Ranka Village

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Primary Research


The primary research was conducted in two different states of India. The first part was conducted in ‘Ranka’ village near Gangtok, Sikkim whereas the later part was conducted in Lodipur village in Samastipur, Bihar. The objectives of research in both the villages were different from each other.

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1) Objectives of research in Ranka, Gangtok –

Since there are not many brands which reach to this remote village in the country, it’s a heaven for local & counterfeit products. Hence the main objectives of the research were following

· To find out that being in a remote corner of the country, how national brands reach the villages of Gangtok

· What are the different media channels used by brands to reach the rural consumer in Ranka.

· How do local brands advertise/sell themselves in the villages

2) Objectives of research in Lodipur, Bihar –

This village is more accessible than Ranka and hence here brands use not only traditional but also outdoor & local media to advertise themselves. Also Bihar has seen major innovations in distribution channels as brands reaches out to the final consumers. Hence the main objectives of the research were following:

· To find out the important influencers in the village for rural consumers

· To find out the efficacy of various outdoor & localized media and to weight them on predefined parameters.

· How do local brands advertise themselves in the villages

With these objectives in mind the research was carried out in these two villages.

Primary research in Ranka village in Gangtok

‘Ranka’ is situated 27 Km south of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. It’s also the largest village in the entire district.

The total population of the village is 5032 which lives in close to 1700 households. The ratio of men to women is 40:60. Below is the age wise distribution (Percentage wise) of the population.

There is a good transportation system connecting it to city available from 7 am in the morning to 6 p.m in the evening. In normal weather conditions it takes around 25 minutes to reach city as road is not very good and due to which in rainy season the travelling become cumbersome.

There are no bus stops present in the village, as the mode of transport is jeeps and SUV’s, which run regularly and act as good public transport medium. There are two stops for these cars where people board these cars or where these cars drop passengers. They are -:

1) Outside the village gate.

2) At monastery present inside the village.

The main occupation of the Ranka village is agriculture; almost 60% of the village population is involved in it. Then, the second highest occupation is labor work resulting for as high as 20%- 25 of the population, although some of the population may fall in both the categories mentioned above. Then, apart from this there is also a section of population of government employees which is very low in percentage government employees. Also, some of them are some entrepreneurs too which run small business like a kirana shop etc. Below is the population breakup by occupation.

The types of crops grown in the area are: dhaan. Chaawal. Ilaychi..foos.and corn. The educational sector gets a lot of attention from the government. Hence there are a lot of educational facilities available for children. The school timings are the following:

Primary: 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM

Secondary: 10 AM to 5 PM

There is also a “Free Food” scheme for students till 5th standard. Also the government also provides free food to all its students till 8th standard. The village has 1 PHC ( Primary health centre ).

1) Interview of the sarpanch:

An interview of the sarpanch of the village Mr. Urbaschi Poudyl was taken to gather his views on the media consumption in the village (Discussion guide in the appendix). The main points from the conversation are listed below:

* Being far from the main city, the village doesn’t get a lot of media exposure. The main media vehicles in the village are radio and Television. The village doesn’t get direct newspaper from the vendor and hence they are supposed to go to the main city (Gangtok) to collect the Newspaper.

* The media penetration has improved a lot in the last decade with Cable & Satellite TV replacing radio as the most preferred medium of entertainment. The graphs are given below:

The village has 8 retail shops overall with the biggest one situated near the temple. These shops also have maximum advertising hoardings in the entire village. National brands like Vodafone & Airtel as well as local brands of liquor & clothes being advertised there.

The other major media initiative was done by Hindustan Level Ltd. When they used their vans to publicize the Lifeboy campaigns in local schools.
There is no direct reach of newspapers to the houses. Hence a van goes from the village to the main town and buys the Newspaper from the main vendor. On an average only 20% of the population reads Newspapers.

The Newspaper comes at about 11 am in the morning via the van which delivers it at the temple near the centre of the village. This is a simple taxi which later is used to bring tourists to the temple. Mainly the Men read the newspaper when they return from the work at about 6 pm in the evening. The main Newspaper which comes is the Himalayan Darpan & Sikkim samadhan. Women normally don’t read the newspapers that much. All the retail shops have a sitting area in front of them, where people congregate after their daily buying to read news papers.There is no NGO/MFI in the village which sells any tangible product.

2) FGD of the Villagers:

The main objective of the FGD was to find out that being in a remote corner of the country, how national brands reach the villages of Gangtok & how do local brands advertise/sell themselves in the villages.

Two FGD (Focused group discussion) of 6 villagers in each group were arranged by the sarpanch in the village. During the formation of the sample the emphasis were paid on the following points:

1) It was thought that the youngsters may not open up to the moderator in front of the elders of the village. Hence 2 separate FGD were taken. The age group in the 1st FGD was of people aged between 25 to 50 years. People who are elder than 50 were not taken in FGD as they are not the ones who are exposed to media as much as the others.

2) An equal number representation of gender and working class was maintained.

3) In the second group the age group was between 12to 25. Children less than 12 years weren’t taken as part of sample as they would not have had the desired clarity on difference between media vehicles.

4) Also this division on the basis of age would allow the comparison between the two generations of villagers in the groups.

The description of both the samples is given below:

Panel 1

Sr. No







Retailer in the village








Grade 3 employee in the BDO




Runs a liquor shop in the village




Housewife of the sarpanch




School Teacher

Panel 2

Sr. No







Son of the sarpanch, runs small business of repairing electronic devices




Son of the Grade 3 employee in the BDO








Sits with her mother in the local kirana shop




Student in 9th standard




Student in 9th standard

Insights from FGD:


Women watch TV every day in the afternoon to keep themselves engaged. Men watch it in the night. The TV is normally placed in the Bed-room of the house. The main Channels watched are Zee cinema; Star Gold & Sony. Hindi soaps are most popular genre amongst all. The most watched News channel is Aaj tak. Also regional shows are quite popular in Ranca. ‘Sikkim Samachar’ which is televised at 8:30 in night is a pretty popular local program. The usage of TV has been put forward in the graph.

Radio : Radio listenership has taken a dip in the last decade after the advent of television. A decade back, the radio had 100% penetration and people used to listen to it even as a community. Now with TV coming in, the young population can’t connect to the radio at all. Still some people do tune in to listen to the devotional songs in the morning. There is no FM channel in Ranca. Still it’s kept at the shops which play it during their business timings. The control of radio lies in the hand of children when the men leave for work. Community listening is not heavily prevalent in the region. The listening habit and the time of listening is completely different for males and females.



Listen to Radio in the evening

Listen to Radio in afternoon

Prefer News items and sponsored


Prefer afternoon shows for Women and Local Songs

Normally listens for 1 hour

Normally listens for 2 -3 hours

In the evening, when the men congregate near the retail shop or the temple they discuss the news items from the paper. The retail shop’s owner keeps the papers. Hence it the people sit at the charpai and divide the pages to read the paper. This goes on even after they have ate/consumed the item from the retail shop. Local brands advertise the most by pasting up their templates outside the pucca walls of the houses. Since newspaper doesn’t have the required penetration in the village, this helps in the brand communication with the general audience. Brands also advertise by putting their ad behind the men’s bicycle. This is a very cheap & effective way of advertising used by local brands. Local brands also make their presence felt by advertising in the marriage ceremony of the villagers. One such example is of a local beer company (Tomba) which put its logo on all the people who were serving dinner in a wedding in the village. It also supplied liquor at a discounted price in the marriage.

The youth is heavily influenced by the lifestyle of people in Gangtok city and wants to emulate it as much as possible. Hence it yearns for big brands like Levis, Nike etc. They are the target audience of all the brands which are premium in nature & want to penetrate in the rural market The Youngsters have more knowledge about the number of brands in the Soaps and shampoo category than the middle aged people in the village. In their household, they use two soaps for bath. The parents usually use Lifeboy whereas the youngsters prefer to use Cinthol amongst the list of brands shown. They use shampoos like Sunsilk whereas middle and elderly aged person still don’t use shampoos generally in the village. They were also unable to spot differences between the original & fake products (Lifeboy), conforming the fact that the media alone can’t fight the menace of the fake products without the help of local retailer. The major channel of watching movies is the local cable operator which also runs local ads. This channel of communication remains to be targeted by the big companies. Big shops in Gangtok advertise via this channel mainly. Retailers remain the loyal source of products & information. Families rarely change the retailers from which they buy their products. The other major place of advertising in the village is near the temple. Here also, it’s the local brands which are seen everywhere. Also, sometimes local brands distribute templates at government schools to target children, who then become key influencers for their brand. Many people prefer reading local newspapers as they are not interested in National politics. They also do not change their dailies so often. Public distribution system is also available in the village where the rates are the ones which are decided by the government. Villagers buy ration from these shops generally.

Observation in the shop

As a part of research two shops were covered where following observations were made :

o There were empty spaces in the shop, indicating that the purchasing cycle and distribution cycle have a gap in between them

o The major national brands which are stacked are from the stable of HUL & ITC. It includes shampoos (Sunsilk) and soaps (Lifeboy).

o The big brands are stacked alongside the local brands

o There are POP available of vodafone & Airtel both in the same shop.

o The shop has ads from the government as well informing thevillagers about the sporta competition in the district.

o Shop has a small area in front of it where the villagers sit on erected ground.

o The shop is run by a woman awith the help of her son.

o The kirana shop is next to a liquor shop but this is a common sight in Gangtok.

Insights from the interview of Retailer:

The retailer’s margin is similar to what the retailers get everywhere else in the country. It ranges from 6 % to 20 %.Villagers pay on the credit system. Hence retailer has a huge influencing power on them. What are the local products in the shop? How much margin he gets on them?There are fake versions of Lifeboy & Ariel which are being sold in the villages. They have similar packaging & cost. They are manufactured in Calcutta (WB). The retailer knows that these products are fake but doesn’t tell it to consumers until they ask for it, the margin on these products is as good as 20%. The margin is also seasonal as the product usage varies from one season from the other. Media plays a important role in generating awareness of the product. But advertisements in the mass media often leave consumer confused as it happened with the zoozoo campaign of Vodafone. Hence the consumer then comes at the counter & clarifies his concerns. Few companies like ITC & Godrej also uses vans to publicize about their product but this happens only during fairs or festivals. Wall paintings are the most popular mode of advertisement in the rural areas. Main advertisers in this category are Coca cola. Local brands prefer to use wall paintings as they are the most cost-efficient mode of advertisements in the country. It’s been noticed that the villagers prefer the price of the brand over the other attributes like packaging, smell etc. A case in point is the popularity of a black soap called ‘Nepal soap’. This soap is imported from Nepal and it comes with absolutely no packaging at all. It’s black in color and is very hard in nature. But it sells the most as it’s the cheapest in the category

Since the major revenue of the retailer comes from non-branded products like agricultural goods, it becomes difficult for the company to force retailer to not to stack local products. Amongst the biscuits it was found out that the ‘Maire’ and ‘parle G’ were top selling products. They had done free sampling in the villages schools 2 years back owing to which they had an increased demand of the products. Local brands also give some free products which are customized for the local villagers. The Pop’s which we noticed were basically posters and small flexes. Lot of companies also believes in painting the taxi to create unique communication strategy. Also the Taxi drivers sell FMCG products to the tourists in their taxi. This is responsible for creating a new value chain amongst the consumers.

The distribution system followed by most of the companies to reach to the place was different for fake and original products. The fake product will always have the advantage over the national products as the cost of manufacturing of a fake product is low because of its inferior quality. Hence it can work on better margins. Also it gives the retailer higher margins to push their product in the market. The distribution system also has lesser levels in it. These products can also react quickly to the market conditions as compared to the bigger brands and can be more relevant to the consumers.

Distribution system for Original products was:

{Original Product) (Fake Product)

Hence the 4p’s of rural marketing in Ranka can be summarized in:

4 P’s of Rural Marketing in Ranca

Price ( Affordability)

* Extremely price sensitive consumer, hence all product competitively priced

* Many variants of the same product at the same price point

* Local players price their products lower while giving them higher quantity

* Retailer margin is high as he’s the opinion leader.

Promotion (Awareness)

* Promotional events by stockiest

* Use of vans & Road shows

* POP customized for villagers

* Direct selling via volunteers

Place ( Availability)

* Use of sub-stockiest to reach to wider consumer base

* Higher credit cycle

* Use of new means of product transfer like jeep and van

* Hub & Spoke distribution model

Product (Acceptability)

* Attributes of the product tweaked to suit the need of rural consumer

· Specific colors are used which villagers prefer

· Product’s physical strength is increased to suit to villager’s demand

Primary research in Bihar:

Lodipuris a small village in Konch subdivision ofGaya District in the state ofBihar, India. It is about 6 km fromTekari, located on a state highway.

In this section I will first discuss the insights gathered from the retailer as far as identifying the role of opinion leaders and influencers in communicating to the rural consumer.

Next, I will discuss the communication that transpires in the market place and the opportunities that are thrown up in that context.

1) Interview with the retailer:

Name: Mr. Neeraj Sinha

Occupation: Runs a Kirana store in the village

The objective of the interview was to find out the buying patterns in the village. According to the retailer, most of the shopping in the villages is done in the haats or weekly markets. There are haats in all large villages and people from nearby smaller villages gather here to sell or purchase goods. It is mainly vegetables and pulses that are sold here, but others such as sweets, savories, soaps, butter and even saris are also available

Most of the shopping done by the women is in these weekly haats. They sometimes do shop at the local village shop for things like matchboxes, salt, tea etc. which are items of daily requirements in very small quantities. They are not required to pay in cash here. They get these items by paying in kind such as a small quantity of jowhar or a few vegetables. Most other items such as rice, sugar and even things like bathing soaps, talcum powder and sometimes even saris are bought by the men in the larger town.

Consumer durables like bicycles, watches, radios etc. too are bought in these larger towns by men. The women very rarely accompany their spouses to the town. The hierarchy of markets for the rural is shown in below.

Rice, sugar, cosmetics, saris, durables etc. – Bought by Men

Vegetables, pulses, sweets, soap etc. – Bought by women

Matches, tea, salt etc – Women

Here the companies sometimes use syndicated distribution to cut it’s costs. JK dairy employed this strategy for distributing milk powder sachets. It took along 3 companies, which were not competing with its products for selling their products in the same rural market for sharing the van post.

Companies also give his variable margins depending upon the peak consumption period in the village. For example, he gets higher margin on ‘Godrej hair color’ in summer as compared to rainy seasons or winter.

The retailer also believes that the rural consumer does not decide based on the information provided by advertisements. He believes more in ‘Word of mouth’ information.

Most rural women still look up to some people for guidance and advice, and in many cases do not even consider purchasing a product unless it is advocated by the opinion leader. It hence becomes crucial to address them first. The difficulty lies in properly identifying these opinion leaders.

According to the retailer, in the villages there are 3 main groups which can be considered as opinion leaders for the majority of the rural women.

• Aangan wadi workers and health workers

• Female school teachers or wives of the male school teachers

• Women of the family who are now living in larger towns

2) Interview with a school Teacher:

Name: Ms. Shilpi Singh

Age: 35

Occupation: Teaches the students of 3rd to 5th standard in the local government school.

The Anganwadi workers and health workers in a village are usually people from the same village who have been trained. This and the fact that they have been doing some excellent development work in their villages have won the trust of the rural public. These workers visit all the households in the villages on a regular basis and advise the families on issues relating to child care and general health. The families treat them as friends and seek their opinion on the above mentioned issues.

For social messages, there would be no better way than to disseminate information to the rural public than through these workers. As far as women are concerned, they interact more closely with the Anganwadi workers. The local Anganwadi School organizes weekly mothers’ meetings where they impart information on child care to groups of women. These gatherings could be used to convey commercial messages as well, by either sponsoring them or organizing demonstrations there.

Female school teachers are respected for their education and the women of the village generally respect their opinion on various issues. The school teacher is the person who tries to convince the women of the village to send their children to school regularly. They also encourage these women to send their children to the nearest town for higher education. But, not many villages have female school teachers and in these cases it is the wives of the male school teachers who play the role of opinion leaders. These women are also acknowledged to be knowledgeable and the women of the village seek their advice on similar issues. Generally, the family of the village school teacher is the role model for other families in the village.

Another source of influence in the village are the women of the village who have now shifted to larger towns because of marriage or other reasons. These women are exposed to a much larger variety of media and also to a wide range of product categories. Whenever these women come back to their village they are a major source of excitement and the women of the village flock to them to get to know the latest trends and happenings in the town.

Considering the influence the opinion leaders wield over these women, it would be advisable to use these opinion leaders as spokespersons. The opinion leaders are fewer in number, are literate and are exposed to a variety of media. It would hence be easier to target them and through them reach the much wider and diverse audience – the rural women. Also considering the success that the Anganwadi workers, health workers and teachers have achieved as far as communicating to the rural women is concerned, it would be worth our while to explore the feasibility of personal selling. Teams of women could be sent to various villages and these women could make house calls or could gather groups of rural women from a few houses in the neighborhood and demonstrate to them the benefits of a particular product or service. Such teams could also operate in haats, near the temple or the village well or even can use gatherings such as the weekly mothers’ meetings in Anganwadi schools to get across the communication to the woman.

Interview of 30 respondents :

These respondents were interviewed (Appendix attached at the end) to find out the different media channels used in the villages by local and National brands. The distribution of respondents is given below:







Less than 30 years



31-40 years



41-50 years



50 & above



The majority of respondents (67%) were of age less than 40 years of age. The reason behind this was that people who are less than 40 years of age gets exposed to more media vehicles than the other group. Hence the probability that they would remember any brand/product communication was higher in their case.












Over 57 per cent of the respondents were males and 43 per cent were females.


Distribution by media exposure:







8 (32%)

5 (18%)

6 (20%)

9 (30%)


3 (9%)

9 (30%)

11 (37%)

7 (24%


12 (40%

8 (27%)

6 (20%)

4 (14%)

Cable TV

16 (52%)

6 (20%)

4 (14%)

4 (14%)

Insights from the Interviews: (3 pages)

Bihar has seen a huge number of innovations when it comes to FMCG products in India. This state because of its huge population and relatively homogeneous population is almost ideal for marketers in India. Bihar has witnessed a lot of changes in the distribution model of companies. Respondents do recall selling (graph at the end) by MFI agents in the villages. These agents sell consumer products like soaps, shampoos and they also sell consumer durables like almirahs etc. There are NGOs in the village like ‘Adithi’ which works to provide support to groups for undertaking experimentation in innovative income- generation activities. These NGO’s are also engaged in selling small SKU’s of FMCG products in the rural areas. They get ready to work in lesser margins than the retailer. There is a petrol pump in the village which stocks items for the use of the consumer and retailer both. So it sells at MRP to the final consumer whereas it sells at wholesale rate to the retailers. The petrol pump owner knows that it’s extremely difficult for the national companies to reach the end consumer in a remote place like Lodipur where the cost of reaching ‘Last mile’ is high. He takes full benefit of this system by utilizing the extra space near his petrol pump to stack products.

Local brands of mineral water take the lead in doing wall painting ads. The frequency is highest near the retail shop and the village Panchayat office. Also there are innovative mediums in which the local brands advertise. One such instance is by painting the front wall of the home of villager by giving him some money. The house which gets chosen in such cases normally has a good visibility from the road. The instances of advertising by vans have decreased over the time with youngsters finding it difficult to remember any such instance of communication by the company. One place where the women can be targeted for communication is near the well or the pond, At these points the women generally talk about the latest news and products available and there is no one else to interfere, thus if they see the advertisement it is most likely to be mentioned and talked about.

Secondary Research


The main objective of this research is to explore the strategies used by Indian companies to target rural market in India. It has been divided into 2 major parts

1) FMCG Companies

2) Consumer Durable Companies

This document comprises of analysis of eleven companies from FMCG & consumer durable industry. During the analysis of a company a lot of emphasis has been paid to understand the reasons behind the company’s effort to target rural consumers in India. A lot of attention has also been paid on analyzing the company’s distribution & media strategy.

During the selection of the companies for this study, a large focus was given to those companies which have substantial presence in the rural sphere in India. Amongst these companies, the one which have innovated to reach to the rural consumer was given even more preference. The study covers big MNC’s like HUL & Colgate Palmolive and it also looks at Indian companies like Cavinkare & M&M which have taken significant steps to target rural audiences.

There are few aspects of a company’s strategy like pricing strategy & packaging strategy which have been left out as they do not come under the objective of this study. There are total eleven companies which have been researched in deep for this study. The aim is to track the patterns in the rural market as far as distribution & media is concerned & analyze the various strategies used by companies.

FMCG Companies

Unilever: A Case Study

Hindustan Unilever which is considered one of the best managed companies in India has understood the importance of rural marketing. HUL has launched various initiatives to reach out to the rural consumer. It has changed product formulations and deliveries and brought about a lot of innovations.

HUL has always followed a sound price policy and taken price decisions by keeping in mind the affordability criteria of the 4 A`s.

Reaching out to the rural consumer-Distribution

Prior to 1990`s HUL like any other company had used traditional modes of reaching out to the rural consumer i.e. wholesalers & retailers. It used van campaigns to induce the retailers to buy its products. In this way only 25% of the villages were covered which were motorable and hence HUL realized that vast rural population still remained untapped.

In 1998 HUL conceptualized Project Streamline to enhance control of the rural distribution and increase rural retail penetration from 50000 to 100000 retail outlets in less than a year. The project aimed at covering 50% of the rural population by 2003. HUL appointed Rural Distributors, under who 15-20 sub-stockists were attached. Theses Sub-Stockists used to carry the products in the neighboring villages through unconventional modes like Tractors, Bullock Carts. This project helped HUL in extending its rural reach to about 37%.

Operation Harvest

In 1989 HUL launched this initiative in order to increase brand awareness, encouraging trial and identifying key distribution and retail points. Around 30000 villages were selected which were connected by all weather roads and which had high growth potential. The vans covered six villages a day for six days a week and the cycle was repeated a couple of times in the same village. On reaching the village the vans would play audiocassettes and video films which had popular songs from films with advertisements of HUL`s product in between. Free samples were also distributed to attract the village people.

Project Bharat

In 1998, the personal products division of HUL initiated a massive rural home to home exercise “Project Bharat” to address the issue of low consumption of personal products. Under this company vans visited villages and distributed low unit samples of shampoos, toothpaste, skin cream etc. distribution activities were supported by video shows about product usage and benefits. The project covered 13mn households by 1999. The idea of micro finance to villagers began with HUL`s Project Bharat.

Fair & Lovely Foundation

The Fair & Lovely Foundation is HUL’s initiative which aims at economic empowerment of women across India. It aims to achieve this through providing information, resources, inputs and support in the areas of education, career and enterprise. It specifically targets women from lower income groups in rural as well as urban India. Fair & Lovely, as a brand, stands on the economic empowerment platform and the Foundation is an extension of this promise. They organize career fairs; provide education and vocational training to under privileged women so as to raise their standard of living. t seeks to touch millions of aspiring women and students in an ongoing programme. It is one of the few CSR activities being done by Unilever.

Project Shakti

Shakti is HUL’s rural initiative, which targets small villages with population of less than 2000 people or less. HUL has been proactively engaged in rural development since 1976 with the initiation of the Integrated Rural Development Program in the Etah district of Uttar Pradesh, in tandem with the company`s dairy operations. This Program now covers more than 500 villages in the district. Subsequently, the factories that HUL continued establishing in less-developed regions of the country have been engaged in similar programs in adjacent villages. These factory-centered activities mainly focus on training farmers, animal husbandry, generating alternative income, health & hygiene and infrastructure development. Shakti already has about 25,000 women entrepreneurs in its fold. A typical Shakti entrepreneur earns a sustainable income of about Rs.700 -Rs.1, 000 per month, which is double their average household income. Shakti Vani is a social communication programme. Women, trained in health and hygiene issues, address village communities through meetings at schools, village baithaks, SHG meetings and other social forums.

Lifebuoy Swastya Chetna

Lifebuoy Swastya Chetna (LBSC) is a rural health and hygiene initiative which was started in 2002. LBSC was initiated in media dark villages (in UP, MP, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Orissa) with the objective of spreading awareness about the importance of washing hands with soap. The need for a program of this nature arose from the fact that diarrheal diseases are a major cause of death in the world today. It demonstrates that “visible clean is not really clean” thereby proving the importance of washing hands with soap. It targets children as they are the harbingers of change in society and mothers since they are the custodians of health. The programme has touched 27000 villages and 80 mn people over the last four years. This is another CSR related communication strategy adopted by HUL. Some of the other initiatives undertaken by HUL were Yashodham, Happy Homes and Greening Barrens etc.

With the help of all these initiatives being taken by HUL it creates a space in the minds of the consumer and thus it helps develop a top of the mind recall for all it`s products. These communication initiatives serve as effective media vehicles because they are more reliable and trustworthy for the rural consumers moreover if they see that the company has done something for their betterment they tend to believe that their product must also be of the top quality and that it is not a fake promise.

Use of Non-conventional Media

HUL has always realized on the unconventional media sources for communicating to the rural people. In early 1999 for it`s rural campaign messages were presented through colorful flyers, entertaining jingles and travelling cinema vans in which the ads lasted from 2 to 20 minutes. Ogilvy Outreach is an organization started to reach to people who live in media dark villages. It recruited local dancers, actors and magicians who knew each village. They did events in all the villages. The scripts were changed to cater to different dialects, religion and education levels. HUL and Ogilvy undertook a massive communication campaign of live shows across rural India and promoted HUL`s brands through it.

In 1999 HUL launched a dental health program sponsored by Pepsodent. Under this initiative Dental Health programs and check up modules were organized. Around 200 health melas were conducted in rural India educating the rural people about common dental causes and how pepsodent helps to come over them. a team comprising of IMA doctors gave Demonstrations on good brushing habits and other issues related to dental hygiene. This activity was important for HUL as they were lagging behind Colgate Palmolive. It also organized road shows and school contact programs to highlight the benefits of regular brushing.

In 2001 HUL also participated in a rural communication program “Grameenon Ke Beech” organized by Colgate, Parle and Mahindra. This activity involved a lot of publicity activities like extensive merchandising, audio-visuals, demonstrations, product briefing, distribution of coupons for lucky draws, magic shows etc. After that a movie was screened and commercials of all the brands were shown in between. The mela covered over 3000 villages in 22 districts. In 2002 in order to promote its leading brand VIM, HUL took a lot of marketing initiatives. The objective was to educate the consumer about the ongoing TV commercial and hence live demonstrations were done where vessels were cleaned using VIM bar so as to prove their claim. Many times HUL has also used Bullock carts, painted the walls of the wells, put stickers on the hand pumps so as to make its presence felt everywhere and to generate a top of the mind recall.

HUL has always supported the unconventional media vehicles and achieved a lot of success through it. It claims that events, melas, WOM and using the influential people as a media vehicle is a sure shot way to sales. Rural people are innocent and hence they don`t want high funda advertisements and since most of them can`t read so Print also is not that effective.

Imperial Tobacco Company

ITC is a good case study of how taking the rural society into consideration could improve the business model in the rural areas. It is an example of it is an example of holistic and positive approach of creating a win-win situation for the rural consumer.

E-choupal – E-choupal is a business model, which has created a trading platform with rural India that already touches 40 lakh farmers. The kiosk program not only helps increase the farmers productivity by providing them with the latest information on weather and best practices in farming, but also support with other services like soil testing. Thus, it is facilitating the supply of quality inputs and vital information to both farmers & ITC. ITC is procuring the farm produce through the network of these choupals, which are managed by village based entrepreneur known as sanchalak.

Partnering with ITC in the network, there are thirty seven companies, NGOs and state governments, together creating a new marketing ecosystem and establishing a direct link between what consumers & what farmers grow.

(a) Procurement of farm produce: It has created three platforms, which are providing direct access to the farmers for selling their produce and also for procuring their requirement. These portals are as following :

1) www.soyachoupal.com

2) www.plantersnet.com

3) www.aquachaupal.com

b) Selling of product & services: ITC is now looking beyond mere procurement. T has now begun using its network of choupals and warehouses for a two way trading process that also takes products & services to the farmers. ITC sells insurance products & postal saving scheme and mutual fund products through its web-based e-choupal.

c) Result: Earlier farmer were at the mercy of unscrupulous merchants & the middle men. Under weighing was a common phenomenon & the farmer was never paid on the spot. But now the farmers can know the current rates for a particular commodity in any city of Madhya Pradesh or outside through the web-site.

d) Sustainable development: ITC’s involvement in the rural development appears to be quite holistic. It has initiated live stock development programme to create the high yielding progenies through genetic improvements. Re 1 is contributed from every classmate notebook sold by ITC toward supporting rural development initiatives including primary education in villages. It has started comprehensive resource management initiative called sunehra kal in the vicinity of choupal,

Nirma chemicals

Detergents were introduced in India by HLL in 1959 with the introduction of Surf. It was unchallenged and was having virtually a monopoly with brands becoming generic to the product category. Only ten years later in 1969 Karsan Bhai Patel, created his own washing powder. Although Nirma did nothing special for rural market, but whatever they did was special and significant enough to create huge market for them in the rural areas.

Distribution strategy: Nirma has utilized a very lean and simple distribution system for the detergent business with 400 Nirma distributors and 20 lakh retailers to save the margins which otherwise would have been demanded by the additional middlemen. Its distribution efforts were highly concentrated in western & northern zones. Lately it has started to maintain depots in some of the southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and southern Karnataka, as getting stocks to these was getting difficult some of the times.

Nirma has demonstrated the fact very clearly that to be successful in rural markets require a very common sensical approach of delivering the value proposition that is very attractive to the consumer.

Coca-cola Limited

Coca-Cola has identified rural markets for volume growth in India in new millennium. The cola giant is slowly adopting a localized market strategy with regional brand ambassadors and localized marketing campaigns to reach out to the rural consumers.

* Product Strategy: Coca-Cola made available to the rural consumers, the reduced pack size of 200 ml only for RS. 5 for the first time. The packet size was based on the insight that the two rural consumers were sharing one soft drink bottle of 300 ml.

* Place strategy: The Company decided to increase its retail network by 24 percent during the 2004-2005 financial year taking the total number of retailers to 12.4 lakhs across the country. It has evolved the ‘hub & spoke’ model distribution to reach rural villages, which were earlier not touched directly by the company. These small distributors in semi urban or rural areas supply to the retailers using small or customized means of distribution like ‘Jugad’. An engine fitted cart. As the electric power problem is a big challenge because of frequent power cuts and supplying the refrigerator to each and every shop is not possible, Coca-Cola supplies rural retailer with low cost ice boxes.

* Promotional strategy: It doubled the ad-spend on doordarshan and also tapped local forms of entertainment on the platforms of fairs. The advertisement campaign with the tagline “Thanda matlab coca cola” was very successful as it employed a local idiom on the bass of insight that the soft drink is known as “Thanda” in most of the rural areas. Therefore the consumer was asking for a “thanda” and not a specific brand name. Thus the retailer was free to sell to whatever it wanted to sell. Coca-cola through this campaign tried to make the rural consumer believe that “Thanda” actually means coca-cola. It showed celebrity endorser mot as hero but as one who is depicting an identity of population of different regions, speaking in the regional idiom,

Colgate Palmolive Limited

Colgate has been a committed player in the rural market and is following an integrated strategy, which has made it virtually the number one and most preferred brand in the rural areas. The strategy followed by Colgate can be classified as following:

* Product strategy: Colgate tooth powder was specially conceived & made for rural India. The tooth powder seemed more in line with the rural mouth washing habits at that stage than the tooth paste. Villagers were habitual to use brick powder, salt powder & other substitutes. Colgate tooth powder was direct extension to these products as they could apply Colgate tooth powder on their Index finger in a similar manner as they were applying other powders.

* Promotion strategy: Colgate executes its rural promotion drives along with the IDA (Indian dental association) to add value. Since 1976 Colgate has been doing this with its promotional vans and the “Young India, Bright smiles, Bright futures” school’s dental programs. These promotional vans move around rural India and educate them about oral hygiene products such as toothpastes, tooth powder & toothbrushes. The Colgate van after screening a 22 minute film on oral hygiene sets up a stall near the van for the same. The visit of van is further supported by bicycle vendors who go to the remote villages where vans cannot reach. It also conducts road shows, wall paintings & samplings. Haats & Shandies where people gather in large number

Project Jagruti: Project Jagruti in the second phase was a village consumer contact program which was launched in 2001. It increased penetration of Colgate dental cream by doubling the villages from 33.000 to 55,000 reaching to about 10 lakh houses.

* Cost cutting: Globally Colgate is looking at the rationalization of the manufacturing processes as one of the key cost saving initiatives to improve the margins. These cost saving would enable the organization to be more competitive to the bottom of the pyramid markets, large penetration of whom resides in villages. The success of the brand in rural market can be gauged from the fact that, the brand has almost become generic to the category in the rural areas.


Cavinkare, Rs 400 crore Chennai based FMCG Company started as a regional company in a market dominated by multinationals. In many of the categories it has carved out decent market share with innovation in packaging and forced the rest to follow the suit. The company is primarily into 2 categories -hair care and skin care and fragrances.

Chik shampoo launched by Cavinkare in 1983 is a successful case study of building a brand in the rural market, as it became the second largest shampoo brand nationally after HLL’s clinic plus. As per the AC Nielsen ORG MARG retail audit the Rs. 107 crore Chik brand grabbed a Rs. 22.74 per cent share in the 35,000 tonne shampoo market in India in December 2003. Its strategy of occupying strong regional niche & filling need gap for an economical shampoo by looking at areas that national players overlooked took Cavinkare to this envious position. They targeted rural & small town consumers who were earlier using bathing soap to wash their hair. Large number of consumers was converted into shampoos using innovative strategies described below.

* Distribution Strategy: Distribution is the key to success in rural areas. Even in its product line of its food division the company is using separate sales force for selling both spices & pickles. Instead of using conventional channel for distribution route, it is using different sales force considering the fact that these two products might have two different segments of retailers to target. It created a sachet sales force that sells only sachet packs to small retailers including cigarette & Pan Shop.

To compete with bog companies, the key strategy is value pricing, product performance & brand building. Pricing is important, but pricing is not the only component of the whole equation. It goes along with product performance and brand building.

* Promotion Strategy: Innovative radio advertising based on popular cinema dialogues adequately supported the product for clearly defined market. The use of cine stars who were popular with the rural audiences also helped to build number one shampoo brand of rural India. Vans were sent to distant villages & popular film shows were organized for villagers, sometimes with regional celebrities accompanying them as a part of aggressive road promotion programme. During the two minute interval clips were shown on computer usage and corresponding product benefits. Live demonstrations were organized in rural pockets where team got hold of school boys to demonstrate how to lather, wash and comb hair and showed the difference and the benefit directly. These campaigns also developed a lot of word of mouth (WOM) publicity. Consumer promotional scheme was launched to encourage trials. Anyone who would take five used empty shampoo sachets to the retailer can take one sachet of Chik shampoo free of cost. This encouraged specific brand demand for Chik brand at retail outlets.

Godrej consumer products limited

At 480 gm, the per capita consumption of soap in India is one of the lowest in the world. Indian marketers are looking at ways to push higher usage. Increasing penetration in the rural areas can create this additional volume. Godrej has pan India distribution network to cater to the rural market. Given below are the strategies employed by it to promote its brand in the rural market.

* Distribution strategy: Godrej has tied up with FMCG Company Jyothi labs for marketing Godrej tea across the country. As Jyothi labs has large field sales force and distribution network, it will ensure faster availability of Godrej Tea across the country in maximum number of outlets. Jyothi labs would also be in the position to leverage its distribution network and earn additional revenues with existing manpower and infrastructure. Thus, its distribution system will get more aligned with innovation in packaging and pricing.

* Promotional strategy: along with promotion on mass media like Doordarshan. Godrej also uses the vans, as below the line promotional activities to promote products in the rural areas. These van play music and provides free gifts to the audience, which has gathered in the village choupal.

Thereafter the van sell the brands to few shops in the village that are able to sell these brands on the basis of the top of the mind recall, because of recent promotions & trials of the free gifts. These campaigns & trials also generate a lot of word of mouth publicity for the brands. This strategy reduces the tine gap between promotion, demonstration and actual sale. If the time between, when the promotional message is received and the product is actually purchased by the consumers is large, rural consumers cannot be expected to remember the brand name. This can jeopardize the entire rural promotional campaign.

* A new paradigm: ‘Chotukool’ is the new fridge designed for the rural market form the shelves of Godrej group, It does not have a compressor. It looks like a 43 litre cool box, which is loaded from the top, and can run on battery. The refrigerator weighs only 7.8 kg, runs on a cooling chip and a fan similar to those used to cool computers. Given the power shortage in the countryside, it also uses high-end insulation to stay cool for hours without power. The operational cost is low: the refrigerator consumes half the power consumed by regular refrigerators. But the clear winner is its cost. At Rs 3,250, it costs almost 35 per cent less than the cheapest category of refrigerators available in the market today. For Chotukool, the Godrej group has junked the traditional model of a proprietary channel with a sales force and a distributor-dealer chain and has joined hands with micro-finance institutions. This new distribution ecosystem is just one of the unique experiments that Godrej is trying out to make a splash in the bottom of the pyramid refrigerator market.

In this distribution channel, the MFI agents take the product to the rural households on their own as they have a loyal clientele in the villages. These groups take the place of traditional retailer in the market. And this is where the risk lies in the strategy. By eliminating the rural retailer from the chain, the company is risking its future relationship with the retailer. The MFI model is not scalable and is yet to prove its sustainability. It remains to be seen whether the company wants to use this model in the entire country or not,

The MFI also sells Hindustan Unilever water purifiers and BP Energy India cooking stoves. It accounts for 60,000 of the 200,000 oorja stoves sold across the country by BP Energy. Incidentally, these stoves were co-created by BP Energy and villagers. SKS Microfinance, the largest of its ilk in India, is now selling mobile phones for Nokia and a large basket of merchandise for Metro, the cash and carry (wholesale) chain.

The ChotuKool is a triumph of applying creative economic development thinking to the satisfaction of emergent consumer demand- in this case, demand for a product, a refrigerator that is an avatar of emergence into the middle class.

Asian paints

Asian paint is a unique example of national level company which started from rural and gradually entered the urban market, for others it’s just the opposite. When Asian paints started its operations, the paint industry was dominated by the MNC’s in the urban areas. This left very small scope for a small homegrown company to market its product in the urban areas. So, instead of competing with well-established MNCs in the urban centers, it started with the rural market, which was largely ignored by these big players.

* Distribution strategy: The requirement of the paint in rural areas was not in big quantity then, as they had to paint the doors and the window of the house only, therefore it launched its paint in the very small packs, which were not offered by the leading companies, thinking them to be uneconomical and against their interest as they would have cannibalized the sales of larger packs.

These small packs were not only affordable but also there are no wastage as rural consumers could purchase the paint in the quantity required.

* Promotion strategy: The brand icon of Asian paints, ‘GATTU’ is very popular in the rural areas and associated with quality & reliability. The very design of the logo is such that the rural audience can relate to it. This brand icon of the Asian paints on the cans is very easily recognizable and the rural consumers who cannot read English and don’t even know the brand name, are able to distinguish it from other paint brands. To promote heavily, advertisements in TV and cinema are resorted to before festivals like pongal and elsewhere where demand for decorative paints would be heavy. Mobile vans and demonstration cum sales techniques were used to promote the ‘Utsav’ brand. Asian paints launched its ‘Utsav’ range during the Diwali season. Salesman selected the opinion leaders in villages and painted the village post-office, library or the house of the pradhaan to demonstrate that paint does not peel off. Salesman organized meets at the local dealers, where village painters were invited. The painters who are the key influencers and the opinion leaders for the selection of the paint brand were also targeted through demonstrations and specially organized sessions at the dealer level.


Dabur is a homegrown national level FMCG Company which has established many successful brands in the rural market. Some of the strategies adopted by Dabur for tapping the rural market potential are described as following:

Promotion Strategy: In 1999 Dabur launched an innovative promotional campaign to promote its chawanprash brand in the rural market. It selected a cluster of 300 villages in Banda district in Maharashtra and sent three mobile bowling alleys each spatially fabricated for Rs. 30,000. The bowling pins represented the germs that chyawanprash protects against, whereas the ball represented the chyawanprash. This imagery was deliberately employed in the form of interactive game to register the brand in the minds of the rural consumer as one, which beats the germs. Dabur also distributed religious texts like hanumanchalisa and calendars with religious themes, along with the ayurvedic products in order to build an association with the brand. As the objects of religious importance are likely to be kept at central or prominent places in the house and that too for a long time span this ensured good visibility for the brand.

Consumer Durables:

Mahindra’s utility vehicle: MAXX

Mahindra as a brand has become almost generic for the rough & tough utility vehicle meant for the rural market. But with rising aspirations, the rural consumers wanted to have a vehicle, which has functional utility & toughness to run successfully on rural roads but should also possess an imagery of an urban product. On the basis of this consumer insight, Mahindra developed an understanding that the rural and urban (semi) consumers were looking for more space, more economy, more comfort & aspirational value that too at an attractive price. The following strategies were used by the company to market its product:

Branding Strategy: Brand promise is significantly & clearly highlighted in the brand name itself ‘MAXX’ which means more. The punch line was also developed in the vernacular language so that the rural consumer can clearly understand the meanings of the brand name, ‘Max means jyaada’.

Promotion Strategy: The promotional campaign for the brand was developed on two planks: rational and emotional terms. This was done on the basis of the consumer insight provided by the researches that along with the rational benefits the consumers were looking for an urban imagery, an emotional benefit.

Dual positioning ideology of MAXX model

Positioning ideology

Benefit offered


Space: More length & width Economy: Fuel efficient engine and low maintenance


Travel companion

This clearly highlights the fact that when we are targeting the rural consumers they have to be provided simple & clear message about how the brand is going to deliver benefits as the solutions for their needs. And if the product is the one, which is going to be seen by the others in the society, then imagery needs to be created which makes the product & the brand easily acceptable on the basis that it adds to the prestige of the owner.

Below the line promotional activities: For taxi operators: mileage mela , joy ride and nukkad nataks were organized at contract/taxi stands to conduct test drive and to give them live demonstrations. The better performance with regard to fuel consumption, in comparison to other competing brands, which is very crucial for the taxi operators, was explained and demonstrated during these demonstrations. Maxx hoardings were put at religious places & bus stands; Maxx posters were put at religious places & bus stands; Maxx posters were put at rural banks and broker premises. The mailers were sent to the existing 30,000 users of Mahindra vehicles giving them incentives to visit the showroom for test drive.

LG Sampoorna TV:

LG demonstrated that rural consumers are not just price conscious but are actually value conscious and are ready to pay premium if the organization is able to solve their long standing problems.

Brand Name: An MNC company branding its TV in vernacular language was almost unheard of Indian marketing history. The name ‘Sampoorna’ was carefully chosen as this word was common to many leading languages of India and meant that this product was the complete solution to the needs of the rural market.

As the majority of rural consumers did not know English language, they were not in position to operate all the features of a TV whose graphic titles were in English. Hence LG spent Rs 21 lakh on developing a unit that would have on screen displays in the vernacular languages of Hindi, Tamil and Bengali. The logic behind it was the fact that the rural consumers unfamiliar with English language would still be able to use the TV without feeling intimidated and would feel proud of the fact that this product has been developed by keeping into minds their needs & requirements.

TTK’s prestige pressure cooker:

Prestige, one of the leading pressure cooker brands of India, faced the problem of saturation & even declining of sales in urban markets around 1999. At the same time rural markets were growing considerably, therefore TTK thought of targeting the rural market to compensate for the not so good results in the urban market.

In order to explore the possibility of tapping the growing rural market, a pilot project was launched in the state of Andhra Pradesh in the mehboobnagar district in 2002. The company organized the meeting of women of SHGs & explained the concept of pressure cooking, giving them details on the company, the brand & what they stand to gain by selling them. Those women members of the SHG who were selected as dealers were given demo pressure cookers. Then these dealers organized the meeting with the potential consumers where the concept of pressure cooking was explained. This concept is fairly similar to the project Shakti experiment by HUL in India.

The organization got in touch with the department of women empowerment so that a joint program can be developed with the government on improving the lot of rural women. This included a multi pronged approach in which all the stake holders were to be benefited. The company coordinated with the department and organized series of meeting self help group members in the district to enlist the dealers.

The project involved:

* Appointing women as the dealers of Prestige

* Setting up an assembly plant in Andhra Pradesh for the pressure cookers, with land & building provided by government

* Using women of rural areas as employees

* Setting up ready to fry snacks conversion units in each of the 21 districts of AP for which the equipment was provided by the TTK.

* Appointed dealers to sell the snacks in each of the mandals in these 21 districts.

Hence it showed that rural marketing is not just the customized promotion and smaller or cheaper versions alone. It is much more than this and involves deep-rooted commitment for the rural market. There has to be a complete integrated effort involving many stake holders, if organization has to target the rural market.

Analysis of Primary & Secondary Research

Communication Strategy:

There are few basic strategies which are common in almost all the communications done by companies in rural India:

1) Education instead of Promotion: The basic premise of communicating a promotional message for rural market is that it has to be essentially an educational message. This education provided in an interactive, interesting ad entertaining format brings better results. Rural consumer’s needs not only to be told the benefits delivered by a brand convincingly but also show how the benefits outweigh the cost that he is going to incur. When benefit of brands like chik for shampoo, Colgate for toothpaste and toothpowder were demonstrated; there was creation of a huge market which didn’t exist earlier.

2) Customization of the promotional message: Tricky, Clever or even suggestive advertising don’t work with the rural consumers hence the message is always customized to suit the local audience. Mahindra did it with MAX and LG also did it with Sampoorna.

3) Regionalization of advertisement: Unique promotions need to be designed as what works in north may not work in the south, at times even dubbing the commercials in local linguistics may not work. Emami had Madhuri dixit and Amitabh bachhan as brand ambassadors but for Andhra Pradesh, it signed Chiranjeevi for the same.

4) Outdoor & alternate Media Options: Large number of media options is available with the media planner to take the message to the rural market. Some of them are

a) Wall Paintings e) Melas

b) Video Vans f )Haats

c) Mandis g) Puppetry

d) Haats h)Folk Theatre

5) Innovative & Special promotion campaign in rural markets: There are few examples which clearly illustrates the this point:

When MRF decided to introduce the bullock cart tyres with nylon, it decided to call it ‘Pehlwaan chaap buggy gaadi tyre’. They came up with nylon cord-breaking contest for the pehlwaan in the audience.

Ogilvy rural conducted promotion program for ‘Breeze’, a Hindustan lever brand soap that had Rose as its symbol & was under attack from another brand Nirma’s rose. To counter this and to show that soap was made up of roses, the company employed a simple but effective routine, in the interval of folk performance it wheeled in an outsized bar of breeze on the stage and then the bar was smashed and a heap of roses fell out signifying that soap was indeed filled with roses and the message went through.

6) Targeting opinion leaders: Rural consumers make well considered buying decision for a specific brand often after lot of consultation with the opinion leaders. The following play the role of opinion leaders in the case of corresponding product category:

* Successful farmer : For farm inputs

* Village youth who go to city: For lifestyle products

* School children: For personal care products

Asian paints launched its UTSAV range during the Pre-Diwali season. Salesmen selected the opinion leaders in the village and painted the village post-office & the hose of pardhaan to show that the paint does not peel off. Also edutainment is a good approach where education is combined with entertainment in the promotional message. For the launch of Pond’s talc in the pouches for rural audience, the promotional message included the rural setting, song, dance, romance & demonstration- thus educating the benefits of the products in a very entertaining manner.

Distribution strategy

In India, Normally there are 5 levels of distribution channels as shown below:


Channel measure


Level A

Company depot


Level B

Redistribution stockist, C&F agents, Semi wholesalers & retailers

District headquarters

Level C

Semi-wholesalers & retailers

Tehsil headquarters

Level D

Itinerant traders, Vans, petrol bunks, semi wholesalers, retailers, co-operative societies

Haats/Large villages

Level E

Retailers, vans, sales people, NGOs, Government agencies


Most companies have direct representation in the form of redistribution stockist at level B & C. level C in a district would comprise at best 7-10 towns. High outlet density and large customer population permit economies in developing these markets through regular working of sales-cum-distribution van. On consolidating market penetration, direct representation could be extended to the towns by way of sub-dealers or stockists. To achieve a winning edge in rural sales the objective is to maximize directed flow and control of stocks at levels C to E. Approaching level D requires prior selection of haat markets & villages located in contagious clusters. Sorting of easily accessible census data enables listing of villages above a predetermined population bracket and it helps in scheduling of haat markets. Various schedules with level C stockiest at nodal points could be operated towards self sustaining distribution rates for level D markets. The next level is E. The villages are too small to allow economies in van-distribution. But these villagers form the bulk of the consumption in rural areas. For example, Hindustan lever is focusing on mobile sub-stockist in hinterland towns having a population of less than 20,000 to supply its toothpaste brands – Pepsodent & Close-up to consumers in the surrounding villages. The sub-stockist will be linked to a super-stockist who will be present in nearly every district.

Now there are many innovations which have happened in rural India which are given below:

1) Understanding of the peak season: Different regions in rural India have different demands. These demands are associated with the festival, harvest & marriage seasons. Organizations have to ensure that the products are available in accordance with the increased demand. The rural consumers are in joyous mood & they are more acceptable to try new & somewhat premium brands.

2) Collaboration for distribution: various organizations with comparatively lesser distribution reach can collaborate with organizations that already have achieved high penetration in the rural areas. For example Godrej Tea had tied up with Jyothi labs to use its extensive distribution network that is not only deep but is also serviced quite frequently too. Even the smaller non-competing organizations can collaborate with each other to develop a joint distribution. This will reduce the cost of distribution per organization and thus can make the seemingly unviable operation financially viable. JK dairy employed this strategy for distributing milk powder sachets. It took along 3 companies, which were not competing with its products for selling their products in the same rural market for sharing the van post.

3) Converting unorganized sector manufactures into distributors: Small or tiny manufactures are finding it difficult in the times of intense competition from domestic & international products. They have good knowledge of the territory & have good sales network, credibility & relationship with the retailers & consumers. Organizations like Exide are attempting to convert these small manufacturers into it’s dealers. This can prove to be a good strategy as these manufacturers have the knowledge of the industry and the consumer behavior. And it’s likely that they would be more professional and financially strong to create the distribution network in the rural areas.

4) Company’s own distribution network: Some of the brand are feeling that distributors & wholesalers in the traditional distribution channel are not aggressive enough n their marketing effort in the rural areas. These companies are contemplating their own direct distribution network in order to promote their brands directly to the retailers & consumers in the rural areas. Project Shakti of HLL is one such attempt.

5) Quantity discounts for stockists for rural markets: The distributor & rural sub-stockists need to be provided with bulk discounts based on the quantities purchased by them. This will motivate them to ensure that the goods move deep into the rural areas. Then they will do some aggressive effort on their part to ensure that goods reach rural retailers

6) Co-operative society: Co-operatives occupy an important pace in India’s rural economy, in terms of their coverage of population and their share in total supply of agricultural inputs, including credit. Generally, a co-operative exists for 2 or 3 villages. Farmer’s service co-operatives (FSCs) is a mini super market. Such an arrangement can be tried with others.

7) Public distribution system (PDS): The fair price shops which are run by government can be utilized to sell consumabales and low vale durables.

8) Petrol Bunks: Petrol bunks have become multi-purpose distribution centers at some places. Such concepts can be effectively promoted.

9) Agricultural Input dealers: Fertilized companies have retail outlets within a range of 5 km to any village. They offer a tremendous scope for marketers.

10) NGOs: Another alternative is working with Non-government organizations (NGOs), which reach interiors of villages. NGOs command substantial influence where the programs are implemented. Companies may join hands with them for mutual benefit. With NGOs undertaking distribution, companies realize benefits accruing from infrastructure and grass roots level networking. Also organization security would provide a buffer against delayed retail collections. From the NGO standpoint such association with companies could yield employment opportunities for local residents.

11) Micro finance Institution: MFIs are increasingly becoming a huge channel for companies in India. Companies like Godrej, HLL and VIP are already using the services of MFI to make a new distribution channel in villages. These companies are making use of the influence of MFI agents in the village where they get respect for their services. Also credit collection becomes easy for marketers because MFI agents are an expert in credit collection in rural India.

12) Barefoot salesman: Companies may train local villagers to act as salesman in the villages. Colgate does it very effectively by training the locals to sell tooth-pastes on Bicycles in rural India. Also this method results in extremely deep penetration in rural areas without much expenditure.

13) Direct to home selling: Companies are embarking on this method to decrease the reliance on retailers. Direct selling happens at two levels:

* Single level: distributor appoints sales persons. He earns profits on sale, made by him.

* Middle level: Distributor introduces another distributor, who in turn introduces another distributor. Like that the network is created. The ‘network’ markets the products. Each distributor gets profit from sales and also a percentage on sales made by his ‘network’. Thus one earns by ‘retailing & recruiting’

But on detailed analysis, this method throws up interesting features: which are both positive & negative. The positive ones are:

* Relationship: It is eventually based on relationships. It relies on successful interactions between two individuals, who enjoy what they are doing and who care about one another.

* Income: Distributors earns money in 3 ways, 1) Retail profit from their own product sales to customers 2) Discount on personal monthly purchases 3) commissions based on sales by distributors within their business groups

* Risk: The Company has a 100 percent product-buy-back policy and no inventory requirement, which ensures a very low risk.

* Investment: The starting investment is fairly low to become a distributor,

* Flexibility: A distributor can sell the products as per his/her convenience. Once can choose his/her timings, fix up appointments and contact persons to promote business.

14) Gift/coupon promotion schemes for retailers in feeder villages: As the stockists in feeder villages are not stocking goods in large quantities so quantity discount may not be a good option for them. They can be provided with gifts or lucky coupan based promotions.

15) Internet: New IT infrastructure especially the wireless internet can be employed by the corporate world in the rural sector. It can provide inexpensive ways to develop marketing & distribution channel in the rural areas. The portal developed by an organization can be used by other organizations as well to promote their products in the rural areas. Wipro Consumer Care & Lightning (WCCL) has been using Andhra Pradesh government’s e-seva project, which aims at enhancing common man’s interface with the government, coupled with traditional distribution channel. This approach allows WCCL to reach consumers who otherwise may not have come to a retail point. This distribution channel may not offer better margins but are a tool to gain accessibility in certain areas.

Hence these are the certain trends in both the communication & media strategy which are prevalent in the rural India in 21st century.


3) Appendix

Discussion guide: Sarpanch


* Introduce self & explain purpose of visit.

* Details on population of village& gender ratio

* Ask about the family structure in the village

* What are the various occupation people are involved in?

* Ask about the employment opportunities available in the village

II. Media Habits of the people – 15 minutes

* How do people start the day at home and then lead to their farm (or whichever place) and then back home. Does it differ from month to month, or season to season? Did it change in the recent years? How it has changed and what has changed

* What is the penetration of various media vehicles?

* Do people listen to radio now days? If yes, then when? Who controls the choice of channels? Which channels they listen to?

* Do people read newspapers in the village? If yes, then which newspaper? Where do they read the newspaper?

* Do people watch television? If yes, then at what time? What are the channels people watch generally?

* Are there any puppet shows which are organized in the village? What are the themes of these shows?

* Are there any folk songs or shows which are conducted in the villages? What are the topics on which they are based?

* Are there any wall paintings in the village? if yes, then which are the brands/products/companies which advertises in these places ?

* Are there any new medium of advertising which are used in the villages?

· Discussion guide: Retailer

* What are the major brands which he stacks up? How much margin he gets on these brands?

* How do villagers purchase FMCG products? Do they pay in cash or they have an account with the retailer?

* What are the local products in the shop? How much margin he gets on them?

* Are there any fake products available? Where are they manufactured?

* Do consumers understand that a fake product is a fake one or do they buy it as an original product?

* How much can he influence the consumers over the selection of the brands?

* What’s the shelf life of brands? Is it similar to local brands & fake products as well?

* Are there any complaints of lack of quality from local products?

* Are companies using any new medium to advertise their products? If yes, then how effective is the mode of advertising?

* Are companies using any new distribution model to reach the local villagers?

* How good are mediums like haats & mandis to sell the product in the village?

* What are the attributes which the villagers seek in a FMCG brand?

* Do people get influenced by the ads in media channels & ask for a specific product?

* How do local brands advertise the product in the villages?

* Which media vehicle is most influential in carrying the message across to the villagers?

· Discussion guide: FGD


8. What exactly does your work involve ?

9. When do you leave for work ? When do you return ?

10. What do you do in your spare time ?

11. Do you believe in God ? How often do you go to the temple ?


12. Do you read newspaper ?

13. If yes then which all ?

14. What is the frequency of readership

15. Where do you read these papers ? At what time ?

16. Do you watch TV?

17. If yes, how often do you watch TV?

18. What are the programs/channels you generally watch ?

19. When and where do you watch TV ?

20. Do you listen to the radio?

21. If yes, then how often ?

22. What programs/Channels do you generally listen to ?

23. When and where do you listen to the radio ?

24. Do you watch movies ?

25. If yes, then how often ?

26. Do you watch them on video or in theatre ?

27. What are the usual occasions that you go out for a movie ?

28. Where do you watch these movies ? (Which theatre)


29.2 – Can they spot the difference between the fake and original products ?

29.1 will now read out a few products. Please tell me what brand you buy in your house –

Bathing Soap


Hair Oil

Talcum Powder


Cooking Oil

Tooth paste/Tooth powder

30. Where do you buy your supplies from ?

31. How long have you been using this brand?

32. Have you changed or tried any other brand?

33. How frequently do you buy your supplies?

34. Are the supplies (esp. the soap) a household product or is it an individual product?

35. Have you come across any advertisement for your brand of soap?

36. Do you remember anything about the advertisement?

37. Who buys this product?

38. Who takes the decision?

39. Who/What influences you in the purchase

Discussion guide in Bihar:

Interview Guide

* Can you describe your typical everyday routine?

* What time do you get up?

* What do you do in the morning?

* When do you start your cooking and when do you finish?

* When does your husband g,o to work?

* How many kids do you have?

* Do they go to school ?

* How do they go to school?

* What do you do after your husband goes to work?

* What do you do after lunch?

* What time does your husband and children get back from work and school?

* What do you do after they come back?

2. Television viewing habits

->• Do you have a TV at home? If not, do you watch TV someplace else? Where?

•>• Do you watch TV?

->- When do you watch TV?

->- What programmes on TV do you like?

->- Which language programmes do you watch?

->~ Who decides what programme is to be watched, you, your children or your husband?

>• Are you doing something else while you are watching TV?

Do you have access to video?

Have you ever seen a video show? Where? When?

3. Radio listening habits

->- Do you have a radio at home? If not, do you listen to radio someplace else? Where?

->- What kind of radio do you have?

•>- If transistor radio, does your husband carry it to work with him?

->- Do you listen to radio?

•>- When do you listen to radio?

->- What programmes on radio do you like?

->- Which language programmes do you listen to?

>- Who decides the programmes, you, your children or your husband?

->• Are you doing something else while you are listening radio?

4. Reading habits

•>- Have you gone to school?

->- Can you read and write?

->- If yes,

^ Do you get a newspaper or magazine at home?

-*• Do you read them?

^ When do you read them ?

-*• If you don’t get them at home , where do you read them?

^ What sections do you like to read?

>• If no,

^ Do you get a newspaper or magazine at home?

x Who reads them?

x Do you sometimes glance through the pages?

-^ What do you like to see in the pages?

A If you don’t get them at home, where do you see them?

5. Cinema viewing habits

>- Do you go to cinema theatres? Where? How often?

->• Do you like watching movies in the theatre?

->- Do you like the newsreels and advertisements that are shown?

6. Shopping Habits

>- Where do you do all your shopping?

•>- Who does the shopping?

•>• How often do you do the shopping?

•>• What do you buy from the village shops, provision store, ration shop, paan shop etc.?

>• Where do you buy more expensive things? Who goes to the town to do the shopping? How often do you go to the town?

>~ How do you go to the town?

•>- Do you notice the paintings on the walls etc. near the village shops or on your way to the city?

->- Do you like looking at such paintings?

•>• Does you village have any haats or mandis?

->- Do you shop there?

•>• How often are these held?

>• Can you explain in detail what happens in these mandis?

>- What else can you do there besides shopping?

7. Miscellaneous

* Does your village have any melas or puppet shows or any natak mandlis?

* Do you go out and watch them?

* Do you go out as a family or do you go out with your friends?

* Can you describe to me in detail what happens there?

* What other interests do you have?

* Do you have relatives in the city?

* Do you visit them ? How often? Do they visit you? How often?

* Do you have a health centre in your village?

* Have you been there? Has somebody from there spoken to you?

* Do you trust them?

* Is there a post office in your village? Have you been there?

* Have you ever visited the village school? Do you speak to school teachers? Do you sometimes consult them before you take any decisions?

* Is there anybody else in the village whose advice you would take to aid you in making your decisions?

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

Ranka village. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved December 1, 2022 , from

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