parameters such as literary levels, accessibility, income level, penetration, distance from nearest town etc. It is only natural that rural India occupies an important position in the marketing strategies both in the narrower and broader spectrum.
Rural marketing in Indian economy can be classified under two broad categories. These are (a) the markets for consumer goods that comprise of both durable and non-durable goods, and (b) the markets for agricultural inputs that include fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, and so on. The concept of rural marketing in India is often been found to form ambiguity in the minds of people who think rural marketing is all about agricultural marketing. However, rural marketing determines the carrying out of business activities bringing in the flow of goods from urban sectors to the rural regions of the country as well as the marketing of various products manufactured by the non-agricultural workers from rural to urban areas.
Brand conscious: The rural market in India is not separate entity in itself and it is highly influenced by the sociological and behavioural factors operating in the country. Spending on FMCG products especially in the rural areas is showing an increasing tendency.
Better credit facilities through banks: With co-operative banks taking the lead in the rural areas, every village has access to short, medium, long-term loans from these banks. The credit facilities extended by public sector banks through Kisan Credit Cards help the farmers to but seeds, fertilizers and every consumer goods on instalments.
IT penetration in rural India: Today’s rural children and youth will grow up in an environment where they have ‘information access’ to education opportunities, exam results, career counselling, job opportunities, government schemes and services, health and legal advice and services, worldwide news and information, land records, mandi prices, weather forecasts, bank loans, livelihood options. If television could change the language of brand communication in rural India, affordable Web connectivity through various types of communication hubs will surely impact the currency of information exchange.
Media: Mass Media has created increased demand for goods and services in rural areas. Smart marketers are employing the right mix of conventional and non-conventional media to create increased demand for products. The role cable television has been noteworthy in bringing about the change in rural people‟s mindset and influencing their lifestyles.
Government Incentives and polices: The government‟s stress on self-sufficiency resulted in various schemes like Operation Flood (White Revolution), Blue Revolution, Yellow Revolution, etc. resulted in the production of 15 million tons of milk per annum. The Indian Government launched a number of schemes like IRDP (Integrated Rural Development Programme) and REP (Rural Electrification Programme) in the 1970‟s, which gave a boost to the agrarian economy. This resulted in changes in people‟s habits and social life. REP gave impetus to the development of consumer durable industry.
Increased purchasing power: Rural purchasing power has grown faster than urban in the recent years. Rural Indian economy is highly supported by increasing disposable income, Government initiatives and schemes and favourable demographics. As a result, the rural segment of the Indian economy is growing at a pace of 8-10% per annum. Government spending in rural India has tripled over the last four years and is now translating into higher consumer spending. Therefore, rural consumers are consuming more premium and convenience oriented categories that are typical of their urban counterparts. “Policy measures like the waiver of agricultural loans around US$ 13.9 billion and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which guarantees 100 days of employment to one member of every rural household (NREGS), the Bharat Nirman program with an outlay of US$ 34.84 billion for improving rural infrastructure etc helped the rural economy.
Increased level of education and employability of rural youth: Villagers realized their children education is the first priority. Most of the rural youth especially teenagers are well aware of products due to their school education and media exposure. Significant progress on literacy levels 90% of the villages have a primary school within a 1 km walk. Private school enrolment in rural India has enhanced by 5.5% points over past six years. The literacy rate has also gone up by 68.91% in rural India. This enhanced the employability of rural youth they are not sitting idle in villages they are motivated to go to nearby towns to find the jobs.
Smart phones penetrating into rural India: 320 million are rural mobile phone users i.e. roughly 38 per cent of the rural population, which includes children and senior citizens. The actual benefit of technology positively impacting rural economy will be seen when data communication is used effectively. Since the mobile phone and associated wireless technologies can be used to tackle one of the problems, namely, literacy, it would certainly have a cascading effect on the economic development. The telecom service providers concentrate on subscriber acquisition in the rural market, primarily for voice services, which has become commoditised due to intense competition in the sector, it is not the end. The low and ever-dwindling ARPU (Average Revenue per User, currently at around Rs 200 a month) can be offset by using mobile services not just for communication, but to more basic aspects of life such as education and healthcare.
Green revolution: The vision of Dr. Swami Nathan, the father of the green revolution to achieve self-sufficiency in food grain production in 1995, gave a major breakthrough in food grain production by the use of scientific methods in agriculture. At present, Rural India generates 299 million tons annually.The substantial attention accorded to agriculture during the successive five-year plans has helped in improving agricultural productivity. Adoption of new agronomic practices, selected mechanisation, multiple cropping, inclusion of cash crops and development of allied activities like dairy, fisheries and other commercial activities have helped in increasing disposable income of rural consumers.
Large population: The Indian rural market with its vast size and demand offers great opportunity to marketers. Our national is classified in around 450 districts & approx. 6, 30,000 villages. Indian rural market is huge in size because rural population accounts for almost 70% of Indian population as the recent Census 2011, 833 million live in rural India, 33% of rural population includes youth, number of households increased from 25 to 33 crore. The rural market is currently worth approximately USD$ 10 billion in consumer spending in the FMCG market annually. Food categories are currently driving the bulk of the additional USD$ 90 billion into the marketplace by 2025.