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Marketers must be more nimble than consumers
By Prasun Basu
Managing Director, Millward Brown South Asia
Today we listen to books and watch music. Thank you, Kindle and YouTube. Audiobook sites like BooksTALK and Reado are increasingly popular. Viral videos connect the world. Today we sit in a comfortable chair to shop. Thank you again, Amazon, and thank you, Snapdeal, Flipkart, Myntra, and all the other ecommerce sites.
The traditional patterns of consumption, across categories, seem turned upside down. And today's Indian consumers seem fine with this disruption. They're open, flexible and adaptable, not bound by old school thinking and actions. To reach these consumers marketers need to be equally nimble.
Adjust your brand for this new consumer. Think no borders. Question old assumptions. Indians today enjoy cornflakes for breakfast rather than the traditional parathas bread. A small detail, perhaps, but if that's how Indians start the morning, imagine how their lives have changed for the rest of the day.
Luxury market grows as desire meets access
By Binata Banerjee
Senior Research Executive, Millward Brown
An undergrad owning a MacBook or the sight of a college girl with an Armani bag doesn't raise eyebrows anymore in India. We are in the age of instant gratification. Nobody is ready to wait. Everyone wants everything and they want it now.
And everyone means everyone. People across income levels aspire to luxury and have greater access to it. Easy financing options and a robust market for second-hand merchandise are among the factors driving this trend.
Therefore, luxury brands need not target only the highest income group anymore. They also can focus on the Indian middle class with its rising aspirations and affluence. The growing number of HENRY (High Earning Not Rich Yet) individuals who have started spending on luxury brands are key contributors to this growth story.
The voice of the brand is as important as its face
By Riddhi Shah
Research Executive - Client service, Millward Brown
Ever wondered what the person on the other end of the call looks like? While the front-end executives play an important role as the face of the brand, the call center operators play an equally important, if less appreciated, role as the voice of the brand. Their behavior and tone influence how customers think and feel about the brand.
Consider a situation where a customer loses a credit card or mobile phone. Responding with understanding and concern can help strengthen the customer bond and form the basis of a long-term customer-brand relationship. One comforting sentence from the representative can reassure the customer that the company is going to be there in such times of crisis. While marketers must continue to invest in improving their front-end services, they also must not neglect the less apparent – but impactful – customer service provided by phone.
New edgy ads differentiate brands, but risk alienating core customers
By Ritesh Shetty
Account Manager, Millward Brown
In 1994, using the term "sexy" in Bollywood songs created such a huge backlash it had to be replaced by a more socially acceptable word.
Fast-forward 20 years. Today, Big Boss, the Indian TV reality show introduces Sunny Leone, a renowned "adult movie" star, and audience accepts her, not only as a reality show participant, but also as a mainstream actor in Indian cinema. The Indian audience has really grown up!
Even advertisers have changed their communication style, connecting their messages with themes that until recently were considered taboo. These themes include: infidelity (a husband finds his wife's lover hiding in the closet with VIP Skybag luggage); remarriage (a bride and her daughter wear Tanshiq wedding jewelry); and sexual freedom (two young women emerge together from a closet in an ad for Fastrack watches).
Being bold helps a brand stand out as different – more so in today's India. However, care should be taken that boldness doesn't contradict the brand's ethos or risk alienating its core audience.
Make sense of the "many Indias" to succeed in complex market
By Soumitra Sengupta
Group Account Director, Millward Brown
socio-economic clusters, each different from the other. These clusters are characterized by homogeneity in tastes and culture across different demographic strata – probably caused by the deeply embedded codes of India's ancient civilization.
Street food is a great example. The same street food, balls of deep-fried bread with various fillings, can be called golgappa, panipuri or phuchka, depending on the region, yet they're equally popular across income classes. This complexity applies to festivals and movies too.
Marketers have had great ideas to leverage this diversity – whether it is Frito Lay's regional innovation centers to develop local snack foods or Asian Paints' attempt to win over the Bengali consumer through deep and meaningful association with the annual Hindu Durga Puja Festival. More such ideas are needed to win in the complex Indian marketplace.
In diverse India, ads that win in Delhi may fail in Mumbai
By Mayank Agarwal
Marketing and Business Development Director, Millward Brown
(Multinational Corporations) entering India often learn this fact the hard way. The country splits into six roughly homogenous geographic clusters that inform how consumers respond to advertising.
While the appeal of children in slice-oflife situations is universal across clusters, celebrity appeal differs. TV personalities work in Mumbai but not in parts of Uttar Pradesh in the North. Similarly, appeals to the heart work in Delhi, but an appeal to the head is necessary for an ad to work well in the South. Glamour and style works well in Delhi, but a more subtle expression of sensuality, perhaps a dewdrop on parched skin, works in West Bengal.
Understanding this phenomenon is critical for brand success in India. Having analyzed the implications for TV commercials, Millward Brown continues to examine and codify the challenges and opportunities for print and other media.
Consumers seek satisfaction beyond material goods
By Surekha Poddar
Managing Director, Millward Brown Mumbai
As wealth and material goods become more evenly distributed throughout the Indian economy, new expectations and a sense of entitlement are replacing the early sense of appreciation and gratitude. Now "Been there, done that" is too often the default reaction to experiences that once elicited awe and excitement.
This phenomenon isn't specifically Indian. It's human. The particularly Indian expression reflects the rapid transformation of the nation's economy from agrarian to industrial and then to service-based and increasingly experiential.
With the explosion of choice, combined with high disposable income, products and services that not long ago seemed well beyond reach are today considered commonplace. Less impressed with material goods, consumers are looking for self-improvement and even self-transformation.
This trend accounts for the growing popularity of image makeover workshops, cosmetic surgery groups, spiritual gurus, coaching professionals, spas and stem cell banking to treat future health issues. Marketers need to understand and anticipate the needs of this changed consumer who seeks more than the momentary experience.