Auto, Retail, e-commerce, OTT & Financial Services categories bank on middle India story: Rubeena Singh

Rubeena Singh

Rubeena Singh, Country Manager – Josh decodes the middle India story, highlighting how the regional marketing ecosystem has shaped up to create newer consumer communication touch points.

The last two years have been a testimony to the changing consumer – the natural essential and non-essential divide, the rise and rise of content consumption, the digital revolution, and whatnot. All these factors have resulted in a changing client-agency relationship. In fact, it would be safe to say that the definition of clients, agencies, platforms, or even publications, isn’t the same anymore. Industry entities are now focused on creating an ecosystem that communicates with the audience on every relevant touchpoint.

In an attempt to understand the changing paradigms of the Indian A & M industry we catch up with Rubeena Singh, Country Manager – Josh as she draws takeaways from the various fronts she has managed in her career. 

Edited Excerpts: 

With experience on the publication front, agency front, and now a social media platform – how do you think the industry has evolved over the years?

The evolution of media from print and broadcast to digital is tremendous and has transformed how brands and users engage with each other. Traditional media is a one-way street whereas digital platforms give brands and users the ability to interact with each other. Furthermore, social media has given users the ability to generate content for brands and influence the preference and purchasing behavior of other users and their followers. More and more people are spending increased amounts of time on social media platforms, especially consuming short-form videos. 

Short-video apps cater to users’ shorter attention spans providing them with highly personalized, authentic, and immersive experiences. This provides a unique opportunity for brands to increase their brand engagement by telling their brand story through a content creator to a relevant base of users and including them in the conversation. As a result, digital advertising is moving from search to social and video.

Similarly, how is the consumer different now? Can you share 3 consumer trends that you foresee this festive season?

The trend this festive season is that consumer sentiment and spending are back to pre-COVID-19 levels. Brands will be eager to tap into this. In addition to this, as we continue to adopt a digital way of life, digital platforms continue to be the preferred medium for consuming and transacting. 

Secondly, attention spans these days are limited. Users neither have the time nor attention to spend on long-form content. We foresee more and more consumers spending their time, browsing trends and consuming content off short video apps in their preferred language. 

Thirdly, consumers, today are more discerning. We’ve seen a shift in consumer sentiment toward advertising. They are more likely to be influenced by content creators who create authentic and relatable experiences as opposed to brands talking about themselves.

How does your previous experience help you in your current role? Any learnings from your experience that you will be applying here?

Working in an agency has given me deep knowledge and insight into the entire marketing ecosystem and an intrinsic understanding of consumer trends and emerging technologies. I’ve been in this industry for more than 21 years now and have witnessed the major changes that shaped the industry as it is today. 

As agency professionals, we are essentially an extended part of the client’s team, helping them form and achieve their marketing objectives.  This has given me a ring-side view of client concerns and constraints and how to solve them as a part of their team. 

I intend to apply all these learning and insights at Josh as we help brands engage with 115+ million, and growing, monthly active users on our platform.  

A lot has been said about audiences beyond Metro cities & their purchase potential. Which categories are the biggest drivers in these markets?

Initially, it was mainly the telcos, FMCG sector, and mobile phone manufacturers that targeted the audience beyond metros. Of late, there has been a growing realization about this audience’s untapped purchase potential. The digital revolution left middle India out of its narrative and in doing so, excluded a huge chunk of this country’s purchasing power from the marketplace. 

There is now a race to claim this untapped purchasing potential as almost every category is underwriting its growth thesis on the back of middle India, on consumers beyond the metros. 

As our reach towards this section of the population becomes more pervasive, almost every major category from Auto, Retail, e-commerce, OTT, and Financial Services, is banking on the middle India story.

Also Read: The marketing approach centered on redirecting leads from digital to official website: Francis Wong, realme

How do you think brands & agencies should approach regional marketing this festive season?

We’ve seen Indian language content take the content ecosystem by storm in the recent past. As the festive season dawns upon us, brands and agencies need to alter their approach to accommodate this new trend and leverage it. Traditionally, most digital advertising has been in English as it was largely text-based and catered to the urban audience. Video has changed this behavior as consumers in urban as well as non-urban markets are consuming more video content, especially in their preferred language.  

Brands and agencies, thus need to change their lens from languages as a ‘regional’ play to one where the focus is on users’ preferred language as opposed to the users’ location.  

How can brands leverage content marketing to rise above the clutter of festive campaigns? Any tips on creating content that consumers relate with?

Great content marketing transcends from being a distraction to the user, rather it becomes a part of the user’s activity and experience.  It helps keep the user engaged and helps brands open up a conversation with their audience which is not a one-time phenomenon, rather one that is ongoing and engaging. This helps brands build relationships, loyalty, and advocacy with their users without interruption.  Great care needs to be taken when crafting content marketing. At Josh, we work with brands to create content at the intersection of user experience, brand requirement, and the content creators’ proposition.

3 regional marketing trends you foresee for 2022

The first would be decoupling the mindset that non-English marketing equates to regional marketing. The belief that languages are confined to their regions is outdated. Going forward, we must focus more on what the user’s preferred language is as opposed to where the user is located. 

Secondly, there will be an exponential increase in the consumption of content in Indian languages on the back of video, with short-form video content paving the way. Recent data and engagement on our own platform Josh, have shown us how the popularity of short-form content has skyrocketed and its tremendous potential.

Thirdly, the accessibility and relatability of content in Indian languages have already resulted in an increase in the consumption of this type of content. Going forward, we will see the growth rate of digital spends in Indian languages exceed that of English. 

As an industry veteran, what are the top 3 things from your TDL for the coming year?  

My number one priority is to make Josh the preferred partner for brands and agencies in the short video space. My next two are to achieve number one.