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Emami and ITC to Focus on Rural Markets

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia

India’s leading and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) majors’ like ITC and Emami are gearing up to directly reach rural areas and connect with rural India to combat subdued consumer sentiment in these pockets. Moreover, it is reported that they initiate such a move backed by consumer connect initiatives to help them in pushing sales.

Amidst this ongoing economic slowdown that impacted demand in rural India,  ITC has decided to double its rural stockist network in the current financial year, with a significant increase in coverage across low population group markets.

“We have actively increased our direct reach in rural India by adding more than 25 percent new markets to the existing large serviced base,” said an ITC spokesperson.

As per reports, ITC’s handler base currently stands at 6.2 million outlets and it continued to deploy resources to augment the outlet coverage aggressively, with nearly 80 percent of new handlers added in the current year coming from a rural base.

On the other hand, Emami which has one of the highest exposures in rural areas among its peers, the company is banking on its Project Dhanush initiative, which it undertook three years ago.

In the past three years under this initiative, aimed at reaching the deepest and remotest of geographies,  Emami expanded its footprint to more than 20,000 towns with a population of around 3,000.

“Van branding and visual merchandising at outlets through point-of-purchase visibility have proved to be an effective consumer influencer fuelling rural channel growth,” said Mohan Goenka, director at Emami.

With more than 3,000 distributors and 600,000-plus square feet of trade assets, which incidentally is the largest in-store merchandising in the country, Hindustan Unilever (HUL) also has prioritized increasing its direct distribution reach.

According to an open-access journal, International Journal of Research — Granthaalayah, over the decades since its launch in 1997, HUL has appointed 6,000 sub-stockists, because of which its distribution network directly covered about 50,000 villages and is reaching 250 million consumers. This translates into reaching 37 percent of rural consumers directly.

The rural distributor has a set of stockists attached to it that drives distribution in villages using unconventional transport like tractors, bullock carts, and others.

While ITC continued its rural consumer connect programs in identified low population group markets with its brand communication focused on highlighting consumer value offers and build social and emotive brand connect, Emami strengthened its brand connect by associating popular brand endorsers who enjoy mass reach equally cutting across both urban and rural markets.

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