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Leaders discuss the evolving consumer at MRUC forum

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Leaders discuss the evolving consumer at MRUC forum

The forum ‘Eye on Consumer, Eye on Media 05’ comprised of industry leaders sharing more on what they understood of the evolving consumer. Whether it was Wieden Kennedy’s Dan Wieden talking on Nike, Professor and author Venkat Ramaswamy, Business Standard’s T N Ninan or GCMMF’s B M Vyas – the bottom line was that for the new consumer it is all about self expression.

The first speaker was Dan Wieden, who said that his client Nike didn’t want ‘straight’ or ‘simple’ advertising. This led to the bizarre and extremely popular range of Nike ads finding their way in the consumer’s life. “Phil Nike first words to me were that he wasn’t an ad person and he, our only client at that time, made us throw everything we knew out of the window and start all over again,” said Wieden.

He spoke on the strategies behind all Nike ads beginning with ‘Just do it.’ “These are the last three words that I have written and they have lived longer than expected.” He also spoke on the ‘Tag ad’, the ‘Battle Grounds’ ‘Free Style Creative’ and the productive partnership with MTV. He said more on his other works like Sapporo in Japan and Honda Accord, “With this ad, we wanted to show an unusual, self confident way of showing the product and we succeeded. ”

One point that Wieden made was that research didn’t really make for an important input in creating ads. He said, “Someone once told me that research is something mid-management uses to cover their tails. We haven’t really used it for any of our communications. In cases like Nike, we realised that the new consumer wants to express themselves and that is all that we have used.”

Ramaswamy said, “The consumer is misunderstood today and is constantly trying to tell something to marketers. They don’t want something that is created for them, they want something that is created with them.” He gave the example of Napster saying that Napster was a success because the consumer didn’t want music put together for him by someone else, he wants it himself. The brands like Starbucks Coffee and Apple have understood this and this is the reason behind their success.

“The new consumer is a well-networked consumer. He knows more about a product due to the information overload and readily available info on products. Word of mouth today is on a far wider scale. The value chain today is just a cost chain. The value is out of it. Consumer are challenging traditional business logic,” he expressed.

He reiterated the need for a shift in focus. He said that the consumer was no longer looking for a product or a service, he was looking for an experience and companies can’t manage experience. “What they can manage is quality and that is where they have to concentrate if they want to cope with the consumer. There has to be dialogue, not one-sided pre-defined questionnaire, transparency and access. The new consumer is expressing himself using mediums like technology and marketers have to capture that if they want to grow.”

For T N Ninan, the game was more on the growth of print and retaining relevance in the electronic era. He began with the fact that while TV had grown seven times from 1995 to 2003, print had only doubled and yet there was not doubt that print continued to claim the highest share of the ad pie. Following this he took the audience through various points when the coming in of radio and Internet challenged the existence of print and the medium has still held its own place. He presented various propositions to elaborate more on retaining relevance.

Pointing to the growth of TV, he said, “The Sunrise industry also matures and the race now is an equal one. Looking at trends, where there are over 250 channels, there are four to five large print players in various markets, which means that there is consolidation in print now in comparison to the fragmentation seen in television. TV faces ad-skipping technologies, but print offers creative solutions. It is not difficult hence to see who is leading the race.”

The second proposition he presented was that it is a proven fact that any communication is stronger when used together with print. Since multimedia works, there is room for more than one player. “Print needs to adapt to changing needs but consumers have time and again proven that content is king and we should re-orient content to stay relevant.”

B M Vyas spoke about Catching, Tracking and Holding audience. For the leading milk product player, Amul, the connection with the Indian consumer is in any case a very special one. The points that he brought forth were that availability of the product and value for money are still key elements for the Indian consumer. With this he threw more light on brand character and the need to make the brand promise that one can deliver on.

He said, “The whole world is talking about globalisation and it being the phenomenon of the future but we, with our brand identity saying, Taste of India see the future as Indianisation. That is the road ahead and Amul is preparing for it!”


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