CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR IN RURAL MARKETING
An understanding of consumer behaviour is essential in formulating the marketing strategies. However, information about rural consumers is limited and hazy due to lack of right competence, partial approach and limited knowledge and bias of the corporate managers.
Lack of right competence:
While the top management's commitment to understand the rural markets exists, the competence necessary for interacting and comprehending rural attitudes and behaviour is lacking at the lower, field staff level. The lower levels who look after implementation have exposure mostly to urban life and consumers. A deeper understanding of the rural milieu is needed for which people with proper exposure are required.
The research findings of marketing research and advertising agencies present different pictures of rural markets.
Limited knowledge and bias:
Even after almost two decades, from the time when it first came into vogue, understanding on rural marketing remains superficial at best. The argument, which through not always articulated is, after all, rural people are also people like urban and world have the same needs, desires and aspirations
The characteristics of the buyer that affect the buying process include:
- Age and life-cycle stage
- Economic situation
- Personality and self concept
- Psychological factors
(a) Age and life-cycle stage: Buying is influenced by the age and life-cycle stages of people
(b) Occupation: Evidently, the goods and services bought by a person are influenced by the occupation of the individual
(c) Economic situation: The purchasing power of an individual is the prime consideration for markets. If the disposable income of an individual is high, obviously, he or she can buy a number of popular goods or a few expensive goods. Marketers have to find the income sensitivity of the goods and services they offer and make decisions like:
Today, sachets of shampoos, toothpastes, hair oils, skin creams, cough
syrup and several other products tap the vast rural market. The small unit
purchasing is convenient to rurals who are mostly daily wage earners
(d) Lifestyle: Lifestyle is a person's pattern of living. The pattern ofliving is determined by the activities, interests and opinions (AIO) of people.
Activities ---- work, hobbies, shopping, social events, etc.
Interests ----- food, fashion, family, recreation, etc.
Opinions ----- about self, society, government, business, etc.
(e) Personality and self-concept: personality refers to the unique psychological characteristics that lead to relatively consistent and lasting responses to one's own environment. To relate personality to products people purchase, there are two aspects to be considered situation and person
(f) Psychological factors: the tree psychological factors, which help describe what goes on in the minds of consumers, have influence on his decision-making. There are
- Cognition and
Perception: It is the process by which people select, organize and interpret information to form meaningful picture of the object. Three perceptual processes, for example, selective attention, selective distortion and selective retention of audience make effective communication a challenge to markets.
Selective attention ---- People pay attention to things that they consider
Selective distortion ---- People interpret information to support what
they already believe
Selective retention ---- People remember what, in their view, is supportive
to their beliefs and attitudes
Cognition: The information gathering and processing styles of rural are simple since their sources and skills are limited. For them, learning is possible when the subject is simplifies; the presentation is made in their dialect and in a lucid style. With the aid of pictures and diagrams the audience is slowly involved in experiential learning through demonstrations.
Motivation: Motivation is a process of creating motives. A motive is defined as an inner urge that moves or prompts an action". Motivation to purchase a product becomes positive when the product corresponds to a need or a motive, which is to be satisfied. The motivation becomes stronger when such satisfaction is very important to the consumer.
BUYING DECISION PROCESS.
The BDP follows a logical sequence of five steps
Evaluation of alternatives
(a) Need Recognition: When the buyer recognizes a gap between his desired state and the actual stat, buying process starts. Such recognition maybe caused by stimuli either internal (self) or external (by environment or marketer). At this stage, marketer should help consumers identify their current and future problems and felt or latent needs. To do this, marketers have to research on consumer problems and needs.
(b) Information search: Generally, consumers try to find information pertaining to their want satisfying products to make the right choices. The amount of information required depends upon:
- Type of the product --- convenience, shopping or specialty good.
- Nature of the product --- complex, high-tech or simple and easy to distinguish
- Availability of sources --- the consumer may obtain information from one or more of the following sources
- Personal --- family, friends, neighbors
- Commercial --- advertising, sale people, displays
- Public --- TV, radio, internet and print media
- Experiential --- handling, examining, using the product
Search expands with the availability of time. Marketers have to take into cognizance this aspect and design offers to induce immediate buying. Keeping in mind the information needs of consumers, marketers should design communication programmes to reach the consumers and provide adequate and relevant information.
(c) Evaluation of alternatives:The evaluation process may be done more carefully and logically in some cases, for example, consumer durables. In case of convenience goods, which are purchased for one-shot consumption, the evaluation may be very less. Occasionally, it maybe impulse buying too.
(d) Purchase decision: All the existing brands in the market make a total set. through information search consumer will become aware of some brands in the total set. Awareness set consists for brands which the consumer is aware of the brands, which meet initial, buying criteria, will be considered for further evaluation. They make up the consideration set. Through application of final criteria, the consumer evolves his choice set. All the brands in this set are acceptable to the consumer. However, the final choice will be made in favour of one brand. The choice is dependent upon factors influencing the mind of consumer at this final state
(e) Post-purchase behaviour: A buyer feels satisfied when the perceived product performance is close to his/her expectations, if it exceeds expectation, the customer is delighted. If it falls short of expectations, the customer is disappointed.
Consumer is the basic foundation of every business. What consumer sees, thinks prefers and buys is of great importance to marketers to fine tune their marketing offers and achieve high level of consumer acceptance and satisfaction. The emergence of rural market as a viable proposition has sparked a new interest among marketers to explore and understand them.