Rural Marketing has always been the buzzword for brands. Rural markets provide a huge potential, most of which still remains untapped due to non-connectivity in terms of distribution channels as well as channels of communication. Out of the 127 million households residing in rural India, it is said that only 54% have access to conventional media. And given the below average literacy rate, the effectiveness of this 54% penetration falls down even further. As per the readership survey of 2011, TV has a maximum reach with 45%, satellite and cable with 33%, radio with 16%, and press with 13%.
It is a long held belief that rural markets can easily be reached via Mass Media. In my opinion, the same is not the case, or at least it is not as simple. Let me substantiate the same with the example of a brands like HUL, which has done award winning campaigns by devising innovative ways to reach the rural markets. HUL’s Kaan Khajura Tesan is a phenomenal example of a campaign that was born because reaching the rural market through mass media was not possible.
Kaan Khajura Tesan delivered 15 minutes of entertainment based content per person directly to mobile phones and landline phones. These included jokes in regional language, songs, and much more. All one had to do was give a missed call on a number provided by HUL. Of course, this content was interspersed with ads of HUL's products like Ponds, Close Up, and Wheel.
The campaign reached 12 million people, and created 100 million impressions in media dark regions of rural India and increased people’s affinity towards HUL’s products.
Results of Kan Khajura Tesan campaign
Kan Khajura Tesan yielded phenomenal results. It was able to create one of the world's biggest media channels.
12 Million subscribers within 8 months of launch;
$0.04 - Cost of reach per person was extremely cost effective at around INR 2.5 per person;
20 Million+ : total ad impressions achieved through these calls;
56% increase in the sales of Ponds White Beauty;
39% increase in the sales of Close Up;
20% increase in the sales of Wheel;
This campaign, conceptualized by Lowe Lintas, ended up winning several awards at various advertising events across the world including Cannes Lions!
Mass Media also has certain limitations as far as rural India is concerned:
· Firstly, the dialect changes every few hundreds of kilometers in rural India. Therefore, the language of communication becomes a consideration.
· Secondly, low literacy level in rural India remains a cause of concern. As per 2011 census, only 1/5th of rural India had passed matriculate and a higher degree.
· Thirdly, varying comprehension abilities makes it difficult for marketers to send out a homogenous communication.
To counter this, brands are increasingly relying on unconventional medium to reach rural India, such as ambient advertising, transit advertising, wall paintings, using toll free numbers etc.