KARACHI: Global brand owners including Unilever and Nestlé see rural Pakistan as an attractive growth market, despite the ongoing political volatility in the Asian nation.
Pakistanis living in rural areas are showing a higher desire for branded goods, while rising global commodity prices have increased farmers' incomes over recent months, Bloomberg reports.
This has come against a background of ongoing concerns over terrorism in Pakistan and fractious relations with neighbouring India and Afghanistan. GDP growth has also fallen as the global economy faces new volatility.
But figures cited by the news agency suggest that Nestlé Pakistan has boosted sales by 29% over the first half of 2011.
More generally, the Swiss brand owner has a target of deriving 45% of total revenues from the emerging world by 2020.
Meanwhile, Unilever Pakistan enjoyed sales growth of 15% over the six-month period.
Globally, the company has set a target of doubling sales by 2020, with the bulk of the growth coming outside of North America and Europe.
In Pakistan, the FMCG firm has focused on selling beauty products to rural women as part of its current marketing strategy. Within three years, Unilever aims to have representatives selling its branded goods in over half of all Pakistani villages.
Shazia Syed, a vice president at Unilever Pakistan, said the firm's rural sales growth was "more than double" that of urban areas.
Also speaking to Bloomberg, Sakib Sherani, CEO of Macroeconomic Insights, said: "In a generally faltering economy, the double-digit growth in revenue for companies servicing the consumer sector has come almost entirely from the rural areas."
Pakistan is the world's sixth most-populous nation, and is home to around 177 million people.
Data sourced from Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff