Branding strategy in Rural Communication

Coca Cola Ad in Rural INDIA

Branding involves a gamut of activities, the total of which leads to creating the brand. But when the scenario is looked at through the rural market lens, the variables and dynamics of marketing and communication get redefined.

Let’s take India’s case, a country that is witnessing robust growth and a booming economy.

The country’s growth is happening at a steady rate as foreign funds flow to fund infrastructure and consumer markets that seek to tap the rural domains extensively. How do the dynamics change with the change of settings, i.e., from an urban market to a rural market?

Are the rules different in this case?

Well, the rules may be the same, but the perspective of approaching things might be different. In other words, it calls for looking at the scenario with a rural and pragmatic lens.

Rural areas are often overlooked by businesses when it comes to marketing and branding. Over 600 million people live in rural areas, making up a large market.

Kirana Stores INDIA
Kirana Stores INDIA

Many unsaid dicta of rural communication are being used effectively by leading advertising houses like O&M to market brands. Most of these are subject to the terrain, demographics, & psychographics of the different rural regions in the country.

So, devising an effective rural communication campaign calls for a few caveats and imperatives that cannot be ignored. Businesses must use a different branding strategy in rural markets than in urban areas to be successful. This is because rural consumers have different needs, wants, and values than urban consumers do.

Here are some key considerations for branding in rural markets:

Focus on the needs of the rural consumer.

What are the challenges that rural consumers face?

What are their priorities?

What are their values?

  • Understanding the demands of rural consumers can enable you to adapt your branding message to meet those demands.
  • Use simple, clear language. Urban consumers are often more educated than rural consumers. Keep your branding message simple and clear, so that everyone can understand it.
  • Use local channels. Word-of-mouth and community events influence rural consumers. Make sure to use these channels to promote your brand in rural areas.
  • Be authentic. Rural consumers are more likely to trust brands that they perceive as being authentic. Authenticity is key in branding, so be genuine and true to yourself.

Develop a branding strategy that works in rural markets with these tips.

A few measures which could prove effective in rural communications are:

Understanding the Audience

The psyche of the audience is of foremost importance when it comes to communicating messages related to brands. People or consumers in each region have their own set of idiosyncrasies and dogmas deeply rooted in their rituals and customs. So, what would apply to one would in all certainty not apply to another set of consumers in a different rural region.


As people in each region have their own cultures and rituals, this implies they have their set of symbols or identifiers which, once identified, could be used very effectively. This is conveyed through wall painting, which still conveys in rural parts of India, places like villages where colorfully painted walls become the center of attraction. As the communities are closed in nature, people passing by the walls notice the product, which leads to high brand recall value.

Apart from the symbols, there could be other aspects, such as worship, where crowds throng in large numbers. So, O&M used this effectively for Lifebuoy by conveying the message of safe health by propagating it through Gurudwaras. They put up banners and billboards, which emphasized the importance of using soaps for good health.

Lifebuoy Soap Ad
Lifebuoy Soap Ad

Use of Common Sense

It often happens that in a bid to look at minuscule aspects revolving around marketing, Brand managers in advertising firms cannot apply common sense – a tool that comes in as a very potent measure in rural communication.

An example of the same could be seen in the visual communication used by O&M to bring out the difference in loose and packed tea by drawing a parallel between healthy and inferior grains, a correlation that worked instantly in the rural communities which depend on agriculture for livelihood.

Branding Objects

Advertising firms could resort to visible means of communication that percolates into the community’s daily lives by branding objects used by the community’s people. This could range from their buckets to painting wells, which could lead to high brand recall value.

Rural Khaitan Ads
Rural Khaitan Ads

These were just a few thoughts that could go a long way when it came to effective communication aimed at a rural audience, and these were not the only ones. While devising the communication strategy for an audience that has a different way of viewing and perceiving things, it is the behavior that needs to be addressed and not just mere superficial needs.

Well, there exist many more but most of them adhere to one primary line when it comes to the rural audience – Me, Myself, and My Community.

Here are some additional tips for branding in rural markets:

  • Use personal selling. Personal selling is still a very effective way to reach rural consumers. Salespeople can build relationships with rural consumers and explain the benefits of your brand in a personal way.
  • Offer free samples. Offering free samples is a great way to get rural consumers to try your product. The likelihood of customers becoming loyal increases after trying your product.
  • Establish partnerships with regional organizations. Forming partnerships with regional businesses is an effective strategy for connecting with rural consumers. Collaborating with a local business provides you with the opportunity to tap into their network of customers and supporters.
  • Use social media. Social media can help businesses build strong relationships with rural consumers. Utilize social media platforms to disseminate your brand narrative, advertise your merchandise, and address inquiries from prospective clientele.

By adhering to these suggestions, you can establish a branding strategy that will enable you to engage and reach rural consumers.

Brands that have used rural branding successfully:

  • ITC: ITC is a leading Indian conglomerate that has a strong presence in rural markets. ITC’s branding strategy for rural markets focuses on simplicity, authenticity, and local relevance.
  • HUL: HUL is another leading Indian conglomerate that has a powerful presence in rural markets. HUL’s branding strategy for rural markets focuses on education and empowerment. HUL’s products are often used as tools to teach rural consumers about health, hygiene, and nutrition.
  • Nestle: Nestle a globally recognized food and beverage company, has established a powerful presence in rural markets all around the world. Nestle’s branding strategy for rural markets focuses on convenience and affordability. Nestle’s products are often designed to be easy to prepare and affordable for rural consumers.

These are just a few examples of brands that have successfully implemented a branding strategy for rural communication. You can reach and connect with rural consumers by implementing the tips in this article to your branding strategy.

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