The rural consumer behaviour exhibits certain behaviour unique to rural settings and this makes it important for marketers to understand rural consumers through appropriate research. Rural consumers, for example, tend to lead a more relaxed lifestyle compared to the urban counterparts and exhibit little urgency. Consumers in rural markets tend to have greater trust in products and services endorsed by the government and its agencies. They tend to be more brand loyal, as habits once formed are difficult to change and they tend to feel a pride in getting a good deal rather than paying premium prices for products and services.
The cultural values and norms have a strong influence in determining buying and consumption behaviour in the rural areas. There are restrictions on the type of food and the type of intoxicants that can be consumed in the villages. Similarly, women occupy a more traditional place in rural areas and therefore western apparel may not be accepted in the rural markets. However, the rural youth are open to any new ideas, and influenced by the urban consumption patterns.
Rural communities tend to be closer than urban societies and reference groups have a greater importance. Relatives and people from the same caste are important reference groups. Joint families still exists in villages although the trend is towards the nuclear families. In rural areas, the consumption is driven to a large degree by the occupation and income of the consumers. Low income levels and inadequacy of credit facilities also affect the consumption patterns. Another important factor that affects demand patterns in rural areas is the instability of the income of the farmers, which is linked to the seasonality of agricultural production as well as to the unpredictability of the harvest. Similarly, the landless labourers and daily wage earners get their remuneration on a day-to-day basis and therefore they purchase in smaller quantities of products at a time, mostly on a daily basis.
As compared to the urban counterparts, the rural consumers have different interpretations of colors, symbols, and social activities. As the exposure to mass media and information technology is increasing, rural consumers are being more informed about products and services and their dependence on traditional reference groups is waning.