Indian consumers are evolving much faster than they did a few decades ago. Marketers now need to work at double speed to catch up with fast-changing consumers.
The consumer, largely because of fast-changing tastes and habits, is a challenge for every marketer. Identifying consumer insights and early signals to change are key to every marketer’s survival. Here are seven broad insights that marketers can’t afford to ignore in case they want to survive in the game of winning and retaining consumers:
The 20 per cent has equal importance as the 80 per cent
Marketers typically follow the 20:80 principle, where they focus on the 20 per cent customer base, which contributes to 80 per cent of the topline. Most marketers tend to de-prioritise the balance 80 per cent largely due to limited resource availability. However, marketers need the 80 per cent not only in terms of expanding the customer base, but also getting more and more advocates for their brand.
Everything is about experience and service, product has less relevance
“Soap is a product while salon is a service” – this remains a statement only in the text book context. Today, even soap, if it does not give the experience it promises, gets rejected quickly by customers. We also see cases where brands, in spite of being average quality, are popular in the market due to expectation-experience match!
Cyber market has the most influential consumer base
Thanks to the Internet, the world has suddenly become very small. No wonder most brands, including newspapers and news channels, are also present on Twitter and Facebook. If you are dissatisfied with the services of a brand, within minutes it can be made known to your friends and probably even friends of your friends. Not surprisingly, ORM (Online Reputation Management) is becoming more prominent than DM (Direct Marketing) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management). The medium empowers the customer to broadcast his/ her feelings about the brands/ services/ experiences to a larger base of people, which is much faster than WOM (Word of Mouth) and probably less prone to communication loss. No wonder WTCM (Word through Cyber Media) is becoming the strongest and fastest medium and advertisers are still grappling with innovative and exploratory ways of handling this.
Pricing is completely consumer-driven, not any more competitor-driven
MRP or Maximum Retail Price is soon becoming a concept like card rate followed in media, which exists only on paper and is used only to calculate savings. The advent of modern retail has changed the pricing concept for consumers. Today, the price is dynamic and determined by the consumer, not by competitor pricing. Hence, it won’t be an exaggeration to change MRP to CARP (Consumer Accepted Retail Price).
Consumer advocacy is key to attracting potential customer - Consumer advocacy has become stronger, thanks to increasing penetration of the Internet. Brands which gain consumer confidence help build consumer advocacy and social media helps spread it faster.
Rural is the new urban
If you analyse the so-called rural consumers using IRS through lifestyle parameters, R1 and R2 categories behave more like SEC B & C of their urban counterparts. Some of the biggest growth stories in the consumer durables industry come from rural markets. IRS has now recognised this by merging both rural and urban consumers to understand them through a single lens.
The Role of CWE (Chief Wage-Earner) as the main decision-maker is diminishing
There used to be a time when the CWE of the house used to be the sole decision-maker of any high-value purchase, be it a refrigerator, TV, AC or car. Now with increase in earning members in the family, easy instalment schemes and the urge to upgrade, these purchase decisions are not taken only by the CWE. Moreover, the decision-maker within the household changes with the type of product you purchase.
Growth is easier than retaining market-share
With most product categories being unsaturated, consumers upgrading their lifestyle and increase in affordability, it would be relatively easier for marketers to expand their target audience to get newer consumers to their fold. However, due to evolution of newer consumer groups who suddenly see so many choices because marketers put forward more and more brands in anticipation of the latent demand, it becomes equally difficult to retain the market share.
(Madan Mohapatra is Chief of Marketing, Pantaloon Retail India Ltd, Future Group.)
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