The ‘Bharat’ part of India, which is home to 80% of the population, is fast catching up not only with urban India but also the rest of the world, according to a recent ethnographic study.

Writing exclusively for WARC, Amit Tiwari, vice president/marketing at Havells India, observes that “to feel the real pulse of India, it is extremely important to move beyond high-profile Metro cities that constitute less than 20% of the Indian population – and look at semi-urban, rural India.”

To that end Havells India undertook qualitative research involving structured interactions with 130 customers, retailers and influencers across 32 towns in 16 states, covering all 4 regions (North, East, West, South) in India.

And, Tiwari reports, “For the majority of consumers in Small Town India, Bharat seems to be shining.” (For more details, read the full article: Bharat Rising: Reconnecting with the soul of India.)

The overall quality of life in rural India is improving across all four regions, he notes, “and more so in the Eastern region which is typically considered the least developed region of India”.

Better infrastructure and a more reliable electricity supply are changing how people live. And the “Jio revolution” – the telecoms brand which has revolutionised the mobile internet with cheap data packages – “has opened an entire new world for small-town Indians, helping them bridge the gap between the aspirations and reality”.

Brand awareness is growing, often a result of information from overseas relatives. “Brands for these consumers cue an assurance of performance, trust, durability, and in some instances a status symbol and means to fit-in,” says Tiwari.

There is, he argues, a “tectonic shift happening in Bharat India which will become a tsunami in the coming years” and marketers will have to rethink how they reach this audience, whose behaviours and consumption habits are changing even as they remain connected to their roots.

“It is no longer just enough to communicate about basic or functional needs that a brand can satisfy,” he says. Instead, brands need to address “higher order benefits like how the brand will enable me to showcase who I am? and how the brand will help me elevate my life?

“This would ensure that a higher brand resonance and therefore, better acceptance amongst these small-town consumers.

Amit Tiwari’s article is part of a Spotlight series on rural marketing in India. Read more.

Sourced from WARC