How to Manage Brand in Rural Places?


By

Sandeep Saxena
Asst. Professor (Marketing)
AIT, Rampur
 


INTRODUCTION

The term "brand" which is defined as a name, term, sign, symbol or special design or some combination of these elements that is instead to identify or differentiate the goods or services of one seller or a group of sellers. But a brand, by definition, has a very small description of a package of value, on which our consumers relies & do same consistently over a period of time. A brand makes a distinction for a product or service from competitive offerings.

BRANDING PROCESS

Branding is a process, as well a strategy for an orientation/ creating awareness sometimes with differentiations among products/service by which a marketer tries to build a long-term relationship with the customers, a tool to position a product or service with a consistent image of quality and value for money to ensure the development of a recurring preference by the consumer.

Branding provides differentiation strategy when product cannot be easily distinguished. The process of creating a brand stems from research that starts with the concept of what the product is, and what its functions and objectives are. From this evolves the idea of what is should look, feel and talked about like. From these ideas generate the name and all its connation, after which packing, logo and communication strategies are developed.

So Brand building is usually a long, tedious and methodical work involving segmentation, marketing mix, and packaging, technical and financial inputs. A branding process, if executed well creates a brand ie equipped to handle changes in demographics, thinking from and functional changes as well as competitor actions.97% of new brands that are developed in the FMCG sector failed due to the reason of static nature applicable to overall market as it requires a continuous change in product appearance and performance as well as the total value equation is must for survival of any brand.

BRANDING IN RURAL INDIA

The concept of branding entered in Indian rural markets. Consumers have graduated & aware about to branded products as they are also having better income opportunities with increased affordability since last few years. A brand is recognized in the rural market with the help of colours, visual effect or any other identification rather than name which facilitates easy brand recall like: WO KALA WALA MANJAN DENA, WO NEELA WALA KAPDE DHONE KA SABUN DENA etc. But some brands are known by their names, for example, Nirma and Pan parag also.

The challenges in creating a brand identity in rural involve the need to relate the brand with the rural lifestyle & behaviour, with appropriate status symbols, or with the rural environment. As most brands are introduced in urban markets and then move to rural, creating a brand identity in rural markets is really a tough job. As non of the biscuits industry can easily break the image of Parle-G specially in rural market as even a child can easily identify that.

Building a brand image in rural areas/market place

The brand should have its own individuality. It should work like a celebrity & the advertisement should be based on empathy so that it could create a feeling of belongingness among the rural consumers.

As Mahindra & Mahindra have maintained their sterling image in rural. The Bhumiputra (son of soil) series of tractors,/ Ram ka Mesey, Shyam ka Taffe etc. with its rugged features.

Studies also have evaluated that the brand loyalty in the rural areas is much higher as comparative to the urban ones. But it is possible just Because of the brand could found an acceptance in the rural market as the one offering good value proposition. But building brands in rural areas is a different. This requires a specific committed focus and may not happen as spill over from urban market or by doing slight modification in communication and brand building efforts that were planned for urban markets for that there are the following tools, approaches and strategies have been employed by different organizations, to successfully build their brand in the rural markets:

CUSTOMIZATION

A deep study of rural markets has the requirement to find out the needs, wants and aspirations of rural consumers by directly contacting them. This can be followed with creating or 're-modifying' a product or service delivery process to make it relevant to the need of rural consumers. The entire brand building efforts has to be built on the basis of their needs and aspirations from a specific product category and the corresponding value provided by the brand.

RELEVANCE

It should starts with the brand name itself and it is important that the brand name or the punch line is in lingo language and is in tune with the culture of the market and the social surroundings of the market in which the product is going to be sold. The same logic applies to the colour, logo, slogan and every aspect of communication so that it strikes a right chord with the rural consumer and they can relate to the message. The successful advertisement campaign by NAMAK with the tagline  'Desh ka Namak', has a celebrity endorser not as a hero but as one who is depicting an identity of population of different regions, speaking in the regional idiom; it was a campaign to which audiences could relate to.

MEDIA

The media selection for a brand is really a tough taske for the branding as well very important, as the usual mass media may not prove to be very effective when used alone in the rural market. So, the organisation should select other below the line media as well; which can arouse the interest of rural consumers. The media selection should based on the purpose to build a wish for a particular brand i.e. live demonstrations, or contests depicting the qualities and the strengths of a given product. Demonstration vans with audiovisual equipments , which clearly demonstrate how a given product will solve the existing problems of rural consumers, are likely to have much deep-rooted impact, than the short commercial on TV. The brand building, can be done in the  Mandis, Melas and other gatherings of the rural areas & can be followed by the presence of the organisation in the regular Haats and Mandis for live demonstration of the benefits and actual sales of a product. Because of high level of interaction, haats can be an effective medium for rural advertising. Villagers are in buying mood at the haats and mandis.

MESSAGE

Message for the brand building should be in the local manner of speaking and such that the rural audience can easily decode the intended meaning. Message should meet the rural sensibilities and should be modified in accordance with the cultural variation from one region to another.

Message should be utilitarian and narrating the functional benefits of the product.

Rural consumers have strong visual sense. As they relate more with logos, colour and symbols, icons. Therefore, these have to be built prominently in the overall communication. Otherwise the entire brand building effort can go haywire.

IDENTIFICATION OF AUDIENCE

The vast massive amount of the rural population either does not understand English or even is illiterate. So, it becomes extremely important that the illiterate rural consumers or those who can not understand English can be certain that they are getting what they are thinking of or desiring to have and not the cheap imitation or a fake product having a similar name.

WORD OF MOUTH

Rural communications effort undertaken by an organization should be such that it can generate a lot of publicity in the oral Leninist culture of rural India. Therefore, targeting the right set of opinion leaders with the campaigns which lead to oral publicity in the region is more likely to develop the brand recall than the five or ten seconds commercial on the TV, which the rural consumers are likely to forget at the time of the purchase. The rural consumers want more believable information and in order to be twice as sure they prefer to hear from other people whom they feel to be more dependable than the TV or print media advertisement. The stories they hear from others are more believable in from of clues and tips.

CONCLUSION

So at the ending stage it can be said that 'branding' as a trend is getting established in the rural market. But the response of consumers towards brands varies region-wise i.e. from developed to the developing or under-developing areas. Different age groups with different socio-economic profile approach the branding trend in very different manner in the rural market across different product categories. So to estabilish a brand image in rural areas should be conducted with the help of various tools like customization, relevancy, word-of-mouth etc.

REFERENCE

Gopalaswamy, T.P(2008), "Rural Marketing Environment, problems and strategies," Vikas Publishing House.

Kashyap, Pradeep and Raut, Siddartha (2007), "The Rural Marketing Book, Biztantra,  New Delhi.

Krishnamoorty, R(2008), "introduction to rural marketing," Himalaya Publishing House, Mumbai
 


Sandeep Saxena
Asst. Professor (Marketing)
AIT, Rampur
 

Source: E-mail August 11, 2010

          

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