Sumita Vaid Dixit
If some of you marketers/advertisers are still trying to crack that right marketing strategy to reach your rural consumers, a recent study by Marketing and Research Team (MART) sheds some light on how you should approach them.
According to the MART study, folk media is an effective vehicle to communicate and advertise in the rural markets. People are drawn to this because it is a source of entertainment and information. Especially in places where the exposure to mass media is negligible, and the level of literacy is low.
However, this suggestion comes with a note of caution. MART feels folk media can be effective provided the campaign is designed meticulously. Special care should be taken to ensure that the campaign provides 'edutainment' and is not used for preaching. The folk media campaign should reach out and touch the hearts of the rural masses, not just their minds.
The MART study delves into the varied forms of folk media that have evolved from the tradition and culture of the land. In the process of surveying folk media campaigns, MART found it was being used in conjunction with other below-the-line activities to leave an impact in the rural markets. These activities usually consisted of video-van campaigns, which included screening of product commercials and Hindi films. This was supported by interactive games like Wheel of Fortune, Pick The Ball and other activities like product demonstrations and influencer and retailer contact.
In this study (which focused on the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh), MART has analysed a few folk media campaigns that were coordinated by some major advertising and specialised rural marketing agencies. The campaigns were chosen to give a sample across the two main sectors, the corporate and the development sector. Within the corporate sector too, a spread across different product categories was surveyed. This was done to see if there was a trend in the use/effectiveness of certain folk forms across different products.
The MART study also pinpoints the reason why conventional media has not made sufficient inroads into rural India. It is largely due to the lack of infrastructure. This media, wherever available, is not accessible to all the people, either due to time constraints or due to gender inequality. For example, India has 46 million TV homes and out of this, only 15.7 million televisions are in rural areas. Again, movies are frequented mostly by young males in rural India. Women and young girls are not allowed to go out and watch cinema, as observed across the entire sample. On the other hand, the problem with print is the low level of literacy. Women, either due to illiteracy or social compulsions, do not read newspapers. The low penetration of mainline publications and their erratic availability in rural areas add to the low reach of print.
Based on this study, MART has the following recommendations.
• Non-conventional media forms are very suitable for regions in rural India where the reach of conventional media is limited. Besides the reach, the socio-cultural composition of the rural market and their preferences need to be considered to decide the choice of media.
• Folk is a good media to generate hype about a new product or to relaunch an existing one. Campaigns with this objective should also ensure proper distribution of the product so that the audience's interest in the product is converted into sales.
• While designing a folk campaign, the client needs to consider several factors like the time of the year, the time of the performance, venue, the regional preference for a particular form of media, suitability of the script etc.
• While conducting a folk campaign, it would be a good strategy to provide extra information about the product at the venue itself. This is specially required in case of products like tractors, fertilisers etc.
• Folk campaigns are a good opportunity to get feedback about the product, its distribution etc from the customers as well as the retailers and wholesalers. This opportunity should be tapped to gain the maximum benefit from the campaign.
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