The concluding day of the two-day eighth CII Marketing Summit 2007 dealt with integrated rural consumer, challenges ahead for Indian marketers, changing media habits, and innovative ways to reach Indian consumers.
Suhel Seth, Managing Partner, Counselage, spoke on the importance of the construct and the size of the rural market. He said that there was a fundamental problem and confusion between rural consumer and rural market. Rural market is dependent on the advent of infrastructure based on connectivity, which is the harbinger of any level of penetration.
“Consumers do not want to be islands, but want to be seen contextually. Aspiration is faster in the rural market more than in the urban market because the desire to grab opportunities is more. An issue of concern is that marketers treat rural market as a penetrating challenge and not as a marketing challenge. The rural consumer is as price conscious as their urban counterparts. The challenge is not in increasing the expansion, but in establishing trust,” elaborated Seth.
S Sivakumar, CEO-Agri Business Division, ITC Ltd, spoke about the challenges that marketers faced with the rural consumer and the methods to cope with them. He also spoke at length about the different practices of ITC’s ‘Chaupal Sagar’, which is a modern rural retail store chain. According to him, the three-layer infrastructure that worked for the company’s rural consumers included Internet access at walking distance, delivery of services through a community man, and a whole set of organisational support from ITC.
Gowthaman Ragothama, MD, Mindshare, and Madhukar Kamath, MD and CEO, Mudra Group, spoke on the changing media habits. Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Media, stressed on innovative ways to reach the Indian consumer.
Although Arumugam presented international case studies, she brought to the fore a significant point about creating innovative ideas to solve different communication needs. She spoke on the need to create buzz, use technology, use common sense, create a new medium to reach the target, use the dialogue method, be focussed and create insights.
Ragothama stressed that diversity in India was the biggest challenge because there was a global India, an aspiring India, a destitute India and a struggling India, all of which had to be taken care of separately. He also spoke about how rural consumers had accepted the self-servicing mode in the retail stores that contained all ingredients of their requirement.