This year’s Conclave can easily be one of the best I have ever attended in the last five years with an array of speakers renowned in their sphere bringing a positive and forward looking views and pointers. Though as a practicing media professional, these topics have left me rather restless than being buoyed about the Indian media and advertising industry. We are now a group of diverse industries, converging occasionally, mostly working in silos in our respective growth plans.
I am equally restless about not having a ‘least common denominator’ for this conglomerate of industries. I believe if we don’t have an inclusive approach we will continue to run amok all over the place instead of driving one common agenda of driving growth that is inclusive. While I believe GoaFest is not the place to brood over and be restless, but I do know that as an industry we have come a long way where at least now we have a platform where industry leaders can frankly and boldly convey their concerns and future plans. And well, this is a very good beginning. If we fail to capitalise on the opportunity quickly and rather expediently creating a platform for inclusive growth, we will be doing a big disservice to this festival called GoaFest, and more importantly to this concept called Business Conclave.
On to the sessions that transpired at the Business Conclave, I personally believe the India-China growth story has opened up new ways of looking at our own country. If we look at the Chinese perspective, then we need to spend time understanding our own unique cultures and emerging local industries and brands. The first panel highlighted the need for advertising to compete with other levels of marketing mix in the post-recession era on the back of bold and relevant innovation. And the desperate need for the digital channels to be integrated with the overall channel plans.
The second panel desperately hoped that our industry will grow, mainly because the market is growing with too many players in any and every industry – be it in FMCG, broadcasting, print, or for that matter even cricket. It was interesting to see the benchmark on talk-time cost prove the point that consumers will always be the king and with too much of competition, we are now making them emperor of choices. Until that, our efforts are linked to value creation and everything else will just be intermediary.
I was personally quite surprised not to have a media agency CEO in the third panel, and it was quite evident in the discussion itself that it was rather incomplete. If one has to talk about the preparedness of the agencies to handle the future, the panel was rather generic talking about embracing change and launching verticals, although I personally believe that if we don’t keep the client at the center on the back of digital capabilities across the board, we will always be one-sided in our approach.
The last panel raised pertinent questions of using research as a means to grow the business and frankly we are in a ‘chicken-and-egg’ situation in this. The fact that we spend lowest in research as percentage of GDP and a need for a collaborative central body to fund and drive consumer centric research that measures the result is the crying need for this industry if we need to grow. And more importantly, I completely agree that all of us can spend our time more productively mixing existing research instead of questioning its methodology. All in all, as I have mentioned in the beginning, I am going to be restless with lots and lots of questions, but no answers…
(R Gowthaman is Leader, Mindshare.)