RURAL CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR IN MARKETING RESEARCH
Advertising goes hand in hand with economic growth. With economic liberalization and increasing rural prosperity, marketers are keen to inform villagers about the benefits of buying and consuming their products and services. Prior to the introduction of economic liberalization in 1990s, there was a little incentive for marketers to advertise their products, and services, as rural markets were predominantly a seller‘s market.
The influence of the electronic media, in particular television, video and Hindi film industry, is contributing to the growth of rural aspirations, which are being manifested in rural India in the form of increasing consumerism.
Reaching out to rural consumer‘sunderstanding presentsthedynamicsofthe as rural market in India.
Challenges in Rural Communication
There are many challenges to communication in rural. Low literacy levels; poor media reach and exposure and vast, heterogeneous and diversely spread rural audiences characterized by variations in language, culture and lifestyle-all these factors pose multiple challenges to marketers looking to take their messages to the largely media-dark or media-grey areas, of rural markets.
Heterogeneity and spread
The communication pattern in any society is a part of its culture. No communication medium can exist in a cultural vacuum. Communicating the message to the rural summers has posed enormous challenges to the rural marketer, because of the large number of consumers scattered across the country, the problem is further compounded by the heterogeneous nature of consumers. There are 16 scheduled languages and 114 local vernaculars. For ex, the dialect used in the Vidharbha region is different from that used in Marathwada, which in turn is different from the dialect spoken in the Konkan region.
Some key characteristics of the heterogeneous rural markets are:
Widespread geographical dispersion (6, 38,000 villages) many of them are still beyond the reach of conventional media.
Vast variations in levels of literacy Literacy (Kerala 90, Bihar 44%)
Variations in reach of electronic media (Kerala63%, Bihar 17%) and print media (Kerala 65%, Bihar 9%)
The limited reach of the mass media imposes limitations on universal communication to rural consumers.Therefore the requirement is threefold:
To identify the most suitable medium to ensure maximum spatial reach.
To develop region-specific consumer profiles to understand the characteristics of the target market and
To design the most effective and persuasive communication and promotional strategies to induce the target audience to buy the product.
Understanding the Rural Audience
It is not sufficient to understand rural communication challenges as stated; rather, what is equally crucial is the need to understand the behavioural and psychographic characteristics of the rural audience, in order to develop an effective rural communication strategy.
There are two distinct sets of audiences in rural India:
A growing number of educated, upwardly mobile, middle class people with aspirations and high exposure to mass media and with considerable purchasing power, in many ways similar to their urban counterparts.
The illiterate masses, who are poor and who cannot be easily reached through the mass media.
Interpersonal communication accounts for over eighty percent of the rural communication process. Any communication package aimed at rural audiences should generate a lot of ‗word of mouth‘ publicity, so that the brand remains on ‗top of the mind‘, when the rural customer is finally ready to make a purchase.
In terms of economic progress, rural India is divided into:
Developed states (Punjab, Hariyana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra)
Underdeveloped or developing states (all other states)
A view of communication process
Basic communication model