Rural Media: Mass media, Non-conventional Media, Personalized Media

27/03/2021 0 By indiafreenotes

Mass Media:

Mass media with its known and perceived to be efficient cost per contact is the most favorite medium to spread the promotional message. The benefit of mass media is its huge reach and the easy tracking comparison with other below the line promotional activities.

TV is the most preferred mass media a significant part of the budget of rural marketing companies goes to TV because no other medium has that wide a reach across the country. According to the National Readership Survey, the print media reaches about 23 per cent of rural consumers in India, while 36 per cent have access to TV. The reach of cinema stands at approximate 26 per cent.

The mass media reaches about 57 per cent of the rural population, although, the reach of television rural India is high. Frequent power-cuts restrict viewing time considerably. Two out of five Indians were unreachable by mass media.

Rural India has a very high ownership of transistor radios and as these run on batteries, radio; can once again be expected to become a popular medium for reaching rural masses.

Mass media is too glamorous, interpersonal and unreliable in contrast with the familiar performance of traditional artist whom the villager could not only see and hear, but even touch. Television also does not distinguish between urban and rural. For marketers who use mass media like TV, this becomes a big challenge, as television does not distinguish between urban and rural audiences. There can be a common TV commercial for both urban and rural audience particularly for FMCG products provided the communication is not gimmicky or suggestive and is easy to comprehend.

Unconventional Platforms to Promote Brands:

In order to communicate the message to vast multitude of rural population, marketers have to experiment also with unconventional media along with the traditional mass media options. Rural Market offers the opportunity to the media planner with a wide range of platforms that can be used to carry the message ‘to the target market residing in rural areas’. These platforms can be used as complementary to the mass media options.

Using these media, the marketer can provide touch and feel aspect with regard to their brands, which is very essential in rural areas where good number of consumers are living in media dark villages. In the area of communication, corporate marketers have perhaps failed to recognise that a rural consumer may be buying a particular brand or even the product categories itself (particularly durables) for the first time.

With hardly any key influencer within the village and few sources of information (since print and electronic media have limited reach), the rural consumer feels inhibited and ill equipped to buy confidently.

Hence, there is a strong need to build the reassurance and trust about product quality, service support and company credentials in the minds of rural consumers. This is best done through the face to face below the line touch, feel and talk mode at haats, melas and mandis.

This not only spreads the message amongst the audience at these platforms but it also creates word of mouth stories, which carry the message in the entire region. Some of the platforms available for brand promotion are presented below. The relevant platform according to the product categories can be selected for communicating with the rural audience.

(a) Mandis:

These are agricultural markets, known by different names as terminal markets/ primary or secondary wholesale market and are set up by state governments to procure agriculture produce from farmers. 7,000 in number and located in high production centers of different crops, they can serve as a good platform for product demonstration, brand building and on the spot sales.

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.

(b) Haats:

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.

(c) Melas:

The companies need to have innovative methods of advertising and brand building in fairs or melas to reach their potential customer base. There are 25,000 melas in India (90 per cent are religious and one day affairs), the 1,000 being larger and frequented by hundreds of thousands of visitors. About 5,000 are commercial in nature and could be targeted for brand promotion.

Melas provide a platform for communicating with rural masses. Organisations have an opportunity to present brand stories and exposures can be provided at a low cost per contact with relatively larger retention time. The marketer can use better display tools, i.e., large screens, animations, gizmos, etc.

Women folks of the rural areas are difficult to contact in the village setting and they do not visit the nearby towns often. But in melas they are present in large number. Thus, mela provides the organisations with an excellent opportunity to target rural women for research, brand promotion, demonstration and trial.

Some of the widely visited melas include Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, Allahabad, Ujjain, Nasik and Sonepur Mela in Bihar. FMCG giants – like HUL, P&G and many other companies set up branded kiosks in “Kumbh Mela” at Nasik, Maharashtra, similarly some tried at “Pushkar Mela” near Ajmer, Rajasthan, where Mahindra & Mahindra set up information counter for its farm tractor, and Nestle arranged coffee and Maggie shop.

Melas work best for introducing new brands and building brands through the organisation of events at the venue. Many companies congregate at the Ganges River for the Kumbh Mela festival, where about 3 crore people, mostly from rural areas, come over the span of a month. Companies provide ‘touch and feel’ demonstrations and distribute free samples. This proved to be extremely effective in advertising to the rural market.

(d) Mills:

Market Researchers conducted a study in 24 villages across Uttar Pradesh and Punjab and found that the creative use of avenues like mills, rural games, tournaments, service camps and appointment of local brand ambassadors can appreciably increase communication effectiveness in the rural areas.

It was found that more than 200 tractors visit a mill in a day during the peak season. This gives a very good opportunity to the marketer to target farmers. As they are relatively free just waiting for their turn, they would be more receptive than in other settings. Farmers in order to pass their time would keenly lend their ears and also see their demonstrations. There is a good probability of their participating in the interactive formats, which could provide useful inputs to the marketing organisations.

(e) Pilgrim Sites:

The vast potential of pilgrims’ sites to promote brands especially for rural market has not been exploited to a great extent. Most of the organisations do not have a proper marketing plan for utilising marketing potential of such locations. Vaishno Devi, Ashtaateerathadham are few examples of pilgrim sites visited by crores of people every year. These and other pilgrim sites, which attract lakhs of visitors, can be ideal platforms to promote the brands by integrating the brand and the promotional campaign with the occasion.

For example, one pilgrim centre, Khalgam, about 20 km from Daman (Gujarat), on an average draws a crowd of 20,000 to 30,000 people every Tuesday and Saturday and 50,000 people during the month of Shrawan. There must be at least 10,000 such sites in the country each of which could be marketer’s dream for promoting their brand, yet it would be surprising if these sites are even documented. Having the religious consumers in a large number at one place is a good opportunity to promote a brand.

(f) Rural Games:

Focus of rural marketers can be on events like Quila Raipur Olympics and Nehru Boat Race, which are annual extravaganzas for promotion of their brands. Nearly one lakh spectators turn up to watch the rural sports at Quila Raipur village being played out in three daylong events.

Punjab has 25 popular festivals in the year, which include sports festival, agriculture as well as cultural festivals, in addition to the religious festivals. It is here that the rural marketers need to focus their attention, as the eyeballs of captive audience are available at these meets. The latest estimates are that in most of these festivals 50,000 visitors turn out on an average.

Rural games and tournaments are hugely popular in rural areas and are attended by rural people in large numbers. These tournaments can be sponsored at a reasonable price and could be utilized as a platform to put the company’s stall for brand building and demonstration. The company’s products could also be given as prizes to increase the brand awareness. These products, given as prizes would lead to lot of word of mouth publicity in the rural areas as it would be talk of many villages for good number of days.

(g) Primary Health Centre:

The primary health centres are very good platforms to promote products that have to be sold on health and hygiene grounds. The campaign in these centres can be executed in coordination with the NGO state health departments. Medical Council or Dental Associations and even international aid agencies.

Swasthya Chetna Campaign to promote the habits of washing of hands by HUL in rural areas is a good example of this form of promotion; this would have directly or indirectly promoted sale of Lifebuoy, its leading brand, in rural areas.

(h) Schools:

Young children are emerging as the change agent in the rural areas. Organisations like HUL and Colgate are targeting the children in the schools. They are not only educating them about the product benefits but are also demonstrating the benefits offered by their brands for the health of children and the entire family.

Personalized Media

In the marketing of textiles, highly personalized selling by vans and participation in rural fairs and festivals and mobile units/stalls may play a useful role.

Similarly, for cycles and sewing machines, sales vans and parti­cipation in fairs may be supplemented by billboard’s, hoardings and point of-sale materials. Sewing machines and cycles may be adver­tised on the radio and TV. Sewing schools and the organization for training would promote the sales of sewing machines.

In Mandi towns and rural markets, cinema slides, wall posters, paintings on walls, coupled with a mobile sales stall at rural fairs and festivals would go a long way in promoting footwear sales. It is necessary to establish individual brands to win rural consu­mer loyalty.

Rural marketing involves more intensive personal selling efforts compared to urban marketing. Firms should refrain from pushing goods designed for urban markets to the rural areas. To effectively tap the rural market a brand must associate it with the same things the rural consumers do.

This can be done by utilizing the various rural folk media to reach them in their own language and in large number so that the brand can be associated with the myriad rituals, celebration, festivals, melas, fairs and weekly hats.