Rural India Positive About Economic Recovery: Kantar and GroupM Dialogue Factory Rural COVID Barometer Report

–      Smartphone and Construction sectors likely to see potential increase in next 6 months
–      Online is now the second-largest consumed media (after television) in rural India

Mumbai, 8th September 2021: Kantar, the world’s leading evidence-based insights and consulting company along with GroupM’s rural and experiential marketing unit- Dialogue Factory today unveiled the 2nd edition of the Rural COVID Barometer Report. This report explores rural India’s concern about the impact of the second wave and how it alters consumer behavior and purchase patterns. The research was conducted with Kantar’s strong data and

insights network and Dialogue Factory’s rural marketing intelligence in 18 Indian states, across rural adults (18+ years in age) with representation across gender, NCCS and age groups.

Key highlights:

Rural India is highly concerned about COVID situation in second wave. Concerns are higher amongst females (91%) as compared to males (85%) and within the higher age bands (55+ year old’s). These concerns are mostly driven by COVID’s impact on day-to-day life and functioning (most for 25-55 year old’s), fear of falling sick and overall need for financial planning. As a result, rural consumption and shopping patterns have witnessed a major shift.

While consumers are concerned, most are also positive about economic recovery once the situation normalizes. Nearly 3 in 4 rural households have received some form of assistance via Government of India schemes, thus providing the much-needed financial cushion to consumers.

Rural consumers are saving 25% of their income. Southern India (except for Tamil Nadu) is saving more in comparison to other parts of the country. As expected, expenses are higher on personal care, hygiene and cleaning products while spends on indulgence and beauty products have been deprioritized.

With respect to retail channels, consumers prefer local village shops for purchasing groceries (56%), personal hygiene (49%) and cleaning (45%) products. Even big-ticket items like consumer electronics (50%) and durables (46%) are preferred to be bought at these local shops.

Digital trends: 

There has been an internet revolution in rural India, with online being the most consumed media after television.

With respect to online content consumption, music/ audio (69%) leads the pack followed by news (49%) and gaming (33%).

Usage of video / OTT apps are driven by YouTube at 87% (most in Rajasthan, AP/ Telangana, TN and Bihar) followed by Disney+ Hotstar at 30% (highest usage in UP, TN, Gujarat, Kerala).

WhatsApp and Facebook are the most used social media/ messenger platforms at 87% (most in Rajasthan, AP / Telangana, Karnataka) and 66% (most in Odisha, UP, Gujarat and West Bengal) usage respectively.

Phone Pe is the most used digital payments app with 19% rural consumers having used these services in the last 6 months. Usage of Phone Pe is driven by Karnataka at 46% followed by Rajasthan at 38%.


Growth in the consumer durables and automotive (2-wheeler) sectors are likely to slowdown in next 6 months. However, the smartphone category is expected to see fast growth in the near future.

Construction sector is also expected to see a bounce-back with consumers expected to spend on building a house/ undertake smaller construction work in the next 6 months.

Commenting on the report, Dalveer Singh, Head of Experiential Marketing- APAC, GroupM Dialogue Factory said, “The pandemic has evolved the rural consumer’s decision-making process. They are watching their spending and prioritizing their buying patterns by the need of the hour. There is a positive acceptance of the vaccination. The upper- and middle-class rural Indians are being more proactive in financial planning to deal with covid constraints, which make these markets a significant place to introduce investment and savings products. To sum up, there is a deep sense of uplift on the subject of India’s economic future.” 

Puneet Avasthi, Senior Executive Director, Insights Division, Kantar said, “With a highly concerned rural consumer, rural India is planning finances better and inclined towards a savings mindset. This offers a significant headroom for growth to savings and investment products such as insurance and even mutual funds. Additionally, we are witnessing a significant rise in digital payments as an important mode of transaction, this offers a robust platform for rural financial inclusion, as also for suitable hyperlocal promotions. With the change in consumption priorities in favor of health and hygiene products (a trend that has held since the first wave), FMCG marketers should leverage this trend for planning their innovation pipeline.” 


About Rural COVID Barometer Report:

This is a semi-annual survey jointly undertaken by Kantar and GroupM Dialogue Factory.

The report findings are based on a sample of 3,855 rural adults (18+ year old’s) surveyed across 18 Indian states with representations across gender, NCCS and age groups. All Socio-cultural regions (SCRs) are covered within each state to meaningfully reflect the variability that exists.

The migrants that have returned to their villages were also covered in the study.

About Kantar:

Kantar is the world’s leading evidence-based insights and consulting company. We have a complete, unique and rounded understanding of how people think, feel and act; globally and locally in over 90 markets. By combining the deep expertise of our people, our data resources and benchmarks, our innovative analytics and technology, we help our clients understand people and inspire growth. For more information, visit

About GroupM:

GroupM India is a data-centric, digitally charged marketing services conglomerate. With our six agencies including Wavemaker, MediaCom, Mindshare, mSix, Motivator, Essence, and speciality services, GroupM India gives clients the advantage of global operation and learnings, along with local expertise and market insight. With our investment in data, technology and diverse talent, GroupM India aims to shape the future and transform challenges into opportunities for our clients.