A mix of urban and rural consumers is keeping marketers and brands in India on their toes.
Over a third of India’s population has become urbanised over the past decade due to income increases and middle-class expansion. The country has 720 million mobile phone users, of which 320 million are from rural areas, according to Counterpoint Technology Market Research. This has helped in connecting this huge market. In fact, internet penetration in India is driven largely by mobile phones. Access to services such as ecommerce, mobile banking, emergency lifeline, and mobile health are giving a boost to the quality of life of rural consumers.
Even though urbanites have a relatively higher spending power, rural India constitutes more than half of total household sector spending (53% in 2015). This makes it an extremely important market for brands to consider.
Use Of Digital
Digital is the new normal, even for high-value and high-involvement purchase decisions. Some 82% of Indian shoppers research online before buying and use multiple devices and interfaces to complete their purchases.
The modes of payment are also undergoing change. A Google-BCG report said that the digital payments industry will grow 10 times to $500 billion by 2020. Rapid smartphone penetration and consumers’ readiness to adapt will power this trend.
“Building real-time engagement with customers across various channels, offline and online, is important,” said S. Swaminathan, co-founder and CEO of Hansa Cequity Group. “Marketers also need to leverage the power of data trails customers leave behind, understand usage behaviour, build intuitive profiles and use personalisation tools.”
Some brands have become adept at omnichannel retail, have developed a better understanding of the new-age consumer’s tastes, and have mastered the art of engaging via social networks. Others are still playing catch-up.
Most brands, however, are looking to straddle both online and offline worlds. Sterling Holidays and Resorts, one of India’s oldest hospitality companies, has adapted well to the evolving environment. “We have seen a shift in customers going online to search for and book their holidays and share their experiences,” said Peshwa Acharya, Sterling’s CMO. “As a result, we have had to fully readjust the way we operate. We now use digital technology to share bookings and lots of other information.”
Part of the company’s digital readjustment has involved internal changes, such as data-based decision making, scenario analysis, planning ahead, and reviews.
Acharya said the disruption caused by social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) technologies is changing consumption patterns. Marketers need to prioritise digital marketing through real-time engagement.
Godrej Interio, India’s home and office furniture brand, has also tried to keep up with consumer needs across urban and rural areas. “Bringing digital to real [life] and linking both of them is an essential part of marketing,” said Bedraj Tripathy, head of integrated marketing at Godrej Interio. “Our users are not only digital or only real. Hence, a good integration of both is the basis of a strong marketing strategy.”