If you are planning a rural branding strategy, you should go beyond your marketing orthodox.
As a marketer, you can feel the heat of competition around you. The urban markets are already impregnated with sellers, it’s a good time to taste the rural market with your brands.
It’s true that branding at a rural market is way different from urban areas. Commensurable with the rural need you must develop your own brand development strategy to tap the rural market.
Why You Need a Rural Branding Strategy?
Stiff competition in the metros and big cities has pushed the corporate houses to think out of the box to stake a claim on larger rural markets.
Well, I’ll not claim that all the Companies are averted to the rural market, but in most of the cases, they are. And behind such a rural compulsion you can sense a few reasons like creeping profitability.
The saturated urban market and cutthroat competition among the market players have taken a toll on their margins, operating in urban areas.
It has created an atmosphere for the marketers to rush to the rural population and predictions are on, that the rural markets are also going to be competitive in the near future to come.
So, the marketers ought to take things urgently and prepare their rural branding strategy to establish their product brands at the earliest to tap the untamed rural market.
What is Rural Branding?
Rural Branding is the process of creating an identity about a product through a unique name and image in the mind of the rural population focusing primarily on their economic condition and spending nature.
It shouldn’t be something like extending the brand of the product used in urban areas to the rural market. Unlike regular branding, you have to build a sense of kinship between the product and the people while doing rural branding.
In fact, a generalized approach of branding in the rural market often harm the companies beyond its expectation.
Results of Poor Rural Branding
You may have learned hundreds of sales tricks, but Rural Branding requires an in-depth study of the rural economy and the necessities.
In a rural economy like India, where a majority of the population is dependent on agriculture, costly lifestyle products may not have mass takers. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 70% of India’s rural population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.
Although the rural economy around the globe is moving fast, the average per capita income is still lower than that of the urban economy. Market specialization is very important in this regard.
Some of the major consequences the corporate houses may face due to poor rural branding are:
- Poor acceptability of the product.
- Sale degradation due to poor knowledge of the product.
- Growing uninterest about the product due to an unmatched utility with the environment.
How to Do Rural Branding?
Branding strategies for rural markets are quite different from that of the normal one. In a market where the literacy rate is below the national average, you have to obtain different approaches to tap the market.
Here I have enumerated certain steps of branding strategies meant for rural economy and how to make it acceptable for a larger class.
Step 1: Select a Brand Name
Your rural branding strategy begins with the selection of a brand name. It’s the pivotal point of your brand.
A name gives an impression about your product. If you are targeting the rural market, it should go with the masses especially the lower income groups.
To have a competitive advantage over others, it’s important to do research on the target market and observe their culture, tradition, language, education and most importantly their likings.
If you take these things into consideration, you may realize that the rural people are much comfortable and feel at home with simple names, local and culturally bonded.
Even the multinational companies like Samsung, LG and many more have created products and brands incommensurate with the mentality of the rural people.
Samsung has named one of its mobile series as ‘Guru’. ‘Guru’ is a Sanskrit word which means the teacher whose position is very respectable in our society.
People find this type of names very native and feel comfortable in using it.
The brand name and pricing of the mobile phones were done by Samsung India keeping in mind the rural population of the Country. And it proved to be a very successful brand.
The bottom line is that your brand should be easy to recognize as well as easy to recall.
Step 2: Positioning The Brand
If you are a marketer, probably you won’t have any issue understanding the concept and importance of Brand Positioning. For a non-marketer let me explain the things in an easier way.
Brand Positioning refers to the art and science of placing a product or a service in a broader market segment/s in such a way as to set it meaningfully apart from the competition.
In simpler terms, Brand Positioning means to take your brand name in such a position that it is embedded in the minds of the people.
Positioning the Brand is a step-by-step approach starting with assessing the current position of your brand to testing the efficacy of your brand positioning.
In a rural economy, people are more regionalized. A global outlook may not fetch you the best results while selling goods in a rural area. Mere internationalization often treated as an alien thing.
Obviously, a localized approach has better reachability than any other techniques practiced globally.
Regional or local names, tag-lines and slogans in native languages, describing features in easy and local languages, easy to remember symbols, advertisements in vernacular languages etc. work better in penetrating rural and semi-rural markets.
For example, Shree Cement Limited has introduced a cement named Shree Ultra Jung Rodhak (Anti Rust) Cement.
This brand created an image in the minds of the people especially in rural areas that this is the cement that protects your house from rusting. The idea clicks and a notion is created among the masses which stimulates revenues.
Step 3: Enhancing Recognition of The Brand
While doing rural branding, brand recognition is extremely important. In fact important than your product.
Yes, you read it right.
To establish your brand in rural areas, your brand certainly needs recognition which is beyond your practiced business techniques.
A large part of the rural population does not even recognize the products with their generic names. An easy to identify mark or symbol extends you the opportunity to recognize your brand.
For example, your logo or symbol with materialistic elements surrounding us draw more attention than any other abstract art.
Suppose you are using a symbol of small metallic water pot (‘lota’ in Hindi) on a matchbox produced by you.
Rural people where the literacy rate is not that high, they remember such things very easily. They will go to the shop and say ‘lota wala machish dena’; please give me the match with a symbol of ‘lota’. Here is your victory.
In another example, you can see below that a popular packaged drinking water brand ‘Bisleri‘ has adopted a localized approach like vernacular product packaging to enter the Indian rural market.
It gives them better accessibility with easy to read the name and linguistic sentiment for their brand recognition.
Step 4: Building a Brand Image
While endorsing your products or services, you ought to have a strong brand image. An image that downplays all your competitors.
In the case of rural branding, it has been observed on many occasions, people buy products out of faith than to utility.
When you do branding for a geographical location you should be cautious about selecting a brand name. People in the rural areas often overwhelmed with customary rituals, mythical beliefs and traits.
Keep your brand away from such taboo subjects. While doing an endorsement, do not indulge yourself or your brand name in any controversies that hurt people’s sentiment. Otherwise, none of your marketing tricks would work.
Your brand names should be such, that radiate respect, proud and trust. Like Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. introduced tractor series brand called Arjun. This is the name of a main central character from the great Hindu Epic Mahabharata and believed to be the best archer in the world.
People in a country like India has unbounded faith in these mythological characters. People when buy products of those brand names, they feel proud and create a strong bond with the brands.
Step 5: Countering Spurious Brands
The fifth and the most important step while planning your rural branding strategy is to fight against the spurious brands.
You won’t believe, but Spurious Brands are the real threats every brand faces in the rural areas. In fact, in a situation like unattended follow up or interrupted supply chain, such brands may even engulf your one.
What are the Spurious Brands?
Spurious Brands Stand for those goods and services which are claimed to be genuine or portray itself to be genuine products but are no so. In simple terms, they often called as duplicate brands.
This is what differentiates branding in urban areas to rural areas. Sounds odd, but the fact is your own brand has to fight against lots of brands that look alike, spells alike and the products which look desperately duplicate.
The primary reason behind such apathy is the lack of brand awareness.
The Brand Awareness comprises of two things. Brand Recognition and Brand Recall. Brand recognition is the ability of a consumer to recognize the brand when they are asked questions about that
Whereas brand recall is the potential of a customer to recover a brand from his memory when given the
Since rural customers are less literate and largely away from corporate beckons, brand recognition and brand recall have lesser implications.
Manufacturers of spurious brands mostly ride piggyback on the advertising campaign of large players and establish their own brands in the region. This eventually affects their post-purchase decisions and can harm the image of the company.
A new study has revealed that branding with social perspective especially in the rural areas has better exposure than anything else.
If companies are interested in augmenting their brand values social campaigns often help them reach their desired goals. This has a two-way advantage.
One the people of the rural areas will be aware of the brands’ presence in the market which the Company is striving for and secondly, the living standards of the people can be elevated through social changes.