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Role of Social Media in Rural Marketing

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Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and other media have also started their operations in local languages. Rural traffic, on these apps and sites, has increased many folds. Rural internet users have reached 120 million logging in through inexpensive devices. Using low-tariff data plans, they are sharing images and downloading songs and videos like never before. The numbers are going to surge. By 2020, rural consumers will constitute about 50% of India’s internet users to reach 315 million by logging in through inexpensive devices, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the US based management and business consultancy.

The surge in aspirations, incomes and resources in multiple ways are clear indication of the rise of rural India. Marketers need to understand and focus on this part of India in a different way. The colossal rural market of India is an attractive preposition but need quite carefulness while planning and implementing the campaigns. In the next chapters, we will discuss about it in detail.

India Lives in Her Villages

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Rural India consists of 70% of the total population as per the standard de-finition. But as a Rural Market Professional, it would be better described as 95% of the total market. Out of this 95%, around 25% is urban and the rest is rural. Catering to this big rural population is an opportunity as well as a challenge. The growth in rural India is fuelled by agriculture. The rise in use of fertilisers and other agrochemicals is a clear indicator of the growth in agriculture. There is a requirement of the infrastructural development to tackle the increasing yield of the crops. Road infrastructure, grain markets and other infrastructural development have been done to support the agrarian growth. The surge in industry have also helped the rural population to fulfil their dreams. With this development in the infrastructure and storage, the price and selling management have worked in a big way.
The development of private education in villages and nearby towns with CBSE and even ICSE schools have led to the development in educational standards in rural areas. A lot of awareness channels like mass media, TV channels and newspapers in regional languages have played an important role in transferring information to masses. In the last decade or so, the rise in use of mobiles and even smart phones have connected every village with the global information hubs. The role of social media, of course, needs to be discussed here in order to understand the rural market completely.

Employment Opportunities in Rural India

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Many sectors have started growing in rural India which automatically provide huge opportunity for employment and entrepreneurship. The growth of banking, insurance, education, health, manufacturing and agricultural innovation have created huge opportunities for growth and prosperity of rural people. Advertising in rural India consisting of printing, film making, artists and implementation agencies also generate a lot of jobs. The usage of the advanced agricultural and infrastructural implements like JCB’s and harvesters need a lot of skilled work force. The automobile companies like Mahindra, Suzuki and others sales and maintenance network is also generating a lot of employment. These opportunities are making rural India prosperous day by day. This prosperity is converting rural India into a big market leading to a virtuous circle of prosperity.

New Technologies in Agriculture

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Starting with tractors to thrashers to harvesters, agriculture is becoming intensely mechanised. Farmers are now opening up to new machines which are meant for specific purposes. A lot of farm equipment and machinery companies have developed their business in the last two decades. Technol-ogies like laser levelling of the land, precision agriculture, tissue culture and satellite based agricultural consultancy have started changing the scenario. Some of the emerging technologies that can literally change the agricultural landscape in the coming years are Soil and Water Sensors, Weather Tracking, Satellite Imaging, Pervasive Automation, Mini Chromosomal Technology, RFID Technology and Vertical Farming. Even today the electrical switches by L&T contain mobile based controls. Now a farmer can control the equipment from his home itself. Similarly in future, tractors will start indicating all sorts of troubles beforehand. Even the bacterial or viral activity in air can be sensed and whole village can use the preventive sprays to avoid disasters. The farmers are now welcoming new technologies and there is a large scope of these technologies in India. There are multiple types of equipment used in agriculture like harvesters combine, tippers, trailers, tankers, rotavators, seed drillers, oil tankers, truck containers, harvester combine, rotavators with roto seeder, hydro cutting presses, trailers, tillers, agricultural tillers, track combine harvesters, etc. These companies are growing much faster in the east and central parts of India.

Changing Farmers' Fortune

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Role of Cooperatives and Self Help Groups

The role of cooperatives cannot be ruled out in the growth of rural economy. Cooperative movements like Amul is the one of the biggest examples. In fact, dairy and sugar co-operatives have made India a ‘Major Nation’ in the world with regard to ‘milk’ and ‘sugar’ production. Today, India can claim to have the largest network of co-operatives in the world numbering more than half a million, with a membership of more than 200 million. The cooperative credit facilities and distribution of fertilisers and agrochemicals have been a huge success. The cooperative sugar mills in Western Maharashtra have changed the fortunes of the farmers in that belt.

Although cooperatives have failed in many parts of the country due to political interference and corruption, still this movement has changed the entire country’s mind-set towards agricultural growth. Self-help groups have mostly worked for women empowerment. In the stimulus package announced by the union finance minister to fight COVID 19, collateral free loans have doubled for women self-help groups (SHGs) from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. This will help 63 lakh SHGs covering 7 crore families.

There are 44.61 lac women SHGs as of March, 2019. The following news appeared in the Tribune News Service, Chandigarh on March 6. After leaving her government job as a Mathematics teacher in the early 90s, Ludhiana based Gurdev Kaur Deol decided to empower rural women and girls. It started as a small group in the form of a self-help group and today she is transforming the lives of 300 families by marketing their produce through Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs). She is not a lone example. There are many women and NGOs who are engaged in transforming the lives of rural women through self-help groups. The women who were unemployed earlier are now earning anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 20,000 per month. This income is making women more decisive and independent. Self Help Groups are building nation.

Rural marketing is the approach to see these opportunities and help people of rural India to realise their dreams and aspirations. There is a huge plethora of areas and geographies where the marketers can start, move and grow with the growing economy of rural India. Rural India is calling, “Come with us let’s grow together.”