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R Scape: Understanding the rural consumer

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MUMBAI: Last year the broadcast and advertising industries woke up to the rural television audience with Broadcast Audience Research Council India's rural inclusive data. Now, as several industry experts have been cited as saying that as the rural market has become extremely important for advertisers as it commands almost half of the total television viewership. Not to mention that with improved internet services and  infrastructure in these areas, the need to understand how consumers behave differently in these pockets has become extremely important. Marketers have come to understand that a single brand communication may not work in both urban and rural markets.

With this understanding comes the awareness of how limited our knowledge is of the evolved rural consumers, and how badly marketers need to develop tools to address the change in the landscape.

Keeping that in mind, IIM-Ahmedabad, MaRS Monitoring and Research Systems, Decision Point and the Geometry Global I Encompass Network have done an extensive study of consumer behavior in the rural markets to help marketers come up with new strategies to address new challenges in rural marketing.

Called the R Scape, the study dashboard is able to generate category-level adoption, purchase and consumption-related insights based on inputs such as age, gender and region/ state.  

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, hair oil, lipstick, toothpaste, talcum powder, shaving cream, after-shave lotion, cooking oil, toilet soap, fairness cream, detergent, utensil cleaner, floor cleaner, biscuit, tomato sauce, butter, jam, breakfast cereal, branded aata, shoe, denim, candy, seed, pesticide, banking, life insurance and mutual fund.

As per the study, the rural consumer segmentation needs to be a function of adherence to village norms and urban centricity, which has created strong differentiation among rural married women.

Moreover, rural consumers tend to  exhibit lack of brand fidelity attitudinally as well as behaviorally. 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. Add to that that rural markets are not homogenous, therefore, reasons to buy and consume categories are often starkly different for consumers from different regions.

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