Problems in Taping Rural Markets – Marketing Communications

Marketing communication and promotion poses problems in rural markets. There are many constraints emanating from the profile of the audience and the availability of media.

The literacy rate among the rural consumers being low, the printed word has limited use in the rural context. In addition to the low level of literacy, the tradition bound nature of the rural people, their cultural barriers and taboos and there overall economic backwardness adds to the difficulty of the communication task. The situation is further compounded by the linguistic diversity. Rural communication has to necessarily be in the local language and idiom. The constraints of media further compound the difficulty. It has been estimated that all organised media put together can reach only 30 per cent of the rural population of India TV is an ideal medium for communicating with the rural masses.  But its reach in the rural areas is limited even today.  As regards the print media, the various publications reach only 18 per cent of the rural population.  Even in areas reached, the circulation is limited.  And as already mentioned, the low literacy level of the rural population acts as a further inhibitor in the use of the print media in rural communication. Cinema is relatively more accessible. It has been estimated that 33 per cent of the total cinema earnings in the country come from rural India. Rural communication has also become quite expensive. For rural communication to be effective, repeat exposures is a must; and if the gap between exposures is long the message loses its edge during period. These factors make rural communication more expensive. Rural communication has to go through all the time consuming stages of creating awareness, altering attitudes and changing behaviour. In addition, it also has to work against deep-rooted behaviour patterns.

In short, the crux of marketing communication in the rural context is one of finding a medium’ that will deliver the required message in a cost effective manner to target an audience that is predominantly illiterate.

Consumer/market composition related problems.

  • The literacy rate is low. Therefore usage of print media or for that matter any print material is redundant. Moreover even the segment that can be serviced by printed material is multi-lingual in nature.
  • There is social backwardness in rural areas. This implies that in most of the consumer durable segment the user is seldom the buyer or the decision maker.
  • There is an indifferent attitude towards the purchase of certain goods such as packed food, high price premium soaps, hair oils, toothpaste etc. because they are used to the traditional way of consumption.

Media related problems.

About 30% of the rural masses can be reached through organized media such as TV, radio, newspapers etc. Theoretically TV covers 25% of the rural population, radio about 90% and the press around 20%. But in reality the %’s can be still lower.

Solving of promotion and communication problems

Media Mix: Apart from the organized media like TV, Radio, Newspaper and the press, the rural marketer or the advertiser is expected to make correct use of the following:

  • Hoardings in the market place
  • Van publicity
  • Village mela kind of events
  • Sponsorship to drama troops
  • Organizing as well as advertising lottery tickets
  • Use of bus tickets as a method of advertising
  • Post and telegraph publicity
  • Effective point of purchase advertising
  • Puppet shows (both sponsorship as well as advertising)
  • Music rewards and mike announcements

Interpersonal Media: Interpersonal media has a special  advantage in rural marketing in the sense that it facilitates 2 way communication and interaction. Infact it is observed that rural buyers prefer face-to-face communication. They take and adhere to advice from the seller in the most responsive manner. The interpersonal media can be conducted in the following manner:

  • Group meetings of consumer or prospects (prospective buyers) with the marketing people.
  • Information centers or service centers where rural consumers can sort information and advice regarding the use of certain products such as agricultural inputs and machinery.
  • Live demonstration about products.
  • House to house or door-to-door promotion campaign.
  • Sponsoring product related quizzes and other contest in schools or at community centers.
  • Sponsoring local sports, festivals or cultural events.

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