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Ask Mint | Devoting your career to rural markets is anything but a risk

Ask Mint | Devoting your career to rural markets is anything but a risk
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First Published: Mon, Nov 19 2007. 12 35 AM IST

Ajay Gupta, CEO, ruralnaukri.com
Ajay Gupta, CEO, ruralnaukri.com
Updated: Mon, Nov 19 2007. 12 35 AM IST
Ajay Gupta, CEO, ruralnaukri.com
Employment opportunities are multiplying, particularly in the rural sector, with companies focusing on the untapped potential there. Mint presents a fortnightly column on job prospects in the sector.
I am puzzled by the hype about rural marketing. Do you think marketers are seriously trying to reach rural masses? Can some of us bet our careers on such a market?
The fact that 70% of us and our needs live in rural areas has continuously enticed marketers. Rural India is widespread, and reaching there has been an expensive proposition, with distribution costs prohibitive. Many companies have burned fingers trying to harvest this hidden treasure.
However, the reasons for today’s renewed interest are beyond the 70% statistic. Multiple factors have simultaneously and coherently come together to create a critical mass, which has truly set the ball rolling. Perhaps it all began with television, followed by the Internet. Information flow to the interiors has risen sharply, leading to empowerment like never before. Take the example of any big city, and you would see all neighbouring towns have benefited from the spread effect. Owing to several simultaneous developments—including a buoyant economy, demand saturation in urban markets, improved infrastructure, higher education levels, expansion of new-generation businesses such as banking and insurance to rural markets, initiatives of several national retailers to buy farm produce— marketers can see economically viable markets in the near future. The more this happens, the more it will fuel further growth—and it looks as if this process is now unstoppable. Hence, devoting your career to rural markets can be anything but a risk.
I work as a senior manager handling front-end selling of fruit and vegetables for a retail chain. Our division makes a loss and I do not see any profitability in the near future. Does it make sense to work for a loss-making unit?
The fruit and vegetables sector has traditionally been extremely disorganized in India. Retail organizations are spending huge sums to put things in order—procuring the right quality of produce, maintaining cold-chain facilities, displaying produce in air-conditioned malls. The retailers’ challenge is to spend more to procure produce and, at the same time, offer it to customers at a price lower than what is charged by local vendors. Till economies of sale set in, this loss is expected. In the initial stages, the fruit and vegetables unit is being viewed as traffic driver, not a profit driver, and the loss-making aspect may still fit well in your employer’s overall scheme. So, as a responsible officer, you may like to concentrate on coming up with innovative ideas to minimize the loss—not worry unduly about the loss-making aspect.
Ajay Gupta is CEO of ruralnaukri.com. Send your career questions to askmint@livemint.com
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First Published: Mon, Nov 19 2007. 12 35 AM IST