Do rural consumers trust mass media advertising?

With growing penetration of mass media in rural India, the old established term ‘Media Dark’ is fading away. But a big question still exists, do rural consumers trust the advertising on these channels?

Do rural consumers trust mass media advertising?

With the growing penetration of mass media channels like television and radio along with internet in rural India, the old established term ‘Media Dark’ is getting fading away. According to a recent survey conducted by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), 57 percent households own television and 87 percent use mobile phone.

With this, communication has become easier in the rural markets, but a big question still exists, does rural people trust the mass media advertising? The answer is, it is still not conducive for the marketers who are willing to communicate with the rural consumers and who want to reach the rural consumers through their advertising campaigns on television , radio or internet. There is a lack of trust exists between the consumers and the mass media advertising campaigns.

Highlighting the problem, Anuj Mehra, Managing Director, Mahindra Rural Housing Finance Limited (MRHFL) says, “Most of our customers are not even really believe mass media, if we advertise, they are not willing to believe that they can get financial assistance for their homes.”

MRHFL provides home loans to rural customers. The typical size of its loans are around rupees one lakh to a household which has an annual income of rupees 1.5 lakh. These are typically home completion loans. If a household start constructing his home and gets stuck due to lack of funds, MRHFL helps complete the work.

If advertising through mass media is not effective among the rural consumers, then what is the solution? Mehra responds, “We have to do one on one concept selling. We go to a village, gather 20-30 people, sitting below a tree, tell them what home loans are all about and what we can do for them. And from there, the process starts off. That’s how we reach out to rural customers.”

In this circumstance when mass media campaigns doesn’t fetch the desired expectations, experiential marketing and below-the-line (BTL) activities provide the outcomes and make rural outreach for marketers effective. The term media dark may have faded away but the trust is yet be built. And therefore, strategies needed to be built around the trust factor for winning the rural hearts.

According to a 2018 Nielsen survey, 50 percent of two wheelers and 30 percent of four wheelers are sold in the rural markets. This market accounts for 45 percent of revenue for telecom sector and 36 percent for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). The country has been witnessing a slowing down economy for past years. With 68 percent of the country’s consumer base, rural markets can bailout the Indian economy. And therefore, the marketers need to give special impetus on rural marketing with effective and convenient solutions. 

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