This is the fourth part of our blog series on Rural Marketing. In the previous blogs, we covered the types and challenges in Rural marketing. In the third edition of the blog series, we covered the aspects of Rural marketing in India.
While making and implementing marketing strategies, marketers believe that transportation and communication options have converted the world into a large village. They assume that most consumers these days live in urban areas, and their disposable income grows consistently.
However, the data collected by the United Nations (UN) suggest that only 55% of the world’s population currently live in urban areas. In several developing countries, the rural population is much higher than the urban population. For instance, about 65% of India’s population live in rural areas in 2023.
Likewise, the statistics compiled by Statista in 2022 suggest that 86.5% of inhabitants in Asian countries were living in rural areas. The statistics and data depict the significance and scope of rural marketing across countries. No domestic or multinational company can sustain profitable growth without supplementing urban marketing with rural marketing.
As a marketing system, rural marketing makes companies consider consumers living in rural customers while planning, developing, pricing, distributing, and promoting products/services. Each company can implement rural marketing concepts by adopting various approaches – urban to rural, rural to urban, and rural to rural.
Rural marketing creates opportunities for enterprises in various sectors to expand their customer base, generate incremental revenue, and outperform competitors. We can discuss the scope of rural marketing based on significant changes and recent developments across regions.
Rural urbanization is an ongoing process. People living in rural areas move to cities regularly to find better commercial and employment opportunities. However, the annual rural population growth rate is still increasing in many countries. The substantial size of the rural population creates opportunities for companies in various sectors to expand their customer bases across regions.
Several studies suggest a consistent increase in farmers’ income across countries. Farmers these days increase agricultural income in several ways – growing cash crops, adopting modern farming practices, using modern equipment, and leveraging agricultural subsidies. Rural prosperity results in increasing farmers’ disposable income and purchasing power. Enterprises have been expanding the scope of rural marketing by leveraging rural prosperity.
Governments have been creating new employment opportunities in rural areas. Various programs and schemes launched by governments enable educated and qualified people living in villages to earn money without engaging in agricultural activities. For instance, many educated youth in India these days earn recurring income by working as teachers, Anganwadi workers, craftspeople, and freelance professionals. The new-age rural employment opportunities increase the demand for various products and services in rural areas.
Often bloggers use consumption patterns as a key parameter while differentiating urban consumers from rural consumers. But several recent studies suggest that there are no differences in food consumption in urban and rural areas. Also, the demand for certain products is 10% higher in urban areas than in rural areas. Hence, companies can increase revenue by offering the same products to rural and urban consumers simultaneously.
Most urban markets are already too saturated. No company can acquire market share without spending money on demand generation and customer acquisition. But most rural markets still remain untapped. Hence, companies can enter rural markets and acquire market share without incurring huge advertisement costs. The competition in urban markets makes many companies focus on tapping rural markets.
As noted earlier, rural urbanization is an ongoing process. The people living in rural areas aspire to adopt and experience urban lifestyles. Consistent increases in income and purchasing power enable rural consumers to afford products and services developed and launched for urban consumers. The lifestyle changes create opportunities for companies to generate incremental revenue by making their offerings available in various rural markets.
A significant percentage of rural people these days use smartphones and tablets regularly. The data released by a leading research firm depict that 30% to 40% of smartphones sold in 2022 were purchased by customers living in rural India. Smartphone penetration alters the choices and lifestyle of consumers living in villages. They look for opportunities to buy the desired product without visiting the nearest town or city. Hence, companies can boost sales by making their products available in rural markets.
While implementing rural marketing strategies, companies often find it challenging to build distribution channels due to a lack of infrastructure. Governments have already made rural infrastructure development a top priority. They have been modernizing rural areas by building roads, tracks, bridges, schools, hospitals, and marketplaces regularly.
Rural infrastructural development helps companies make their products available in rural markets. Leading FMCG companies have already set up robust distribution systems in many developing countries. Likewise, many companies make consumer goods available in rural markets by partnering with local entrepreneurs, stores, and dealers.
Low-Cost Marketing Channels
In the age of e-commerce, companies can sell products to rural customers over the Internet. Also, they can create brand awareness, generate demand, and promote customer loyalty by running digital marketing campaigns. In addition to using search engines and social media, marketers can deliver tailored content to rural customers by sending emails.
At the same time, they can promote a product using conventional marketing strategies like mobile van marketing, retailer marketing, billboard advertising, and retail marketing. These conventional and digital marketing strategies help companies enter rural markets and acquire market share without incurring huge marketing and advertising costs.
In 2023, a large percentage of the global population lives in rural areas. Several studies suggest a steady increase in recurring income and purchasing power of consumers living in rural areas. The rural population size and growing rural prosperity expand the scope of rural marketing.
Rural marketing creates opportunities for domestic and multinational companies to increase revenue and profits by targeting rural consumers. However, an enterprise cannot enter into rural markets using urban marketing channels and strategies.
It has to implement custom rural marketing strategies that consider the consumer behavior that differentiates rural customers from urban customers. Also, the strategy must focus on driving sales by overcoming existing and emerging rural marketing challenges proactively.