January 2006

ICT in Marketing

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Media Rural marketing uses both kinds of media i.e. the traditional media as well as the modern media. Rural marketing requires the understanding of the complexities and  this article reviews some of the key issues.

Indian agricultural industry has been growing at a tremendous pace in the last few decades. The rural areas are consuming a large number of industrial and urban manufactured products. The rural agricultural production and consumption process plays a predominant role in developing the Indian economy. This has designed a new way for understanding a new process called Rural Marketing. The concept of rural marketing has to be distinguished from Agricultural marketing. Marketing is the process of identifying and satisfying customers needs and providing them with adequate after sales service. Rural marketing is different from agricultural marketing, which signifies marketing of rural products to the urban consumer or institutional markets. Rural marketing basically deals with delivering manufactured or processed inputs or services to rural producers, the demand for which is basically a derived outcome.

Rural marketing scientists also term it as developmental marketing, as the process of rural marketing involves an urban to rural activity, which in turn is characterised by various peculiarities in terms of nature of market, products and processes. Rural marketing differs from agricultural or consumer products marketing in terms of the nature of transactions, which includes participants, products, modalities, norms and outcomes. The participants in case of Rural Marketing would also be different they include input manufacturers, dealers, farmers, opinion makers, government agencies and traders. The existing approach to the rural markets has viewed the markets as a homogeneous one, but in practice, there are significant buyer and user differences across regions as well as within that requires a differential treatment of the marketing problems. These differences could be in terms of the type of farmers, type of crops and other agro-climatic conditions. One has to understand the market norms in agricultural input so as to devise good marketing strategies and to avoid unethical practices, which distort the marketing environment. Many of the inputs used for production process have implications for food, health and environmental sectors. Rural marketing needs to combine concerns for profit with a concern for the society, besides being titled towards profit. Rural market for agricultural inputs is a case of market pull and not market push. Most of the jobs of marketing and selling is left to the local dealers and retailers. The market for input gets interlocked with other markets like output, consumer goods, money and labour. The importance of rural marketing can be understood from the fact that today modern inputs i.e. diesel, electricity, fertilisers, pesticides, seeds account for as much as 70% of the total cash costs and 23% of the total costs incurred by the farmers in the Green Revolution areas. Further the percentages were higher at 81% and 38% for small; farmers owning 1.85 hectares of land.

Strategic aspects
Rural marketing in India is not much developed there are many hindrances in the area of market, product design and positioning, pricing, distribution and promotion. Companies need to understand rural marketing in a broader manner not only to survive and grow in their business, but also a means to the development of the rural economy. One has to have a strategic view of the rural markets so as to know and understand the markets well. In the context of rural marketing one has to understand the manipulation of marketing mix has to be properly understood in terms of product usage. Product usage is central to price, distribution, promotion, branding, company image and more important farmer economics, thus any strategy in rural marketing should be given due attention and importance by understanding the product usage, all elements of marketing mix can be better organised and managed.

Client and location specific promotion 
Increasing specialisation in the farming sector has marketers to this strategy. The marketer under this strategy has to design location and carry out farmer specific promotional campaigns. Recommending the use of the products at micro level would result in increasing productivity of the input and thereby increasing the image and the sales of the product can raise the input demand for rural markets. Joint or co-operative promotion A personalised approach is required under this strategy of rural marketing. Under this approach there is a greater scope for private sector and farmer organisation to get into input supply and especially into retail distribution, as it is a low risk activity.

Bundling of inputs
In order to reap the benefits of, the economies of the scale a rural marketer has to resort to bundling of inputs. 'Bundling of Inputs' is the process by which the marketer would provide a bundle of products to the retailer so that he can meet the requirements of the farmers in one place. The village level co-operatives and other agencies can play an effective role in the distribution of inputs. Establishing linkages with financial agencies and other input sellers can help greatly as the bank credit plays an important role by making the purchase possible. Management of Demand A marketer apart from maintaining good supplies in terms of quality and quantity also has to focus on the demand side of the operations also. Continuous market research should be undertaken to assess the buyer's needs and problems so that continuous improvements and innovations can be undertaken for a sustainable market performance.

Developmental marketing 
Developmental marketing refers to taking up marketing programmes keeping the development objective in mind and using various managerial and other inputs of marketing to achieve these objectives. A prerequisite for developmental marketing is Development Market Research, which can be termed as the application of marketing research tools and techniques to the problems of development. The research tools of marketing like product testing tests marketing, concept testing and media testing or message test and focus groups are used in this work. Developmental marketing has started to find its roots in India where researchers are using focus groups and products tests to learn more about rural markets and products needs and USPs (Unique Selling Proposition) can be tried out. Media rural marketing uses both kinds of media i.e. the traditional media as well as the modern media. The traditional media includes puppetry, drama, folk theatre e.g. tamsaha (role play of different characters by one or two persons), nautanki (short skits with songs and poetry), street plays, folk songs, wall paintings and proverbs. Marketer uses traditional media as it is more accessible, personalised, familiar and carries a high potential for change. The modern media includes the print media, the television and the radio USPs.

NanaSala Vouchers
The 'NanaSala Dahasak' (1000 NanaSalas) Project of ICT Agency which is being implemented under the patronage of H.E. the President, is well under way with 150 Centers already operational. The ICTA nevertheless understands that the subject of Information Communication Technology is new to most of Sri Lanka's population, especially in the rural areas, and that they may not be fully aware of the benefits of ICTs. They may even be un-informed of the services offered at the NanaSala centres. Even for the segment of population that understand these benefits, and also know where the closest NanaSala is, the affordability factor may dissuade them from using these services.

In order to address this affordability gap, the ICT Agency has begun an innovative voucher program, which is currently being administered by Pricewaterhouse Coopers Sri Lanka. Customers can visit the NanaSala, ask for a Rs. 50 voucher and use a computer or the Internet for the exchange of this voucher. The owner is then reimbursed by ICTA for the cost of the voucher, also providing a source of income for the owners. Currently, the awareness and voucher programmes are in operation the NanaSala: Rural Knowledge Centres in 3 districts, Hambantota, Moneragala and Badulla, and will be extended to the rest in the near future.  ICTA has also obtained the services of SEEDS – an institution with extensive experience in communicating complex concepts in rural areas – to create awareness of this voucher programme. SEEDS are currently running outdoor advertising campaigns with village meetings in areas near the NanaSala centres.

Already in its short existence, the voucher programme has made positive impacts on the people in the target areas. In Moneragala, the Nanasala owners speak of people from the community doing CAD drawings and chatting with relatives who are in foreign countries. In Badulla, NanaSala owners help people find jobs through the government's JobsNet website and receive e-Learning in certain A and O level subjects. In Hambantota, people come to the NanaSala to learn English through e-Learning software, access government services through the web, access market prices and do typesetting and desktop publishing. NanaSala owners, who understand their communities better than any outsider, are coming up with creative and innovative ways to popularise the centres by mobilising segments of their communities through ICT-learning groups called 'e-societies', visiting nearby schools and giving free/low-cost computer classes at the centres.

The 'digital divide' between the rural areas and urban areas, the poor areas and affluent areas is striking in most countries, both developing and developed. This divide leads to an opportunity gap where rural populaces are denied some of the prospects that are available to those in urban areas and many a concept has been proposed and actioned to bridge these gaps. The ICT Agency is executing some of the more promising ideas – with the voucher programme being the front runner among them – to ensure that the digital divide, in Sri Lanka at least, becomes a thing of the past, and every student, entrepreneur or any citizen, regardless of location, gets an opportunity to reach their fullest potential.

Source: ICTA, Sri Lanka


Some of the USPs of the companies engaged in rural marketing are given below. Mahindra Tractors- 'Mera Desh Mera Gaon' (My country my village) Tafe Tractors-'Grameen Bharat ki Dhadkan' Tafe ka Massey Ferguson(The heart beat of rural India its Tafe's Massey Ferguson) Swaraj Tractors- 'Pragati aur Khush-hali ke liye' (For development and happiness) Escorts- 'Nayi technique ke sath, Bharosa Jeevan bhar Ka' (A life long trust with new techniques) Eicher-'Ghazab ki takat, ghazab ki shaan' (Incredible strength, Incredible pride) Sun Seeds- 'Grow with Sun' ICI Karate Insecticide- 'Keedon ka Maha-kaal, Phasal Ka Pehredaar' (Insects enemy protector of the crops). Pesticide India- 'Desh ke liye Phasal Anek, Keedon ke Naash ke liye Foratox Sirf Ek' (Numerous crops for  the country but only for destroying pests i.e. Foratox). Thus the companies use different formats to influence the target audience in order to produce the desired results. Extension Services. There are several limitations of rural marketing in the Indian context, this leads to the need for extension services to supplement the efforts of the firms engaged in rural marketing. The various extension services could include credit facilities, competitions among the farmers, educating the farmers regarding the appropriate agricultural practices, etc. Extension services would thus play a crucial role in the development of rural marketing in India.

Ethics in Business
Ethics occupies a special place in rural marketing, and has been at the heart of all the transactions whether cash or kind. In order to make a lasting impact on the rural clients, the firms need to built a trustful relationship and that is possible by no other means but only by ethical conduct.

Partnership for sustainability
There is a need to build partnership with rural clients for a sustainable business relationship and sustainable marketing relationship. There should be a long-term relationship between the firms and farmers for agro business projects, which are risky, long drawn and technical in nature. Partnership is required in rural marketing business so as to award distributorship to local groups and individuals employing locals, staff secondment in local projects, preferential purchase of local product, training to locals and discount on product supplies in some areas. Rural marketing firms can work with NGOs also because NGOs have better linkages and understanding of the local communities and their problems. Nagarjuna fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd has set up an agro output division which is known as FMS (Farm Management Service) which provides packages to the farmers right form soil testing to post harvest stage of the crop system. The FMS aims at enhancing farm productivity optimising cost of production, improving economic returns to farmers and enhancing the cost of production and enhancing the produce quality.

Conclusion
Rural marketing in India has still a long way to go, rural marketers have to understand the fact that rural marketing in India has a tremendous potential in our country. Rural marketers should understand this fact and try to tap the huge untapped potential in our country.

NepaLinux
NepaLinux is a Debian and Morphix based GNU/Linux distribution focused for Desktop usage in Nepali language computing. It contains applications for Desktop users like: OpenOffice.org, Nepali Gnome Desktop, Nepali input systems etc. Since January 2004, Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, the principal archive of books and periodicals in the Nepali language, undertook the Nepal component of the 30-month long PAN Localisation Project (
www.PANL10n.net), a multi-nation localisation project being conducted in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, with the support of International Development and Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. This project includes a Nepali GNU/Linux distribution 'NepaLinux' comprising of localised GNOME, OpenOffice.org, Mozilla suite, and other utilities that include Nepali Spellchecker, Thesaurus, Nepali Unicode support, etc. This distribution can be used in Nepali as well in English environment.

Though NepaLinux is basically a live CD it can also be installed in the computer. The work for the installation process has been facilitated through the European Commission supported Bhasha Sanchar Project (www.bhashasanchar.org) which is led by the Open University (UK). NepaLinux is a Free/Open Source Software (FOSS), in which the source code is open and the users have the freedom to use, study, modify according to one's needs and redistribute it. NepaLinux, being a Free/Open Source Software, does not charge for its software unlike proprietary software, which cost a lot and also do not allow the users to study, modify, or redistribute. The official website for NepaLinux is www.nepalinux.org. Other available places to look for assistance are: Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya support forum (www.mpp.org.np/forum), NepaLinux Mailing List (www.nepalinux.org/lists), NepaLinux Wiki (www.nepalinux.org/wiki), IRC for realtime queries (#nepalinux on irc.freenode.net). The web space for the hosting of NepaLinux for the users inside Nepal has been provided by Everest Net. Information regarding the download of NepaLinux for users outside Nepal is available on the website.

Digital cinema

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