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Rural upsurge as companies plan to harness potential in rural areas
Media's role in the fast developing nation like India is changing very fast and is going to be very demanding. Rural and semi-urban markets are the focus of the corporate world and they any how want to tap this huge market. CJ Madhvendra Chauhan, who was at the event, reports.

‘MEDIA BEYOND metros’ a two-day long seminar was organized by Rural Marketing Association of India (RMAI), and highlighted the emerging trends for larger business opportunities in smaller cities and rural areas with changing needs for the media world. In the seminar field experts explored the burgeoning opportunities in this large market and shared insights on how to develop strategies to mint this opportunity knocking at the door.

Karl Marx in one of his observations said that the Indian village is self-sufficient and contains all the elements to become an independent economy and he was not wrong in saying so. Post globalization many significant changes have taken place, one of them being the economic upliftment of the rural India, where most of our population lives. To facilitate business persons to understand various aspects and opportunities of this market, RMAI organized a two-day long seminar in Epi-center Gurgaon on January 18-19.

Throwing more light upon the opportunities in the rural market Pradeep Kashyap, President RMAI said, “Small town market has become the engine of growth and entrepreneurship is the spirit of small towns.”
The father of rural marketing in India also observed about the rising middle class in tier-II and tier-III cities and advised marketers to invest in these cities and towns to tap the potential.

There has been a significant shift in the business plans and strategies of many big business houses with more focus on smaller towns and cities. One of the reasons is the saturation that has been witnessed in the metros over the past few years.

Rural markets in India constitute a wide and untapped market for many products and services which are being marketed for the urban masses. Saswati Sardar, Director General, MRUC opined that rural markets of the country have more potential for growth than urban. She also observed about the changing consumer habits of rural people and pointed out that cities like Punjab and Goa are better markets for certain home appliances product than the metros.

She emphasized on the need of media in building a brand in the rural market and said that press has a crucial role to play in the entire process. “Smaller cities and rural areas have enormous potential to grow.” Said Laveesh Bhandari, Director, Indicus Analytics. He remarked that there would be fewer villages in India by 2030 as rapid development is taking place. With better connectivity to metros through ever-expanding road network, over 30,000 new towns will come out of these villages by 2030.

Bhandari suggested focusing on the education of people in these towns to keep the wheel of development moving. Commenting on the need for correct data and statistics of small towns, Bhandari said, “Private companies have phenomenal amount of data with them but don’t want to share it and have failed to use the data mutually.” He suggested sharing the data on common platform so that larger masses can be reached with more accuracy.

Harrish M Bhatia, CEO, My FM, said, “Tier-II and tier-III cities account for 70 percent consumption and is very cost effective medium to reach the masses.” He said that radio as an industry will grow 20 percent by 2015 and with more channels coming post march, reach of FM would be larger and effective. Speaking on the ever expending retail market, Zaheer Abbas, AVP, Technopack said, “Modern retail companies are looking beyond metros and in a decade, Indian retail market will touch $ 200 bn.”

Till now, eight metro cities contribute over 31 percent of business in the organized retail market. Out of upcoming 260 malls in India, 150 malls will be in 20 tier-II and tier-III cities. There are more that 270 million mobile subscribers in rural India. The mobile growth in rural areas is higher at 3.07% as compared to urban which was about 2.06% in January. The escalating figures of the mobile users are opening new avenues for the mobile companies to explore this huge market and they are doing so through developing user friendly mobile tools to make more money.

Social media was another area which was focused in the seminar. With increasing influence of social marketing, more and more companies are focusing on it. According to Vivek Bhargava, CEO, Communicate 2, over 36 percent people from tier-II and tier-III cities are using internet and have left behind metros. He said, “Internet and social media is a filter and no one can lie on it. There has been a significant surge in the usage of social media as business tool and have impacted consumer habits.”
The seminar was attended by several industry professionals and received a very good response from the attendees.The main sponsors of the seminar was Nokia and associate sponsors were SREI Sahaj e-Village Ltd., Gram Tarang Financial Services Pvt. Ltd., and the media partner for the event was Event Faqs.

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