Time to Target the Rural Population

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on November 08, 2011

Rewind back to 2002. Get up from your comfortable seats and go back to the villages. You will be able to see ‘Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna’ programme volunteers working hard to send across the message "Visibly clean is not really clean". Since this message is clearer in the urban areas due to the vast media platforms available for promotion like TV, newspapers, internet, coupled with increased awareness, how do you expect the rural areas to get the message? It is pretty simple. Go to them, promote a concept the way they want and get across your message. So here Lifebuoy started by implementing hygienic facilities, talking to people, conducing games and engaging the crowd.


According to the statistics, in India, over 600,000 children under the age of five die annually from diarrhoea. Many of these deaths can be prevented by implementing good habits like washing hands with soap ad taking good care. Lifebuoy in this regard shifted its focus from being a male soap to being a brand that can be used by the entire family.

Using the advantages and reach of rural media is one way of promoting your product to the rural population. Though there is a vast difference between the attitudes of rural and urban population, the basic needs remain the same. We all love to watch movies, listen to music and try out something new – that is the basic human tendency. And if a product can satisfy these needs, then it is half the job done. Since nowadays we see a major shift in terms of thinking among rural population as well, marketing of luxury products to a certain extent can be done in rural areas too. Why else will a soap like Lux do good business when people have the traditional Santoor soaps to be used? This shows that attitudes have indeed changed and people are more open to variety.

Your glossy magazines and classy advertisements on newspapers might really appeal the urban crowd, but remember that not everyone has the willingness or means to get hold of them. That is when radio marketing comes into the picture. Radio advertising though not that popular in urban areas is quite famous among the villages where it is one of the main sources of entertainment. But of course you can’t deny the fact that rural areas are also getting acquainted with other media like TVs, newspapers and even the internet. But radio advertising for rural population is an innovative way to send across your message to millions of listeners, and thus be able to cover a broad audience. So if people listen to radio while brushing their teeth, cooking food or just lazing around after dropping their kids to the school, your advertisements playing in the background can help them know about your products. They may even try it out. But of course you should understand that a radio advertisement should have catchy jingles, bring out a fresh appeal every time, be crisp and precise yet get across the message. The few seconds of radio timing are the most crucial and can make or break your advertisement. You will need to take care of the constraints since images to illustrate your points of view won’t be available and it also needs to cover a whole range of people falling under different age brackets, cultures and needs. Also, distribution networks, weather considerations and availability of products are important so you shouldn’t lose your focus by just concentrating on the promotion of the products. Your brand name needs to resound again and again for the listener to retain it in his head. The listener should be able to relate to the voice and words used in the advertisement in such a way that he doesn’t switch channels. This would mean that you have just lost a potential customer.

Untapped markets can be tapped through this innovative way. Modifying your advertising strategies to suit the rural market needs is important. High fashions brands and accessories are not going to get you much of an audience though there might be exceptions, but sensible products satisfying the basic needs will definitely grab attention.

Radio advertising costs less as compared to other forms of advertising, and newly set up radio stations sometimes allow companies to air their advertisements for free. Can it really get better than this? The choice of the perfect radio station depending upon the popularity that it enjoys amongst the people, which can present your idea the way you want to and the timing and positioning of the advertisement are very important. If we take an overall view, we will find that the rural consumer values old customs and tradition and is not into trend setting and following. They prefer simple things, so we would better give them what they want rather than force them to like what we are offering. For example, if you want to advertise an umbrella, it would be logical to start airing your advertisements during the monsoons rather than any other time of the year. It can narrate a story depicting kids in a village getting drenched and their mothers giving them the cute umbrellas. This not only strikes a chord with people, but also makes them think about the advertisement because those things would be happening in their lives. Of course, the advertisement needs to be aired again and again for its effect to be seen.

Red FM had launched an AIDS awareness campaign in 2007, providing truck drivers with information leaflets and condoms. Soon there was an increase in the importance given to responsibility. So the company successfully targeted the right population, promoted its product and at the same provided some vital information. This is the power of radio marketing which is able to reach all the nooks and corners that might be left out with the use of other technologies.


As we can see, these 2 powerful ways of advertising in rural sectors – special programmes targeted for the betterment of the public and radio marketing - are opening up new markets and segments and thus helping in doing what we love to do – market, sell, promote, and make profit.

This article has been authored by Meenakshi Nilakantan from KJ Somaiya

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