International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Ms. Snehal Obhan*  
The term “rural marketing” used to be an umbrella term for the people who dealt with rural people  
in one way or other. The market scenario in the rural areas today is changing very rapidly. Rural  
consumers demand branded products mainly because of increase in disposable income and  
literacy level. A decade ago it was difficult to get network in rural area, but with the rising demand  
of mobile industry, it has given rise to digitalization if services. Rural consumers have become  
more aspirant, and today this segment of buyers is highly attracted by digital media. In recent  
years, rural markets have acquired importance, as the overall growth of the economy has resulted  
into considerable increase in the purchasing power of the rural people and preferences of rural  
people are also getting changed. So, every marketing player is keen to invest in rural markets  
with the use of various medias including digital mechanism. This study is a step forward to study  
the current scenario of rural marketing, highlighting the potential and challenges related to Digital  
Marketing in Rural India.  
Keywords : Rural marketing, Digitalization, Consumer attitude, Changing lifestyle.  
The necessity of harnessing science and technology for transforming rural India has long been  
recognized. It is tempting, Technology is going to make a huge difference to the way we look at  
Rural India. On the other hand, Rural Marketing means to develop, promote and create awareness  
about goods and distributions to the rural customers. This is done to identify and meet the needs  
of rural customers. And extend the outreach of the company to complete the objective of  
Also, rural market brings lot of demand for consumer products. Between 2009-2016, this industry  
has grown by 13% annually. With consecutive above average monsoon seasons, incomes in  
rural India will rise steadily and it will become difficult for companies to grab the available market.  
For such cases, digital can be a good option as people using internet will become influencers in  
most of the villagers as people using smart phone and internet are considered as smart and  
intelligent ones in the village. Companies, especially in consumer goods place, should start  
targeting people with smart phones and internet connections who in turn will spread word of  
mouth across locations. Businesses should start taking every Facebook user seriously as she/ he  
will be a big influencer in near future.  
To study the concept of digital marketing.  
To study the concept of Rural marketing.  
To understand the potentials of digital marketing in rural area.  
To understand the pitfalls of digital marketing in rural area.  
To provide conclusions to the study  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Definition of Core Concepts  
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering,  
and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at  
large. (Approved July 2013)  
Rural marketing  
Rural marketing involves the process of developing, pricing, promoting, distributing rural specific  
product and a service leading to exchange between rural and urban market which satisfies consumer  
demand and also achieves organizational objectives.  
Digital marketing  
Digital marketing is the use of the internet, mobile devices, social media, search engines, display  
advertising and other channels to reach consumers. As a subset of traditional marketing, digital  
marketing goes beyond the internet to include Short Message Service (SMS), Simple Notification  
Service (SNS), search engine optimization (SEO), electronic or interactive billboards and other online  
ads (such as banner ads) to promote products and services. Some marketing experts consider  
digital marketing to be an entirely new endeavor that requires a new way of approaching customers  
and new ways of understanding how customers behave compared to traditional marketing.  
Literature Review  
According to Saroj Kumar Verma’s article,one of the major challenges identified were the non-  
homogenous and scattered nature of the market. Other challenges included seasonal marketing, low  
per capita income, transportation, and warehousing. On the other hand, a huge population seen as  
huge consumer base in rural segment is admired as an opportunity for the marketers to channelize  
their efforts. Increase in purchasing power, as reported by Rural Marketing Association of India (RMAI)  
is another conclusion of the study which highlights that there indeed exists an untapped market in  
this segment.  
Erda CV (2008) in his studies explored the comparative buying behavior of rural and urban customers  
on mobile phones. The study highlighted the difference in terms of consciousness about price, quality,  
style, function and brand. He also observed that rural segments pay less attention to the quality,  
function, and brand and are more concerned about the price and appearance of the product. He  
concluded that minor modification or extrapolation of urban marketing strategies will never be the  
driving force in rural areas.  
Edward J. Malecki (2003) studied the potential and pitfalls of digital development in rural areas. As  
observed, there are potential benefits of the digitalization in rural area which increases the efficiency  
of the work but it also has downfalls like it would be the cause more deployment of human workforce.  
Due to advancement of technology the goods and services are now available just on mere click away  
from people and that has led to less physical connection. Internet and mobile have taken a crucial  
role in our life, let it be communication, Advertising or entertainment. It has also led to growth of  
digital economy.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
The study is descriptive in nature. Secondary data collection technique was implemented. The data  
used in this study has been collected from different websites and published papers.  
Integrating Rural marketing with digital marketing.  
Rural Marketing simply means providing relevant products/services to consumers as per their needs  
viz. when, how and where they need it. The biggest factor to keep in mind here is Language. Millions  
of people in India aren’t English savvy. But boost in Internet penetration has now urged websites/  
communication devices to incorporate different Indian languages. More languages used on mobile  
better will be focus and options available to rural population.  
Digital Marketing Trends in Rural India  
Rural market in India is huge and has a high demand base, which is mostly yet to be unlocked. This  
makes Rural Marketing, especially innovative Digital Marketing as an increasingly critical tool for  
India is said to be one of the most linguistically, culturally, traditionally and economically diverse  
countries. Comprising of 1.3 billion population, India has 29 states, 7 Union territories with people  
speaking over 120 languages with 1600+ dialects having myriads of religions. As a matter of fact,  
we can say that targeted audience is scattered across up to 600,000 villages in India. This diversity  
and versatility of India is what makes it so challenging for brands to execute Rural Marketing.  
In reality, rural communities are mostly constrained when it comes to entertainment options. Creating  
marketing communication solution that is highly entertaining and amusing to consumers will be at top  
of ladder.  
Wrapping a brand message in an extremely entertaining way for better absorption and understanding  
by consumers. Digital marketing is nothing but using modern digital tools like social media, mobile  
phones, emails, blogs, search engines, etc. for active marketing.  
Digital marketing has many advantages over ground marketing such as follows  
Great reach to customers: Due to wide range of connectivity advertisers can now reach up to any  
part of the region focusing on its target customers. Market segmentation can easily be done online  
irrespective to location.  
Mobile friendly messages: Marketers don’t really have to depend on high-end smartphones for  
mobile marketing. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, SMS, short codes Text Back response,  
Automated Outbound Dialing, are some of the best approaches for Rural Digital marketing as  
compared to social media marketing.  
Media: Mass Media has created increased demand for goods and services in rural areas. Smart  
marketers are employing the right mix of conventional and non-conventional media to create increased  
demand for products. The role cable television has been noteworthy in bringing about the change in  
rural people’s mindset and influencing their lifestyles  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Immediate Feedback: On ground marketing has a major drawback in terms of feedback to marketing  
strategy implemented. To analyze the customer’s response to the product, a greater number of man  
hours are invested and most of the time it becomes tedious task to carry out the response surveys. In  
contrast, digital marketing can easily keep a track of consumers who are interested or partially  
interested in product only by counting the number of clicks on the advertisements. Also, with use of  
modern software anyone can easily analyze the data and behavior patterns. Further, number of  
bouncers can also be recorded and other techniques can be implemented to bring them on platform  
Low cost of transportation: The features that needs to be put up at strategic locations needs to be  
transported from the head branches to the target location. Due to bad roads and distant placements  
of rural villages it results in a very high cost of transportations. In case of digital marketing this cost is  
cut down substantially. All the features can be projected on respective media through digital means  
which means no travelling involved.  
More lucrative options: Digital marketing methods are not limited space or time. Marketers can deploy  
lucrative means such as videos, audios, teasers, real-time analysis, etc. to capture the attention of  
the consumers in the segment. Compared to on-ground marketing where only few options are  
available, these methods have significantly more number of options to expand customers.  
Though Digital marketing has been a boon to the marketers but reaching its rural customers has not  
been an easy deal. The rural marketing has now become a running trend were the rural customers  
are upgrading them to the urban lifestyle, but at a slower pace. Increase in the Educational and  
income level have led the people of rural areas explore the market. Hence when we talk about  
digitalization, it has helped the rural customers explore new markets. Use of digital media as a  
platform for purchases will take time for the following reasons  
Rural customers have been purchasing products which they see in hand, take in detailed knowledge  
about the product and then buy it. Due to lack of physical connectivity with humans, trust cannot be  
achieved easily. Another factor is as the products are sold online, products like electronics, perishable  
goods, furniture, insurance policies, or any product which is of greater value.  
It has been estimated that all organized media in the country put together can reach only 30 per cent  
of the rural population of India. The print media covers only 18 per cent of the rural population. The  
radio network, in theory, covers 90 per cent. But actual listenership is much less. TV is popular, and is  
an ideal medium for communicating with the rural masses. But it is not available in all interior parts of  
the country. It is estimated that TV covers 20 per cent of the rural population. But the actual viewership  
is meager. The cinema, however, is a good medium for rural communication. But these opportunities  
are very low in rural areas.  
There seems to be a vast gap between the way the rural market has been shaping and the efforts of  
marketers and media to understand and service it. All advertising addresses consumers assuming  
that they will react as individuals. It is true in urban areas. But the rural audience is more often a  
close-knit group rather than a conglomerate of individuals. This therefore, requires basic changes in  
the knit group rather than a conglomerate of individuals. This therefore, requires basic changes in  
the perspective of marketer. The use of colours-yellow and red for wall graphics-though very vibrant  
in the rural context needs to be reexamined on the face of the virtual overuse by marketers. The need  
now is to get understood in quite the way we would like them to be. To an urban consumer, a model  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
shaking her head in a shampoo commercial is showing off the bounce in her hair. The rural consumer  
may see her as a bad girl because of her unrestrained behavior.  
The media mix, which is effective in urban markets, fails to produce the desired results in rural  
markets. TV followed by print and radio is appropriate to inform and induce urbanites. TV is effective  
but continuous availability of electricity is the problem in most rural homes. Radio listening is popular  
but not that effective compared to TV. Print media is the least effective because of low literacy levels.  
The emphasis should be on outdoor, vans, interactive folk media melas and haats. Outdoor media  
like wall paintings with high visual content are very effective. Non-conventional media like vans with  
an audio-visual content are very effective, though more expensive and difficult to organize. Lastly,  
Myriads of villages in India are still considered to be “media dark”, where it is just hard to reach the  
target audience.  
Rural marketing is certainly not a peripheral task to perform. Rather, it requires marketers to have  
proper mind-set to overcome psychological as well as physical barriers. Rural India is a  
widespread market that just cannot be neglected when it comes down to country’s GDP. Lack of  
consistency in electricity supply, illiteracy, language barrier, lack of exposure to latest trends, low  
income, social unacceptance, etc. are all main stumbling blocks of Rural Digital Marketing. Print  
media marketing is ruled out because of low literacy levels. Use of smartphones has boosted, but  
yet there are several rural areas that still use basic feature phones.  
Goel, U., Bajpai, A., Chauhan, S. & Verma, P. (2011). Changes in Rural Marketing Through  
Information and Communication Technology.International Journal of Innovation, Management and  
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Kumar, P.& Verma, A.(2017). Impact of Digital Marketing on Rural Marketing. Imperial Journal of  
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Patel, S. K. (2013). The Challenges and Strategies of Marketing in Rural India, Asia Pacific.Journal  
of Marketing & Management Review, 2 (7). ISSN 2319-2836.  
Tikku, P.(2017). Opportunities and Problems of Rural Marketing in India.International Journal of  
Marketing & Financial Management, 5 (3),01-05.  
Assistant Professor, Maniben Nanavati Women’s College, Vile Parle (W), 7303144050,