Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rural Brand Map by Harish Bijoor

Create brands keeping in mind rural imperatives

1.Reverse-engineered brands: Rural markets are different than the urban. Understanding is the key point. Reverse-engineer the brand quite unlike what we have done in the past. Go to the rural market and find out its wants, needs, aspirations, dreams and expectations. Go and meet up with a million villagers and create the product that is relevant to their needs. Stop depending on research numbers that run in the hundreds and a few thousands at the best! Ask the rural man what he wants. Engineer the product and the brand appeal and get back to him for a ratification. This time round as well, go back to the million hearts you reached out the first time to. Show it to him. Get it ratified. Insulate it all from the urban paradigm you have operated thus far within.

2. The name itself: Seek out the vernacular. Seek out the different. Seek out the name that is futuristic for sure, but seek it out in the ethos of the land the brand will sell within. Seek it out within the social milieu it will swim in. And don’t pass value judgment on the name that you seek out wearing tinted urban glares! And this goes for the slogan, the colour, and every component of brand appeal you will build for your brand of biscuit or bubblegum or bottle-cleaner or whatever!

3. The glitz and glamour of the advertising execution: Tread carefully here. Don’t for heaven’s sake decimate rural dress, culture, lingua franca, habit and rustic appeal. The point is to preserve and not decimate. Preserve and not clonalize! Watch out for the attitude that you covey. Look carefully for those hidden meanings that the hegemony of the urban marketer has cultivated in all of us. Take it through a thorough check and weed out the urban bias with a candour that will come more out of practice than upbringing and education. The fashion statement, the habit burr and the style-irreverence modern advertising seeks to throw at the viewer in the marketplace can on most occasions swim against the tide of social acceptance. Watch out for these signs and avoid them like the SARS!

4. Do a consciously aggressive rural job: Generations of wrong advertising and marketing norm has punctured the ego of the rural market for a while now. Go out there into the rural market with a passion to set right these wrongs. Do such an aggressive job on it that you will make rural a fashion statement even! Enough to make the urban man sit up and want to ape!! Position the rural ethos right. Position it uniquely with a yen to create a differentiation that is truly a world apart. Very few developed economies can boast a size of rural population that is multi-variegated as ours! Use it to advantage!

5.Packaging Right: Look for the ways and means that packaging will deliver freshness and maintain equity with the environment as well! The plastic revolution we witness today in urban markets is proving to be disaster! Fortunately for India, this revolution is as yet at a nascent stage in our rural markets. Imagine what would happen if the key issues of disposal were to affect three fourths a mass larger than it affects today in the country! The problem would multiply by a factor of four! Avoid this altogether and invent for the rural market forms of packaging that will be close to the environment we want to gift to our grandchildren marketers! Break away from the quality differentiation standards adopted by the modern marketer for Urban and Rural marketer. No apartheid here dear marketer! Equal money must deserve equal value!

6. The Price and Promotion Mechanics: The rural consumer has been through the throes of the games the urban marketer has played in terms of price and promotion. The rural dweller is tired really of collecting those inane sets of combs and tumblers and calendars alike. The rural consumer needs to be approached with a savvy sense of understanding his needs. Is it value that he seeks? If so what kind of value? Is it a value dictated by price? By quality? By quantity? Or by appeal? Functional or Emotional? Creating brands for rural India is a science that will require many ardent students who are willing to participate in this great big task of doing the different thing altogether in branding. It will require quite a bit of swimming against the tide of all that we have done in marketing in the past. It will require decimating many a myth. It will demand many years of hard work, something the urban marketer will find daunting. The rural market for brands is a powder keg of an opportunity waiting to be explored……not exploited! The traditional means of taking the urban brand and its appeal into the rural heartland will only destroy the fragile rural mind and milieu. I really hope the harm has not already been done! If it has, I rest my case…..a defeated soul in search of the ideal rural market!

Thanks Harsh !!

Yours Sincerely,
Nitin Kochhar