Bo Bennett once said, “As sure as the spring will follow the winter, prosperity and economic growth will follow recession.” 2013 was certainly a tough year, but the economic conditions are expected to improve in 2014. The beverage giants saw the worst performance in five years, the automobile sector witnessed the biggest slump in decades, and job-seekers faced a severe crisis. Core industries such as manufacturing, mining and power were badly hit, with a constant hike in diesel and petrol prices, along with high interest rates. The Indian economy grew at its slowest pace in the past four years at 4.4 per cent and profit margins were under pressure. This was the domino effect of the slowdown caused by the depreciating Rupee, soaring inflation and high current account deficit.
It was a dangerous gamble for marketers to invest money or pull back in the fluctuating market. This led to several marketers slashing their budgets to overcome the crisis. Major sectors witnessed product launches on a small scale and lesser advertising campaigns due to tighter pockets. Somber mood prevailed during the festive season and the ad budget for print, television and radio during the festive months saw a cut of almost 50 per cent. Sectors such as electronics, consumer durables, banking, telecom, automobile and FMCG spent less on brand promotions. However, everybody is optimistic about the year 2014.
Shubhajit Sen, Global Lead and VP Emerging Consumer Market, GSK said, “We will start seeing consumer optimism coming back in the first half of 2014 and numbers will be following up from the second half onwards. Once again, premiumisation in the urban categories will come into play. Rural markets will be exploding because a lot of money will be spent on these markets. Consolidation of modern trade is bottoming out and 2014 will witness a rise in it.”
The economic slump made people cautious before investing in financial services. For Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer - Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group, 2013 was a year of change and turnaround because the industry was evolving. He predicts that in 2014, people will look before they leap. They will think before they spend and they will want every rupee spent to be measurable and accountable.
Many giants had to lower their growth targets due to demand slowdown. Brands had to increase the prices of their products to offset the impact of Rupee depreciation. According to Nikhil Sharma, Director - Marketing, Perfetti Van Melle India, 2013 was a challenging year for the industry. GDP growths came down, the currency depreciated and the consumer confidence index was at an all-time low. Companies across the board had to constantly innovate to sustain growth. Sharma believes that the top trends for 2014 will be higher focus on tactical initiatives and promotions, premiumisation of offerings and increasing relevance of digital medium.
However, for Intel, 2013 proved to be a good year. The company believes that the Indian market has immense potential to grow because of the 4G rollout, internet becoming all pervasive and a huge explosion of devices. Sandeep Aurora, Director, Marketing & Market Development, Intel South Asia said, “From the devices standpoint, there will be increasing adoption of two-in-one devices, which combines a computer and a tablet. In 2014, all manufacturers will be coming out with multiple designs for them and consumers will be lapping them up.”
To sum it up, the year 2013 saw a downtrend in the Indian economy, which in turn affected the performance of most of the brands. Though, it is hoped that the year 2014 will be full of positivity and brands will be spending a lot on the marketing activities. The best example is that of Coca-Cola, which has started the year with a bang and plans to spend aggressively on marketing activities in the future. In 2014, brands are expecting to flourish and shine with a whole new perspective in line, leaving behind the gloomy memories of the year gone by.