Tips from a rural expert - 2

Tips from a rural expert - 2

New Delhi: Rural consumers think differently. Period," says R. Seshadri, and this is the premise his rural advertising solutions agency, Anugrah Madison Advertising Pvt. Ltd, operates on.

Founded in 1986 as Anugrah Marketing and Advertising Services (P) Ltd, the agency came to this conclusion in 1997 as it made the switch from a regular marketing and advertising firm operating out of Chennai to an agency that caters strictly to rural India.

In no time, the agency had, by default, gained the reputation of being a rural specialist as it developed campaigns for brands such as MRF, Shaw Wallace, and EID Parry.

A hands-on approach, backed by substantial qualitative research to understand the mindset of the specific target group, helped Anugrah grow into a leader in this space.

The work produced soon won the attention of bigger agencies such as Madison Communications Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based leading marketing and communications agency promoted by well-known advertising and media entrepreneur Sam Balsara, who then took Anugrah under his wings.

The two agencies formed a joint venture in 1998 and in 2007, Anugrah was fully acquired by Madison. Today, the agency has about 20 clients including Philips Electronics India Ltd, ACC India and Titan Sonata.

Seshadri’s experience in this field has taught him a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t in our rural markets. Here are some tips from him on how to sell to rural consumers:

Know your customers: Rural markets are heterogeneous, as rural audiences vary from state to state and from region to region. Traditions and cultures are different; the way people dress and the language they speak varies with each region. Hence, there is a need to understand the mindset of rural consumers for every product and in every region before a meaningful strategy can be developed.

Plan long-term: Short-term, tactical rural initiatives such as taking an audio-video van to a few villages and conducting one-off roadshows to promote the sales of a brand may help in getting a temporary boost in sales, but they don’t help build brands. Marketeers must have a long-term commitment and must be willing to invest in the future if they wish to reap rich rewards from rural markets.

Customize messages: Developing an effective communication strategy which includes a customized communication package aimed at specific target audiences in rural areas is very important.

Keep it simple: The communication should be simple and straightforward, devoid of gimmicks. Suggestive ideas do not get across to people living in rural areas.

Beam it home: Television as a medium does not distinguish between rural and urban markets, but it has good reach in both. Therefore, if you are targeting your brand at consumers in both markets, it would be wise to develop commercials which appeal to both audiences.