Product Strategies for Rural Market – Indian Perspective
A prime need for any firm to emerge as a strong player in the rural market is by carefully identifying gaps in the rural market and crafting the right product offering for consumers. Chalking out a product strategy for rural market differs in many aspects when compared to urban counter parts. Needs and demand of rural consumer might be contrasting to that of urban consumer and therefore its necessary to hit the right chord when entering the rural market. The prime objective is to design products to suit rural requirements.
Conventional wisdom on rural marketing states that the needs of the rural consumers are similar to those of the urban consumers. Hence, the products made to urban specifications should suit the requirements of the rural consumers. However, this is not true in many cases, as there is a market difference between rural and urban environments. For instance, Kerosene or LPG gas stoves, where the flame can be controlled, are used for cooking in urban areas, while an open fire or ‘Chulha’ is used in rural areas. Pressure cookers with handles on one side suit the urban consumers, but not the rural consumers for use on an open fire or a ‘chulha’. Perhaps, a wide-bodied cooker within handles on opposite sides may suit rural requirements. Therefore, while designing and developing products, the requirements of the rural consumers are to be considered and rural-specific products developed.
During the late eighties, shampoo sales boomed when it was introduced in sachet pack, because it suited the consumers in low income groups. Hindustan Motors (HM) launched a utility vehicle the RTV (rural transport vehicle), aimed at rural market. Hence, product development for rural consumers is necessary.
Though marketers are still trying and experimenting ways to successfully tap the rural arena, below are few product strategies which have been widely adopted and have proved themselves to work in the rural landscape:
Small unit packing: This method has been tested by products life shampoos, pickles, biscuits, Vicks cough drops in single tablets, tooth paste, etc. Small packings stand a good chance of acceptance in rural markets. The advantage is that the price is low and the rural consumer can easily afford it.
Another example is the Red Label tea Rs. 3.00 pack which has more sales as compared to the large pack. This is because it is very affordable for the lower income group with the deepest market reach making easy access to the end user satisfying him.
The small unit packings will definitely attract a large number of rural consumers.
New product designs: Keeping in view the rural life style the manufacturer and the marketing men can think in terms of new product designs.
For e.g. PVC shoes and chappals can be considered sited ideally for rural consumers due to the adverse working conditions. The price of P.V.C items is also low and affordable.
Sturdy products: Sturdiness of a product is an important factor for rural consumers. The experience of torch light dry battery cell manufacturers support this because the rural consumers preferred dry battery cells which are heavier than the lighter ones. For them, heavier weight meant that it has more over and durability. Sturdiness of a product either or appearance is an important for the rural consumers.
Utility oriented products: The rural consumers are more concerned with utility of the product and its appearance Philips India Ltd. Developed and introduced a low cost medium wave receiver named BAHADUR during the early seventies. Initially the sales were good but declined subsequently. On consumer research, it was found that the rural consumer bought radios not only for information and news but also for entertainment.
Brand name: For identification, the rural consumers do give their own brand name on the name of an item. The fertilizers companies normally use a logo on the fertilizer bags though fertilizers have to be sold only on generic names. A brand name or a logo is very important for a rural consumer for it can be easily remembered.
Many times rural consumers ask for ‘peeli tikki’ (Yellow Bar) in case of conventional and detergent washing soap. Nirma made a ‘peeli tikki’ (Yellow Bar) specially for those peeli tikki users who might have experienced better cleanliness with the yellow colored bar as compared to the blue one although the actual difference is only of the color.