Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members


Read how Signify have been winning in their rural strategy because of their commitment and focus to the cause:

Signify is the world leader in lighting for professionals, consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our energy efficient lighting products, systems and services enable our customers to enjoy a superior quality of light, and make people’s lives safer and more comfortable, businesses more productive and cities more livable.

Back in early and late 2000’s Rural marketing was notion, a concept which most organizations realized had potential but few wished to serve or exploit it for the fear of unknowns – committing too much without getting a lot out really or what product/promotion/partner mix would really work.

This was until project Shakti and E-choupal— after several experiments finally got their mix right. Today, rural markets roughly constitute 40% of entire FMCG sales and are projected to grow at more than 15% CAGR till 2025. It hence becomes imperative that this channel be leveraged and served with purpose by any forward-looking organization.

Because of the category that we serve, we felt the need to go rural as early as 2002. Erstwhile Philips, initiated project Bharat to reach out to towns/villages with pop of 50k+. Post project Bharat, we took a step further and by 2010 we were in places with pop of 10k+. Truly keeping in lines with Philips philosophy of lighting lives and inclusive growth, with project Bharat we had truly served our end customers and kept our commitments. Not to rest on our laurels, we now have launched project Vistaar – truly to the word we have now set sights to serve hamlets of pop size 5 to10k+. Looks ambitious but doable. We always commit to deliver, and we shall deliver on this commitment as well.

The results today are sweet but all along the way we learnt lessons and I summarize them here.

Trust is the binding factor behind all rural programs, trust lies at the heart of every transaction. Our project too is centered around picking up trusted individuals from communities making them entrepreneur partners servicing the community. Trust for the Brand and product, and trust for the entrepreneur partner.

Smart Sales planning – Succeeding in sales process is extremely important. We were the earliest ones to implement sales force automation. That helped us crunch the longer lead times in rural product availability. Looking at past consumption patterns helped us get intimate with our customers not only were we looking to serve them faster and better but also getting ideas for product road map.

Our commitment to ‘Rural is so Real’ that we created products and packaging to cater to the rural requirements. Way back, early 2000, We realized low voltage and fluctuation is a major concern in rural and hence came the idea of Low Voltage Fighter Tube light, and now its Ujjwal LED lamp & Ujjwal LED batten. We realized that we had move to non-electrical outlets to serve our customers better hence Sachet packaging to ensure that we could be placed in non-electrical/grocery outlets.

While FMCGs were the first to succeed, followed by telecom (both handsets & service providers), followed by several white goods FMCDs who decided to take notice of these emerging markets. This pattern teaches us a few important lessons – first rural affluence has arrived, second customers wish to spend over things that are primary to them, and third it’s about reaching out to the customers and telling your story right!

And when Rural customers are told the story, right story dubbed with right channel can create real magic. In early 2000’s reaching out to rural customers was tricky, no more. While DTH has literally stagnated in metro with growth rates in early single digits and customers moving more towards data based services, the story is completed different in rural areas. DTH is still growing rural areas at the rate of more than 12-13%, while data in form of video consumption is constitutes around 65% of all data consumption from rural. Net net, the idea is to sharp segment customers – make first reach through DTH, and then push subsequent exposures through data.

To Sum, succeeding in rural is about getting committed to those markets – getting products/services which serve right needs – obvious or unstated, appoint right partners, build trust, build right communication exposure and there is no way one cannot win. Finally, fail fast to correct faster.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.