After some refreshing views on topics that are close to any Indian advertiser, the GoaFest had more planned in terms of new topics. Michelle Kristula-Green, Regional President, Leo Burnett, Asia Pac, had the full attention of the audience when she brought ‘Asia’s Mister Oversimplified’ under the scanner. Tom Savigar managed his share of undivided attention as well when he enumerated the ‘radical’ steps that the new age consumer is embracing.
At a time when the biggest debates continue to be on issues of relevant ways of targeting the youth, women or children, Michelle Kristula-Green chose to throw light on Asian men and the changes that have been setting in them. Kristula-Green believed that there is global apathy towards men marketing. Realising that there was space to study men closely again and understand if advertising directed towards them is on track, Leo Burnett embarked on a survey. The agency chose GoaFest to publicly unveil the top line finings of this survey.
Her opening statistic of 66 per cent men in India vouching for the fact that there was a disconnect between the image of men as shown in advertisements today vis-à-vis what they were in reality. Kristula-Green spoke of the Leo Burnett Man Study 2005 and Asia’s Mister Misinterpreted 2006 in addition to some Synovate statistics to bring out the changes in the Asian men.
She pointed out that the secure world of Asian men had turned upside down and went on to give some of the driving factors behind this change. She began with the fact that with 40 per cent of women working in Asia, men had to share space, power and decision making powers. The study reveals that 72 per cent men state that the decision maker of a car brand in the house is the female partner. The only categories where men hold complete veto are alcohol and high-end technology.
The traditional gender roles are blurring. Children are becoming a shared responsibility even as cooking and cleaning still aren’t. She said, “Asian men have a lot to gain if they get in touch with their feminine side. She spoke about the changes wherein men are spending time on their own beauty, own makeup and beauty products. “And then there is the backlash of retro-sexuality – men are looking at new outlets to indulge masculinity,” said Kristula-Green.
She then spoke of the changing work environment where job security was a thing of the past and hard work alone was no longer enough, personality also mattered. For most men being successful at work is emerging as a strong priority and an obvious result is he dilemma faced, wherein men are trapped between success at work and being a caring partner.
Further reiterating that men were spending time on themselves, Kristula-Green moved on to the men’s need today to connect with the youth. The youth’s ease with technology is seen as a gap creator between youth and dads, and father today wants to be a friendly dad to gel better with the youth. The shift of being Daddy Cool from being a Figure of Authority is setting in.
Tech browsing, in fact, is seen as virtual masculinity and hence, men want to keep pace with technology. The final point that Kristula-Green made in this context was that media’s Mister Perfect wasn’t, in fact, what the case really is. Asian men are no longer role models.
On the way forward, she pointed out three ways in which the changing Asian men could be represented. She began with the need for the brand to be the fellow traveller in a man’s journey. “It is about how men should be versus how men are,” she said putting things into perspective. “Asian men are on a journey of self discovery and they should be partnered on this journey,” reiterated Kristula-Green.
The next step can be the use of technology to create cults. “This is re-masculation from emasculation. Men are bonding over shared technological experiences and another important component here is to look beyond traditional advertising.”
Tom Savigar, Trends Director, Future Laboratory, revealed the strong “weird” side of the new consumer. The most interesting aspect of the manner in which he collated some of the trends of the people he thinks define the consumer of tomorrow was the observation method that the company uses. Savigar pronounced death of the focussed group researches and clipboard researches, believed that to know a consumer the marketer has to spend time observing the consumer – “that is how little details are put together to look at the larger trend,” he said.
Savigar sees the rise of a optimistic, engaging, socially concerned, under 40 consumer group that has high levels of adaptive navigation and social responsibility. The change necessarily was from the Mr and Mrs Average to the Mr and Mrs Deviant.
Speaking more on the Deviant class, he explained that being Deviant was more about the mindset and that even as this would just 20 per cent of the overall quorum, these are the people who initiate changes. He suggested the route of decentralised networks with deviant nodes in deviant centres – even in work cultures to be able to connect better.
Another message that he had for the marketers was to get the timing right. “There is no point in being early and it is even worst to be late,” he said. Savigar closed on the note – see how risk can be built into your brand communication. There is a need to move from Theme Parks to Dream Parks and that should be the way of looking at any situation that you are faced with today.
Savigar’s address marked the culmination of the academic part of GoaFest 2006. Most audience response to day two was on the lines of good selection of topics to be bought on a forum like this.