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EFFECT OF ADVERTISING AND

PUBLICITY ON RURAL MARKETING IN


INDIA

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Sr. No. Contents Pg. No.

I. Introduction 3

II. Innovative Rural Media 3–4

III. Publicity in Rural Markets 5–6

IV. Role of Advertising and its Effect on Rural Indian 6–7


Markets
V. Changing attitude of the rural consumers: Rural 7–8
consumerism
VI. Broad strategies of Rural Advertising 8–9

VII. Rural Advertising – Current Scenario 9

VIII. Conclusion 9

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I. Introduction

Today, Rural India is the buzzword for marketers. Organizations are shifting their focus
towards this huge and largely untapped market. But the problem for them is in reaching
out to this huge magnitude of the rural masses with varied social, cultural backgrounds
and speaking a few hundred dialects.

About 75 % of the Indian people reside in rural areas. In other words, for every consumer
in urban area, there are three of them in rural areas. Though the proportion of rural
population is showing a slight decrease over the years, but in absolute numbers, the rural
population is growing at a higher rate than the urban population. This large population
will require a wide range of consumable and durable goods and services. At the same
time the need of the rural areas does not automatically guarantee a market, unless it is
backed by income and the resultant purchasing power.

One of the deterrents for marketers to exploit the rural market potential has been the
vastness of the rural market in terms of areas covered and the location of the rural
population.

But the rural market has remained a dark area for those manufacturing and marketing
consumables and consumer durables. To successfully exploit the potential offered by
rural market, there is a need to first understand the rural market. Only a few established
companies – Hindustan Lever, Lipton, Brooke Bond, TOMCO, Procter & Gamble – have
been tapping the potential of the rural market for a long time. But these are exceptions.

II. Innovative Rural Media

While no significant change in the advertising copy be required, it is important to note


that well-known film stars and common people, next door neighbors are able to
successfully communicate the message. Jingles, folklore and music can combine to make
a message and the brand name memorable. Visual copy has a greater appeal than just the
audio or the print. In terms of the media, television, radio, wall paintings, and even roof
paintings have been found to be effective. So have been the bus panels and hoardings.
Wall hangings and other point of purchase material like stickers and shelf display are
effective in getting the marketer’s message through to rural consumers.

Rural sports like Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, bullock-cart race, rural fairs have a special place in
the rural consumer’s life. Firms like Bajaj Electricals, Hindustan Levers, Parle, ITC etc
have successfully used them to promote their brands. A Parle franchise in Ahmedabad,
sponsors rural Navratri shows in October through a breathtaking display of the
company’s brands of soft drinks.

Aside from conventional media vehicles, a lot of innovative mediums are used in rural

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advertising and marketing. These include:

1. Puppetry – Puppetry is the indigenous theatre of India. From time immemorial it


has been the most popular form and well-appreciated form of entertainment
available to the village people. It is an inexpensive activity. The manipulator uses
the puppet as a medium to express and communicate ideas, values and social
messages.
E.g. – Life Insurance Corporation of India used puppets to educate rural masses
about Life Insurance; enlisting the help of the literacy house in Lucknow. These
plays were shown to the audience in villages in UP. Bihar and MP. The number of
inquiries at local Life Insurance Companies during the period immediately
following the performance was compared with normal frequency and found to be
considerably higher.

2. Folk Theatre – Folk Theatres are mainly short and rhythmic in form. The simple
tunes help in informing and educating the people in an informal and interesting
manner. It has been used as an effective medium for social protest against
injustice, exploitation and oppression.
The government has used this media for popularizing improved variety of seeds,
agricultural implements, fertilizer etc. Punjab Agricultural University produced
two audiocassettes (1. Balliye Kanak Biye – Wheat Cultivation; 2. Khiran Kepah
Narme – Cotton Cultivation). Both were well received by farmers.

3. Demonstration – ‘Direct Contact’ is a face-to-face relationship with people


individually and with groups such as the Panchayats and other village groups.
Such contact helps in arousing the villagers’ interest in their own problems and
motivates them towards self-development. Demonstration may be:
A. i. Method Demonstration; ii. Result Demonstration
B. i. Simple Demonstration; ii. Composite Demonstration
In Result Demonstration, the help of audio-visual media can add value. Asian
Paints launched the Utsav Range by painting the Mukhiya’s house or post Office
to demonstrate that the paint does not peel off.

4. Wall Paintings – Wall Paintings are an effective and economical medium for
advertising in rural areas. They are silent, unlike traditional theatre. A speech or
film comes to an end, but wall paintings stay as long as the weather allows it to.
The retailer normally welcomes paintings of their shops, walls and name boards,
since it makes the shop look cleaner and better. Their shops look alluring and
stand out among other outlets. Besides, rural households, shopkeepers and
panchayats do not expect any payment for their walls to be painted with product
messages. To get one’s wall painted with the product messages is seen as a status
symbol. The greatest advantage if the medium is the power of the picture,

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completed with its local touch. The images used have a strong emotional
association with the surrounding.

5. Mobile Video Vans – The video van is a medium that reaches the target segment
and has his/her undivided attention and more so provides an opportunity for 2
way communications. An opportunity to create a multi media blitz for the product
and highly focused advertising targeted at the interior village consumer.
A Video van covers 2 /3 villages in a day to cover up to 22 to 78 villages in one
route cycle of 26 operating days. 2/3 shows are screened on each operating day.
One shows in the daytime and one show after undown through 21” colour TV or
projection on 100” screen. Each show is one hour in duration consisting of film
songs, dialogs & dharmik serials interspersed with advertising time. Shows are
preceded by day time activity to include extensive audio publicity coupled with
distribution of printed publicity materials, sport sales, retailing, merchandising,
Attractive games and market survey can also be conducted during the day time.

III. Publicity in Rural Markets

Word Of Mouth Publicity

Rural communications effort undertaken by an organization should be such that it can


generate a lot of publicity in the oral collectivist culture of rural India. Therefore,
targeting the right set of opinion leaders with the campaigns which lead to oral publicity
in the region is more likely to develop the brand recall than the five or ten seconds
commercial on the TV, which the rural consumers are likely to forget at the time of the
purchase. In fact, word of mouth information holds a lot of validity in rural areas even
today. This is the reason why opinion leaders and word of mouth are thriving among rural
consumers.

The rural consumers want more credible information and in order to be doubly sure they
prefer to hear from other people whom they feel to be more dependable than the TV or
print media advertisement. The stories they hear from others are more believable in the
from of hints and tips.

Audio-visual/publicity vans

The AV unit or the publicity van is very useful for rural communication. The van is a
comprehensive mobile promotion station at the exclusive command of the concerned
firm. The firm can exhibit its films and other audio-visual presentations, such as slide
shows, sound and sight presentations, puppet shows, etc from this instant promotion
station. A portable tent or platform often forms a part of the van. Even public meetings
can be organized using the portable tent. Portable exhibition kits can be also carried in the
van and exhibitions put up instantly. The van can also be used for sales campaigns in
addition to promotion campaigns. It can also be used for product demonstrations. In short

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the van can be used for carrying and delivering a tailor made communication program to
the rural target audience.
Examples: Colgate – Palmolive (Supply vans offer free samples and screen video films
on oral hygiene. Their vans are supplemented with bicycle vendors who go to villages not
accessible by the vans), Godrej (Vans play music and announce free gifts at the village
square. The van also goes to a few shops in the village to sell their products)

Publicity Efforts

For example, toothpaste brand Colgate-Palmolive entered the rural market at a time when
Neem twigs and non-dentifrice products like ash, charcoal, or salt were the norm for
brushing teeth. Colgate-Palmolive launched Operation Jagruti to educate villagers about
oral hygiene and its benefits vis-à-vis traditional products like Neem. Through product
trials and free samples, the company was able to generate awareness in this new market.

Similarly, when Chik, a CavinKare shampoo brand, entered the rural areas in South
India, people used to wash their hair with soap. CavinKare launched an aggressive
campaign to educate people on how to use shampoo through live ‘touch and feel’
demonstrations and also distributed free sachets at fairs and community gatherings. Chik
sachets, priced at Rs 0.50 were perceived as value for money. This strategy worked
wonders in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and Chik eventually
became the 2nd largest selling brand of shampoos.

FMCG major HUL used a van laden with LCDs to educate rural housewives by giving
demos on the ‘germ kill’ proposition of Lifebuoy to the grease cutting technology behind
its dish wash brand of Vim.

IV. Role of Advertising and its Effect on Rural Indian Markets

In India, the advertising is mostly in English or Hindi. As rural markets widen beyond the
English-and-Hindi knowing people, there are problems of translation into the vernaculars.
Good translations are seldom easy; and there is often the need for thinking out the
advertising concepts and the brand image in the local language itself. This is a problem
for local copywriters to conceptualize in the vernacular, where necessary. Advertising in
the local language in the absence of shortage of professionals, makes success of rural
advertising campaigns difficult.

Advertising caters to rural society with divergent life-styles and value systems presented
an unusual challenge between the strategy of homogenization (overcoming the barriers
between segments), and one of heterogenisation (capitalizing the very existence of many

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small riches). This sort of advertising involves constraints individual in the form of cost
duplication of facilities and fragmentation. In such areas, the basic objective of
advertising and market research may be to find and develop products, which may cut
across heterogeneous preferences with common brands and similar or common
advertising.

The Indian rural market is very heterogeneous. Nevertheless, public advertisement is an


important prerequisite for the creation of demand. The problem of rural consumer in our
country is that he is traditional; to some extent, there is homogeneity and there are high
resistance and low resistance products among the rural buyers. Rural buyers show a great
many contradictions; and the advertising man has to understand them. For example, the
poor spend lavishly on marriages; in certain parts rigid caste systems still exist; the
community is more contended with whatever little it has.

In rural India, the role that advertisement plays is major. It will enhance demand when
favourable environment conditions have been created. Advertising does not create
immediate demand. There is always an information gap. The biggest single advertising
problem is the shortness of the reach of mass media. As our country is large, the problem
is complex, for there is a huge potential rural market. There are not very many dailies in
circulation; nor many a radio or transistor or a TV set. The mass media gap in India is as
conspicuous as the income gap. Therefore, there is a need for extending basic
infrastructure with a view to enlarging the reach of mass media in rural India. Hopefully,
the electronic revolution will follow the green revolution in rural India. The different
approaches to reach rural buyers, which may be profitably utilized, include mobile
publicity-cum-sales stalls, sales and cinema vans, participation in rural fairs and festivals.

The villagers are slightly hesitant about going to slightly smart looking shops. The
relatively prosperous family generally becomes the trendsetter group in the village and
they must initially receive the advertisers attention. Advertising research may focus on
the sources of awareness in the rural sector-the influencing the villages. It must
concentrate on determining the different influences the villages are exposed to, either in
the village or his visits to the towns. A villager normally makes his household purchases
from a nearby small town or a fair, but visits a district, town or a still larger market to
fulfill his requirements of consumer durables. It would be useful to ascertain his
motivation in selecting different markets for different purposes.

V. Changing attitude of the rural consumers: Rural consumerism

Due to the increase in literacy rates and the penetration of conventional media, the
perception and attitude of the rural consumer is changing, moving towards proper
consumerism. Not only this, attitude and consumption habits of rural consumers are also
changing and becoming more modern in an urban sense.

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PAST PRESENT
Simple living and high thinking Consume while it lasts
Poverty stricken choices Urbane choices
Collectivity Individuality
Simplicity Status driven
Security Risk taking
Achievement Achievement with accumulation
Patience Expediency, convenience
Restrain Indulgence

If the Indian advertising industry is to tap rural India, it has to be firmly grounded in rural
perception, values and traditions. It has to draw itself in local colours and modes of
communication to make it relevant to the rural masses. It has to gain the trust of the
masses by undercutting existing dependency on conventional advertisement on one hand
and deceptive and manipulative claims on the other. This should be done with different
innovative strategies that should be carried out within the framework of 4-R s, that is,

· Relevance

· Reliability

· Reach

· Reincarnate innovation

For different categories of product, the weights of different R’s should be different, i.e.,
say, for some category, Relevance may have more impact than Reliability or
Reincarnating innovation. However, in some other case, it will be the other way round.
This effect will be seen more in rural areas due to lack of information and clarity of the
source of the information.

VI. Broad Strategies of Rural Advertising

The prevalent ways of advertising in rural areas through different existing media and all
the alternative and innovative media broadly revolve around three strategies, namely,

• Influencer Strategy

• Participatory Strategy

• Show-And-Tell Strategy

Influencer Strategy

The role of the influencer or influencing communication cannot be ignored as far as rural

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India is concerned. The advertisements that revolve around this very strategy actually
depend on the influence of different influential people and/or events in the villages to put
across the message powerfully with more effect and purchase intention. An example of
this kind of advertisement may be brand endorsement by any influential person in the
village like the ‘Mukhiya’ or the ‘school master’.

Participatory Strategy

Events like different festivals and different games and sports competitions actually have a
high participation level in the rural India as other sources of entertainment are very less in
those areas. So, these events and shows offer great opportunity to reach rural India cost
effectively. Different brands sponsor different events and shows in rural villages, which
is actually a cost-effective way to advertise with the participatory strategy.

Show-And-Tell Strategy

Many brands are venturing into different ways to educate their rural consumers about
their brands and their usage through different shows and events. These kinds of initiatives
actually create huge awareness about the brand among the interested people in the rural
India. Different health related advertisements like Polio awareness and AIDS awareness
programmes involve a ‘show-n-tell’ strategy of advertising.

VII. Rural Advertising – Current Scenario

There have been two schools of thought among Indian advertisers on rural advertising.
The first school believed that products and marketing techniques, which worked in metro
and urban areas, could be transplanted with little or no modifications to rural India. But
the more sophisticated Indian advertisers, quickly perceiving certain very basic
differences between town and country, inaugurated the second school: the belief that
rural marketing required radically different skills and techniques from its urban
counterpart. As a result of the swing of extremities, which naturally attends such
realizations, several new beliefs have become popular:

• The rural market offers a vast market for consumer goods.

• The distribution task involves covering several lakh villages.

• Low-priced products should be more successful in rural markets because of the


per capita income in rural India.

• Rural consumers form one homogenous group with similar needs, values and
aspirations.

• Advertising should be simple and unsophisticated and in terms of media, use local
fairs, opinion leaders, etc., as opposed to press, film, radio and such other ‘urban-

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oriented’ media. This was deducted from the low media exposure figures for rural
India.

VIII. Conclusion

In India, rural advertising is increasingly evident throughout the countryside. The


majority of advertisements and hoardings are for fertilizers, hybrid seeds, diesel pumps
and pesticides, not to mention the message of family planning. Therefore advertising in
the Indian rural context must be seen as consisting of techniques for improving economic
mobility within the country. The emergence of an active cash economy is bound to create
a strong rural demand and promote rural consumption. The traditional growth and
dominance of urban industrial centers is undergoing rapid changes. A more equitable
distribution in rural areas would also help in slowing down the rapidly increasing influx
of people from rural into urban centers.

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