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Marketers need to catch up with consumers as life gets digitised

23-November-2007
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Marketers need to catch up with consumers as life gets digitised

The digital medium in India is much more heated than what anyone would’ve imagined a few months back. From mere looking out, it is action at a feverish pace now. WPP’s stake in Quasar Media and the other deals from other media holding companies, which are expected to make more headlines soon, are only some examples.

Does a deal like this make anyone dominant in the digital domain in India? Definitely not, especially when competition is not limited to just media holding companies, but also from Internet vendors like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft; agencies with digital capabilities like Tribal DDB, MMR, Tequila; and firms that are looking at offering digital consultancy like IBM, Accenture and not to mention digital independents themselves. When the competition is so fluid, how does one define market share?

Nonetheless, agencies are ensuring that their action on the digital front is firmly rooted to ensure growth. An attempt like this is seen from the Starcom MediaVest Group as well, wherein the agency had restructured its operations earlier in the year to move from a labour led service to ideas and strategy led service. The year has seen Pushkar Sane take charge of Starcom IP in the Asia market as General Manager.

Sane has one word of caution for marketers in India. He is of the opinion that unfortunately in India, marketers were still speaking the language of cost per leads and cost per impression when every other growing market in Asia had already moved on to digital platforms like the Internet and mobile to be necessary elements in the media plan. He believes that the marketer in every market needs to catch up with the consumer, and more so in a market like India.

Explaining further, Sane said, “Life is already digitised. What if you found out that today is the last day you can use any digital platform ever – can you imagine your life after that? We are digitising every aspect of our media consumption, and that is leading to new media trends, where the consumer has to be engaged in a manner that the marketers have yet not comprehended.” Some of the trends he spoke about were the trust that the new age consumer was placing on unknown people, and that products were made or destroyed merely on the basis of feedback. The circles of influence are changing, and something like a virtual avatar can be key enough to create a relation – with an individual or with a brand. Piracy is no longer a relevant subject, especially in areas like content business, as consumers no longer see it as stealing but as sharing. With consumers moving to being content creators, decisions being made on an impulse have become an undeniable reality today.

Speaking more on the Asia picture, Sane explained that consumers in Japan and Korea enjoyed such connections that they didn’t even know text messages, and got emails on their cell phones. The Philippines and Thailand, on the other hand, are stronger text message markets. Hong Kong, Singapore and China are also moving to the next league with 3G available in these markets.

The Indian market has clear infrastructure problems. In addition to this, some of the other challenges in the domain are on able digital advice offered to clients, availability of research to understand these consumers better, and marketers shying from taking risks.

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