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Online is second most consumed media after TV in rural India: Report

Music/audio leads the pack in online content consumption followed by news & gaming.

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Mumbai: There has been an internet revolution in rural India, with online being the most consumed media after television, according to a joint report released by media agency GroupM and insights and consulting firm Kantar on Wednesday.

With respect to online content consumption, music/audio leads the pack at 69 per cent followed by news at 49 per cent and gaming at 33 per cent. Usage of video/OTT apps is driven by YouTube at 87 per cent (most in Rajasthan, AP/ Telangana, TN, and Bihar), followed by Disney+ Hotstar at 30 per cent (highest usage in UP, TN, Gujarat, Kerala), the report said.

WhatsApp and Facebook are the most used social media/ messenger platforms at 87 per cent (most in Rajasthan, AP / Telangana, Karnataka) and 66 per cent (most in Odisha, UP, Gujarat and West Bengal) usage respectively, according to the second edition of the Rural COVID Barometer report. 

The report explores rural India’s concern about the impact of the second wave and how it alters consumer behaviour and purchase patterns. The research was conducted with Kantar’s data and insights network and Dialogue Factory’s rural marketing intelligence in eighteen Indian states, across rural adults (18+ years in age) with representation across gender, NCCS, and age groups.

Phone Pe is the most used digital payments app with 19 per cent of rural consumers having used these services in the last 6 months, says the report. Usage of Phone Pe is driven by Karnataka at 46 per cent followed by Rajasthan at 38 per cent.

Growth in the consumer durables and automotive (two-wheeler) sectors is likely to slow down in the next six months. However, the smartphone category is expected to see fast growth in the near future.

The construction sector is also expected to see a bounce-back with consumers expected to spend on building a house/undertake smaller construction work in the next six months.

As a result of the pandemic, rural consumption and shopping patterns have witnessed a major shift. With respect to retail channels, 56 per cent of consumers prefer local village shops for purchasing groceries, and 49 per cent for personal hygiene, and 45 per cent for cleaning products. Even big-ticket items like consumer electronics and durables are preferred to be bought at these local shops at 50 per cent and 46 per cent respectively. 

Rural consumers are saving 25 per cent of their income, the report stated. Southern India (except for Tamil Nadu) is saving more in comparison to other parts of the country. As expected, expenses are higher on personal care, hygiene and cleaning products while spends on indulgence and beauty products have been deprioritised.

“The pandemic has evolved the rural consumer’s decision-making process. They are watching their spending and prioritising their buying patterns by the need of the hour," said GroupM Dialogue Factory, head of experiential marketing - APAC, Dalveer Singh. "There is a positive acceptance of the vaccination and the upper- and middle-class rural Indians are being more proactive in financial planning to deal with covid constraints, which make these markets a significant place to introduce investment and savings products. There is a deep sense of uplift on the subject of India’s economic future.”

While rural India is concerned about the COVID situation in the second wave, most are also positive about economic recovery once the situation normalises. Nearly three in four rural households have received some form of assistance via government schemes, thus providing the much-needed financial cushion to consumers, the report stated.

“With a highly concerned rural consumer, rural India is planning finances better and inclined towards a savings mindset," stated Kantar Insights Division, senior executive director, Puneet Avasthi. "We are witnessing a significant rise in digital payments as an important mode of transaction. With the change in consumption priorities in favor of health and hygiene products, FMCG marketers should leverage this trend for planning their innovation pipeline.”

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