With or without any on-ground marketing agency support, Agri-input companies have been doing their marketing of products ranging from seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and equipment for the last 70 years. To reach out to farmers, they have been using traditional Below the Line (BTL) communication so far. In-bound calling, out-bound calling, ads in local newspapers/regional agro magazines, SMS marketing, newspaper leaflets etc. have been using by some companies.
Even though, the BTL marketing has been the most effective model but it is very prohibitive as it involves hiring sales manpower during seasons, which creates a big dent in the profitability of these companies. It’s becoming extremely difficult in a post covid scenario for the Agri-input companies (AICs) to get manpower who would go from village to village, conduct farmer meetings and educate them.
Villagers have become reluctant and very strict in taking outsiders on the back of the post lock-down call from PM Modi. As the product of AICs could be catered only to rural, it has become critical to create localized village level sales partners (VLSPs).
Local NGOs, Unemployed youth in villages or enterprising ladies or Asha workers could be trained to do farmer marketing at a local level. ‘Digital’ will come into play in training the people engaged in this. Authentic data from farmers will be collecting and based on which solutions could be provided to them on a customized basis.
The trained VLSPs will in turn educate the farmers and help in demand generation. Working with local retailers in the demand fulfilment, they act as a bridge between the company, retailer and consumer. With the help of digital technology, AICs could create localized district-specific digital communication through websites, farmer apps or localized You Tube videos in a very cost-effective manner.
This will be the right time to embrace digital marketing technology for the AICs in engaging with farmers. According to a recent research by Kantar IMRB, Internet users in India have reached about 627 million, of which 293 million active users reside in urban India and 200 million active users in rural India. The rural internet users are growing by 35% annually while it is 7% when it comes to urban user growth.
All this put together will make it apt for Agri-input companies to change itself and a big paradigm shift to “Go THE DIGITAL WAY”.