The concluding session at Delhi leg of ‘Pitch CMO Summit 2011’ on Friday, brought many fresh consumer insight from rural India, as Nirmallya Roychowdhury, Head - Brand & Marketing, Hariyali Kissan Bazaar, spoke on various challenges that a marketer faces while retailing to rural consumers.
He began by drawing parallels between the consumer behavior in rural and urban. “Rural consumers are not very different from the urban. They have the same level of aspiration as their urban consumers have. They want the same comfort, they want the similar experience, and they have the same levels of expectations. The only difference is that rural consumers are highly value-conscious. They count every rupee they spend,” he said.
“We tap the rising aspirations of these price sensitive consumers by offering them variety and convenience,” he said, adding that the rural retails stores have an edge as consumers get a chance to ‘touch and feel’ the product which otherwise is not permissible in other kirana stores.
Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar, a rural retail chain with 275 stores across eight states, was primarily started as Agri-product stores but now has morphed into a multi-brand stores retail chain dealing in different categories ranging from FMCG to lifestyle and consumer electronics to financial services. Some brands that can be seen on the shelves at these stores include a mix of both national and local brands - Lux, Dove, Rin, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Levi’s, RC Cola, and Usha Micro among others. The stores also carry private label products of ‘Hariyaali Kisaan Bazaar’.
Unlike the metros, where purchases happen throughout the month, spending in rural areas depends a lot on factors like, rain and good Agri-produces. As the crop season comes only twice in a year, maintaining footfalls during rest of the year was a challenge. To cope with this, the chain started a loyalty programme. This programme aimed to add value to modern shopping experience of the customer by allowing earning and redemption of points on merchandise categories like food and groceries, household and lifestyle products. “The chain also copied Big Bazaar’s concept of ‘Sebse Sasta 10 Din’ (on the 28th to 7th of each month) to attract salaried customers in the locality in those days,” Roychowdhury added.
Another fact was that 90 per cent of the customers visiting the store were male and the challenge here was to make housewives visit these stores. Chowdhury said that his chain arranged cookery contests for women and contests for kids on special days to pull in housewives to the stores.
The nex t challenge for these chains is to establish communication with a fragmented customer base. Hariyaali Kisaan Bazaar found a cost-effective media vehicle in increasing number of mobile connection is rural areas. A part of the campaign was designed as voice message for handsets “In rural where literacy level is still low and people are more receptive to the voice message than the text message.”
As the brand gradually strengthens its position, adding more categories and brands to its stores, it is now changing to ‘Hariyali Bazaar’, thus removing Kisaan which indicated something only related to farmers. Also, according to Roychowdhury, “Partneship is the way to move forward as it would help the retail chain to widen its category and vice-versa.”
While Jagran was the presenting sponsor of the Pitch CMO Summit 2011, in association with Zee Bangla, the other associate sponsors included Times Television Network and Open magazine.
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