Home >> Marketing >> Article

Guest Column: Can a brand be an antidote to student stress?

01-August-2017
Font Size   16
Guest Column: Can a brand be an antidote to student stress?


Stress is a part and parcel of human life. Millions of people succumb to stress-related disorders and the number keeps growing every year. Historically, several brands have driven their narratives by positioning themselves as stress-busters. 

 

Categories such as financial services, insurance, travel and tourism, home appliances, health and wellness, among others, have targeted predominantly adult segments like business executives, homemakers and senior citizens by promising them stress relief as the end benefit. 

 

Since brands cater to various segments of people, many leading brands have researched that stress has seeped into a younger demographic over the past decade and the latest victims of stress are not just middle-aged professionals but adolescent students. 

 

Psychologists who specialize in student counselling suggest that students suffer from traumatic disorders and anxiety, all related to academic performance and fear of examinations. With students, the complication is that the fear is not just intrinsic (from within,) but also extrinsic, which stems from schools, colleges, peers and parents that go to extreme levels to push their offspring into securing better grades.

 

Student-Stress: The New Trend

 

Conventionally, brands targeted at students used themes like achievement, winning or growth as their marketing planks. Nowadays, brands targeted at the student community have taken a leaf out of the book of adult categories and are pitching themselves as an ‘antidote to student-stress.’ 

 

Recently, PepsiCo rolled out a campaign #ReleaseThePressure for Mirinda. The campaign gave voice to millions of students who experience extreme pressure during their exams. Brands like TATA Tea, Cello Pens and Lenovo followed suit, using student-stress as a platform. 

 

Are we witnessing a new trend with brands targeted at students?

 

When we consider overall student wellbeing, looking at academic stressors on health, brands are capitalizing on the growing realization to pay attention to the serious long-term health effects pressure has on students. Hence, the positioning of ‘stress-busters,’ ‘stress-relief’ and ‘instant-happiness solutions.’

 

Organizations like Lipton, Palmolive, Nestle, VLCC, McDonalds, etc. are taking notice and also getting innovative and creative in the branding process and trying unconventional approaches to help students feel less stressed by focussing on relaxation and happiness during daily student activities like eating (KitKat Break, McDonalds Happy Meal,) bathing (Palmolive Anti-stress shower gel) and drinking (VLCC and Lipton relaxing Green Tea.) 

 

Re-targeting the Juggernaut

 

This is hardly surprising. Given India’s young demographic, students represent a lucrative target market for a large number of products and services, both as users and as influencers.

According to various estimates, there are in excess of 400 million students enrolled across schools and colleges in India, the highest in the world. This means that India’s student population is higher than the entire population of the United States.

 

What’s more relevant is that stress is becoming younger. India’s economic growth has fuelled aspirations and created a hyper competitive environment for the student population. Not only for getting admission in a reputed institute but coping with the academic rigor and subsequent career challenges. Adding fuel to the fire are the high expectations from parents, relatives, friends and one’s peer group. Over and above the academic and professional demands, today’s students have to also cope with societal pressures ignited by the social media. 

 

Alarmingly, statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveal that close to 40,000 students in India committed stress related suicide from 2011 to 2015, with 8,934 cases in 2015 alone. The once ‘bindaas’ student life has now become a ‘24x7 pressure cooker’.

 

Not just Ads, but Acts!

 

While brands seem to have latched onto this bandwagon, here is the moot question. Is it enough to do ads and hashtags that take a stand against student stress and present the brand’s point of view as a stress antidote? Will this alone create resonance for the brand and powerful student engagement?

 

The best and most productive time in a student’s life is youth, which they are supposed to enjoy and cherish. Instead, they are pushed to extreme levels which can be overwhelming for many. Marketing to today’s cynical and savvy youth has to go beyond just advertising and selling and move to demonstrating a genuine concern through the actions of the brand.

 

The old way of marketing, ‘Brand Talks. People Listen,’ has given way to the new mantra, ‘Brand Does. People Talk.’ This is where brands need to also ‘do’ things to demonstrate their commitment to the issue of student-stress. This needs to be achieved through tangible programs and activities, both on ground and online (beyond just advertising on air.)

 

Any brand that takes a ‘bigger point of view’ in society and culture than just its product functionality, must ‘walk the talk.’ Or else, the stand it takes will end up being only a marketing gimmick, which consumers will eventually see through. 

 

This is something brands need to certainly get stressed about.

 

 

Prof. Anand Narasimha is the Professor-Marketing & Strategy, IFIM Business School; Surekha Shetty is Director – Admissions and Student Services (IFIM Business School, Bangalore)

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

Kartikeya Sharma says that June has been the best month for sales in the 11 years that the brand has been in India

The newly appointed CEO of ZEE5 on how he aims to have the widest appeal in the OTT space amongst Indian consumers

The VP, Marketing and Communications (South Asia), talks about the company's growth strategy, its focus areas, impact of demonetisation on consumer behaviour and much more

Siju Prabhakaran, South Cluster Head, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, talks about channel's rebranding, extending fiction shows to weekends and much more

right
left
RADIO CITY CELEBRATES ITS 17TH ANNIVERSARY WITH CONCERT, AWARDS AND FUN 5TH EDITION OF TIMES NOW & ICICI BANK’S NRI OF THE YEAR AWARDS GLOBAL INDIANS PITCH CMO SUMMIT BENGALURU SEES TOP INDUSTRY LEADERS AND MARKETERS IN ATTENDANCE DISTINGUISHED JURY COMES TOGETHER TO PICK WINNERS FOR PITCH’S TOP 50 BRANDS PITCH CMO SUMMIT BANGALORE SEES TOP CMOS ACROSS INDUSTRIES IN ATTENDANCE 1ST REPUBLIC TV GULF INDIAN LEADERSHIP SUMMIT & AWARDS HONOUR STALWARTS OF INDIAN GULF BUSINESS COMMUNITY SONY YAY! CELEBRATES ITS FIRST BIRTHDAY WITH PARTY FOR TRADE PARTNERS THOUGHT LEADERS AND TOP DIGITAL MARKETERS SPEAK @ EXCHANGE4MEDIA GROUP’S TECHMANCH 2018 IN MUMBAI EXCHANGE4MEDIA’S IDMA 2018 RECOGNIZES INDUSTRY’S BEST DIGITAL MARKETING CAMPAIGNS REALTY PLUS UNVEILS COFFEE TABLE BOOK AT 10TH CONCLAVE & EXCELLENCE AWARDS @AHMEDABAD EMINENT JURY CONGREGATES TO PICK WINNERS OF INDIAN DIGITAL MARKETING AWARDS 2018 OFF THE CUFF SEES ‘SWACHH BHARAT ABHIYAN’ MAN PARAMESWARAN IYER IN CONVERSATION WITH SHEKHAR GUPTA EXCHANGE4MEDIA’S LOUDEST.IN HOSTS INAUGURAL EDITION OF MUSIC INC. IN MUMBAI EMINENT JURY CONGREGATES TO PICK IMPACT’S 40UNDERFORTY ACHIEVERS PORTER PRIZE & INSTITUTE FOR COMPETITIVENESS RECOGNIZE STRATEGIC ACUMEN IN COMPANIES DELHI AD CLUB-SAARC AWARDS 2018 RECOGNIZE EXCELLENCE ACROSS CREATIVE, MEDIA & DIGITAL AGENCIES BSNL & CALL2ACTION COMMUNICATION INDIA LAUNCH MOBILE ADVERTISING PLATFORM, INFOMO IN NEW DELHI CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST KAILASH SATYARTHI LAUNCHES BOOK ‘EVERY CHILD MATTERS’ SENIOR JOURNALIST VIJAY TRIVEDI LAUNCHES BOOK ‘YADA YADA HI YOGI’ BASED ON YOGI ADITYANATH EMINENT JURY CONGREGATES TO PICK IMPACT’S 40UNDERFORTY ACHIEVERS

In the same week, in BARC's Top 10 Advertisers FMCG brand Hindustan Lever continued to reign the category

Hero Motocorp remained the leading advertiser followed by AMFI, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India.

Ali Hussein talks about the platform's consumer engagement strategy, relationships with telco-partners and what made the 40-year-old film company want to march in the OTT space