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Introduction Mahatma Gandhi had once said: “Indias way is not Europes. India is not Calcutta and Bombay. India lives in her several hundreds of villages.”
Rural MarketingAccording to, T P Gopalaswamy, “Rural marketing is a two-way process which encompasses the discharge of business activities that direct the flow of goods from urban to rural areas (for manufactured goods) and vice versa (for agriculture produce), as also within the rural areas”.
Problems Faced by RuralMarketing Low Literacy - There are not enough opportunities for education in rural areas. Seasonal Demand - Demand for goods in rural markets depends upon agricultural situation, as agriculture is the main source of income. Transportation - Many rural areas are not connected by rail transport. Kacha roads become unserviceable during the monsoon and interior villages get isolated. Media for Promotions – Television has made a great impact and large audience has been exposed to this medium. Therefore, the market has to undertake specific sales promotion activities in rural areas like participating in melas or fairs.
Communication Problems - Facilities such as telephone, fax and telegram are rather poor in rural areas. Traditional Life - Life in rural areas is still governed by customs and traditions and people do not easily adapt new practices. Buying Decisions - Rural consumers are cautious in buying and decisions are slow and delayed. They like to give a trial and only after being personally satisfied, do they buy the product. Career in Rural Market - While rural marketing offers a challenging career, a rural sales person should require certain qualifications and specialized talent.
Scope of Rural Marketing Agricultural consultancy - Rural customers require proper consultancy services about the best methods, timings and seasons, technology, tools, prices and best markets for selling their farming products. Banking, microfinance and loan facilities - The rural market has huge potential for banking services for providing following facilities at affordable prices:Agricultural loans, Educational loans, housing loans, savings a/c and safe deposits. Healthcare - There is a huge demand for medical and health facilities in rural markets. Telecomm services - Due to increased awareness and improved telecomm infrastructure across India, the demand for telecomm and internet services have increased drastically.
Automobiles Services - There has been a huge increase in the number of two wheeler, four wheeler and Agricultural tools and vehicles in past few decades because of reduction in prices and government support to the rural population. T.V. Channels Services - Due to the increased awareness, and number of entertainment options like televisions and computers due to reduced & affordable prices, the demand for entertainment services has increased. Ex- Dishtv, tatasky, sun direct, etc. Travel and reservation Services - A slight increase has also been observed in the demand for reservation booking and organizing services for booking train, busses, taxies, etc Educational and Career consultancy - The rural markets lack adequate and quality educational services. Hence, there a great business opportunity for any company if it is able to fill this gap effectively.
Approaches to Tap the Rural Market Direct selling - Through company delivery vans, syndicated distribution between non-competitive marketers, setting up of temporary stalls in rural melas/haats, etc. Ex-BPCL introduced specially designed Rural Marketing Vehicle, which moved from villages to villages to fill cylinders on spot. Self-Help Groups (SHGs) - The SHGs are offered chance to become company’s local small scale distributor in the rural areas. The groups, typically of 15 to 20 people, buy a small stock of items such as soap, detergent or shampoo and then sell directly to consumers in their homes. Ex- HLL’s Shakti project. Small packages at lower prices - HLL initiated Operation Bharat to tap rural market by rolling out low priced sample packets of its toothpaste, fairness cream, shampoo, cream and other products. Similarly LPG companies have introduced small sized cylinders ensuring that price remains in the affordable range for its rural consumers.
Product promotion by communication - Since rural areas have limited venues for entertainment, conducting an event in rural areas can bring a good response. Some of the interesting events that can be conducted are Road Shows, Melas, Street Theatre, and Film Shows and so on. Ex- Several Tractor companies like Escort, Mahindras have successfully employed melas, local communication to get higher sales. Providing schemes, etc. - It must be remembered that the rural consumer does not have a budget problem. He has a cash flow problem. This is because the village folk receive funds only twice a year. So, in the lean season when there is a cash flow crunch, marketers need to provide financial products, schemes or solutions that suit the needs of the rural population.
CONCLUSIONRural marketing can also be enhanced by developing e-rural marketing sources. And teaching the people living in rural areas to operate it and develop themselves as well as the whole nation.