Impact of Mobile Telephony on Rural Marketing 25 Feb, 2009

India’s overall economic growth has dramatically increased rural India’s purchasing power. Marketers are now looking at smart ways to reach the rural market. Some Indian companies have modified their offerings specifically for the needs of rural markets.

Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) is a good example with successful rural marketing projects like ‘Project Shakti’ and ‘Operation Bharat’. The main emhasis of HLL’s strategy has been to focus on penetrating the market down the line and focusing on price point. Hindustan Lever relies heavily on its own company-organised media. These are promotional events organised by stockists.

Coca Cola India entered the rural market by introducing bottles priced at Rs. 5. The campaign was backed with ads featuring well-known actor Aamir Khan. During the Aamir Khan ad-campaign, they also used local language in advertising. A combination of TV, cinema and radio was used to increase the reach to rural consumers. Coca Cola have also used banners and posters, and tapped many local forms of entertainment. Because of the common lack of electricity and refrigerators in rural areas, Coca Cola provides low-cost ice boxes — a tin box for new outlets and thermocool box for seasonal outlets.

A thorough understanding of the rural consumer is a crucial key to rural marketing success. Rural marketeers also need to take the large diversity of customs and language into account. Ideas and techniques used in urban areas just won’t work for rural consumers.

Mobile telephony can better enable rural marketing in the following ways:

  1. Better understanding of the rural consumer – Marketers need to understand the psyche of the rural consumers and then act accordingly. Traditional broadcast media (television, radio etc.) is not interactive, which means you can’t get any inputs from the consumers. Mobile media can change this and help marketers in better understanding of the rural consumer. With the advent of rural telephony, market research companies can conduct telephonic surveys and interact directly with rural consumers.
  2. More effective marketing communication – This includes messages and related media used to communicate with the market. Television has made a great impact and a large audience has been exposed to this medium. But since TV programmes are also produced for the urban population, marketers have to make a choice between rural and urban. With the advent of mobile telephony in rural markets, marketers can use this channel to provide customized communication directly to their target markets. One example solution is to send voice-SMS in the regional language.

Clearly there are many advantages to marketers if the mobile telephone density increases in rural India. With VNL’s solar powered GSM system – WorldGSM™ – mobile operators can finally provide rural mobile telephony services to India’s villages. This will in turn will enable better rural marketing specifically designed for rural consumers.

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