Enter The Talk Fest

Written by Anupama Ahluwalia | Updated: Dec 25 2012, 10:07am hrs
The Indian consumer is well on her way to being liberated from the shackles of space and time. Over 900 million mobile telephony subscribers in India are now able to navigate their day-to-day lives in a manner that was clearly inconceivable a decade ago.

While we continue to grapple with poor infrastructure, lack of water and electricity, poor access to medical facilities, lack of public sanitation and mass education initiatives; staying connected and in control of ones life acquires a new meaning both for urban and rural consumers in todays mobile and digital age.

As value conscious consumers, we have leveraged the mobile and digital platforms from being mere communication devices to becoming an integral part of our journey to progress. Consequently, marketers have an opportunity to join in this journey by encouraging a two-way communication process between the consumer and their brands to bring in new consumers, build long-term relationships and increase loyalty with their franchise.

Beyond transactions to relevance is the mantra that will engage consumers in todays digital and mobile savvy world.

Marketers increasingly need to tune in to the needs of the digital savvy consumer while at the same time leveraging mass and niche mediums of connect since these are not necessarily substitutable.

The advent of social media creates new ecosystems where the consumer can be at the heart of the new ecosystem. This provides a very unique opportunity for marketers to participate and engage to build brand equity.

To begin with, marketers would need to move from one-way messaging to participative conversations with consumers. The brand idea should get dispersed systematically across multiple channels of conversation for the purposes of creating a unified and coordinated brand experience.

Second, as a country of story tellers (remember our grandparents narrating stories), we need to realise our content must have a compelling view for the consumer to engage with.

The third and equally important derivative of the changing landscape is 'the creation of stories that have to be expressed through every relevant connection'. For The Coca-Cola Co., each brand story must have value and significance to peoples lives. Our content is the substance or matter of brand engagement and conversation. As such, it has to be the worlds most engaging content. At the company, we are challenging ourselves to create content that moves freely amongst themselves but do not become separated stories. Rather, like molecules that become gases if they become too separate. Our stories must remain connected. But these ideas will be so compelling they take on a life force of their own.

Building relevance for products and categories in an increasingly inter-connected world is a function of how well we can leverage the ecosystem of mobile, digital, content providers and social media with the consumer at the centre of this inter-connectedness.

From a marketers perspective, relevance in an increasingly inter-connected world can be achieved through bridging the gap between classical and new-age mediums so that brand offerings enhance their approachability, affordability and availability.

Embedding technology conversations in the marketing mix for any brand will be vital as marketers build relevance for their products and services.

Ultimately, embracing technology and working with the complex ecosystem of different mediums to front-end simple messaging on brands which engage in dialogues with the consumer at a place and time which is chosen by the consumer would be the new way to connect with the connected Indian.

The writer is vice president marketing, Coca-Cola India.