Rural consumer behaviour has changed significantly in the last 10 years, due to better education, more money flowing in, improved access to roadways and greater penetration of smart phones. We all know that the rural market is different from the urban market, but one needs to mainly understand what the difference is in order to target the right audience.
This was the topic of discussion at the rural consumer behaviour study titled ‘R SCAPE’, which was held in collaboration with IIM-Ahmedabad, MaRs, Decision Point and the Geometry Global Encompass and unveiled in Mumbai.
R SCAPE covers 6,000 rural consumers with near equal split of married men, married women, young men, young women across eight states, which represent all regions across India and over 20 popular categories including deodorant, shampoo and mutual fund etc. The R SCAPE study dashboard is able to generate category-level adoption, purchase and consumption-related insights based on inputs such as age, gender and region/ state.
The study reveals how marketers usually have very little information about how rural consumers in one state are likely to behave differently from their counterparts in another state. Hence, campaigns are rolled out on a one-size-fits-all basis. Therefore, there was a need for a study that could help marketers transition smoothly from market to message and media.
According to some findings of the study, rural consumer segmentation needs to be a function of adherence to village norms and urban centricity. By-and-large, rural consumers are exhibiting lack of brand ‑fidelity attitudinally as well as behaviourally. The biggest divide when it comes to urban and rural consumption is the reason for consumption itself. Hence, the same brand positioning or advertising does not work across both markets. The reason being, these markets are not homogenous, therefore, reasons to buy and consume categories are often starkly different for consumers from different regions.
It was also found that boys seem to adopt more to social media and smart phones than the girls. Therefore, if any male brand in the rural market is using social media to target its audience, it has the potential to work. There is also a need for brands to treat different consumers in a different way. For e.g. in West Bengal, in the rural market, most people buy toothpaste based on the fresh breath which the paste gives, but in Bihar, people like to buy toothpaste looking at its germ fighting capability. Therefore, scope for brands is there but it needs to be channelized in the right direction.