Rural India: Glitter in times of gloom.

No company can afford to ignore two third of the consumer population pie. However inaccessible they may be and whatever changes may be required in the company’s strategy to attract them. No wonder, the growing power of the rural consumer (accounting for 64 per cent of country’s total consumer base) is forcing Indian blue chips and MNCs to flock to rural markets. Not only FMCG companies but even banks, auto, telecom and retail companies are finding it difficult to keep themselves away from the lure.

Fathom this. Seventy per cent of India’s and 12 per cent of global population lives in rural India and contributes 50 per cent of the country’s GDP. Their population of 75 crore (750 million) is more than that of US, UK, France, Japan, Italy and Germany put together. In fact, as per Mckinsey, despite rising urbanisation, 63 per cent of India’s population will continue to live in the rural areas even in 2025.

Surging ahead in terms of growth

As per National Council of Applied Economic Research, rural market accounts for 55 per cent of LIC [Get Quote] policies, 70 per cent of toilet soap consumption, and 50 per cent of TV, fans, bicycles, tea and wrist watch consumption. So as a target market, it is attractive not only because of the size, but also because of impressive growth potential.

Rural GDP has been witnessing strong growth in the last four years (avg of 4 per cent) not only on the back of increase in minimum support prices for the agri-products but also due to availability of alternative employment opportunities.



Source: Business Today

In 2008, the rural areas grew at a robust rate of 25 per cent as compared to 10 per cent growth in urban retail market According to a McKinsey, rural India, would become bigger than the total consumer market in countries such as South Korea or Canada in another twenty years. It would grow almost four times from estimated size of $577 bn in 2007. While the per capita income is lower than urban areas, the customer base is thrice that of urban areas.

Resilient to slowdown

On account of negligible tax liability and little or no burden of loan repayments, the Indian rural population has a higher propensity to save. The rural areas account for 33 per cent India’s total savings. Being more conservative than their urban counterparts, the rural populace has not burnt their fingers in the real estate or stock market bust. Further, the rural income distribution pattern is also changing and the bottom is getting narrower.

While 18 per cent of rural India has earnings in the range Rs 45,000 to Rs 215,000 per annum, 58 per cent of urban population earns in this range. However, 27 m individuals form a part of this income bracket in rural areas while in urban areas it is about 29 m; of which large base is already tapped.

No of households (m)

Demographic classification




Rich ( income greater than Rs 1 m
per annum)




Well off (income greater than Rs 0.5
m per annum)








% of total



Source : Ministry of Communications & Information Technology , India

As per the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, the rural market is becoming increasingly attractive for FMCG, automobiles and organised retail businesses. Rural India accounts for more than 40 per cent consumption in major FMCG categories such as personal care, fabric care, and hot beverages.

FMCG sector in rural areas is expected to grow by 40 per cent as against 25 per cent in urban areas in the coming quarters. The size of retail market in India is estimated at US$ 280 bn of which the rural retail market works out to be $112 bn. This is expected to double in next 4 to 5 years because of the huge potential. Even auto companies in recent times are witnessing shift in trend as they are gearing to explore the huge market potential lying in the rural areas.

Top 20 cities

Other cities










Colour Tv
















Source: Mint

As rural India becomes more lucrative and the government becomes more committed to its development, schemes like the rural employment guarantee, Bharat Nirman, focus on rural education, debt waiver plan and higher support prices will aid the rural demand. Although the penetration levels are still very low, the scope is huge. And India Inc. is not letting go of this opportunity.


2 Responses

  1. […] Income Business Money Rell Many lower income supporters are being priced out of our game – we … By Steve Longden Partly due to the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, my mind has turned to football and how the government could intervene to make our national sport… […] Rural India: Glitter in times of gloom. « Retail News Update While 18 per cent of rural India has earnings in the range Rs 45000 to Rs 215000 per annum, 58 per cent of urban population earns in this range. However, 27 m individuals form a part of this income bracket in rural areas while in urban […] […]

  2. Very good optimistic analysis oand the growth potential.o.f the economic situation of India.regardLooks like India is a much better position to face the prevailing down turn world wide.I will add one more consideration -Educatio.There is big change in this It will help convert our large rural population more productive also bsides big consumer.

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