Innovative Rural Marketing - Adding Value

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 1124 , Published on 24 December 2014

‘The soul of India lives in its villages’- declared Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi,

Apparently the sermon Bapu declared back in 1950s was a secret subtle message, for the MNCs that were to step their feet in India post 1991.

As per the 2011 Consensus 68.84% of India’s total population resides in countryside. And as per a survey report those 6 Lakh+ villages contribute over 53% of the FMCG produce consumption.

Gone are the days, when one would paint a picture of a man in torn clothes taking his buffaloes for grazing in the grassland, as an archetype to portray an Indian Village. And it’s a common sight to witness SUVs, Advanced Household Equipments like Microwave, ACs to be far common commodities in the year 2014.

Image Courtesy:, moggara12

Now what has driven this drastic change?

Primarily the Electrification & Penetration of Media. Television has changed the way rural people lead their lives and aspirations are soaring,

‘Disposable Income’ is abound and ‘Literacy’ too is contributing its share in the way people perceive their own lives and compare it with their urban counterparts, a feeling of competition is sure to creep in.

Now that we are somewhat confident of the ‘Demand’ Side & The ‘Place’. Lets graduate to the Promotion Aspect.

A Sterling example of Innovation leads to unprecedented success would be, ‘the invention of sachets, that was largely inspired from a rural marketers acumen of identifying the void, the gap that was there, where the relatively poorer masses were keen to try on the Toothpastes and Shampoos and Hair Oil, but were concerned to risk 50 Rupees that was a significant fraction and sometimes equal to their daily earnings’ and hence arrived the 1 Rupee Shampoo & Hair Oil Sachets and 5/10 Rupees Toothpaste. Needless to say, the Revenue graph never seemed to soar that high as a fruit of one small change.

Recently reading a few internship experiences at, I was apprised of a village where all the retailers had been selling SIM Cards only to the male members of the township, and a women approaches an IIM A Alumnus setting up a kiosk at the village, and asks him ‘Do You Sell SIMs to Women As well?’ And he was startled beyond measure, now this would be something that no Kotler or Drucker would teach you, since India is a country whose heterogeneity lies beyond articulation,

So this societal convention in that particular where only men went and bought a cellphone and subsequently a Sim Card, is a void, that if timely discerned and utilized can reap huge benefits to the First Entrant (Ofcourse treading cautiously so as to not be in direct conflict with Gram Panchayat)

Cement Companies are known to offer special discounts to villages keeping in light ‘the surge of Pucca House Constructions’ and offering free guidance and construction support to those who allow the company to paint one wall of their house with their company’s advertisement. In a country where masses struggle to fulfill the first 2 levels of Maslow’s hierarchy they certainly wouldn’t mind getting one wall of their ‘First Pucca house’ painted with an advertisement in return for a significant savings on construction expense.

Airtel’s m commerce and Vodafone’s m paisa are yet another attempt to recreate western union like set up, only in this case, the remittance is transferred from the house’s youth that has gone to a far off city to earn the livelihood and send back home the savings he manages. & In turn Airtel & Vodafone earn a loyal and larger customer base. Reminded of the Symbiotic relationship we studied back in 8th standard.

ITC’s E-Choupal is something, that has become too clichéd an example, worth quoting, which advocates its strength and impact in recognition of the brand, in the masses that are expected to become 4 times the size of Indian Urban Markets by the year 2020.

The movement, the change, the vision shift, is so palpable that in 2005, Rural Marketing Association of India was incepted that is constantly growing in leaps & bounds, having members like Tata, Hero, Cargill, Ogilvy, GroupM, Dabur, Abott,ITC, Maruti, Novartis & a plenty more. 

(Healthcare companies seem to be a bit sluggish in catching upto it)

Innovation in laymen terms would be something that is unique & new and adds value. Marketing is communication of the same, of concluding, ‘perceived value>perceived cost’ in the minds of target customers.

Given the huge & relatively ignored market base, it is safe to assume that the firms that align themselves to this changing trend, will have the first mover advantage, and become the favorites of 84 Crore people who are yet to choose their favorite brands in almost every sector, be it Biscuit or be it Cement.

This article has been authored by Nikhil Mukhija_MIB,Delhi School of Economics


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