Are you a retailer who believes that Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities are your biggest markets? What does a city mean for your business? What if I told you that your business can grow 3x?
Oh, and what if I handed you a ticket to your biggest market so far?
While speaking at 9th Annual Rural Marketing Forum: The Era of Digitalisation on 26th & 27th May 2016 at The Westin Mumbai Garden City, the most prevalent question posed to me was,
“What does ‘Rural’ mean to you?”
Rural means OPPORTUNITY. Where others see Dhotis and Turbans, I see a maze of aspiring individuals in denims and helmets.
I see WhatsApp messages, clear skies, open minds, eager eyes, and millions of desires. I see roadways of hope. I see sustainable demand. I see tangible dreams. A small town dweller aspires of nothing but growth. It is that very growth that will help brand owners G-R-O-W!
Continuing my thoughts from #RuralDigitalRevolution here is the conversation that can, and will, enable retailers in India.
Many brands asked, “what does sustainability really look like for a brand in the rural areas?”
A continuous consumption is what sustainability is about; a continuous demand from a person who has aspirations of urban living. I see sustainability with loyalty. I see the charms of a niche brand being sold to the small rural areas and towns of India, which itself is the biggest opportunity for retailers.
There was one thought that did echo throughout the forum, unanimously and unequivocally. Retailers were thinking of business and wanted to proceed cautiously. One such person heeded the following –
“Haven’t we jumped ahead of ourselves? Why would a brand invest in transporting goods to a small town which hardly has proved itself to be a market so far?”
You may have heard of Blue Ocean. That’s exactly what this is. First mover advantage coupled with a trust building exercises will land you your growth strategy. If you do not convert these customers someone else is guaranteed to do it. Also I will guarantee you that the customer is most likely to stick to the first mover, especially a small town customer. Further, haven’t you put full force in the cities already? And you must already be experiencing diminishing returns on the efforts & huge investments being made.
However, if you do invest in developing a green (rural) market, you are now opening up vistas that initially may seem slow but will stick to you and become your brand’s backbone.
The best question of the entire get together addressed the execution strategy: “Great, you have made a point on how brands need to look at rural areas to grow. But what is the shortest way to get there?”
There are no shortcuts in life but this dilemma that you ask me about actually does have a shortcut. It’s called e-commerce. Marketers have to bring in a change. Why does a brand need a shortcut anyway? In reality, it is just a perception of what rural India looks like that discourages brands to think in that direction. However, it’s in fact a matter of very simple math. Start with finding out what your customer profile is. I am not saying I am selling a high end luxury product in rural areas, but I am saying that I will sell a product that will have great features and lots of benefits. People are interested in benefits that will act as enablers, facilitating an association with life in metros. A taste of comfort and a touch of glamour is what they are looking for.
According to IAMAI, 75% of internet usage growth is going to be driven by rural areas. Rural – is – the new green urban.
So, retailers, here are the 5 basic steps to activate your brand in rural India:
- Where do you place your product in the life of your customer base in rural India?
- Get listed on a good e-commerce portal that has a huge network and shipping facilities such as Amazon, Shopclues and FlipKart.
- Are you a solution to pure aspiration, pure benefit or a replacement to an existing product? Or is it a totally new concept with a clear promise?
- Allocate resources that believe in rural India.
- Use technology such as WhatsApp, social media and a good CRM.
I will end this here by stating that rural India is also very Promise-Driven. Deliver your promise and you will get a beautiful reach, additional visibility and a brand new market. I bet you will see the beauty of your rural friends adorning those loyalists who will grow, and make your brand grow. I rest my case.
P.S.: Stop treating rural India as a land of snake charmers, dhotis and turbans. It isn’t one anymore. The change is here. Better incorporate it in your perception as well. Else, your brand will miss out on the next big opportunity. #RuralTheNewGreenUrban