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Digital disruption: Will Hyper-Connected Consumers revolutionize the rural market trends in India?

by Nikhil Mathur , 23.08.2017

Today we are living in a digitally connected world ruled by the millennials, Hyper-Connected Consumers who are creative, realistic, ambitious and eagerly looking for innovation. These consumers look for ease, comfort and something extra-ordinary in every product and service they buy. And to help brands communicate well with the Hyper-Connected Consumer, the government of India has seriously taken a path towards achieving the dream of making the country digitally connected.

With a plethora of opportunities that Digital India brings to the table, it has become imperative for companies to have an in-depth understanding of how to make the best use of it and deal with today’s Hyper-Connected Consumer.

The rural consumer

Further, as the digital divide is being minimized at a rapid pace to bring rural areas into the mainstream, the rural consumer has also become smarter and so have the channel partners/brands. Hyper-Connected Consumers in rural markets are ready to experience innovative retail concepts like mobile payment. Brands are therefore looking to create an end-to-end, relevant marketing strategy to effectively tap into rural and semi-urban geographies.

Amazingly, early in the game, HUL gave a technology boost to rural marketing. Its Project Shakti enhanced its direct rural reach and created livelihood opportunities for underprivileged women by making them hyper localized distributors of its products, selling directly to villagers and retailers. If you look at the Indian telecom sector; free voice calls, drop in data tariffs, sharp competition among Indian telecom companies and finally the dramatic entry of Reliance Jio has caused massive disruptions in the recent past. And now Jio is all set to launch a discount handset in a bid to further expand its customer-base.

Discover the Hyper-Connected Consumer in India with us

Interestingly, Facebook sponsors free Wi-Fi hot spots across India. It has “2G Tuesdays” in its Menlo Park headquarters, where developers can experience a slow connection and how Facebook works on it. This clearly demonstrates how consumer experience in the world of hyper-connectivity affects the business model.

A few years ago, Idea Cellular launched an initiative called 'Har Mobile Par Internet' (Internet on every mobile) which was an extension to its popular 'No ullu banaoing' (Do Not Fool) campaign. This service provided step-by-step digital literacy lessons via IVR (Interactive Voice Response); a tutorial designed to teach consumers how to access and use the net on feature phones. Such various contemporary technologies have found their way into the arsenal of rural marketers across the country. In brief, a disruptive business model is a prized corporate asset.

A society in transition

As India transitions from a ‘cash based’ society to a ‘cash less’ society, digital applications such as mobile wallets and UPI have become indispensable. The government's initiatives around Jan Dhan accounts and cash transfer of benefits allowed the un-banked to be banked. Further initiatives around ‘Bharatnet’, smart cities and WiFi’ing villages will be the catalyst in empowering Indian citizens to transact digitally, henceforth, pushing semi-urban and rural communities to become digital savvy.

All these developments mark the start of a new era of disruption as businesses in India seek to serve the growing segment of Hyper-Connected consumers who have a disproportionate impact on both influencers and value creation. We are excited to share insights on this unique consumer segment based on a custom featured study and exchanging perspectives with a panel of industry leaders. Join us and be part of the conversation to Discover, Disrupt and Delight in the era of the Hyper-Connected Consumers in India on September 7, 2017 in Mumbai at Hotel Sofitel.

Nikhil Mathur is the Managing Director of GfK, South Asia. To share your thoughts, please email Nikhil.mathur@gfk.com or leave a comment below.