'Indian marketers must focus on rural market for growth'

Wednesday, 20 August 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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Indian consumer goods companies must innovate new marketing strategies to corner a larger share of the vast rural market that is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, experts said Wednesday.

NEW DELHI: "Going rural is a question any marketing person must have reflected on many times and rightly so because it is a market of over 700 million potential customers," said Carlo Donati, chairman and managing director of Nestle India Ltd.

"The recent collapse of interest rates and various schemes available in the market offer opportunities for a wide range of durable products in rural areas," Donati told a marketing summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry here.

He said all consumer goods companies must look and search for new opportunities, consumers and markets to offset the impact of "congested and difficult" urban and global markets.

Donati said high exposure to media, changing lifestyle and increased pressure on time was fuelling the growth in rural markets.

Sanjeev Gupta, president of chief executive officer of Coca-Cola India, said companies planning to make a long-term presence in rural markets must understand the local customers, retailer and distributor.

"It is a tempting market but fraught with challenges. Companies must build a long-term sustainable model to reap future rewards," he said.

According to Gupta, Coca-Cola has increased its presence in rural areas by selling products in 81,383 villages in 2001 to 158,432 now.

"Rural markets account for 30 percent of our volume and it is growing at a fast pace," he said.

Sudershan Banerjee, managing director and chief executive officer of Dalmia Consumer Care, said companies must understand the "rural mindset" to consolidate their presence in villages.

"The divide between urban and rural market is not geographical divide, it is a mindset divide. And the mindset must be changed first with the tactical promotion of products," he said.

Source: IANS

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