BCG's (Boston Consulting Group) latest report titled 'The Rising Connected Consumer in Rural India' has offered extensive information about changes taking place in India's rural communities.
The report highlights the importance of looking at India's vast rural base in a dis-aggregated manner. There are significant differences in digital behaviour across types of users and geographic location. For instance, a 30-year-old self-occupied businessman in a village in Punjab is very different from a 40-year-old farm worker in West Bengal.
The report, which profiles five different segments of internet users in rural India, states that around 120 million rural consumers are online today. The number is estimated to increase more than 2.5 times, to almost 315 million by 2020. Eighty per cent of internet users already use digital when they are buying goods or services, and 50 per cent actually buy online (increase from 30 per cent a year ago).
The report also depicts how the rural digital world is becoming big. It reads, "...rural users will constitute about half of all Indian internet users in 2020. This gives marketers an opportunity to re-evaluate the business case for reaching rural markets. Two-thirds of rural users go online using feature phones and only a quarter have smartphones. Almost two-thirds of urban users own smartphones. Because of differences in device, network capabilities and underlying consumer behaviour, rural and urban internet users choose different apps, and do different activities online."
In addition, the report shares proprietary data on how the digital uptake in rural is across 25 different categories. However, the digital influence in defining choices and decision-making is more, almost the same as in cities, in product categories such as mobile devices, laptops, and PCs, as compared to categories such as consumer durable, autos, and apparel.