2015 – Exploring the iceberg


2015 – Exploring the iceberg

 

The past years 2013, 14 we touched the ice berg with higher digital spends, long format story based ads, adoption of online shopping and flourishing of e-commerce businesses and better and more impactful government advertising. In the coming years we shall explore the iceberg and comprehend its magnitude. The developments in 2014 will continue and better in 2015 and also the year should see (I hope) new trends responding to the changes happening around.

The adoption of internet and its influence in communication and advertising will continue with higher growth rates. A recent report by McKinsey & Company and Facebook said India would add close to 300 million internet users by 2018 to make up an online population of just under 500 million people. While this trend is acknowledged by the advertising industry, the adoption of this trend in the rural areas is still to be explored. Few pioneers like HUL with its Kan Khajura Tesan have taken steps in this direction; with more than 80 million internet users and increasing consumption of low cost, internet enabled smart phones in the rural markets I hope to see more work in this space. Internet and mobile multimedia is used more for entertainment in the rural areas unlike urban where the use is more for social purposes. This insight should lead marketers to create more entertaining content for the rural population in 2015. What happened on ground all these years should go online, catering to masses; things like music, performances, plays and movies are likely to go online and accessed through mobile phones.

The rural markets have been paid attention in some industries but there are certain trends that will influence consumption and communication in the rural space – like rural doesn’t always mean poor and bottom of pyramid, there is rural rich as well and they are consuming brands; with luxury car brands, branded consumer durables and electronics getting a fair share of their revenues from the rural space. Another very important trend is about the rural children with access to satellite communication and internet are growing up with similar aspirations like their urban counterparts. Hence we can’t discriminate between an urban and rural kids as they are viewing the world with same lens. Hence the psychographic targeting will become more important than geographic targeting. Going forward rural marketing will go through a sea change.

Another trend that took shape in 2014 is the spending on the digital mediums and this will continue unprecedented in 2015. According to the latest findings of the Digital Advertising in India Report by IAMAI and IMRB, the online advertising market in India is projected to reach Rs 3,575 crore by March 2015, a growth of 30 per cent over last year. Along with increasing spends what was seeing in the year gone by and also with their plans for coming years was the maturity of the clients w.r.t. digital adverting; they are taking bold decisions and are understanding the immense possibilities that comes with digital. Having CMTO i.e. Chief Marketing Technology Officer will become common in the coming years.

The next trend is a problem of sorts which will aggravate in the coming years, and what needs to be seen is how the industry deals with this. The trend is that many category of products are becoming commodities due to the presence of search and aggregating technologies; they loosing brand value and hence the ability to charge premium for branded products. Take for example the airlines industry where once the brand was the most important variable in the decision making criteria i.e. business travelers sweared by Jet Airways. Now due to the presence of google and other aggregators which throw the cheapest tickets for the searched routes, price has become the most important variable and the industry has gone into this vicious cycle of downward spiraling prices. This leads to a compromise in services, losses and hence today a profitable airline is an achievement. This is true for many industry like many financial services and also consumer durables where the customer may visit a retail outlet to get all the information related to a product but purchase online. The concept of branding that created emotional connect with its customers and there by commanding a premium is failing to do so in spite of increased investments.

With most activities in the purchase process happening online the scope for creating human connection is reducing and hence in the coming years brands will be redefined by the experiences they create online and offline. Marketers have forgotten this and are now having a very transactional relationship with their customers over the internet and emotional affinity is taking a back seat. I hope in the coming year some will wake up and act to break this spiral.

Some other trends that will take off from 2014 is rise of e-commerce and online shopping, the online shopping behavior that was seen during Diwali in 2014 will continue in 2015 and players should build their infrastructure accordingly. Making ads for government which was seen below dignity of any professional advertising agency has changed for good. With the new government’s progressive vision, today advertising agencies take pride in contributing to governments actions. Corporates, agencies and people all are participating in issues of national importance, this was seen in the Swachh Bharat campaign in 2014 and going forward more such campaign and better integration will be seen.

Being more selfless, fresh, more engaging and telling stories that connect with the people will be the mantra in 2015. We saw hints of this happening and some pioneering brands and agencies working in this direction; if this is the take-off, 2015 will see the real flight and that makes it an exciting place to be and to watch out for.

 

Note: Originally published in the Financial Express in early 2015

 

 

 

 

100 Days of Action


‘A Vision without Action is just a Dream’, the thought itself is a cliché but its philosophy is deeply rooted to the very concept of being, i.e. ‘Doing’. Quite recently I happened to come across this interesting development at TED Talk. TED has risen to being a platform that mirrors the status quo, the dynamism, the possibilities our world holds. It captures ideas in the form of talks, ideas which they feel are worth spreading. ‘Ideas worth spreading’ has been the tagline of TED since its inception, but now there are plans to change their mission from spreading to doing. TED may have a new tagline ‘Ideas worth doing’. This change in mission yet again reflects what our world needs. The way our world is moving today it is not just about great ideas but how can we implement those ideas so as to create a ripple effect of the greater common good and change the lives of millions. With this thought TED even before saying what they intend to in the form of a tagline is doing what they intend to say. Thus TED is not just spreading the ideas but it is also following up with the speakers and keeping track of how they are changing lives based on the ideas they shared. How is the shared idea being converted into action, how are these ideas in action impacting the world and hence creating the second level content. TED is indicating a paradigm shift around the world – the shift from ‘Spreading to Doing’, because great ideas mean absolutely nothing until they are put into practice.

The reason I choose to delve on this paradigm shift is because something similar is happening closer at home. Our country has earned itself a breath of fresh air, because big words that dominated our democracy are being converted into action, the action called – 100 Days of Modi. The spirit of action was a common thread that ran all along right from his election campaign and manifesto, to the recent budget and his vociferous speech he gave on Independence Day. The spirit is not just restricted to words and promises but it is moving beyond the realms of planning and getting converted into action. These actions come with a proof of performance, changes are unfolding and driving a positive sentiment. Although it isn’t about big overhauls but more so about small beginnings, which in itself is a big thing. Until now we as a country have been fed excuses, “We don’t have funds” “We lack the required infrastructure” but here we have 100 days that have seen considerable action. I attempt to capture this action, GDP touched 5.7 other important economic indicators like retail inflation, exports, fiscal deficits have shown considerable improvement for the quarter ended June 2014. Sensex has hit a record high of 27000 points, investors made 65000 Crores on Modi’s 100 day completion. All of these are positive sentiments. Further on Modi’s vision of Digital India has begun to roll into reality. e-Visas as an idea has entered the implementation phase. The introduction of electronic visa facility in India could double the annual tourist arrival to over 12 million in the next five years. With e-Visa in place foreigners can apply for their visas online and get them online. This will not only ease out the process but with the increase in tourists new money gets generated for the country and everyone from the macro tourism industry to the micro level street vendor benefit. Also concepts like e-governance, e-learning, and e-commerce are being consciously focussed on. Even Telecom companies are preparing for the Digital India. When each Indian will own a phone concepts like e-governance, learning and commerce will change the face of India. Modi’s dream has made Telecom companies see India in a different light, it has made them pull of their socks and prepare for Digital India. Telecom companies have begun to develop tools for Modi’s Digital India and channelizing spends to it. The talks about financial inclusion have seen action in the form of Jan-Dhan Scheme in which 15 million bank accounts were opened on the first day itself. Top three Auto industry players Maruti, Hyundai, and Honda have achieved their record sales. Also bullet trains which were a farfetched, often talked about dream until now has witnessed action in the form of some high speed trains with lesser stops being introduced and some deals being struck with Japan during Modi’s last visit. The government has also reserved 10000 crores for new businesses, i.e. start-ups. Modi spoke of focus on skill, speed and scalability to ensure development and these actions exactly reflect the framework. Its empowering people with skills. This will act as a new dawn for the era of entrepreneurship in India. Even Reliance, Wipro, Tata and the likes are spending more money in entrepreneurial ventures.

Thus if we were to correlate the 100 days of action to what is happening internationally on the lines of government initiatives, industry changes, and people heading towards entrepreneurship we will see a greater overlap today than ever before. For the first time in history of India global realities, our government, businesses and people all of these are coming together. Hence we can safely say good times are coming, ‘Acche din aa rahe hai’. 100 days of action is just a precursor a lot more action awaits. As Modi rightly said while speaking with children on teachers’ day “It is important to do things rather than dream”.

Note: This piece was originally written a month back for a leading publication, unfortunately did not publish it as this was not part my mandated topic.

I must also add the most audacious and most impactful campaign ever mounted by any Indian government in free India: “MakeInIndia” .