New study promises rural insights

Study by Chrome Data Analytics dives into rural markets to draw valuable insights for consumer products companies, media brands and advertising agencies


Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Between six and eight people live in at least one out of every four homes in rural India.

Every second person in rural India has a phone.

In terms of rural electrification, villages in the southern part of India have more electricity connections than those in the Hindi-speaking markets. Among Hindi-speaking markets, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have the lowest number of electricity connections while Punjab fares much better. In the absence of power in villages in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest Hindi-speaking market, people use kerosene for lighting.

These are some of the highlights of a report by Chrome Data Analytics and Media, a primary research and data analytics company. The comprehensive study, that started 15 months ago, was conducted in 200,000 villages across 25 states and Union territories. According to the company, the numbers (and the underlying behaviour) captured by the report is representative of the 184.8 million households in rural India.

Pankaj Krishna, founder and chief executive of Chrome, is unwilling to share too many details of his proprietary report, which will be out in a month’s time. However, he’s happy to toss a few teasers from the just-concluded study: Rural Punjab has the highest penetration of cars—one in every nine homes has a car. Overall, the penetration of toilets at home in rural India is very low, but more than half the households in this market avail of banking facilities.

When it is published, the new data will offer different things to different people.

For broadcasters, it has insights on rural markets’ television distribution reach as well as type. The latter will give the percentage of households with cable TV, analogue or digital, and direct-to-home (DTH) connections. To be sure, television distribution audit service of this nature is Chrome’s bread and butter, but the new Rural Establishment Survey will be layered and also offer a peek into the content preferences of rural folk.

“We will be able to tell you about product consumption, lifestyle, and habits of people in rural India,” says Krishna. He claims the study makes for comprehensive demographic profiling. There are findings on political proclivity and affiliations of the rural consumers, but Krishna is guarded about those. “There are indications on political trends from one of the states that will be going to polls. But I cannot share the nuances,” he says. That’s smart marketing. Krishna is likely to expand Chrome’s customer base to include political parties.

Five years ago, the company launched the Chrome Subscriber Establishment Survey, a proprietary tool providing the exact number of subscribers for each individual cable network across cities and villages.

“With the Chrome Rural Establishment Survey, we’ve built on that product and added key insights for brands, broadcasters and advertisers, using our large infrastructure. The idea was to demystify the rural consumer landscape and unleash the potential of a market that is just waiting to be tapped,” says Krishna, who believes that there is a dearth of actionable data for brands.

To be sure, Chrome is not the only company which is deep-diving into the rural markets for drawing valuable insights for consumer products companies, media brands and advertising agencies. Television viewership monitoring firm Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India is also ready with its Broadcast India study which covers both urban and rural India.

Information and research firm Nielsen, which did the fieldwork for the Barc study, has covered 300,000 households to understand the count and composition of television households in the country. The study is already complete and is currently being used internally by Barc. When it is rolled out, it will throw light on the changing habits of television viewers.

Nielsen, too, has its own Universe Estimation Studies for rural markets. Prashant Singh, the firm’s managing director for South Asia, says Nielsen conducts an intensive rural establishment survey to estimate the retail universe. It covers more than 6,000 villages in different states.

“With industry bodies undertaking large-scale universe estimation studies, there are going to be new insights on the Indian market across companies and categories. The increasing use of technology and connectivity has also allowed researchers to penetrate many more markets than possible earlier. Adding another layer, marketers need to understand the segments within these markets—exploring demographics, intent and interest,” says Singh.

Clearly, as rural consumers become more aware, and their socioeconomic milieu and aspirations change, any insights on them is welcome.

Shuchi Bansal is Mint’s media, marketing and advertising editor. Ordinary Post will look at pressing issues related to all three. Or just fun stuff.

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