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Will GramNet push digitisation in rural marketing?

C-DOT, a Government of India body recently launched GramNet to provide satellite based Wi-Fi services in the villages. R&M explains how it will push digitisation in rural marketing

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With 20 crore active internet users and 57 percent teledensity in rural India which is in fast growing pace, rural marketing in the country has seen a paradigm shift over the years. The teledensity has pushed the numbers of internet users in the hinterlands as around 97 percent of internet users in rural India are accessing connectivity through mobile phones.

Besides, directly reaching to rural consumers through mobile phones and internet in rural India, the marketers also get consumers’ feedback within a short span of time. The communication which was one way earlier, the two way communication has enabled marketers to understand consumers’ need as well as feedback for product development. Many fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies have successfully implemented this approach in their rural marketing strategies.

The teledensity has also eased marketers getting orders from retailers and distributors quickly and filling their stocks accordingly. Digitisation in rural marketing is expected to get a major boost in the near future as Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) has recently announced to provide Wi-Fi connectivity in all the villages through GramNet with a speed between 10mbps to 100mbps. Besides, BharatNet is also planning to provide high speed internet with 1 gbps speed in the villages which can be extended to 10 gbps.

In the wake of difficulties in laying down fibre network in the remote areas, the satellite based newly launched Wi-Fi service, based on C-Sat-Fi technology will enable people in rural and remote areas to get Wi-Fi facilities and mobile phones in all corners.

Commenting on the latest technological development and its potential for rural marketing, Dalveer Singh, Head - Experiential Marketing APAC at Dialogue Factory, a WPP Company said,“ This is a great initiative by the government to provide connectivity to every village. Brands will now have a strong platform to reach the unreachable through a language, area and culture specific interventions.”

“Rural marketing has been on a very slow process of adopting digital. This initiative should add speed to digitisation of rural marketing and thus eradicating the term Media-Dark from rural markets. This will help in making rural marketing more focussed, sharper and cost effective by mining the audiences,” Singh added.

The implementation of these technological advancements can transform the communication in the rural areas. When the country is celebrating 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, this will be a great tribute to him, who had dreamt of gram swaraj, self-reliance in Indian villages. Self-reliance of the villages is the path for inclusive development which has key for growth in demand of goods and services in the rural markets.

Describing the need of inclusive development and self-reliance in the villages, Sanjeev Shukla, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Muthoot Pappachan Group said, “We need to - even for the sake of repetition - realise that India can really progress, both socially and economically, only when the growth is inclusive. Inclusive in terms of all classes of people and inclusive in terms of urban as well as rural. Rural is predominant and almost 70 percent of the population residing in the villages. Without inclusion and upliftment of rural people, there's no way that India can genuinely be a developed nation.

Technology, apart from the basics of livelihood, shelter, education and health & hygiene is at the core of socio-economic development for the people in the villages and for the poor people overall. It is directly related to empowerment in every sense of the term and hence will be real and rapid driver of inclusive growth. Apart from the access to basic services, health & hygiene communication and - most directly - education both basic and professional, will get significantly and positively impacted with this technological advancement.

“FMCG consumption, growth of mobile telephony and all kinds of data point towards rural being a big market and contrary to misplaced belief that rural = poor. Rural contributes massively to the sales of several different industries. Physical and fiscal challenges of reaching out and accessibility has been a challenge. The digitisation will be a paradigm shift in that aspect and so will help rural marketing,” added Shukla.

Through these technological advancements, marketers would be able to interact with rural customers to understand them better and so design products, services and marketing campaigns better; delivery of campaigns, tracking and measurement of efficacy and return on investment will get much better; adoption of digital, like mobile apps, over-the-top media (OTT) platforms, video content, interactive content will have much better penetration, helping the marketers in various industries.

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