For instance, hand sanitiser volume sales has become much bigger in rural India reaching to almost 4.44 crore households as compared to 4.26 crore urban homes. However, in terms of penetration, urban India is far ahead at 40.1% whereas rural India at 22.3%.
The rural markets are also having a different consumption trend. Hand sanitisers have overtaken hand wash liquids in rural market penetration unlike in urban markets where hand wash is still a larger category. In rural markets, the penetration of hand wash is at 18.7%. In urban markets, the penetration of hand wash is at 55.4% while for hand sanitizer it is at 40.1%, as per Kantar.
Similarly, grooming and personal care products like toilet soaps and skin creams have shown stronger traction in rural areas during the past two years, as a result of there being less of a home-office trend.
There has also been higher uptake of personal and home hygiene products this year too in rural India while its sales have slowed down in urban India. Kantar said household penetration of product categories like utensil cleaners, toilet cleaners, hand soap and hand sanitisers all showed marked upticks.
“Just a few years ago, brands in these hygiene categories were running educational campaigns in rural areas aimed at teaching consumers the simplest basics of cleaning and personal care. Today, while penetration still has some ways to go, there exists a large and increasingly sophisticated core rural market base for these products,” said Deepender Rana, executive managing director – South Asia, insights division at Kantar.
To be sure, the scope of rural sales volume for several FMCG categories is likely to be higher than urban due to higher population size despite lower penetration than urban. Kantar said it is still seeing some categories like toothpaste, talcum powder, butter, cheese, insecticides, basmati rice and snacking like instant noodles showing tremendous rural volume growth while urban penetration is higher.
“As rural consumers continue to expand their purchasing behaviours, brands of all stripes could soon find that their primary audience is rural, not urban,” said Soumya Mohanty, managing director- client and quantitative, insights division at Kantar.
Kantar also said there is a “striking divide” between rural consumers who lived in villages within 10 kilometres of towns and those living in villages at least 10 kilometres away from towns.
For instance, the sales growth of FMCG products over the past year was much stronger in the towns within 10 kms of towns than those in others. The report also said the purchasing patterns of the markets closer to towns mirrored the purchasing patterns of urban consumers unlike those in faraway markets.