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Engaged Customers Co-create New Ideas with Favorite Brands

Amitesh Chauhan
Senior Research Executive
Kantar Millward Brown

There has been a huge shift in the way companies are trying to build brands. Instead of making strategies in closed-door boardrooms, they are reaching out to their end consumers to help them co-create the brand.

Some brands have successfully used this tool to their advantage. Because the Zica hatchback car from Tata Motors seemed too close in name to the Zika virus, Tata rebranded the car Tiago, based on the results at #FantasticoNameHunt, an online competition. Horlicks promoted its newly launched oat cereal through #HealthyBowl, inviting contestants to prepare unique recipes. Mountain Dew publicized its new variant, Game Fuel, through a 9-week gaming championship.

Such initiatives make perfect sense, as today’s digitally evolved consumers can make or break brands. A tweet reporting about a great experience with the brand could set the brand trending, while a Facebook post about a poor experience could create huge uproar.


FMCG Brands Need to Get Mojo Back to Woo Millennials

Sandeep Dutta
Executive Director
Kantar TNS

FMCG brands need to get their mojo back to woo millennials. Being trustworthy is important, but what makes a brand really attractive and engaging to millennials is its dynamism. And FMCG brands seem to be lagging behind in this regard.

Living in a fast-paced, overstimulated age, millennial consumers expect brands to be energetic, exciting, innovative, and forward-looking. These consumers are addicted to change and reject brands they see as complacent and staid.

One of the key reasons why millennials associate themselves more with media, entertainment, and technology brands is because these brands represent vitality and constant innovation. In comparison, millennials perceive FMCG brands as less energetic and emotionally less relevant.

To regain some of their lost shine, FMCG brands need to be more dynamic. However, empty attempts to create a “wow” factor will not impress millennials, as they are a pragmatic lot and expect dynamism to produce a tangible personal benefit.


Rising Consumer Expectations Make Relationships Critical

Jyoti Dube
Research Associate
Kantar Millward Brown

“Your call is valuable for us, thank you for staying online!” The response is not only annoying. It’s probably ineffectual.

Our habits and way of life have changed, and our expectations have increased. It’s not just the product experience that’s important; it’s the entire customer journey. Consumers no longer like to wait for anything. Social media resolves their queries faster than a phone call, and is perhaps more impactful.

Look at the way Indigo Airlines has leveraged its service strength. The brand not only takes complete care of you while you’re traveling, but it also responds to your feedback quickly. The instant chat option on the website makes the consumer feel special. In contrast, many other airlines are less attentive and, therefore, less preferred.

Consumers now demand faster and better service. Modern marketers need to understand that it is not only the one-time sale that matters. More important is the relationship built over time with consistently positive experiences. These experiences help make valuable brands.


Today’s Indian Consumer Is Brand Savvy

Ashish Karnad
Director Media and Digital Solutions, South Asia
Kantar Millward Brown

Local brands have improved substantially in quality since the days when Indians were inclined to choose foreign brands for quality and sometimes to elevate their social status. Today, Indian consumers choose brands that deliver what they need at a good price. Whether the brand is large or small, foreign or Indian is less relevant. Because of e-commerce, Indians now have access to brands from any place in the world, so brands seem less exclusive. Although these trends are most evident in cities, rural India is not far behind. Our studies show that rural consumers may spend less money than urban consumers because they have lower incomes, but the proportion of household budgets allocated to personal care, food, education, or other categories are roughly the same.


Premium Shoppers Respond to Brands’ Emotional Appeal

Nitya Bhalla
Group Account Director - India Marketing Science
Kantar Millward Brown

People across India, in both cities and small towns, share high aspirations. Consumers who attempt to fulfill these aspirations drive the premiumization trend. They can be divided into two groups: high-income people, who can afford to pay premium prices, and high spenders, often young people, whose higher intensity or frequency of usage also make them more value conscious. To reach these “High Value Consumers,” i.e. both high-income and high-spending consumers, brands need to offer more than practical solutions. Premium consumers respond to brands that are different and innovative in emotionally satisfying ways – brands that confer status or prestige while offering functional benefits that enhance life.


In Diverse India, Nationalism Offers Marketing Options

Parnika S. Mehta
Director - Brand Performance Solutions
Kantar Millward Brown

Being Indian is an amorphous idea. If you begin to define the idea of being Indian by certain markers it becomes constricting. You lose the free, fluid identity where a person could be Indian but different in many ways from the next person. These are challenging times because the form of Indian nationalism being talked about currently is becoming a narrow definition of what it means to be Indian. Because of India’s vast diversity, brands typically need to adjust their creatives to reach the many diverse communities. This new nationalism phenomenon may enable brands to create a message that resonates the length and breadth of the country, provided it is a message that is “about me and my nation” and where the view of the nation is “grand and plural.” Indians will feel positive about such a message, which could relieve some pressure on brands to do highly specific cultural marketing.


Fluid Identity Complicates Brand Relevance

Nidhi V. Srivastava
Head of Marketing Science, South Asia
Kantar Millward Brown

We applied the Kantar Millward Brown framework of brand equity along with Brand Structure Analysis against the phenomenon of individual and collective identity to see how the consumer identifies with the brand and what makes the brand relevant. We found that in places with low per capita income, people look for brands that address the collective, not just what the brand is doing for “me,” but also what the brand is doing for “my society.” Consumers consider those brands more relevant and, therefore, more meaningful. These consumers will respond positively to a brand’s corporate social responsibility initiatives. In areas with higher per capita income, brands are seen as relevant and meaningful when they meet personal needs with functional and emotional benefits. The key factor for brands is to know the consumption context: is it individual or communal?


Brands Navigate Social Change Very Carefully

Rajesh Kurup
Managing Director, North India
Kantar Millward Brown

India is a collective society. But starting with economic liberalization and growth in the early 90s, India began moving to a more individualistic Western mindset, creating a tension between individual aspirations and collective traditions. Increased economic opportunity and the erosion of the caste system have catalyzed that tension. Brands across product categories are navigating carefully, celebrating individuality but also showing respect, trying to sweeten tradition, not challenge it. The individual-communal tension may be clearest in the basic unit of communal life, the family. Many ads show much greater equality between husband and wife. They share chores like doing the laundry, for example. One memorable ad depicts a woman bossing a man at work, and in the next scene the same two people are at home, shown as a married couple in more traditional roles.


New Influences Stir Identity Mixture

Vartika Malviya Hali
Regional Director Client and Solutions, AMAP

Today, increased mobility and the use of social media impact identity. Youth from smaller cities move to bigger metros for work. Rural workers move to urban areas in search of employment. People move across regions for better opportunities. When someone moves from one cultural region to the other, they experiment with different foods, rituals, and learn new local vocabulary. If they start a family, the children are grafted into this new identity. But being connected to one’s family and traditions does remain strong. Today social media plays an important role in managing that. Individuals can move to a new location and remain connected with family via social networking sites and apps. They not only share their lives via visuals and videos, but also manage communication and monetary transactions electronically.


brand challenge: reach the right consumer group at right time

And be authentic and inclusive in all brand communications

Meheer Thakare
Head of Digital Solutions
Kantar Millward Brown, South Asia

Wow! Isn’t that a brand’s dream? A consumer spending dedicated time, intensively looking for a product they want to purchase. With the increasingly fragmented information-seeking behavior showcased by consumers today, how does a brand ensure that its targeted consumers have optimal and convincing accessibility to its product or services?

Brands spend considerable resources trying to accomplish this goal. Much of this investment traditionally has gone to mass media, in an effort to be in the consumer’s consideration set at the very moment of need. This approach is expensive and does not always look favorable on the balance sheet. Fortunately, with the right technology, there are more efficient ways to be top-of-mind. Consider these two strategies:


Digital (as well as traditional) outreach plans are inevitably based on demographic targeting parameters aimed at reaching an intended audience. The intended audience is a broadly defined group that the advertiser believes may be disposed to buy its product or service. But the real intended audience includes the narrower group of people who in that moment are ready to consider, if not purchase, the product or service. Smart advertisers recognize this, and have already

embraced advanced marketing technology products that allow them to reach out to their consumers through programmatic advertising. This enables the possibilities of reaching out to the right consumer at the right time and in the right place.


Growing consumer impatience makes the speed of communication important in brand communications. That is why brands increasingly rely on automated communications for marketing or after-sales support. Many brands deploy artificial intelligence techniques to interact with popular consumer queries. While these approaches yield tangible cost savings, they also reduce human interaction. Moderating all the automated messages with a touch of human involvement can go a long way to ensuring that a brand is not only always on, but it is on in a relevant and effective way.

The strategies discussed above are understandably different for some traditional marketers and might meet with skepticism, if not rejection. And while the benefits are tangibly visible, the adoption path may not be quite clear. It’s like learning anything new; before long, you’ll be inspired but wary of taking it up, then things begin to work out – and looking back, it will seem like a cakewalk. Lets walk the path to be always on!

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Methodology and valuation by Kantar Millward Brown

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