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  2. 2. SOME FACTS ABOUT THE RURAL SECTOR: • There are nearly 42,000 rural haats (Super Markets) in India. • In 2002 – 2003, LIC sold 50 percent of its policies in rural India. • Of the 20 million who have signed up for Rediffmail, 60 percent are from small towns. • Of the 1,00,000 souls that have transacted on Rediff's shopping site, 50 percent are from small towns. • The 30 million Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) issued so far exceed the 25 million credit-plus-debit cards issued in urban. A whopping Rs. 65, 000 crore has been sanctioned under the KCC scheme. • Electricity Consumption increase from 17.6 percent in 1980 – 81 to 20.2 percent in 1999 –2000. During the same period, the industry share has dropped from 58.4 percent to 34.8 percent. • Hindustan Lever, the largest FMCG Company in the country. More than half of its annual sales of Rs.11, 700/- crore come from the rural market. • The proposed agricultural reforms in the tenth plan, the easy availability of agriculture credit Rs 60,000/- Crore Village road programme introduced recently to connect 1,90,000/- village and the improved communication network (STD and Mobile). BRANDING STRATEGY IN RURAL PLACE : a) Rural Product Development: The rural market is a fast growing one and has a huge population with a great level of disposable income. To encash this, products have to be specifically developed to meet the needs of rural markets. Sometimes, existing products might have to be modified to suit these markets too accordingly. Rural product development has the strong edifice on a great deal of research like feasibility studies, rural aspiration, rural profiling and so on. This paves way for a great deal of infrastructure and expertise in this area. b) Rural Branding: Rural branding bears quite different stand from urban branding. The first step towards rural branding is to research and gain insight into the working of rural markets. Based on this communication campaigns have to be developed with a lot of rural sensitivity. Rural branding is attained by way of opting to a greater percentage of local media and a smaller percentage of the mass media. Rural
  3. 3. gatherings like temple festivals, melas, cinema halls and so on can be used as venues to promote brands. Direct Marketing and events like road shows; film shows, melas, street theatre can also be used to promote brands. A well-planned rural branding campaign cannot just create brand awareness but help your target relevant to your brand and promote sales. A long-term campaign will keep your brand at the top-of-the- mind and build brand loyalty. So the brands are in safe hands. c) Rural Market Research: Rural markets behave most differently from urban markets. While many marketers have tried to market their products in rural areas, just a handful of the same only has succeeded. A strong insight into rural consumer behavior and sensitivity to their values and beliefs is essential; to upgrade the rural market rural market research encompasses not just gathering data but analyzing them and linking the findings to promoting your products. d) Rural Communication Campaigns: Communication for rural markets calls for a different kind of outlook. There must be a strong accent on helping the target relate to the message. The entire communication and media strategy has to devise a system based on research findings. These have to be developed in the regional vernacular languages and set in the local culture for easier acceptance and reach. Unlike communication campaigns in urban areas that rely greatly on the mass media, the strategy will be of crying in the wielderness in rural areas. Besides mass and outdoor media, rural extravaganza like temple festivals, melas and other events where the villagers come together can be used for promotions. e) Rural Events: In the rural context, one of the best ways to capture the attention of the audience is through Event-management. Since rural areas have limited venues for entertainment, conducting an event in rural areas can bring a good response. A well-planned event can get the product the mileage that we want. Some of the interesting events that can be conducted are Road Shows, Melas, Street-Theatre, Film Shows and so on. These make a visually strong impact and build long term brand recall. Rural public are the target audience and hence the portfolio of event management has to be handled professionally with diligent care and broad perspective.
  4. 4. f) Rural DM Campaigns: Direct Marketing (DM) is one of the most powerful way to meet the target on their turf and build product awareness as well as promotion. The success of any DM campaign depends on the field workers and their sensitivity and emotional connectivity to rural markets. In the area of Direct Marketing, rural team has to be trained, to be sensitive to rural culture and beliefs. They can handle activities like Door-to-Door sampling, marketing and product promotion. These activities can also be carried out innovatively at places like local cinema halls, melas and festivals, in the midst of cross-cultural gatherings and conglomerations. g) Database Creation & Management: Marketing, branding and promotional activities in the rural context can be highly effective and thereafter have to create a database of prospects. The question is how will you source this critical data? The data will contain details of your target segments at the village level / town-level. This data is essential for us to reach our target accurately and helps our marketing plan and communication strategies. Management Information System along with Database management paves ways for a congenial rural marketing through the information and data available for effective interpretations and use.