Stress in rural and urban channels has been well articulated by leading FMCG companies over the last couple of quarters. And, now household consumption data shows that for the first time in four years, rural volumes de-grew by two percent and urban volumes de-grew by one percent. Interestingly, categories like household and staples have contributed to the decline in volumes, according to data analysed by Kantar Worldpanel, which tracks consumption data of households across the country.Owing to the pressure in the rural channels, consumption data shows that the rural population is buying less essentials. This is a space where rationing is easier, according to data compiled by the company. This means that consumers are controlling or reducing purchases of atta, salt, cooking media, washing powder and laundry bars."I call this the rural conundrum. The number of categories bought by a rural household are increasing, but essentials or the staples category is seeing a slowdown. They are opting for stocking and the excess money is spent on other purchases," says K Ramakrishnan, Managing Director - South Asia, Kantar Worldpanel Division.Pit this against the stellar volume growth that the industry has seen over the last 15 years. Data shows that the FMCG industry has seen a 23 million tonne volume growth over the last 15 years and a whopping 74 percent of the volume growth is from rural areas. At present, growth in rural India is at par with urban India, said FMCG behemoth Hindustan Unilever in their earnings commentary.Driving growth in rural India has been a central focus area for most FMCG companies. Consumption of small packs have grown by 11.2 per cent CAGR from 2012 to 2017. Brands that have gained via small packs include the likes of Surf Excel, Patanjali toothpaste, Colgate active salt, Ponds talc and Maggi noodles. Categories that are driving penetration include toilet cleaners, insecticides and metal scourers. More households are also consuming talcum powders, hair colour and noodles.Despite an overall slowdown playing out, the naturals category has continued to grow. Patanjali consumption has degrown by 3 percent in 2019 (YOY) vs a growth of 21 percent in 2018 (YOY). Other naturals grew by 4 percent in 2019 (YOY) vs growth of 3 percent in 2018 (YOY), according to the Kantar Worldpanel. Maximum shift to naturals seen in toothpaste and soaps category.2018 has turned out to be the most unsuccessful for new product launches. Success rates have dipped by nearly 50 percent and most new launches have been in the naturals space.Not a single Patanjali launch made it to the top 10 product launches in 2018. Interestingly, the top product brand launch in 2018 was RP Sanjiv Goenka group's TOO Yum snacks.