Waggener Edstrom India, an independent integrated communications agency recently released a research report on changing patterns of digital engagement in India and its impact on brand advocacy titled Content Matters: The Impact of Brand Storytelling Online in 2015.
The report revealed that 73 per cent of Indians recommend brands with a greater digital footprint and higher levels of online social engagement. It also found that inspirational, funny and entertaining content are most likely to be shared on social platforms followed by personal, news and educational content.
The report explored the correlation between devices and social media platforms relating to purchase behaviour and how those dynamics vary across nine industries: Beauty, Consumer Electronics, Finance and Banking, Food and Beverage, Healthcare, Mobile Devices and Tablets, Personal Care, Restaurants and Dining, and Travel and Tourism.
The study results were released at an industry round table comprising marketers, communications leaders and business heads on ‘How can brands best digitally engage with the consumer for maximum advocacy?’ moderated by Madhuri Sen, Managing Director, Waggener Edstrom Communications.
Setting the stage for the discussion, Sen said, “Effective brand storytelling requires an ecosystem of media with both online and offline touch points. However, the dominant platforms shift according to industry and geography. Organisations are now recognising the need to move away from what was a higher channel focus to a content focus. It is important to figure out the content and then the channel as opposed to having the media plan in place and then deciding the content.”
According to the study, smart phones at 40 per cent are a very close second to personal computers at 52 per cent as the device of choice to access information related to purchase decisions. Tablets are yet to catch on amongst Indians as the device of choice. However, 91 per cent have access to computers whilst 85 per cent have access to smart phones.
Nine out of 10 Indian respondents of the survey claimed they were likely to follow a brand on social media where 29 per cent were seeking general news about the brand while 27 per cent want to receive discounts and promotional offers and 23 per cent were in search of better customer service.
29 per cent of the consumers polled indicated that Facebook remains the top social media platform preferred by Indians for sharing content, followed closely by WhatsApp (26 per cent).
Although 16 per cent use search engines and another 16 per cent are fans of word of mouth, 14 per cent use company websites, review sites, social media, traditional media, forums, blogs, IM and online news.
Addressing the panel at the release of the study report, Carolyn Camoens, Regional VP, Waggener
Edstrom Communications, APAC said, “I’m not going to share what I had for lunch today. But if there is something funny or inspirational I am sharing that. So it still goes back to the nature of that content that is being shared and how much value it has for the Indian consumer. I know pictures of my half-done kitchen are not interesting to you, but me saying ‘my home coming together’ is sharing an emotional experience with your network. That’s what brands need to connect to.”
Siddharth Sankhe, India Lead, Insights and Analytics, Waggener Edstrom Communications added, “Things are changing at a good pace with regards to inclusion of smartphones in the daily lives of people. Brands need to acknowledge this and create mobile ready content which is easy to consume and share. Computers still stand as an important device for a lot of other functionalities, but smartphones are replacing computers as the primary device of information consumption”
Industry experts outside of Waggener Edstrom also commented on the subject.
Nandini Goswami, Director, Corporate Communications, Kellogg, India, presented the flipside to this mobile and digital wave in India, saying, “While social media has its many positives, there is a negative side to this as well. With the rise in smartphones usage, dissatisfied customers have an additional channel to vent on. This means that they don’t give the organisation enough time to respond as the issue has already been tweeted, retweeted and shared on Facebook. Each industry will be affected differently by this.”
Dr Jitesh Bhatt, GM mHealth Innovations, Vodafone India said, “There is more awareness about diseases and medication amongst consumers. They seek information to make informed choices. Not only that, the smarter and younger doctors on Facebook and WhatsApp have started giving therapy options to their patients online or through their mobiles. This is ‘consumerisation’ of healthcare and hence that’s where the digital comes in to play a pivotal role.”
The India report was launched as part of Waggener Edstrom’s second edition of their Asia Pacific study on the business impact of content marketing.