Vehicle & furniture leasing, travel, & qCommerce are few segments this generation spends on: Upali Nag

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Upali Nag

Upali Nag shares how media, communication, and marketing strategies need to be rooted in knowing this person as deeply as possible.

In conversation with Social Samosa, Upali Nag, Chief Strategy Officer at Motivator, further talks about the changing consumer behaviour. She further explains how understanding of end consumers can be acheived through real-time data signals, talking to them, or through ethnographic research.

Edited Experts:

As the economy begins to open post the pandemic - what are some of the key media & marketing trends seen in the Indian context?

As the economy and the world begin to open post the pandemic, some trends have died and some have sustained and have become the norm, while some are still on the path of acceleration. However, if one were to crystallize the three key trends in the Indian media and marketing world, in my view, they would be:

  1. From consumption to creation to immersion – Content has typically been consumed, be it passively like in television and newspapers, or by choice like on the internet. This trend, while continuing, has also given way to the average person no longer being a “consumer” of content but being the “creator” of content. According to the GroupM INCA E4M Influencer Marketing Report, the ratio of influencer marketing spending to that of celebrities was 73:27. The next paradigm which is, albeit in its infancy, is the parallel realm of the metaverse – where people no longer just want to consume or create, but want to immerse themselves in a virtual world, where they control what they do, what they buy and who they interact with.
  2. Measurement and attribution - From a marketer’s perspective, the last two years accelerated the need to invest in data and technology. The Return on Investment of marketing dollars became more critical than ever before and measuring that at every step of the consumer journey became almost a norm. This continues to have relevance, and importance, as the opening of economies has very quickly dovetailed into inflation for marketers and consumers alike.
  3. Life through the lens of the mobile phone – We can now live almost a facet of our lives through our mobile devices. And this has led to the explosion of the D2C economy. If there is a need, a desire, or behaviour, there is a D2C platform for it today. This impacts the media industry not only in terms of digital consumption and commerce but also in terms of advertising revenues, which then continues to spur further growth of D2C businesses.

Also Read: Monsoon brand campaigns drenching with creativity

Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically in the last two years. What are some of the consumer consumption trends that have emerged in the last two years?

As mentioned above, we live our lives through the lens of our mobile phones and that has been the biggest driver of changes in consumer behaviour. Some interesting changes have been:

  • The 'here and now' phenomenon - Consumers now want everything instantaneously – instant gratification, instant delivery, instant connections, instant payments. This is evident from the rise of quick commerce, mobile wallets, gaming, social commerce, and more.
  • Nothing is beyond reach – As per the Kantar ICube report, 48% of urban active internet users reside in non-metros and small towns, and a half from rural India. This has made everything within reach of everyone, irrespective of geography or demography. This democratization is not only in terms of the purchase and consumption of brands and products but also in terms of access to content, entertainment, education, and information.
  • Conscious Consumerism – Covid gave an impetus to “made in India,” conscious choices, and going deeper into the brands a consumer chose. This trend is here to stay. Several surveys and research say that consumers are conscious of the ingredients that go into a product and choose brands whose ethics and purpose they identify with

As more members of the GenZ enter the working group segment with disposable income at hand, what kind of purchase patterns are seen among the youth?

Half of India’s population is under the age of thirty and this is reflected in patterns that are very different from what it was a decade, or even five years, back. GenZ is a generation that is characterized by experiences over assets, individual ideology over mass trends, convenience over value - and this is reflected in their purchase patterns as well. They seldom reach into physical wallets anymore and have been instrumental in the rise of categories like BNPL.

Vehicle and furniture leasing, spending on travel, and quick commerce are some more segments that this generation spends on.

Their choices are not only very personal but also a reflection of their beliefs - and this gets reflected in a plethora of D2C brands in the personal care and fashion space, where the differentiators are ingredients, mode of manufacture, and personalization

With the changing consumption trends, how do brands need to realign their approach towards media spends? Any tips on what brands & agencies need to keep in mind before creating a media blueprint?

David Ogilvy had famously said “The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife.” Never has this been truer than in today’s world of the “Omni” consumer – digitally enabled, technologically driven, informed, and with a myriad of choices. Today she is omnipotent in terms of decision making, omniscient in terms of knowing everything she needs to about a product or service, and Omni channel in her mechanisms of purchase.

Media strategies, or for that matter communication and marketing strategies need to be rooted in knowing this person as deeply as possible – be it through real-time data signals, talking to them, or through ethnographic research.

Having said that, there is no one size fits all and the media blueprint depends on the brand life cycle and business objectives. For instance, for a funded start-up in an organically growing category, where customer acquisition is key, it is important to talk not just to those who are likely to buy our brand, but to those who have future potential as well. It is tempting in today’s world of data to micro-segment and micro communicate and address “in-market” audiences. However, consumer trends are changing both in terms of access and affordability, and intuitive non-consumers have the potential to become consumers. Byron Sharp’s theory of maximizing reach applies. The same logic applies to market leaders who are driving category growth.

On the other hand, for a saturated category, where it becomes critical to gain share or grow revenues by cross-selling, upselling, and retention, segmentation and personalization at scale using the power of technology and first-party data should be the holy grail. Finally, none of this works until the time the communication is powerful enough to evoke an emotion and strike a chord and can cut through the deluge of information the consumer is bombarded with. Media is no longer an amalgamation of multiple channels to disseminate a brand story or message. On the other hand, what is needed is an integrated platform + content strategy, backed by data, signals, and a deep consumer understanding. This is reflected in the way the industry is coming full circle from specialized media and creative functions to single integrated media and content outfits.

A lot of new-age brands in the FinTech, FoodTech & EdTech categories have been actively advertising - any tips on how they can leverage digital marketing in a way that they stand out?

There has been an explosion of new-age brands, be it in fintech, social commerce, quick commerce, ed-tech, personal care, and so on. In a world where there are new brands every day trying to sell their propositions, in an attention-deficit economy, what will win are two things

Brands that appeal to a deep human need or emotion. “Resonance” is more important than any other mind metric and this resonance is what will elicit trial.

The use of digital signals to derive a deep consumer understanding can help craft as well as deliver communication and stories which are powerful.

Hence, at this stage, digital should be used to craft conversations and appeal to consumers in a way that makes them think “let me try this brand”. Once these brands acquire a threshold number of consumers, it is very easy to lose them since, in pretty much every segment, there are one or many brands which offer pretty much the same thing. The role of digital then moves from mass appeal to personalized appeal through tactics that keep a consumer meaningfully engaged, prevent churn, and ultimately can hope to drive some form of loyalty

Interview Chief Strategy Officer Agency thought leaders Upali Nag