A few days back I read an interesting article in 'The Economic Times' on 'India vs Bharat' where the author made a case for using the same set of branding tools and content in rural areas (Bharat) as is done in urban areas (India). I don't agree with him in entirety.
Though it must be agreed that you cannot assume that rural consumers have not upgraded themselves on various socio economic parameters over the last few years. When the urban consumers have closed an entire generation in terms of social networking, media and technology, the rural consumers have not been totally isolated to the onslaught either.
Marketers need to understand that their age old tactics of 5 wall paintings + 2 nautankis + retail mapping will not really do the trick anymore. They have to re-engage their audience by looking at the changed parameters and understanding the forces at work. If the neighbourhood money lender does not play that big a role anymore, than who does? Is it the NGO who has made the women more self sufficient? If the panchayats are increasingly losing their hold.... than whom are they losing it too? The BDO? or another authority? Who are the new influencers? The new target audience? Within a housesold, who has more say ? And wouldn't it be prudent to do this demarcation across the developed, underdeveloped and remote villages?
BUT.. to apply urban branding patterns to a rural audience would be a disaster. Not all products need an 'aspiring for' orientation. I might aspire for a product which Aishwarya Rai advertises. My maid might aspire for a product, which her neighbour's wife has. Everybody's aspirations are different, and the product has to marry not only the Target Audience, but his wife, kids and his influencers as well.... only then a comprehensive communication strategy can be developed.