Winning Over Digital Consumers in India’s Towns and Villages

There’s a new kind of customer in digital India – the folks living in India’s towns and villages. These are people who have growing spending power and a keen interest in buying all manner of products. A report states that the rural population in India is 948 million. Around 32% of that population (299 million) are active internet users, with over 90% of them accessing the internet daily. That’s a lot of people! On top of this, it’s estimated that rural India will likely have more internet users than urban India by 2025. 

As we can see, there is enormous scope here, waiting to be tapped into by digital marketers and eCommerce entities. This creates opportunities in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, too. Reports show that during festive sales in 2019, Amazon and Flipkart generated sales worth Rs 190 billion. A good portion of this came from tier 2 and 3 cities. But marketers shouldn’t get ahead of themselves. This segment of customers has specific consumption patterns that need to be studied. Then only can marketers connect with them authentically. 

For one, this is not a monolithic super-segment. The segment can be broken down into different groups themselves. For example, there is the ‘traditionalist, who is more old-fashioned and price-conscious. Then there are others, such as the steady climbers, village elites, and the young enthusiasts. Each of these groups has its aspirations and should be communicated with differently. 

How can we reach out to these new digital customers? Some prevalent trends are as follows:

Value-Based Shopping

Many of these consumers prefer value-based shopping on eCommerce websites. They shop for a wide range of products that are simultaneously useful and affordable. These customers seek discounts, EMIs, and cashbacks. They also appreciate options such as cash on delivery and the right to replace faulty products. Therefore, brands must be creative when coming up with offers and propose competitive pricing structures to these segments. Such initiatives increase their trust in online shopping.

Content in Local Languages

Local language content is going to be all the rage. This is no secret, whether you’re on your way to building a website, start a YouTube channel, or set up an eCommerce store. Websites like Amazon and Flipkart have launched Hindi versions of their platforms in the hopes of making potential customers feel more comfortable while using their shopping portals. It creates a better overall experience. Not only should local languages be in your mind when creating product descriptions and adding features on your website, but they should also reflect in your advertising efforts. Create ads that reach out to people in the language they understand.

Branded Products

Rural customers also desire to purchase branded products. Studies show that 71% of rural customers buy branded products due to the brand image, functionality, and aesthetics. If they’re getting all these elements, they’re also ready to pay a premium price for the same. This is due to increased media exposure and celebrity brand advocates. Such individuals are drawn explicitly to eCommerce platforms as these brands have a low retail presence in India’s smaller cities. As eCommerce platforms give these customers access to various brands and related information (reviews and ratings), there is a clear pull. Therefore, eCommerce platforms provide these customers with access to rare commodities and valuable additions such as information.

What Does This Tell Us?

These findings reveal a few things.

  1. The Rural Consumer Has a Progressive Bend

Some experts say that the urban-rural divide is a myth. The actual split may be between traditional and progressive mindsets. According to an Accenture report, more than 50% of the customers are willing to use digital channels. Advertisers must reach out to customers in such a way that increases their trust in the eCommerce ecosystem. They must convince these consumers that the products online are of excellent quality and can provide actual value. They should also communicate that online shopping is easy so that a supposedly complicated purchasing experience doesn’t turn off shoppers even before they start.

  1. Brands Must Extend Their Mental Reach

Today’s customers are becoming more brand conscious and aspirational. Brands must take advantage of this and study what each segment aspires to. Using digital marketing initiatives is an excellent way forward since smartphones are more available and affordable than ever before. Social media platforms like Facebook have a great reach in these towns. In the past, TikTok showed a considerable impact in reaching out to rural Indians. Today, several other similar platforms are trying to recreate that success.

  1. It’s Different Strokes for Different Folks

Marketers have to understand that the consumer segments across Indian towns and villages are incredibly diverse. In some areas, the people have relatively low disposable income and would be attracted by competitive monetary deals. A product’s value must be effectively communicated to them. Then there are certain towns where an omnichannel strategy would be the most effective. Here, customers can touch and feel the products and buy them at a discount from an online store.

  1. Learning Culture Will Help

Special occasions such as local festivals will drive spending habits. Understanding the local events and the culture of different areas will help create more effective campaigns. It will also result in a more consumer-centric marketing initiative. 

  1. Decisions Must Be Data-Driven

At the end of the day, all this will only be possible if you collect accurate and relevant data based on these segments in their respective areas. Such data will help you understand whom you’re reaching out to, what they want, and where they’re willing to get it from. Using this data will also help you create the right content to attract quality traffic to your online communications.

In essence, data is the key. New markets demand new strategies and must define the message and tone of communications along with the channel and placement choice. These are exciting times for India’s retail-focused brands, and the possibilities are endless.