70 percent of all future mobile subscribers in the country will come from rural areas – I have mentioned this earlier and I do strongly believe that urban India is still looking at Rural India with an urban lens.
A study by Accenture has couple of insights to reinforce this. Researches interviewed senior management (of operators) on what they think are the top needs of Rural India [as far as mobile/telecom is concerned] and also asked the same question to rural customers.
- Executives get the top priority right, i.e. connectivity is the most important factor for rural customers to go mobile.
- Operators belief that entertainment is another important [second priority] for rural India turns out to be a wrong belief – Customers prefer reliability of a mobile phone connectivity over landlines which have frequent disconnection problems.
- The third most important motivator for becoming a mobile customer according to our focus groups was the ability of a mobile phone to enable privacy and more direct communication.
Couple of interesting insights study derives
- Usability factor plays an important role in choice of mobile connection [Read: Designing Mobile Phone for Rural India – The ‘Steampunk’ Approach].
- Bundle of a handset and prepaid card needs to be seen as a base platform, and then value-added services can generate a feeling of owning a differentiated product.
- Adoption barriers include complex tariff plans, cost of the handset [‘cheap’ is not equal to ‘de-featured.’].
Most Important VAS for Rural India
- SMS (31%)
- Download ringtones/wallpapers (19%)
- Agricultural Alerts/news in local language (9)
- Parenting Alerts (8%) and
- Games (7%)
What Rural India Needs
- Basic services are more important than higher-end ones in the short term. Operators need to generate short-term revenues through voice and more basic value-added services, rather than spending money on high-end services and content requiring expensive fees to content developers
- Mobile operators should focus on ways to reduce the costs being borne by the customer after being connected. Rural consumers are more concerned about their ongoing costs of operating a live connection than they are the initial fixed costs. Operators’ business models will therefore need to focus on providing various packages of voice and value added services that are appealing to rural consumers.
- Simplicity continues to be the name of the game. Rural consumers want basic, simple services, and a device that is easy and inexpensive to operate. Voice rather than value-added services continues to be the priority of customers.
- Cost management will drive profitability, at least in the short term. In the rural environment, which has a lower average revenue per user (ARPU) rate, profitability will be driven by effective cost management capabilities. A better understanding of customer needs, preferences and barriers to purchase will be essential to reducing marketing and after sales costs.
What’s your take on this report?
Few Interesting Developments in Rural India
- Millee – Rural India Project that uses Mobile Gaming for Learning
- QuestionBox – Bringing Search Engine to Rural India
- Gaon ki Awaz – Bringing Local News to Rural India
- Rural India Gets Technology/Broadband Boost – Nova Netbook, Computing Device
- UID Project plans to introduce micro-payment platform for Rural India