Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rural Branding:- Political Parties can provide a good opportunity

Rural marketing is surely the buzz word these days .Every company is trying to position their products to the rural customers .A lot of companies are into picture that specializes specifically in rural marketing domain, even the regular big wigs like Ogilvy & Mather has started their own rural branding wings namely " O & M OUTREACH" .

In spite of so much of hoopla going around regarding projecting the rural customer as the next big thing the author is somehow skeptical about this. The basic reason of this doubt is that no matter the rural India constitute a major chunk of the Indian population ,the fact cannot be denied that it still ranks low on per capita income .Moreover in order to cater to the rural India companies need to come up with lot of product & process innovation which they are still not willing to do .Baring few of the companies like Hul who have successfully implemented programs like "Shakti Amma" or Itc there had been hardly any land mark success in the given domain .

But there is an area that can provide a very interesting platform for both the client firm as well as the branding firm to implement rural marketing & this happens to be the promotion of political parties .India the biggest democracy of the world has many national level as well as regional political parties with their political ideology spanning across the spectrum from far right to far left .The fate of these parties are decided in the Lok Sabha election & the Vidhan Sabha election conducted once in every 5 years . What had been seen that though these parties spent huge amount of money in media & promotional campaigns but most of them are spent in print media and tv media which often have low penetration in the rural landscape where as the point to be noted over here is that majority of the voting population (around 70%) comes from the rural India .So no matter what kind of promotion happens in the regular media circle it cannot make any damn difference to the fate of the party until unless the campaign does not target the rural population .The best example is the 2004 Lok Sabha elections where in the regular mass media circles there was hell lot of noise regarding the "India Shining " campaign and almost every news channel predicted that "BJP the party with a difference " is going to win the election but when the result came out to every one's surprise it was n't the BJP but the Congress which made the government .The reason of the BJP'S debacle was very simple , though the promotional campaign targeted the urban mass well it was totally insulated from the rural crowd which in general plays main role in electoral victory owing to it's bigger number .
In spite of such practical examples still the political parties are not serious enough when it comes brand their image in the mind set of the rural voters .The general tendency still is to target them with the same general mass media tools used for targeting their urban counterpart .They must understand that the rural people might be economically laggard but politically they are quite active , only thing that is needed is that if one wants to target them then it must come up with specifically designed local campaigns . One must understand that in the realm of rural india its not the mass media that matters but what does matter is the local as well as the outdoor media activities such as demonstrations, plays, small budget theatres , promotion in local events such as melas, pujas etc, convincing of influential people such as the surpanchs,post masters & teachers who can then convince other people etc .

Professional rural brand management agencies can provide a lot of expertise in this pursuit .Hope this so far neglected domain of branding will soon be taken into consideration and will provide a new set of partnership between the cash rich political parties and emerging agencies of rural branding.

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