‘Disguised rural market research based on Saifeena Wedding – MDI Gurgaon students’ – By Editor, Passionate in Marketing


A lot is being said nowadays about Bottom of Pyramid and how to address the issues related to rural markets. The consumer behavior in rural India and urban India is totally different and it becomes imperative on the part of the marketers to understand this behavior so as to successfully market their products.

A lot of studies are being undertaken using various methodologies to understand the   perception of the rural consumers and one such step was taken by MBA students of premier B-School, Management Development Institute, Gurgaon very recently. They used a disguised market research approach for Berger Paints to analyze the rural consumer perception. The approach gave students a real time exposure to rural marketing and helped them to understand the mindset of rural consumers.

About MDI

Management Development Institute is one of the premier B-Schools in India. It has got the rare distinction of being the first B-School in India to have got the accreditation of Association of MBA, UK and by the South Asian Quality Standards (SAQS).

Illumina 2012 and disguised research

Every year various corporate and MDI students join together as part of “Illumina” with such campaigns to analyze rural customers and to gain better insights out of that. Illumina is conducted in the form of a short play for the villagers and this is also known as ‘khela’. The students during this play profile the villagers who are also the respondents according to demographics and the responses are collected and analysed.

This year, the research was organized on the day of Dussehra on 24th October 2012. This festival usually attracts more than 4000 people in the village. The research was carried for Berger Paints, which is known as a premium paint manufacturer in India. They are looking forward to expand their product offerings in the rural markets of India. Berger was trying to identify the demand service gap in rural markets without causing much harm to the public. Hence, they zeroed in on the approach of disguised market research.

This approach is very different from the other research approaches as researchers conduct the research without the use of a standard questionnaire or interview schedule. The research is carried out without the villagers letting know that they are part of a study and are actually helping a brand solve a customer related problem. The research center is designed like a set of a play or a movie and then the research is carried out without the knowledge of the people.

Disguised market research works well in a village set up as most of the respondents are not very educated. This market research approach is said to be very useful and effective as it has been observed that the respondents have high recall value and awareness level. In this year’s ‘khela’ the theme of the play was the marriage of Cine actor Saif Ali Khan (who is now the Nawab of Pataudi after the death of his father) and cine actress Kareena Kapoor. This bollywood theme was selected as it was the most anticipated marriage and very relevant to the village of Pataudi as it is the ancestral home of Saif Ali Khan. In this theme, the villagers were asked to paint their homes for the visiting couple. This helped the brand to see the consumption pattern, choices and affordability of rural population towards paints and its various shades.

Illumina 2011

Last year in 2011, research was based on problem faced by State Bank of India. It was a rural credit issue and the research was done to analyze the reasons for low recovery of agriculture loans and methods adopted for recovery. Disguised market research was carried out to find out the issues related to repayment of agriculture loans and the ways banks can reduce the fear of repayment and reduce the default rate. Market research was designed on the basis of two famous Bollywood movies Lagaan and Veer Zara. Three students dressed up as Zaara (Preity Zinta), Veer (Shah Rukh Khan), and Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) and through friendly conversations, they explored necessary information required for market research.

These kinds of market research events are quite beneficial for students and as well as corporate, since the corporate get invaluable insights for their brands and students get valuable lessons in management. After the success of Illumina in 2011 and 2012, let’s keep fingers crossed on what 2013 has in store for us.

[message_box title=”Disclaimer” color=”red”]This article is prepared based on inputs from PRinINDIA which is a leader in providing PR & Communications products and services[/message_box]


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