Challenge of Marketing Government Schemes to Rural Customers in India
Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 609
, Published on 09 July 2016
This article focuses on the Challenges of Marketing Government Schemes to Rural Customers in India. The Union Budget presented by the Honorable Finance Minister generally in the month of February every year, is a keenly awaited event for every citizen. The questions that occupy almost everyone’s assumptive minds include , “ What will be the Tax breaks? Any possible indirect tax cuts? Imposition of new kind of taxes? What kind of welfare schemes are going to be introduced?”
The 4th question is often interlinked with the some form of improvement in the livelihood of the common people. Now some excellent schemes are announced every year for different segments of people. But the major question that play in the minds of people post the announcement is ,“By when and How?”. In a country where the rural population is close to 68%(As per World Bank data of 2014), there are around 638,000 villages(As per Census 2001 data) to accommodate this vast populace. Majority of the schemes announced especially related to Subsidies, Compensation, and some kind of Financial benefit are aimed at uplifting the quality of livelihood of this segment (SEC C , D and E). So the major challenge lies in the implementation of these schemes.
To understand the problem, let us take the example of Swachh Bharat Mission(SBM) under which the Government of India had promised an incentive of INR 12000/- to Below Poverty Line (BPL) /identified APLs households for construction of Individual House Hold Latrines(IHHL). As per data, more than 80 lakh toilets have been constructed through this scheme. But the objective with which the mission and scheme was launched, i.e , the provision of cleanliness and sanitation to every household along with safety, has not been achieved in majority of these Households. The problem? Most of these people still feel more comfortable attending to the nature’s call in the open and are not used to these toilets.
Hence even though the scheme was implemented in this regard to certain extent, the objective was not achieved. The same goes with the big bash Jan Dhan Yojana scheme announced by Shri Narendra Modi.
Initially more than 70% of the accounts(The percentage is much lower now) opened under the scheme had 0 balance. This again defeated one of the major objectives of the scheme. It tried to give access to basic banking services to the rural households, which would in turn facilitate safety of savings that these people traditionally used to have in their so called “Baksas” or other places they considered safe. But what was the end result?
What can we gauge from the above examples?
Slowly people are trying to make use of the benefits being provided, but just for the sake of making use of that benefit. This is definitely an improvement over what used to occur some few years back, but still are the schemes actually achieving what they were set out for?
This is where marketing comes in. The Government before implementing such schemes should undertake steps to ensure that the end customer is able to understand the need. A lot of latent needs that these schemes try to quench, have to be communicated. The reason for the provision of the benefits more than the schema details make more sense to any end user.
A person receiving a free gift is always elated at receiving it, but the eventual satisfaction only comes when he is able to make use of that gift. That is exactly what the Government should seek to achieve. Instead of making people take advantage of the scheme through the incentives, the people have to be communicated the need for such schemes.
For example, Instead of promoting SBM by “ Build an IHHL, get Rs 12000 subsidy”, it should be more like “Build an IHHL, promote Cleanliness, Sanitation and a disease free livelihood to your Family members” to make more sense. The customers will at least get to know that these benefits being provided are core needs to lead a healthy life.
Similarly for the “Jan Dhan Yojana” scheme , instead of promoting it as “Get a zero balance account opened in the nearest Bank branch”, it should have been “ Get a safe place for your savings at zero expense in your nearest Bank Branch”.
One popular method of gaining attention that is slowly gaining steam, is the explanation of these schemes through Nukkad nataks. Traditionally nukkad nataks have always been a crowd pulling source across rural villages. This gimmick has been tried by Political Parties specifically during elections, but seldom have they been used for promotion of these schemes. Not just this, even the Sarpanchs of the Pachayats should undertake new initiatives to communicate such benefits to the people. But the Sarpanchs should themselves understand the schemes first. So a slew of proper training sessions can be organized to make these Village Heads understand the needs of the people.
Another important step in promoting the schemes could be the placement of Hoardings in key locations of the village. By key locations, I mean the schemes should be in places where people feel the need for such schemes. As an example, Promoting Jan Dhan Yojana in Police Stations would be a good start , because that is where majority of the people come after robberies.
The key to any successful marketing strategy lies in explaining the core benefit of the product to the end user. Hence any campaign or scheme should first look at explaining the need either through exhaustive door to door campaigns or through nukkad nataks or through any other effective method that can communicate the message to the populace. Every other step comes after this.
This article has been authored by Swagat Kumar from IIM Raipur
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