AAAI Day Two: Morning session stresses on the ‘Consumer Power’

AAAI Day Two: Morning session stresses on the ‘Consumer Power’

Author | Pritie S Jadhav | Friday, Nov 11,2005 8:47 AM

AAAI Day Two: Morning session stresses on the ‘Consumer Power’

The Day Two seminar of AAAI’s Diamond Jubliee Symposium took off from where it had left yesterday. The morning session was inaugurated by renowned author Stefan Engeseth. The topic of this special session was: ONE – A Consumer Revolution for Business and was chaired by Leo Burnett’s Arvind Sharma.

Engeseth spoke about tools to get people involved in advertising as on the consumer front there was an immense change and one-to-one messages had assumed greater importance and feasibility. “With so many changes happening around, for advertising to maintain its position, it first needs to win over itself and take an evolution leap,” he said.

Attributing huge importance to the consumers and recognising the consumer power, Engeseth said, “Consumers can either make or break companies, leave alone brands. And if the brand doesn’t deliver on its promise consumers can make them an anti-brand through blogging, going to media, etc. In fact, the power of users has never as strong as it is today. Though it might be a problem but here precisely lies a huge opportunity. Thus the marketers need to ascertain whether the brand is working as brand mirror or not. In light of which, advertisers need to make consumers a part of the advertising and get them to work closely with the brand.”

Raising a valid issue, he further said that the gap between the consumers and the brands was quite big and large corporations actually spent a lot of money on advertising and creating awareness. The benefit of which eventually many a times goes to the counterfeit retailers’ brand that on account of spending nothing on advertising may have better quality product than the original one. This raised confusion in the mind of the consumer and India would soon face this problem, which was wide spread in the international markets.

“Consumers have a lot of power and corporations should not behave like sharks looking to eat the consumer. In fact, they should invite the consumers to take part in advertising and brand building initiatives. Consumer power is not a problem – it is a resource for developing products. Advertising can have more interactive options as it is only the consumer who can make the company aware of its blind spot,” Engeseth maintained.

The author of ‘Detective Marketing’ and many such inspirational books ended his presentation with examples of how Lamborghini became the most loved sports car when the maker had first approached Ferrari with this sport’s car idea. And on rejection created Lamborghini. With a lot of conviction, he said, “Companies need to always take the next step and listen to the consumer and have open corporate culture and due to lack of which, corporations aren’t developing as fast as they should.”

The second speaker was George Zacharias, President and COO of Sify, and he spoke on ‘In a technology-driven environment is there a role for brands?’ As a backgrounder he took off by saying, “Brands are vital in markets and as there is more choice there is a greater need for trust. Brands are evocative and connect emotionally as well as functionally with the consumers and they provide a North Star for attributes.”

Laying the points in favour of technology changes, he said, “Technology changes everything, but the pace of change differs and especially the Internet changes everything over time. New media is all digital, which enables music, video, etc, to go digital by initiatives by Microsoft, Yahoo, Google. There is more fragmentation and more views through blogs and with media on the move have led to cross-linked information getting delivered to the consumers as and when he wants it. There is paramount importance of search in a world of increasing fragmentation and choice.”

“The idea is to make this medium of interest to advertisers. There is an opportunity for brand owner to communicate the functional aspects and connect with their specific target audience in an intuitive way. Technology has changed everything. It has changed the way people become aware of and experience the brand eve before buying it,” suggested Zacharias.

Making the audience understand the huge opportunity in waiting technology and the Internet as a medium can offer and is waiting to be explored, he said, “People who handle blogs should recognise this new interactive manner as important and should take care of not giving out conflicting messages to what the brand wants to communicate. The idea is to manage the blogs to the company’s advantage.”

Zacharias also picked the issue of convergence that is happening in TV on Mobile, TV on desktop, Wifi on mobile phones, Video over iPods, customised TV on TV and intuitive ads. He said that the two main drivers for the media on the go which were that one could see when one wanted to see the channel/programme and not when the broadcasters wanted to show, and the second one being advertisers being able to discern the consumer’s interest and come to them when required.

In conclusion, Zacharias said, “Brands will endure as ideas become more important. Connecting the brand’s message to the consumer will become more spread out over new technology led media and life for advertisers will get more complicated but that’s where the fun is.”

The last speaker in the morning session was Geeta Athreya, Programme Communication Officer for Unicef. In a well laid out presentation she made sure to get the message of ‘National Health: The Social Communication Perspective’ well and truly to the members of the audience.

Athreya spoke of the difficulty of Social Communication and the ways and means of getting the message across. Her one-point agenda was to make people aware of their role and responsibility in improving the national health levels of the country and juggle ideas of serving the country in improving its National Index.

She gave examples of how Polio had been brought under control after its rise in numbers in the year 2002 and drastically brought on the patch of eradication. The various initiatives and efforts Unicef had undertaken through the means of mass media campaigns and direct contact programmes.

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