Indian steel companies push to tap demand in rural markets

Business Standard reported that in response to the rising demand for steel in rural India, primary steel producers are deploying aggressive marketing strategies. Among those trying to buttress their presence in the rural market are Essar Steel, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam, JSW Steel, Tata Steel, Steel Authority of India and Jindal Steel & Power.

At present the per capita consumption of steel in rural India stands at 10 kg much lower than 60 kg in urban areas. In rural India, steel demand is the strongest from the housing sector where TMT rebars find wide application.

Mr Y Sudhakar GM (marketing retail sales) at Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited said that “We have tied up with 761 dealers across the country to supply our TMT rebars to the rural consumer. We also have a scheme for rural consumers to train the youth on how to use steel in terms of welding, drawing etc so that they get optimum benefit from the product procured.”

Mr Seshagiri Rao, joint MD and group chief financial officer at JSW Steel said that “We have a franchisee model for the retail segment and through this model we plan to penetrate deeper into several talukas of the country from the district level right now. We keep the staff motivated so that it brings in good sales and also provide them with lucrative incentives.”

Jindal Steel & Power, which recently launched their TMT rebars under the brand of Jindal Panther said that “We have adopted what is known as a 2 tier model comprising distributors and dealers. We have already covered all the districts in the country, through a network of 40 distributors and about 1,000 dealers. We also have planned to expand our retail sale to cover our other products like light angles, channels and beams, so as to primarily cater to rural demand.”

The retail segment has come as a boon for steel companies. Even in times of slowdown, this segment has been growing for most private players. According to experts, with slow economic growth and slump in demand from major sectors such as infrastructure and auto, steel makers are going out to tap a new stream of revenues to overcome tough times and retail is one area with huge, untapped potential.