Saturday, February 25, 2006

Rural Marketing: An established world trade order

Rural marketing has become an important aspect of marketing in the marketing environment today. This attraction towards the rural markets is primarily due to its colossal size of varied demands of millions and millions of people around the globe.

In fact rural markets are expanding all over the globe at such a rapid pace that they have taken over the growth in urban market. Apart from the growth rate of rural markets there are several other factors that are leading marketing managers to go rural. As the urban markets are becoming more and more complex, competitive & saturated rural markets are still a easy path way for marketing people. Rural markets are also emerging stronger and stronger because disposable income among the rural folk is increasing.

This vast untapped potential market is growing at a fast pace everywhere. Governments of various countries are forming the policies largely favoring rural development. Research programs in various areas have led to heavy production, which leads to more disposable income among the rural folk, and hence the rural markets have started bulging both in size and volume and no one would like to miss this great potential opportunity.

Differences between the Urban and rural Markets –

Through both the urban and rural market are of paramount importance but the policies made for urban markets cannot be simply extended to rural markets. Various aspirations, cultural values and needs of rural people differ from that of urban people.

One main factor still remains strong i.e.- buying in rural area are still done by the eldest male member of the family, where in, in the urban area every one – male, female, children all are free to make purchases. They have enough cash in hand to make purchases, where in rural areas male ensures that he holds cash till his last breath.

Rural purchasing decisions are influenced by social customs, traditions & beliefs. They also require collective social sanction, which is unheard in urban areas.

Marketing Mix for rural areas-
Marketing Mix elements of 4 P and Hi Tech designing of goods done for urban area may not suit the Rural Customers.

Distribution channels and retail outlets of urban market may not be successful in rural markets.
Various fares, fates religious & cultural festivals are organized in rural areas. These functions are very popular among the rural lot and can become a very good platform for distribution. Rural markets become alive at these melas and

people visit them to make several purchases
Weekly markets –
There are days fixed in rural areas for weekly markets where you can get every thing from a needle to big agricultural machines, vegetables to clothes, cosmetics to medicines. This is another potential low cost distribution channel available for marketers.

Feeder Towns –
Feeder towns generally serve a group of villages. People prefer to go to these areas, especially to the wholesale markets or the 2nd or 3rd grade market to appetize their needs. These markets of feeder towns will easily be able to cover a large section of rural population.

Promotion –
The last of 4 P promotion should also be carefully chosen. Only a small portion of the rural population (10%) has access to news paper. rest all rely on audio visual presentations. Marketers should plan accordingly to convey a correct message to the rural folk.

Other rich traditional medicines such as melas, puppet show, folk dances can also have high impact on the product campaigns.

Pakistan –
Pakistan’s rural sector accounts for more than 70% of employment and 2/3 of the rural employment are in agriculture. To improve the performance in the rural economy and efficiency of financial institutions, rural credit markets government of Pakistan ensured that more credit should be available to agricultural small holders.

The government of Pakistan restructured three cooperatives to improve rural financing. The government ensured that support should reach disadvantaged groups, a special priority was given to the women who need credit, small holders (with 10 acres or less) and rural non farm sector such as live stock, fishery, forestry, rangelands and industrial micro enterprises. Apart from rural financing Pakistan Government also formulated a strategy for expanding telecommunication network to the rural areas of Pakistan.

Apart from telephone services Pakistan government also introduced public phone (PCO) and ensured following

standards are met –
· Quality of service is good
· Telephone is in working order
· Quality of lives is satisfactory
· Dealing with public is good
· Cost of service is affordable
· Located conveniently and readily accessible places
· Pay phone cards for available prices .

Bangladesh –
With almost around 90% of rural population Rural marketing in Bangladesh also faces lot of constraints such as infrastructure problems, reliability of electricity, Phone lines etc.

Bangladesh government has been trying to provide better access of information channel for the rural population .

With almost 92% of the rural population, Nepal social marketing distribution in conjunction in collaboration with Ministry of Health has successfully built the demand for idoized salt through the idoized salt societal marketing campaign.

Many Nepalese consumers still prefer to use the loose crystal salt. The challenge was to switch consumer preference to packaged idoized salt, which prevents iodine evaporation to ensure adequate iodine intake for health and mental development.

The group redesigned the logo and packaging and improved the visibility and availability at the retail level. They generated mass awareness through multiple media channels. A significant component of the campaign was a video van out reach program or Video on wheels, which traveled to the rural communities that have limited access to television and organize video shows, conduct retail surveys and work with STC to conduct retail surveys and work with STC to improve the availability of Idoized Salt.

Srilanka –
The marketing team of shell gas Lanka ltd. Launched a Gamata Gas ( Gas to Village ) program
Grocery Shop – The concept was to make the gas available to a location closest to the customer, which was well accepted both by the consumer and distributors.

They established 60 outlets in 7 distributor areas. They sold 5500 x 12.5 Kg and 150 x 37.5 Kg cylinders in one month.

They also established 33-grocery shop outlet in 6 distributor areas selling 2370 x 12.5 Kg new cylinder during a span of 3 weeks.
* The district is predominantly rural area where firewood is used as a main source of energy and they were able to convert 95 houses into gas users.

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