No one needs to keep emphasising that in India rural markets costitute a huge untapped opportunity, but unfortunatley it seldom gets the attention it deserves, or for that matter the consistent attention…marketers either make half-hearted attempts or the intiatives are more part of thier CSR work.
But one time when the markets gets serious attention is when the urban markets slow down and companies are hard pressed for growth, it is then that they start brushing the dust over thier rural marketing files, as seems to be happening now.
Coca Cola India has drawn up a fresh startegy to tap rural market. In the past too the company has tried to tap the rural opportunity by introducing coke at Rs 5 price point. This time around the strategy revolves around a retailer training programme for smaller grocery stores in tier II & III towns, and stepping up distribution of specific products in smaller towns, and increasing focus on marketing and operations focus for these markets.
Another company which is planning make good the shaort fall of growth targets through the rural areas is Maruti Suzuki. The company is focusing on these markets with it’s entry-level cars. It is using a combination of large sales team and special discounts to attarct rural consumers. The two specific intiatives from Maruti for rural markets are the Resident Dealer Sales Execuitves which they are planning to appoint and ‘ghar ghar mein Maruti’ campaign. The focus of the Resident Dealer Sales Execuitves scheme is to use a local resident to push the sales of cars, and ‘ghar ghar mein Maruti’ focuses on targetting opinion leaders who would influnece the sales in the village.
It is very easy to criticise the short-term approach followed by companies when it comes to rural markets, but the when one sees the difficulties which exist in making the rural markets a sustianble source of growth one is willing to empathise with them. But then there is also a need to keep the focus on these intitiaves even when the urabn growth bounces back……