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Women power on rise in rural India: study

19-November-2001
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Women power on rise in rural India: study

In a study that covered several Indian villages in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, UP, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra etc., the Consumer Insight cell of McCann Erickson’s concludes that an awakening is sweeping rural India especially among women today. The study provides vital clues for brand owners and the communicators

According to the study the biggest change that struck the researchers was the changing role of women in village. The study says that the women is metamorphosing into a being with a mind and decision making power of her own. The reason for this change could be the fact that now one-third of the seats in every village panchyat is reserved for women.

Secondly, village girls are now insisting on going to school and their mothers are letting them do so, often against the wishes of the father. Television, too, is offering the village women a glimpse of the world where women dictate family matters in popular Hindi serials.

Besides local voluntary organisation are initiating women’s self-help groups in villages of UP, West Bengal, AP, Maharashtra etc. They are even disbursing loans to women to start economic activities for financial independence.

Second is empowerment, which has given her the ability to take decisions. Clearly, advertisers can help her take these decisions. The third is security both financial and social.

Thirteen consecutive good monsoons also have improved the rural poverty line, and a better infrastructure has had their impact on rural India and its aspirations.

Images of urban prosperity and consumption bombard the TV viewers in villages today and this world offers more than what the India villages are used to. The allure of urban progression and desire of rural rootedness is a paradox that must be resolved by marketers to succeed in these markets. Hence the focus should be to change behaviour of groups rather than in individuals. Targeting peer groups is ideal to avoid the awkwardness of adopting new behaviour by individuals.

The communicators have to respect native intelligence. Often the urban symbols are misinterpreted. For example when Ford New Holland tractors re-designed advertising leaflets for the Punjab market, it changed its script from Hindi to Gurmukhi but did not change the image of farmer. A clean shaved farmer sporting a Haryanavi pagri astride the tractor put off Sikh Punjab farmer.

Hindustan Lever Limited’s Project Bharat, problem was even more peculiar. It’s Rs 15 trial pack comprising a soap, shampoo, fairness cream and a toothpaste for Indian villages was a hit except when the villagers went for re-purchase and discovered they now had to pay three times the price for the same brands.

While pointing out the emerging trends in rural India, the study warns that these broad outlines.

According to the study no rural communication plan can be attempted before studying the different communities based on their regional differences.

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