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5 Tips To Ensure Success In Rural Markets [Start-Up Tip]

5 Tips To Ensure Success In Rural Markets [Start-Up Tip]
IndiaSmallbusiness3 min read


While I was in my B-School, rural India meant 6, 40, 000 villages where untapped potential, shifting paradigms, and Trillion dollar economy resides. The numbers such as these only tell one part of the story. In reality, rural India, for its vibrancy, magnanimity & terrain, is best captured in its dusty tracks and glorious sunny fields. I realized the truth, when I landed in Bihar & Jharkhand hinterlands, straight from the air conditioned classrooms of Mumbai, to begin my sales & marketing career. Rural marketing had been a buzz word and a luring career option for many since then.

Often people come and ask me if succeeding in the rural markets easy. No, it isn’t. A lot of my peers joined the rural bandwagon and gave up due to several reasons—the primary one being lack of insights and knowledge of critical factors that ensure success in rural markets. In the following article, I will share some wisdom that aspiring graduates can utilise to tame the rural challenge.

Bring out the wanderlust in you: The biggest challenge that a young, city-based management graduate will face is extensive travelling. Now, I am not talking about hopping flights from one city to another here; this involves travelling in overloaded auto rickshaws, buses and very often on foot—every day. Sounds scary? Then forget about rural marketing and choose some other profession instead—rural marketing is not his is not a one day rural immersion program, it’s your daily job! You would be surprised to know FMCG companies have made a mandate that its rural distribution field force directly distributes products in all towns having a population of 5000 people or above. This is why, on any given day, a rural salesman travels anywhere between 60 to 150 kms, meeting different stakeholders, consumer sets and customers, on-the-not-so-smooth roads. However, the experience is an enchanting one. Not only you get to meet new people but also get an opportunity to explore rural India cuisines, tradition and art. I, for instance, always carry a digital camera to capture India, which one can only experience while travelling in auto rickshaws, buses and trains. Sounds game?

Be a Keen Observer: For a country as diverse and dynamic as ours, one will pick up a lot of anecdotes to share. For example, you have to see how men and women in dhotis & ghunghats shop for deodorants and face washes in a newly inaugurated super market. One has to keep in mind that organizations are not sending their management trainees to sell ‘more’; they send a management graduate to field to look for consumers who have never been explored. This is what MNCs and Indian behemoths need, people with a keen eye to discover Indian consumers which hasn’t hitherto been addressed.

Walk that extra mile: How about ditching the comfort of your AC hotel and camping in a rural hamlet for a week? While, today management graduates are offered mind boggling salaries and envious perks, it would be one hell of a story to be narrate in front of the top management and win admirers in the board room. This will also establish your reputation as someone who’s passionate about rural marketing.

Embrace Challenges: It is very easy to take refuge under the argument like ‘I am only a trainee, I can do only so much Etc.’ One shouldn’t hesitate in putting their hand up when faced with adversity. However, one must note that there are 2 good things about volunteering for a challenge: (a) Nobody actually believes that you can do much, and thus expectations from you are generally lower and (B) Even, if you fail, you will learn lessons during the course, for which superiors will give you a pat on the back.

Be a Disciplinarian: Remember hard work is the key to success—no matter where you start your journey from. As Harsha Bhogle once famously said in a lecture series at a B school, “One must work their backs off when starting their career.” To ensure that your rural stint turns out to be a success, maintain discipline that your work demands: right from waking up at 4’o clock in the morning to leave for far-off markets, to be dressed up sharp before you hit the market right at 9 AM. This is essential because a highly educated management graduate in the field is looked upon with respect and serves as an example to his team and partners. If you display lethargic and let go attitude while in the field, it would reflect poorly on you.

If you follow these tips, you would thrive as a rural marketer. In addition, your rural stint will also show you how we Indians have gradually migrated from ‘Roti, Kapda, Makaan’ to ‘Bijli, Sadak, Pani’ ! The field will teach you many lessons, but only if you are willing to learn. Get started today!

Author: Lokesh Vishwakarma from Pidilite

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