Rising rural incomes have seen rural fc consu- mer market in 2022. It estimates that this market is growing faster than its urban counterpart across catego- ries. Given India’s target of becom- ing the third-largest economy in this decade, Rural India will need to be- come a $3 trillion economy.

The 2021 Euromonitor Internation- al Lifestyles Survey also found the Indian rural consumer to be open to premium products that offer value for money, and is more conscious of the environment than her average urban counterpart.

The increasing importance of the rural market accounts for the increased focus of marketers there for product development, advertising. better sales and logistics. For instance, while the fitness market is a high growth market, the rural and urban contexts differ. Brands in functional foods, sportswear and exercise equip ment market are busy mapping rural consumer needs.

Similarly, the furniture, home decor and home entertainment industry are fine-tuning the marketing mix to account for not just rising rural incomes but also because, on an average, middle-and upper-class rural house holds have twice the living space than equivalent urban households do.

The automotive sector is also busy reinventing its rural market strategy. As India’s rural roads improve and rural incomes rise, the focus of four-wheeler marketing is moving beyond ruggedness to features like looks, interiors and accessories. Overall, the changes over the last decade have ensured that rural India is not just an integral part but perhaps also the most crucial driver in India’s march towa rds becoming a developed country. Rural India today accounts for al- most 50% of India’s GDP of $2.4 trillion. It employs 350 million people of a total employed population of 500 million, implying that the average per-capita rural productivity is 70% of urban productivity. Given India’s target of becoming the world’s thi- rd-largest economy in this decade, rural India would need to become a $3 trillion economy. For this, rural India’s per-capita productivity must increase from 70% of urban India’s to 100% or more.

While better schools will lead to better learning foundations, vocational training will lead to better jobs and higher productivity. The private sector can play a central role in dev eloping this by having the training resources and tailor training to productive jobs.

The most crucial factor in leverag-create a growth mindset. Rural India largely lives in its villages that, unlike towns and cities, are tightknit. Many individuals have a modern, aspirational and growth-oriented mindset. However, many are either still suspicious of anything from the ‘outside world’ or, driven by social media, are seeking easy gratification of their desires. For the com munity mindset to become more aspirational and growth-oriented, young rural India needs help.

Adult learning classes for those with little or no education could be a step towards this. English and soft-skill classes for everyone who cares to join would make rural communities more open to the modern world and confident of their place.

Rural India is 900-million strong, and every rural Indian, like every human, is full of potential. It is es- sential for India, and the world, that this potential gets the best opportunity to bloom educationally, psychologically and productively

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