In many developing countries, the rural population is much higher than the urban population. For instance, 65% of Indians live in rural areas, while 45% of India’s population lives in cities and towns. Several researchers have highlighted a steady increase in the disposable income and purchasing power of people living in rural areas.
After the pandemic, 30% of 40% of smartphones sold in India were purchased by customers living in rural areas. The rural population and rural prosperity create opportunities for domestic and multinational companies to maximize revenue by making products and services available in rural markets.
Companies and startups have been adopting rural marketing in various forms and ways. For instance, some companies capture rural market share by introducing rural-specific products. At the same time, many companies make the same product launch in urban and rural markets simultaneously.
Hence, rural marketing strategies adopted by companies vary. Also, each company customized rural marketing strategies according to the needs, preferences, and expectations of targeted customers. We can discuss different types of rural marketing based on products offered and strategies implemented by various companies.
An enterprise can adopt rural marketing in multiple ways. For instance, a company can develop rural-specific products and make them available in rural markets. Likewise, a company can promote and popularize its existing products in rural markets. Hence, we can classify and categorize rural marketing based on products and market structure.
Both rural and urban companies these days distribute and promote their products in rural markets. Some companies usually market crops, seeds, fertilizer, and similar agricultural products. Likewise, many companies provide irrigation tools and agricultural machines to rural customers.
At the same time, many companies these days generate revenue by selling non-agricultural products like vehicles, books, household appliances, and other consumer durables. Hence, rural marketing can be divided into two broad categories – agricultural and non-agricultural – based on products or services sold by companies.
While categorizing rural markets, companies often use the size of the customer base and the purchasing power of consumers as the primary parameter. However, rural marketing can be either primary or secondary according to the way products are distributed and sold by companies.
In a primary rural market, companies distribute and sell products directly to consumers. Also, many companies these days deliver products to rural customers using e-commerce platforms. However, businesses redistribute products in secondary rural markets using intermediaries like dealers, retailers, and agents.
Marketing mix can be described as the strategies and tools companies use for promoting and selling products in targeted markets. The marketing mix in rural marketing consists of four important components – product, price, promotion, and placement. Product refers to the goods or services offered by a company.
Price refers to the cost incurred by consumers to avail of the product or service. Promotion refers to the promotional and advertising activities required to create awareness, generate demand, and boost sales, while placement refers to the distribution channels used by a company to make its products available in rural markets.
Companies these days promote and market products in rural areas through multiple channels. Increasing smartphone penetration creates opportunities for them to engage and influence rural consumers by running social media marketing, email marketing, and mobile marketing campaigns.
However, a significant percentage of companies still promote their products using conventional advertising tactics like mobile van marketing, retailer marketing, and billboard advertising. Hence, rural marketing can be divided into several categories according to promotional strategies used by companies.
A low literacy rate is one of the major challenges of rural marketing. Companies run direct marketing campaigns to inform rural consumers about products or services in simple and local languages. They deploy marketing executives who create product awareness and generate demand by educating rural consumers. Also, many companies facilitate direct selling by setting up kiosks in selected rural areas.
Local marketplaces are an integral part of most rural marketplaces. Local people purchase products by visiting the traditional marketplace held on a specific day every week. The gathering of local consumers creates opportunities for companies to capture market share by displaying and promoting various products to a large number of rural customers.
Many consumers find it challenging to promote their products directly in rural markets. They save time and resources by partnering with local retailers and store owners. The retailer helps companies promote products by interacting with local customers. At the same time, they facilitate the distribution and promotion of products on a regular basis.
This form of rural marketing helps companies overcome key challenges like poor and limited infrastructural facilities. The marketing professional driving the van promotes and sells products in rural markets. Also, they generate demand and promote customer loyalty by answering questions asked by consumers.
While planning urban marketing campaigns, marketers prioritize digital display ads over conventional display ads. However, they still use wall paintings, posters, and billboards while promoting products in rural areas. Traditional display strategies help companies create brand awareness and attract potential customers.
A surge is being noted in the number of rural families owning smartphones. A significant percentage of rural people still use feature phones. Mobile device penetration creates opportunities for businesses to run mobile marketing campaigns. Many companies create brand awareness and generate demand in rural markets by sending text messages to consumers.
Smartphone penetration enables employees to influence rural consumers by running digital marketing channels. Many companies promote products and services by sending targeted marketing emails to rural consumers. Also, they engage rural consumers by creating dedicated social media profiles and pages.
The number and prosperity of people living in rural areas make rural marketing the next destination for companies and startups. But purchasing power of rural consumers varies across regions. Also, the purchase decisions of rural customers are often impacted by local customers and beliefs.
Hence, companies must understand different types of rural marketing to decide the best way to enter a rural market and capture market share. In addition to classifying and categorizing rural marketing activities, they need to choose and combine the right rural marketing strategies.