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India Insight | Rural Marketing

Marketers have often resorted to “influencer” marketing in rural markets by reaching out to the clichéd, easy to identify Sarpanch, the elected community leader. However, in the last decade influence of the Sarpanch has been diluted by several factors, including NGO outreach, women’s education, regional language media, improved marketing infrastructure, and “pester power” – the influence of children on their parent’s purchasing.

The migrant worker is the new influencer. Driven to cities in search of a livelihood, the rural migrant young person represents a hero archetype, a breadwinner braving the unfamiliar to provide for the family back home. As rural insiders who have personally experienced urban India, their opinions and brand choices carry significant weight.

This phenomenon also highlights a shift in social perspective. While the Sarpanch represents a keeper of keys who helps keep out external influences, the young migrant is seen as a curator of urban experiences, helping rural India take a peek into the urban life, made aspirational by media exposure.

As marketers, targeting this small, localized and receptive community of migrant workers is a powerful means of delivering brand advocacy and generating demand in the rural markets, without even stepping on rural soil.

Mehul Shah

Head – Strategic Planning

Contract Mumbai