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Marketers can’t ignore rural India any more

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Marketers can’t ignore rural India any more

All those who usually visualise rural India as purely an agrarian economy without much purchasing power will be in for a surprise when they come to know that size of the Indian rural economy stands at a whopping $1 trillion – almost that of the Canadian economy. This was revealed by Pradeep Kashyap, CEO, MART, who said that rural India is the deglamorised part of the country.

Speaking about the opportunities provided by rural India, Kashyap pointed out that 50 per cent of India’s income comes from rural India, while small towns contribute to 25 per cent of India’s GDP. Yet the irony is that 100 per cent of the marketers are in urban India.

“All over the world there is recession and every country is looking at new markets. In India, we have two back-up markets which we haven’t even looked at. The reason is lack of understanding. There are a lot of myths around rural India,” he noted.

One of these myths is that rural India is considered to be a homogeneous mass and hence, it is targeted through mass campaign. What needs to be kept in mind is that India is made up of 28 states, there are 16 official languages, 432 official dialects, and four major religions, thus rural India is the most heterogeneous market in the world.

The second myth is that rural is all about agriculture, whereas the reality is that agriculture accounts for just one-third of rural India. The remaining two-third comes from the services sector and the manufacturing sector.

Mass migration is the third myth and people feel that it’s a bad idea to go to rural areas. However, Kashyap believes that rural is the place to grow, even if growth has been gradual. According to him, by 2020, 60 per cent of the population will continue to stay in rural India. Reinstating Mahatma Gandhi’s statement, he said, “India will continue to live in villages and that’s were the myths have to be broken.”

He further said that research and studies indicate that people in rural India do not necessarily settle for cheaper products. “They buy the most expensive things. But still companies and agencies are not willing to set up their business there,” Kashyap said. According to him, the only reason for this was lack of adequate knowledge about rural India. He added, “Most of the consultancy firms in India focus only on the urban market because they have no knowledge about the rural market.”

He noted, “This situation is somewhat similar to the healthcare situation in the country. 70 per cent of the population is in rural India, while 80 per cent of the doctors practice in urban India. This is the bias that we have.”

Talking about MART, Kashyap said that it is the only rural marketing consultancy in India. His advice to marketers is, “Rural is all about BTL, so you need to reach out to rural India. The time for change is here and now. Become proactive and embrace strategic activation.”

Pradeep Kashyap was speaking at the fifth annual convention of Events and Experiential Marketing Association (EEMA) – EEMAGINE 2012. The convention was held in New Delhi over three days – July 28, 29, 30.

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