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Out of India’s millennial population of 450 million 300 million live in rural areas, making up 36% of the rural population. (Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)
Out of India’s millennial population of 450 million 300 million live in rural areas, making up 36% of the rural population. (Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)

Millennials in Rural India shaping consumption patterns in the hinterland

  • Millennials in Rural India could influence $220 billion worth of annual spending, with $177 of this being discretionary
  • Migration to urban areas and deeper internet penetration are fueling aspirations of rural millennials in India

New Delhi: Millennials in rural India could influence $220 billion worth of annual spending, with over $177 billion of this in discretionary expenditure, as migration to urban areas and the internet fuel their aspirations, according to researcher Kantar IMRB and Dialogue Factory.

India is home to the world’s largest population of millennials—typically defined as those aged 18-35. At 450 million, these millennials are influencing the way Indians eat, shop, commute and buy, much like their global counterparts.

However, a bulk of these millennials lives in India’s hinterland—home to 300 million rural millennials, or 36% of the rural population, according to the report.

And this demographic is shaping consumption at the bottom of the pyramid.

“Rural millennials are increasingly shaping the bottom of the pyramid with increased rural-to-urban migration, particularly among the aspirational and ambitious millennials," says the research.

Rural India, home to more than 66% of the country’s population, represent an important consumer base for large companies. They draw anywhere between 30% and 40% of their revenue from selling to rural households—albeit products at lower price points.

And as India’s millennial population has emerged as a sizeable demographic, marketers across the board are relooking at how they can serve them better. The urban Indian millennial, for instance, is well exposed to global trends and continues to seek similar experiences closer home. For rural Indians, higher aspirations and growing access to the world are driving their purchases.

According to IMRB, search for better employment, spending on better education for their children, ownership of land, and government jobs continue to be the driving values among these households. “Monetary concerns rule and education is a key route to changing their status," notes the research paper.

This also reflects in higher instances of migration among rural millennials, who are moving to bigger cities in search of better job opportunities.

Also read | India's internet base crosses 500 million mark, driven by Rural India

According to the research, while 73% of Gen Z (those aged below 15) live in rural India, only 67% of millennials continue to stay there.

“If we look at the distribution of Millennials vs Gen Z, we find a distinct pattern pointing to migration of millennials from rural India perhaps in search of employment. Clearly, the desire to improve their economic status is a key driver for rural millennials regardless of personal costs such as staying away from their children. This is true for both male and female milliennials," it adds.

Also read | How millennials in India invest their money

“The trend of migration has accelerated with the millennials; it was there earlier, but there is a higher instance of migration in rural millennials," said Puneet Avasthi, senior executive director of Kantar IMRB.

Mumbai-based consumer goods firm Godrej Consumer Products Ltd, the maker of Cinthol soaps, has been studying the rural millennial population closely. “The way some millennials in rural India are emerging as trendsetters who are displaying the ability to access, absorb and store information—that’s in the way they are linked to the new world, which is emerging thanks to increased mobility," said Sunil Kataria, chief executive officer of India and SAARC at Godrej Consumer. 

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