Real estate in Haibatpur, a quiet village located 28.4 kms from Noida, ran into some trouble last year. The Allahabad High Court was moved over the issue of state-acquired land for affordable housing here. It is believed to be unlikely that there will be a stay on the affordable housing properties in the area but prospective buyers are unconvinced.
To allay their fears, local real estate dealers like Sang Real Estate Solutions have hired villagers as their mouth-pieces. They inform inquirers that they have received 100% compensation from the state government. They claim that even in case of a stay, a small amount of additional payment would be paid by the government. The land is already futile having been touched by cement. For the locals, the only tool for sustenance or development is selling this real estate. Under these circumstances, they are in a better position than suave city salesmen to make a sale.
This is not an isolated move. To improve the visibility of its FMCG products in the hinterlands, Godrej has undertaken hands-on interaction with village-folk. Below-the-line activity is their credo, and for this, they have resolved to stay ahead with participations at village fairs and in-store demonstrations.
In another instance, to promote their hair colour products, the company has roped in about 50,000 barbers in nine states in a co-branding exercise. They have allowed them to add the title ‘Expert’ to their salons; ensured that their fixtures prominently bear the company logo and provided them with grooming kits such as dye bowls, mixing brushes, as well as talcum powder and shaving cream. Since most people seek their barbers’ advice for personal grooming, Godrej has effectively influenced the influencer with these measures.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that a salesman by the name of Sandeep Sharma travels to several villages promoting a range of wares and products. He works for Linterland Rural Communication, part of Lowe Worldwide. At Benipur village, he sets up a stage, speakers and posters, and puts on a skit to gather a crowd. On this rural platform, he promotes Castrol, Lifebuoy, Close-Up and Nokia to rural folk that are untouched by mainstream media.
In India’s villages where electricity remains a privilege, it is a challenge for advertising to reach rural masses, communicate with them in their dialect and share information that is relevant to them. To fill this gap, salesmanship—an idea that had been shelved by marketing professionals in cities for so many years, has reappeared.
Today, several companies are resorting to methods of rural advertising such as Vritti i-Media’s audio announcements at MSRTC bus stands. Similarly, announcements made over PA systems at travel hubs and food malls, promotions through melas as well as on digital OOH are considered impactful because they can interact with the public. Since the advertiser takes on the responsibility to maintain the media, its effectiveness is better guaranteed than print, radio and television. With more and more corporate marketing strategies involving such innovative methods, the expansion of rural advertising is on the cards.