The marketer who has been grappling in trying to understand who and what the rural consumer is all about may just have some help coming from the recently launched study ‘R|Scape’ that hopes to understand the elusive and yet the ubiquitous rural consumer and his behaviour. The study has been jointly undertaken and launched by Geometry Global- Encompass Network along with IIM-Ahmedabad, MaRs and Decision Point. While MaRS Monitoring and Research Systems is a full service research agency set up by former CEO of MARG Raghu Roy, Decision Point is a specialized consumer and retail analytics firm based in Gurgaon and founded by Ravi Shankar.
The ambitious research-study covers 6,000 rural consumers (near equal split of married men, married women, young men, young women), eight states (representative of all regions across India) and over 20 popular categories (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 atta, shoe, denim, candy, seed, pesticide, banking, life insurance, mutual fund).
According to Rahul Saigal, Group COO, Geometry Global Encompass Network, “While everyone knows that rural consumers need to be treated or targeted differently, yet nobody’s doing much about it. Also, the smartphone phone penetration is reaching threshold levels and could become a potentially strong medium to serve personalised content.”
The study is relevant in the backdrop of the evolving rural consumer whose behaviour has been changing dramatically in the last few years thus underlying the need for him to be better understood by the marketer, media planner and the advertiser. The study hopes to help marketers transition smoothly from market to message and media as also help assess the differences between the rural and the urban consumer so that the brand positioning and advertising can be crafted accordingly and suitably.
Some of the top findings from the study include:
1) The rural consumer segmentation needs to be a function of adherence to village norms and urban centricity.
2) By-and-large, rural consumers are exhibiting lack of brand fidelity attitudinally as well as behaviorally.
3) Adherence to village social norms has created strong differentiation among rural married women.
4) Reasons for adoption and consumption of categories are very different for rural and urban consumers. Hence, the same brand positioning or advertising does not work across both markets.
5) Rural markets are not homogenous. Reasons to buy and consume categories are often starkly different for consumers from different regions.