MUMBAI: As millions of rural Indians connect for the first time with feature phones, marketers in the country remain wary of what the actual opportunities for brands will be.

WARC spoke to experts on India’s rural segments and discovered that several believe the promise of a mobile revolution may still be some way off. (For WARC’s exclusive report on the challenges and opportunities in rural India, read: Marketers are divided on India's mobile future.)

Khurram Askari, Director at Insight Outreach, a rural marketing agency in southern India, isn’t bullish on the idea and believes it is going to take some time, with traditional media set to remain a critical media investment to target rural Indians.

“Rural consumers are yet to catch up with the usage of smartphones and adoption of new technology,” he told WARC. “Though mobile phones are considered to be one of the important marketing mediums, traditional media such as television and radio are still playing a dominant role."

For Ravi Shankar Bose, co-founder of mobile marketing company Fugumobile, content is key.

Technology already exists to reach out to consumers in rural regions, he explained. “The issue mostly is the content.

“The content needs to be localised for these small regional areas. Language is a major hurdle in localisation. On the mobile media, while phones now support regional languages, marketing hasn't really extended to utilise the localisation capabilities of the phone,” Bose said.

So for brands to truly capitalise on the emerging rural market, localisation of both the channel and the content itself will be critical – but this requires a huge investment on behalf of brands.

“In the traditional media, marketing content is already being created in local languages which can be seen on print, outdoors and TV but despite the better targeting offered by mobile, they have not been effectively employed on the new media,” Bose added.

Data sourced from WARC