A strategic, sustained and inclusive approach is required to convert rural consumers into brand fans – return on investment cannot be an immediate direct result of an initiative, according to an industry veteran.

Writing exclusively for WARC, Sandip Bansal, Chief Client & Field Officer at GroupM’s Dialogue Factory, observes that “a flirtatious or a promotional approach to rural consumers does not work”.

And he points to the examples of companies like Glaxo SmithKline, Reckitt Benckiser, Hindustan Unilever and Colgate, all of which have created and mounted long-term initiatives for rural India.

“They are expanding and gaining from it,” says Bansal. “Following them, other brands too, are now micro-targeting audiences in rural India and creating specific initiatives to expand their presence.”

Hindustan Unilever has in the past been singled out as an innovator in rural markets, with for instance, its Shakti initiative, which trained local women as rural sales agents who then sold Unilever products door-to-door in their communities.

And its various Lifebuoy campaigns have consistently promoted good handwashing habits as a means of improving hygiene and stopping the spread of disease.

The Lifebuoy brand has also partnered with organisations such as the Department of Education, Bharat Scouts & Guides and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, Bansal notes, which has enable to take this platform to new levels.

“Marketers need to work hard to understand the challenges and opportunities better to create a rural-ready proposition,” he says. (For more details, read the full article: Success in rural India requires understanding and a relentless pursuit.)

“They must then define the success metrics, form an integrated task force that works with entrepreneurial approach, have a holistic strategy to test and fine tune it, and lastly commit to a relentless pursuit till the time success is achieved.”

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

Sourced from WARC