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Flashback 2014: How many billions do you have?

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Flashback 2014: How many billions do you have?

A few years ago Fastrack the iconic youth brand did a fantastic campaign with a sign off “how many you have?”The cheeky tone of voice represented the jauntiness of the youth brigade which had this phenomenal urge to move on. This phrase might well be the catch phrase of today’s entrepreneurs whose twist might well be “how many billions do you have?” Yes, if one attempts to do a review of 2014, one must remember that while several things happened in the year which had a tremendous impact, not the least of it the elections, the most significant happening has been the emergence of the billionaire entrepreneur with VCs beating a path to his front doors.

A brand called Modi
Though Modi’s election strategy and on line blitz has been arguably done to death it would be almost impossible to ignore it when one is doing a review. One saw again the power of the “personal brand” in winning an election and leading the nation. The operative word was “strategy” and we had a mix of young kids on sabbatical to famous business leaders pitching in. Not to forget the importance of the online medium as a tremendous media to influence, engage and finally motivate voters to vote out “the hand” and vote in “the lotus”. The power of “WhatsApp” in UP might well have an alternative headline!

She shops for grocery too
Whilst change seems such an inadequate word to describe what is happening to the Indian consumer, that’s the operative word as people not only buy books, music, movie tickets and mobiles, they buy grocery too! What a sea change it has been with the advent of the smart phone! And while Flipkart’s “big billion day sale” might have made the founders get some egg on their faces, there is no denying the fact that the online shopping habit seems to have spread in no uncertain terms to the smaller towns as well. In fact the “un metro’ as some people might call it could well emerge as the next big opportunity as a consumer base as the cities get increasingly crowded and more difficult to woo.

The year of the full page ad
When I was wet behind the ears in advertising and that was ages ago, a full page ad in the Times of India was an event. A phenomenon if you will. A talking point even. Not anymore. Today the full page ad is more common than the quarter page ad of my times.  Not that the ad is any more creative! Newspapers are anxious to give away everything including their mastheads and the only thing that has lost out is the creative.  Still on the subject of creative what was the breakthrough ad of 2014 on TV? Something that made you stand up and cheer? I am searching for campaigns like Airtel, Vodafone or Fastrack of earlier years. Another interesting trend was the emergence of YouTube as a serious medium.

Brands get discounted
A distressing sign has been the discounting of big brands in the online medium and that is a shame. Here are the big brands like Nike, Adidas and Levi’s who have spent years in building their respective brands and yet what is happening online? Some big e-commerce major is discounting these very brands to build their business and valuation and the consumer is laughing all the way to the bank. For who would not like to get these brands that I would give an arm and leg for at discount? And right through the year to boot! I wish though that somebody would think about the implications of this. Like the BCCI, we shouldn’t end up killing the golden goose.

The consumer is finally king
How often have we heard this statement about the importance of the consumer to the business or MK Gandhi’s famous lines on the subject which have almost become part of the furniture in most organizations. Today that is changing, thanks to the power of the social medium. Today consumers go to Facebook or Twitter to vent their ire and the results are there for all to see. Companies must respond and soon to customer complaints. Though one does wish that consumers would use their new found power judicially and not get completely carried away as they have on occasion.
So let’s cut to the chase. How was the year? It was exciting. It provided tremendous opportunities and learning. It was the year of the entrepreneur and let’s hope 2015 will continue to build on the start that the year gone by provided them with.

And before I forget, here’s wishing each and every one of you a phenomenal year ahead!

Ramanujam Sridhar is the Founder and CEO of brand-comm and a Communication Consultant.

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