MUMBAI: Rural India is set to gain a place on the media radar with the launch of a new service that aims to not only track television channel availability and claimed viewership in non-urban areas but also details of consumer durable preferences and ownership.
Chrome Rural Track, a monthly report from media advisory and consultancy firm Chrome DM, will eventually cover 105,000 villages.
These are categorised into four strata based on population density, including reaching down to villages with fewer than 5,000 people.
IndianTelevision.com reported that this task would involve a "massive infrastructure of field staff and tele-callers, with knowledge of 22 languages", but Pankaj Krishna, Chrome DM CEO and founder, said this was necessary given the size and "social-cultural complexity" of India's rural landscape.
"Consumption patterns, consumer preferences and purchasing power of rural areas are significantly different from that of the cities," he said. "If we further dissect the data, there are radical differences in consumer behaviour within individual villages."
Early data released by Chrome Rural Track shows some significant differences between states as regards how people receive television.
Thus, 99.6% of rural households in Punjab & Haryana and 99.1% in Kerala get television through cable, while high figures were also reported for those in Gujurat (85.4%) and Maharashtra (70.3%).
Direct-to-home was a much more popular option in Himachal Pradesh (82.2%), Madhya Pradesh (66.2%) and Uttar Pradesh & Bihar (62.4%).
"With television being the main tool to communicate with consumers, it is critical that the brands have a refined knowledge [of] television viewing," stated Monica Tata, a member of Chrome DM's advisory board.
While television is undoubtedly important, marketers cannot afford to neglect the rise of the second screen, according to Gurpreet Wasi of IMRB.
Penetration of mobile phones is around 80% and this has driven connectivity and awareness of mainstream trends and brands, making rural consumers more aspirational than before.
"Regional servicing of markets is critical in the context of product design, distribution and communications," she advised.
Data sourced from IndianTelevision.com; additional content by Warc staff