Selecting the communication channels for rural Marketing27th March 2021
TV/Regional Language Channels:
Over 75 percent of India’s urban households own a TV set, compared to just one-third of rural households, according to 2011 Census figures. The census also reveals that only 9.4 percent of households in the country have either a laptop or a computer and only 3 percent of them have an Internet connection. While 20 percent of urban and 5 percent of rural households now own a computer or laptop, just 1 percent of rural Indian households own a computer with Internet.
However, measuring the audiences or identifying who was watching which channel has so far been a huge challenge. The problem is more acute in rural areas, where people receive TV signals from antennas, cable or dish. Earlier, TV audience data was provided by Television Audience Measurement (TAM), a joint venture between Nielsen and Kantar Media. It enjoyed a monopoly for years, but its data was inadequate. It captured data through TAM ‘people- meters’, which were installed in selected homes. But the people meters about 9,000 were installed were not only inadequate but they were not installed in rural areas. Charges of corruption were also being levelled against the agency.
we can classify rural India into four groups:
High growth rate districts from FY07 to FY10. There are 79 diamond districts in India, which have seen high growth. These districts have contributed close to 28 percent of India’s rural growth and constitute 25 percent of rural population.
Moderate to high growth every year between FY07 to FY10. There are 119 resilient districts, together contributing to 31 percent of rural growth and 22 percent of rural demand. The diamond and the resilient groups comprise 198 districts with 35 percent of the rural population. More than 90 percent of the growth in demand is accounted for by the diamond and resilient districts put together.
Districts that have picked up growth from FY08 onwards, showing growth rates of 12 percent per annum. There were 173 emerging districts which generate 31 percent of the demand, but contributed only to 20 percent of rural growth. These districts demonstrated low growth in FY08 but picked up speed in subsequent years.
Districts which are growing at a low rate of less than 5 percent per annum since 2008. There are 201 laggard districts which comprise one-third of the rural population, contribute to around 30 percent of the demand but capture only 20 percent of rural growth.
These districts do not follow the generally accepted wisdom of rich states and poor states. Most of the 198 diamond and resilient districts are seen to be clustered in multiple regions forming growth pockets. For example, northern Odisha accounts for a large part of the resilient rural growth in the country. Other such prominent clusters are found in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar do not seem to show consistent high growth and account for only nine such districts.
Wall paintings reach even the smallest villages where mass media has not made inroads. These are cheap and serve as fixtures on walls with high visibility. Local painters do the job and villagers welcome these messages as the paint helps to protect walls. For consumer durables, direct marketing campaigns are effective. A dealer push combined with wall paintings and attractive schemes and exchange offers can give a lot of mileage in rural markets.
Many durables companies such as Bajaj Auto, Hero Motocorp, LG and so on are tapping rural markets through wall paintings and have made significant inroads in rural market. Wall painting is the most widespread form of advertising and well accepted among rural consumers, and so are an effective promotional tool, because they constantly remind rural people about names and logos.
Village Newspaper or Local Editions of Large Newspapers:
A look at mass circulated newspapers shows that villages are largely invisible to mainstream media. Apart from news of a farmer suicide or an accident, villages find very little coverage on nationally circulated newspapers. Some regional language newspapers or regional editions of larger newspapers are popular in towns but have very little reach in villages.
Among the exceptions is Eenadu, published in Telugu. It regularly carries tips on agriculture and animal husbandry and encourages reader participation by publishing their political opinions and grievances. Local editions of Rajasthan Patrika and Dainik Bhaskar cover local concerns.
BTL Techniques, Vans and Demonstrations:
Mobile van campaign is one of the most effective communication channels for rural consumers, since it involves interpersonal communication with direct experience, creating greater visibility and deep reach. Van campaigns in rural areas pull crowds. Vehicles carrying advertisements always grab attention, thus helping better brand building, creating visibility and also encouraging trials.
Rural service camps and creation of local brand ambassadors also serve as means of effective communication. Some companies put stalls at prominent locations in villages. Such stalls are not only cost effective but can also target high potential consumers, especially during festive seasons. Other crowd pullers in rural areas are rural games and tournaments. These are very popular; companies put stalls or banners at such avenues and sponsor the events.
In many instances, they offer their products as prizes. Service camps are another effective brand building activity. Since word-of-mouth recommendations are very popular in rural areas, and people in the villages consult their friends, relatives or neighbours before buying any durable product, keeping the existing customers happy through service camps leads to more referrals and sales.
Community Radio or AIR Local Channels:
Community radio is a type of radio service that caters to the interests of a certain area, broadcasting content that is popular to a local audience which is often overlooked by commercial or mass media broadcasters. Globally, community radios have proliferated and provide people living in remote or isolated areas access to information. In India, the government restricts its spread.
In other parts of the world, modern-day community radio stations serve listeners by offering a variety of content that is not provided by larger commercial radio stations. Such stations carry local area news and information programmes, particularly useful for farming communities that are poorly served by other media channels.
Community radio stations provide specialized content that is immediately relevant to villagers. In India, community village radio could not develop properly as government guidelines permit only NGOs and civil society organizations to own and operate community radio stations. Most community stations in India are thus run by NGOs or educational institutions and have little presence in rural areas.
Melas and Fairs:
Instead of media campaigns, rural markets are more influenced by BTL techniques at the village level and at events such as Kumbh Mela, Onam, Rathyatra, Baliyatra and Dhanuyatra. Bloomberg (2013) reports that outdoor marketing campaigns at events like the Kumbh are becoming very popular with a large number of companies. Fairs and melas represent rural marketing opportunities for companies. People come to these gatherings in huge numbers.
The biggest such gathering is the Kumbh Mela, described as the world’s largest gathering. The Maha Kumbh in 2013 drew some 100 million people to Ganges in Allahabad. It was a once-in-a-decade chance for companies to reach consumers who are otherwise hard to reach. Reaching all of 100 million people from rural areas in one place was a dream for advertisers. The 2013 Maha Kumbh saw companies such as Colgate, Vodafone, Dabur and HUL participating and reaching the mass of the consumers directly.
The Kumbh is a huge draw and is an opportunity for brands, but smaller melas held all over the country, which gather some 10,000 to 20,000 people per day, are useful for experiential marketing and are therefore more marketing friendly.