Web Exclusive | Book Review

Web Exclusive | Book Review

Rural Marketing, Sanal Kumar Velayudhan, 239 pages, Rs295; Customer Value Investment; Gautam Mahajan, 182 pages, Rs295

With rural consumers being finally targeted by FMCG companies, mobile manufacturers and the government, there is need for a more scientific research data base that allows you to get a grip on what it is that the rural consumer wants.

Undoubtedly, a different set of conditions exist for the marketer who is located in an urban and/ or rural setting. Limited literature and absence of a framework to guide decision makers has served as a gap for marketing departments and advertising agencies.

Cultural variations in a rural set-up call for not just new methods but also unlearning new ones if one has to understand the concepts that would work in rural marketing.

The book provides a fairly comprehensive profile of India’s rural market with a region/ city wise break up along with demographoic profile, income and spending patterns as also consumer preferences in the kind of pricing and packaging that will appeal to them.

Corporate case studies like Colgate Palmolive’s promotion blitz through video vans or the value offer from Amrutanjan add to the practical offering that the book has. reads. By sharing a small incident like the one given below, the author drives home the point that rural market consumers are a sizeable market yes, but they need to be approached from a different prism.

“Vice President of Amrutanjan during his visit to the rural market observed a customer walk into a small retail store and ask for 1Rs of Amrtuanjan. He noted with surprise that the retailer took a scoop from the pain balm bottle and transffeerred it to a small leaf before handing it to the customer. On enquiry with the customer he discovered that she was a loyal user of the brand as it helped her sleep well after a day’s hard labour. She earned daily wages and she could not afford to buy a full battle. The company developed a small round tin pack inserted in a small transparent plastic puoch to prevent leakage. The additional value to the customer came from the tin pack’s doubling up as a small tin to store kum kum and bindis.

Drawing attention to the role of haats and melas it has an interesting mix of information that would be relevant to hardcore marketers as also general readers, who want to understand the changes sweeping the rural hinterland in the profile of the buyer and the strategies of the manufacturer/ advertiser who can today no longer afford to ignore the rural market.

Retaining managerial perspective of its first edition, the second edition of the book is revised and expanded. The author is professor, marketing, IIM Kozhikode.

The second book on Customer Value Investment talks of customer being the ultimate driver of business buying products and services that provide value that differentiate one company from another.

Using the unique customer-in-centre concept it tells you how investing in customer value canincrease market share and profitability of a company. Moving beyond customer management and satisfaction to loyalty; becoming market leaders and improving business results; understanding the value they provide to customers; improving service quality and loyaty; setting up customer circles and building customer conduits; understanding competitive strategies and pre-empting competition and most importantly measuring customer capital.

The author is president of Inter-link Services and Customer Value Foundation and is engaged in consulting in strategic management and customer value globally. He talks of customer DNA and maximizing value of customer feedback through chapters that have been split into very easy to read and absorb categories – the awakening; the focusing; the touching; the understanding; the creating; the encircling; the comarping; the stragtegizing; the recokoning; the implementing and the concluding.

Explaining the term commodity hell, he says,

“The term commodity hell comes from a quote by GE’s Chief Executive, Jeffrey Inmelt, who said that managing innovation better maybe the only way out of the ‘abyss called commodity hell’. New products quickly become commodities s competitorscatch on. The trick is to get out of the commodity hell and avoid the death spiral."