BENGALARU: Britannia, one of India’s leading biscuit makers, is deploying a high-tech strategy as it seeks to increase penetration in rural areas and boost the proportion of its sales generated there.

According to the Business Standard, just 22% of Britannia’s sales come from rural markets, compared to an industry average of 33%, and the company is teaming with local start-ups operating in areas such as geo-spatial analytics, census mapping and retail point-of-sales solutions as it looks to shift this figure.

Gunjan Shah, vice president of sales at Britannia, believes that by using such technologies, and applying insights thus derived, the company’s existing distribution network can be utilised more effectively to reach those areas where aspirational rural consumers, encouraged by use of mobile phones, want to trade up.

So, for example, it has collaborated with a Lucknow-based census agency that has developed a framework that brings together census data, consumer demographics and the profile of local retail stores.

“The agency has helped us move from a pure population-driven distribution model to one that helps us identify consumption and market-place clusters thereby improving the result-to-effort ratio,” Shah explained.

“This bettered our business extraction and competitive position in erstwhile blind spots,” he added.

One consequence of Britannia’s efforts is that rural stock points have more than doubled in recent months, from 7,000 to 18,000.

A WARC Best Practice paper, How to market to rural consumers in India, notes that India has more than 600,000 villages, but that just 100,000 are home to 50% of the rural population and hold 60% of its wealth.

Since it is not commercially viable to physically reach out to villages with a small population, it advises marketers to focus their activity on the 75,000 villages with a population of over 2,000.

Among the techniques that can be deployed are partnering with key local influencers and participating in the many locals fairs and festivals.

Sourced from Business Standard; additional content by WARC staff