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The cool & the uncool – industry leaders show how to market to the youth

29-January-2011
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The cool & the uncool – industry leaders show how to market to the youth

The exchange4media Youth Marketing Summit 2011 was an enthralling affair where stalwarts of the industry came together to discuss the perfect marketing mantra to captivate today’s youth.

Delivering the welcome address, Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group, spoke about the necessity of customised marketing targeted at the youth. Thereafter, Graham Brown, Founder, Mobile Youth (UK) & Global Chairman, Youth Research Partnership, gave the keynote address. Brown started off his presentation by stating that India was the hotbed for youth innovation and youth marketing. He then delved upon the various aspects of youth behaviour and marketing. On how mobile phones could be used as a medium to engage with the youth, Brown stated, “Mobile is all about social currency. If you talk about youth engagement, mobile is the screen to go for.”

Brown’s keynote was followed by two interesting panel discussions. The first panel discussed the various challenges in defining and understanding India’s youth market. The panel members included Ravi Dixit, Network Research Head, UTV Global Broadcasting; K Ramakrishnan, President - Marketing, Café Coffee Day; Dheeraj Sinha, Chief Strategy Officer, Bates 141; and Lara Balsara, Executive Director, Madison World.

The next session discussed the various factors that influence buying behaviour of the Indian youth. The panel members that debated and discussed this topic were B Kanan, GM – Chocolates and Confectionary, Nestle India; Neeraj Sanan, Head - Marketing, MCCS; and Emmanuel Upputuru, National Creative Director, Publicis India.

The post-lunch session saw Jeroen Boschma, Chairman, Gadfy The Increation Company, sharing his observations on ‘Generation 3.0’. The author and marketer told the audience that the generation today was focused less on the message of the brand, and more on the brand’s DNA, its essence. This shift in focus raises both opportunities and creates difficulties to the modern marketers, who are targeting the youth demographic. “The hierarchy of wants has changed from how, which was the simplest question to answer, to what, which is to say the methods, the ways that a company reaches an audience and a product. That’s the present scenario, and that’s why there are so many reputation managers now. But the future is going to be why – understanding the intent of the message, understanding why the company chooses to communicate with you, getting a holistic understanding of the marketer through a variety of channels,” Boschma remarked.

Next was a panel discussion on ‘Digital Media Beyond Social Networks’. The panelists included eminent members such as Max Hegerman, President, Tribal DDB; Chhaya Balachandran Aiyer, CEO & MD, BC Web Wise; Sudha Natrajan, COO, Lintas Media Group; Antii Ohrling, Chairman, Blyk India; and Shiv Bhaskar David, Founder and Chief Executive, The Viewspaper. Is digital marketing in danger of entering into a rut? Despite the number of tools and vendors at the disposal of marketers today, the net result on the Internet has a disappointing sameness, and people are showing a lack of willingness to innovate and try new things, done partly through an incomplete understanding of the platform. However, in this panel discussion, the experts showed that the future for digital remains bright as long as people take the time to know why they are doing what they are doing.

According to Tribal DDB’s Hegerman, adaptability was the key to long term survival. As the narrative has changed with time, brands no longer represent aspirations, but rather are all about belonging. He said, “Technology must continue to innovate. The new medium will not replace television, but neither will it ever go away. Adapting and morphing in response to the audience is the key to longevity.”

In the following session, Mikko Ampuja, Chairman (Europe), Global Youth Research Partnership, spoke about how he made insurance a relevant category for the youth. Selling insurance to the youth is a challenge. Insurance matter, after being subject to solicitation, is unfortunately also solicited in the category of the boring, the irrelevant and the expensive, but in the case study Ampuja explained a way around it.

The second panel discussion post lunch witnessed a lively discussion on what made a brand cool and what were the ‘uncool’ factors. The session was moderated by Amit Agnihotri, Co-founder, Director & Editor, Pitch. The panelists included UK-based music producer and media entrepreneur Terry Mardi; Karthi Marshan, Head - Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Group; and V Sunil, Executive Creative Director, Weiden+Kennedy, Delhi. The discussion tried to analyse various aspects and reasons of ‘coolness’ often associated with brands.

In his presentation, Shubhinder Singh Prem, Managing Director, Reebok India, stated that consumers owned a brand and it were they who decided which brands were cool. “Cool”, he said, “is the state of mind. The burger, iPod and cellphone have replaced roti, kapda and makaan.” About social media, he said, “It is all about fitting in, yet standing out.”

The final session of the day was an international case study presentation by Bernard Hor, CEO, Youth Works Asia, Malaysia. The essence of marketing to youth today is simplicity. In his presentation, Hor reiterated this point, in what was an extremely fun-filled session. According to Hor, “Marketing is a mindset, and it’s all in the mind. Youth has to be treated as partners. Marketers have to be daring enough to do so. The essence is to stay simple, really simple.”

The day ended with a vote of thanks by Nikhil Gandhi, Business Head, UTV Bindass, followed by the ‘Tuborg Fun Starter Evening’.

The e4m Youth Marketing Summit was presented by UTV Bindass and powered by Mudra Concrea, in association with Tuborg. For details, please click here

The detailed coverage on exchange4media Youth Marketing Summit 2011 will appear on the e4m website on Monday, January 31, 2011.

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