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#5 Ways FMCG Brands Can Bypass Checkpoints In The New Rural Battlefield Here are a few important aspects that brands should consider while they plan to venture into the unexplored interior parts of the country

By Ghazal Alagh

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The telecom revolution and internet penetration in the Indian hinterland have made the rural marketplace a goldmine for industries to explore. Especially for FMCG brands, it has shifted the battlefield from urban to rural India. To survive the changing trends, companies will have to rework on their strategies to accommodate the needs and preferences of the next billion consumers. Here are a few important aspects that brands should consider while they plan to venture into the unexplored interior parts of the country.

Going Vernacular: To ensure greater engagement, better reach, and growth in rural India, vernacular adoption is crucial. Majority of consumers in rural and semi-urban areas are not well-versed in English. Keeping the language of communication as local and conversational as possible can be a differentiator in the market dominated by non-English speakers. Communication and support in regional language across various touchpoint will help in building trust in the brand. Voice-to-text adoption and conversational commerce supporting native tongue will help brands engage with the new customer base. Above all, vernacular languages will make brand acceptance easier and faster in the hinterland.

Using Social Commerce: To attract the upcoming generation of mobile-first rural consumers, brands should leverage social commerce strategy. Most of the rural households use smartphones instead of laptops and desktops, therefore, m-commerce through social platforms like WhatsApp can play an elemental role in capturing the market. These social platforms can be used to promote content, build relationships and could also be used as an online market for selling products. The social media platforms will allow brands to create a retail network by connecting users with common interests. It will lead to higher conversion rates through localized content sharing and endorsements within the groups.

Right-sizing and Pricing At this point in time when government agencies and private players are jointly helping people in villages improve their income, the rural consumers are no longer attracted to low budgeted products. With increasing awareness and better financial conditions, they are being driven by value-based products. However, for rural consumers, every purchase is still an investment, and they are conscious of value for money. Before entering the rural market, it is important for brands to consider the price, size, and packaging of their products to make it cost optimized. By offering consistent quality, the right packaging, the right size, and right pricing, brands can easily earn rural consumers' trust and loyalty.

Propositions Which are Relevant: Even though the consumers in rural India are waking up to the modern ways of life, they still can't let go of their traditions and values. This results in a market that is highly fragmented based on geography, customs, and beliefs of a particular segment. Though branded products are the aspiration of the modern rural consumers, the same urban-centered catalog is not effective enough to attract them. Brands will have to make conscious efforts to bring unique and customized propositions to these unconventional consumers. They will have to ensure that the business does not by any chance hurt the rural sentiments or challenge their values. Brands should focus on enhancing customer experience by offering the right mix of quality and cost while also addressing the need gap in a particular geography. Instead of outrightly hitting the rural market, thorough research should be done to understand the relevance and feasibility of the products for the consumers from rural areas.

Celebrity Endorsement: Celebrity endorsement in the FMCG sector has become an inseparable part of the business. Celebrities from cricket and Bollywood beyond doubt have a huge influence on consumers across the country. But an important point to consider while selecting a celebrity for promotion is that his/her attributes should match with the brand attributes, else the strategy is bound to fail. Local and regional influencers should also be considered for promotion as they already have won the trust in the market and have loyal fan followings. Locally known faces endorsing a brand will make it stand out, enhance brand recall and creates immediate awareness.

Ghazal Alagh

Co-founder of Mamaearth

A Corporate trainer turned artist cum entrepreneur Ghazal Alagh, co-founded Mamaearth, driven by the passion for making early parenting, stress-free. As the Co-Founder and Chief Mama at Mamaearth, India’s first toxin-free baby care brand, Ghazal is responsible for product development and community management. She works closely with a large number of mothers to develop a product line that addresses problems that moms face on a daily basis. The idea of a 100% toxin-free baby products brand came to Ghazal when she became a mom and had a difficult time finding chemical-free products for her son, Agastya.

Besides being a successful entrepreneur and devoted mother, Ghazal has been recognized amongst top 10 women artists in India, nationally and internationally. With a Bachelors in Information Technology and Intensive Courses in Modern Art, Design and Applied Arts from New York Academy of Arts Ghazal started her career with NIIT as Corporate Trainer, as a part of her role, Ghazal trained managers and engineers from various IT companies in SQL, J2ME, and Oracle.

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