GLOBAL EVENTS IMPACT CONFIDENCE, SPENDING
The world is a global village, now more than at any time before and India is no exception. Indians are able to experience and react to events in near real time. India’s arrival on the political and economic stage also means that events can shape consumer behavior and opinions at scale. Sample two events—Trump’s America First and Brexit have impacted the IT sector as people analyze the events and worry about short-term and long-term impacts. This uncertainty impacts their spending as well.
TV SHOULD REMAIN IN THE MIX, DESPITE RAPID RISE OF DIGITAL
TV’s popularity as an entertainment device is slowly dipping. Today, consumers are engaging with ondemand content across different platforms, devices, and screens. The increase in internet access has empowered viewers to view media content of their choice anywhere and anytime. With growing smartphone ownership, many people go straight to mobile as their primary screen for consuming content. Digital media players like Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon are challenging TV as an entertainment medium. The share of media spending on digital is expected to reach 24 percent by 2020 from the current 12 percent. TV is certainly under threat from the increase in digital media brands. Does this mean that TV will lose its relevance? Not really. Brands have to be present with relevant content on a variety of media. This multi-screen approach will help brands engage better with consumers.
SONIC BRANDING HELPS BREAK THROUGH CLUTTER
In today’s times, when consumers are being overloaded with advertisements and brand content on every platform imaginable, creating a unique identity in the consumer’s mind has become an even tougher task for the advertisers. The use of sonic branding can help marketers address this problem. Sonic branding refers to the practice of identifying a brand with a specific music or other sound. It can include a sonic logo (SOGO), for example, like the tingling sound at the end of commercials for Britannica cookies, or the musical chord that identifies Intel. The right use of music in the ads can lead to long-term recall of the brand and a greater association between the ad and the brand. In addition, music opens new avenues for brands to bring about integration in communication. The same SOGO can be used online, in physical stores, or as a part of the end-product itself (like in some gadgets).
OLDER CONSUMERS REPRESENT GREAT POTENTIAL FOR BRANDS
The growth of seniors, or silvers, is a significant trend. And going forward, brands will need marketing plans dedicated to reaching these older citizens. They often have more spending power because their kids are settled and they have fewer obligations. Brands in certain categories—such as travel, real estate, and health and wellness—may have the clearest opportunity. But the opportunity is broader. We noticed that a lot of people, at age 45 to over 50, are purchasing premium motorcycles, a product usually associated with youth. But for these people, starting another stage of their lives, a premium motorcycle is a means of self-expression.
Chatbots Serve Customers with a Human Touch
Imagine this scenario: You want to buy a shirt and you don’t have time to visit a physical store. You visit the online store of a brand you like, and a chat starts by welcoming you! The site asks what you are looking for, and you tell it that you’re looking for shirts. Then it asks for what purpose you want to buy the shirt and asks you to indicate the occasion: formal/official purpose, casual, party, other.
Let’s say you choose the first option, formal formal/official purpose. Immediately in the chat box you are asked, “What’s your favorite color?” You respond, and all formal shirts with different shades of the desired color are displayed. You are asked to specify other design preferences, such as solid or striped. Even if you have made a small spelling mistake, the site understands what you meant and shows you the relevant shirts.
Great customer service; but you have not been chatting with a human being. The service has been provided by a robot, empowered with artificial intelligence, a chatbot. Chatbots have rapidly become one of the greatest tools for brand marketers. Powered with natural language processing (NLP), a chatbot can interpret your intentions and, through more and more transactions, refine its understanding.
Chatbots are appearing across categories, sometimes with human names, like Apple’s Siri, or Natasha from India’s Hike messenger service. Even financial services brands are using Chatbots, including India’s leading bank, with HDFC OnChat. We’re in the midst of a once-in-a-decade paradigm shift.
Messaging is the new platform, and chatbots are the new apps. The shift is radically changing end-user experiences and inevitably will change business models and how brands interact with customers. It is still early days in the chatbot ecosystem, but brands are already aboard the chatbot bandwagon to improve their marketing efforts.
People Remember Brands That Connect Emotionally
With today’s plethora of advertisements, capturing the attention of consumers is a tough task. To engage consumers, despite their short attention span, brands need to emotionally integrate their product or service with consumer’s life story and roots.
Paper Boat is a good example of a brand selling a utilitarian product that make an emotional impression. Its products—soft drinks—are essentially for quenching thirst. But they also evoke the India of a simpler time. The brand creates flavors that remind people of childhood—their own or their parent’s or grandparent’s.
On each bottle the brand promises, “Drinks and Memories.” Paper Boat makes flavors that were lost somewhere in the past because all of us lead busy lives and lack the time to make the drinks ourselves. The brand says it helps people “taste memories.”
New Brands Root Modern Appeal In Ancient Traditions
More than 65 percent of the Indian population is below 35 years of age. Many young people have benefited from the growth of India’s economy, and are bolder and more adventurous with their brand choices. They have influenced the emergence of new brands that are deeply rooted in Indian ethos and, at the same time, appeal to the modern consumer’s tastes and preferences.
Brands like Paper Boat (soft drinks), Forrest Essentials (cosmetics), or Chumbak (e-commerce) are regarded as premium. They carve a niche for themselves in their respective categories. The e-commerce surge has also seen many Indian portals emerge, including Nykaa (cosmetics and beauty), and Limeroad (fashion).
Gone are the days when Indian brands were regarded as substitutes for international ones. The preference for international brands existed because consumers perceived that they offered greater value and quality. These new Indian brands have understood the appeal of international brands and are creating value and quality. Perhaps Desi at heart, they have international service standards and are here to stay.
Insight with Innovation Can Disrupt Categories
It’s a simple product, just a hard-boiled candy, a kind of sweet and colorful sucking lozenge. The success of Pulse candy, now a popular name among kids and adults alike in India, illustrates how the right insight, coupled with innovation, can disrupt even the most mundane market. Pulse was launched just two year back. Its entry disrupted India’s $1.3 billion candy market, which is cluttered with many players and variants.
Pulse has been able to become the most prominent player in hard-boiled candy segment due to an insight into a strong local preference for the tangy taste of green (unripe) mangoes with salt. Innovating, the brand embedded the slow oozing tangy portion in the center of the hard mango-flavored shell. The product was an instant hit, receiving marketing and distribution support from parent company DS Group.
Changing Attitudes Drive Young People’s Purchasing
Convenience has been an important purchasing driver. But the purchase drivers are changing, especially for young people who seek brands that reward them with a sense of accomplishment, and a platform to showcase their worth.
Lately, we are seeing the increasing importance of drivers like “makes me feel empowered,” “helps me fulfil my dreams,” and “is a guide to me.” These appear in several categories, including FMCG, where young mothers increasingly want to be part of the meal preparation process instead of using a packaged food.
Similarly, in transportation self-drive options are progressively more prevalent. And in hospitality brands like Airbnb are becoming popular as they provide an alternative to a traditional hotel stay. For brands to attract young people, it is imperative that they recognize these changing purchase drivers and become partners in helping these consumers fulfill their goals.