At the exchange4media Conclave held in Mumbai on September 30, 2014, Vishnu Mohan, CEO, Havas Media APAC, spoke about marketing’s tryst with technology. Mohan began his presentation by pointing out the fact that, while technology has been around for years in many forms, it has moved from merely developing gadgets to developing economies. While earlier marketing and technology were two separate facets, today they have become one. He stressed on the idea that the fundamental thing that unites marketing with technology is consumption. He said, “The only way societies and the world at large can progress is by consumption. It is vital to the economic progress of any society or country in the world.”
Comparing the consumption patterns of the last five decades to the last five years, Mohan said that technology has played a huge role leading to a remarkable shift in economies. He said, “There is no longer a single-user consumer, it’s now multi-user consumption.” Another factor that has led to this change in consumption patterns is the accessibility to smart data. He explained, “There is a lot of data that the consumer is willing to voluntarily give up. We sometimes underestimate the power of the consumer to disclose information for delivering better products and services.” Mohan highlighted four distinct trends in consumption namely collaborative, collective, conscious and personal.
Explaining collaborative consumption, Mohan said we live in ‘sharing economies’ today. Factors such as rising prices, awareness and mobile devices have encouraged consumers to share and collaborate with each other in order to save and derive more value out of a product. Mohan pointed out, “Mobile is the only media by which you can instantly reward or punish a brand.” Citing examples of Lyft and Airbnb, Mohan illustrated how collaborative consumption is a change agent of our times for consumers as well as brands. Talking about collective consumption, he said, “Two is company, three is crowd but today technology can make a crowd fun and useful.” With content on the Internet increasingly being ‘user generated’ and brands themselves seeking to ‘crowd source’ information, there couldn’t be a truer reality.
Giving the example of Waze, Mohan explained how the app’s crowd-sourced data makes it even better than Google Maps. The third trend brought about by technology is conscious consumption. Mohan explained, “Earlier a consumer didn’t worry about the consequences of using a particular product because he wasn’t aware. But today because of technology the consumer is more aware and conscious.” Lastly, explaining personal consumption with the example of Fitbit, Mohan pointed out that today the consumer is more aware of what they are doing in every single moment which is changing the ways brands are being consumed. He said, “There are gadgets that tell a person about their sugar level instantly which will make one conscious of their consumption. This is a phenomenally interesting way to marry marketing and technology.”
After highlighting the four most important changes in consumption brought about by technology, Mohan once again stressed the importance of a marketer’s knowledge of technology. He said, “In today’s world, marketers cannot be the marketers of yesterday. They need to understand what technology can do for their brand and the infinite opportunities to be explored.” He continued, “This sharing economy demands a new organisation where technology is a core part. Every single marketer today, by default, has to understand what technology can do for the brand.”
With technology taking centre stage, Mohan said the three words that will shape the future are payments, commerce and community. And for the agency of the future, he said only two things will be needed – creators and collaborators. On a parting note, Mohan left the audience with an observation: “With people willing to let go of quality for convenience and sharing, is sharing ever going to become larger than consumption?”