One of the most challenging components of global expansion is targeting isolated rural communities, which often have distinct cultures that vary widely from those in urban areas. The following are four tips to help get you started with rural marketing on an international scale:
1. Be Aware of Dialects
As a marketer, one of the biggest stumbling blocks you will face when initially trying to target rural markets is the language barrier. Though a country may have one or two official national languages, local dialects may be very different. For instance, though Egyptian Arabic is Egypt’s official language, the rural, southern part of the country features several dialects, including Bedouin and Sudanese versions of Arabic, according to Egyptian Streets. Being aware of dialects can help you reach rural markets in their native tongue in a way that feels familiar and encourages trust.
2. Acknowledge Local Preferences
Though language preferences may be the first barrier to reaching local markets, cultural preferences can also present a significant issue. Rural areas may have their own insular culture, with different religions and practices than those practiced in urban areas. According to National Geographic, rural Mexican areas such as Oaxaca have a culture and language that is far removed from what is seen in more populated areas. For instance, Mexicans in urban areas tend to practice Catholicism and dress similarly to people in the United States, while people in the Oaxacan region tend to have more earth-focused traditions and a more distinctive, handcrafted dress style. By knowing and acknowledging these differences, you can relate your products to rural residents in an organic way that celebrates their unique cultural identity.
3. Take Rural Buying Patterns into Account
In addition to cultural preferences, you should also look at the different ways those in rural areas purchase things. A 2013 study by the International Journal of Management and Social Sciences Research revealed that people in rural areas of India are likely to buy products more often and are more concerned with value than absolute price. Marketers could take advantage of these trends, emphasizing weekly deals and highlighting product value.
4. Tailor Prices and Products to Your Market
If you are marketing to an area with middle- or lower-class consumers, it is important to sell useful products that are within their budget range. Harvard Business Review cites Samsung as a rural marketing success story, since the electronics maker has successfully sold lower-cost electronics in rural areas of China. Knowing which kinds of products rural residents are looking for and what type of budget they are working with can go a long way toward earning your company more visibility—and sales—in international rural markets.
Rural marketing in international territories may sound like a scary endeavor, but keeping these tips in mind will help you form a successful marketing strategy.