Trends 2015

January 06, 2015 12:07 AM

Reported spends on TV advertising revenues show a mere 2% increase for the first 10 months...

DIGITAL: Raghav Bahl

Get digitally immersed

Original content will still be the elixir of journalism in 2015, with social media platforms an independent journalist’s best friends

WHEN I was my son’s age, India had a single, state-owned black-and-white TV channel. We lived in a modest government colony, and often our television set would malfunction, mysteriously on Wednesday evenings just before Chitrahaar, that venerable collection of random Hindi film songs which simply could not be missed. So we would trudge across to our neighbour’s flat, where a score of people would settle down democratically. All hands would be still and eyes glued unblinkingly on Sadhana’s fringe and Joy Mukherjee’s square tees. Later we learnt that the technology behind that terrestrial broadcast was “analogue”.

Cut to the eve of 2015. Five of us —my mother, wife, daughter, son and I—are sitting in front of a fancy, large flat screen TV. Katrina’s fringe and Ranbir’s sexy tees, fashionably cut, are dancing to a lovely beat. But wait, our hands are not still. They are fiddling with tiny devices in our palms, even as our eyes are just as unblinking, 40 years on. Mom is on WhatsApp with my sister in Mumbai, beaming at a video of a gurgling great grand-daughter. My wife is on Flipboard, looking at a machine aggregated stream of articles and videos that match her proclivities. My daughter is “chatting” with her Pakistani friend in Lahore. My son is watching his favourite clips on CarToq. And I am checking my Twitter handle for that hard hitting editorial that my colleague has just re-tweeted. The TV, Kat and Ranbir are still blaring in the background, but nobody’s watching! Welcome to digital immersion, circa 2015.

In 2015 and beyond, news and information will blow at you from all sides —on Twitter from people you follow, on Facebook from people you share your life and gossip with, on Flipboard from people to whom you once revealed all the topics that interest you. More seriously, that’s the first compelling trend of digital immersion, 2015. Machines will curate the best stuff from the world wide web and write it up in bite size cards, which will then be flung on handheld devices. But then, will the human editor become extinct? Should we just forget about that ‘big exclusive story’ and bother only about hi-tech codes?
Relax, just relax—apocalypse will not strike in 2015, or even beyond.
Firstly and mercifully, the exclusive will not die. Original content will still be the elixir of journalism. But it must evolve. It must be shorter, sharper, exquisitely worded, aimed at the millennials. Along with that, it shall be “surrounded” by a lot of curated writing which amplifies, enhances, explains — and all of this shall be unapologetically “repurposed” from existing expert material in the form of “aggregated articles” and “user comments” plucked right off the internet slot machine.
Secondly, many “journalistic scoops” will become like the stunning paparazzi pictures of the 2000s, written by enterprising, driven, fearless and intrusive loners; this paparazzi journalist will venture where institutions would fear to tread; think IS and Boko Haram, or even Taliban.
Thirdly, social media platforms, especially Google and Facebook, will emerge as an independent journalist’s best friends—that deep perspective, nuanced opinion, astonishing news break will be shared by friends, followers and newshounds, giving it a viral velocity which is impossible within the linear confines of newspapers and TVs. Most of the traffic to news websites will come “laterally”, from social media shares. Some people believe the homepage will die in 2015. While I do not share this prophecy of demise, I do believe that the homepage will become more of a billboard to a content mall with multiple social aerobridges and entry points.
Finally, the journalist will be led by a powerful content torch, the trending algorithm. If what he has published is resonating with readers and viewers, it will quickly show up on a Facebook, Twitter or Google chart. No longer will “impact” be a fuzzy, contestable assertion— it will be out there, in cold, undeniable numbers. Welcome to digital immersion, circa 2015.

The author is founder, Quintillion Media

CONSUMER TRENDS: Ritanbara Mundrey

Prepare for the avalanche

A societal evolution is happening with Indians embracing heterogeneity with fervour. It’s up to the marketers to leverage the change

THE wheel in the Ashok Chakra symbolises life in movement and change. Under this halo, adapting to and embracing change has become inherent to the Indian way of life. As we board 2015, a mix of old and new consumer trends is expected to hold sway impacting the consumption landscape.
Growing up fast and furious: The prospect of new opportunities has been accompanied by the fear of missing out, fuelling anxiety levels of every ambitious parent. Every stage that a child passes through, right from toddler to tweener to teenager are pressure points that can prove or expose
the parents’ performance. For marketers hunting the next “white space” this is fertile ground. The industry for industrious children (co-curricular, extra- curricular, over-the-curricular) is spawning and expected to keep growing.
Youth – going for the good: The new youth is the product of an era where sustenance and adequacy are no longer in doubt. Buffeted by financially secure families and their own conviction of landing the right job when they are ready for it, the youth is now free to indulge in more “meaningful” pursuits. An increasing number of management graduates are choosing start-ups and careers that have a social conscience. They are equipped with education, confidence, social sensitivity and perseverance. The year 2015 will see more of the conscientious Indian youth!
Free to be me: Higher incomes, nuclear families and exposure to the West are kindling the “me” in us. Multiple screens in the house, family tea versus individual coffee consumption, and personal care that is pushing male-female segmentation are some such examples. The age of personalised consumption will flower and flourish.
Gold with the old: Economic comfort has found its way to a generation of senior citizens as well. Equipped with more wealth than their predecessors, better health and wealthier children, they seek a fearless, fulfilling, final innings. They have tasted the technology drive and lifestyle changes along with their kids. And today they are just “making do” with products and services designed for a much younger audience. A large market beckons.
Valorizing value—up and down: Products that offer superior functional or emotional benefits can command a premium which consumers are happy to pay. This is seen in the premiumisation in biscuits, chocolates and much of personal care. However, undifferentiated offerings are rejected just as quickly in favour of products that maximise benefits and minimise costs. The same consumer today will pay three times for an indulgent chocolate but choose the local shop brand of ‘namkeen’ rather than the many available branded options. If it’s not worth it, it should be worth much less!
Wedded to the web: Virtual life is more real and engaging than the offline world. This all-encompassing god-like medium is guzzling life hours at an increasing pace. We are witness to an emerging generation that resides on the net, making it a one-stop to communicate, influence and sell. A trend that is more than a trend, possibly an avalanche.
Mega metropolis: As the metros of India grow to mega-cosmic levels, we see the emergence of microcosms cradling the habits and attitudes of an entire subcontinent. Each metro now has heterogeneous pockets defined by distinct purchase and consumption patterns, self-sufficient and isolated from the others, much like different states in a nation. Data shows a North Mumbai resident behaves and buys very differently from a South Mumbai one. You don’t have to go too far to market different products—people
and their needs change with the
pin code.
These consumer trends suggest a societal evolution where Indian consumers are embracing heterogeneity with fervour. It’s up to the marketers to leverage the change. And in the winds of change, to find new direction.

The author is head – consumer and customer insights, Nestlé India

Print: Arun Anant

No fairytale endings

While advertising is migrating to the digital space, it is not moving from newspapers to news websites. It is moving to social media

ONCE upon a time we could talk about trends in print industry in isolation and even get most of the trends right. With the all-pervading presence of digital media and rapid changes in technology, I can only make some wild guesses and while I would not trust my own predictions, adventurism is very much the flavour of the season. So here we go with my take on 2015.
The year saw an overdose of news and entertainment whether it was blockbuster election coverage or Bollywood drama. Entertainment has become more newsy and news has become more entertainment, we no longer know the difference. This blurring of spaces cut a deep wound in print players. While advertising is fast migrating to the digital space, it is not moving from newspapers to news websites. It is moving to all kinds of social media. Social media combines advertising with user comments reminding everyone the old adage — advertising works best through word of mouth. The print media is still grappling with this challenge. The forever alive debate on editorial-business divide (yes, it was demanded by the business side first in the nineteenth century!), poor understanding of the internet of things and continuing inertia to change could mean a few stray successes. Whether print media makes a mass movement out of these is anybody’s guess.
If it cannot be measured it is not worth doing is the new mantra. Digital has made measurement a science. Readership surveys, circulation audits and people meters conceal more than they reveal. More television is being seen and more news is read on social media — YouTube and Facebook included — which go unmeasured. Those who are spending on content creation are not the same who are earning from content aggregation. Traditional media that prided itself in selling aggregation of audiences to advertisers, and not charging enough from the reader or viewer are at a loss for ideas. This dichotomy will increase. Print and television are now presenting activation and solution propositions to advertisers to bridge the measurement gap. Can this model be scaled up? How fast and how effective, remains to be seen. But it surely is the first sign of a concerted response to the measurement challenge.
Meanwhile, the urban-rural divide continues. While English bears the brunt of the digital invasion, regional media thrives with double-digit growth. Increasing literacy and higher money spends have helped. The regional print publications have done well to meet the aspirations of the small town man. We will see more mergers and acquisitions, and new launches in this space. Regional media still has time to conquer digital play while technology and user limitations on language continue. Some Hindi players coming together and offering news on a platter to Google is disturbing news.
The structural problem of the advertiser’s rapid migration has been temporarily smoothened with the valuation war being played out by e-commerce sites. Call it a double-edged sword. These platforms are now becoming preferred sites for new brand launches. E-commerce sites now carry at least one other brand name prominently in their TV and print ads. The traditional advertisers will disappear even as e-commerce advertising reduces, as it sure will, like all other valuation hypes. Media houses would do well to come together to stop this soft kill.
Print, though, continues to remain the most credible medium. Matrimonial advertisers have moved back after a brief flirtation with matrimonial websites to newspapers. Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) advertisers, are showing a renewed interest in print. Schools and colleges continue to build reputation only from a print presence. All this and more reinforces that print cannot be seen in isolation anymore.
Once upon a time, print, television and all the other media happily co-existed. Soon they embraced digital and like in all fairy tales they live happily ever after. We hope.

The author is director – strategy and revenue, Hindustan Times Media Limited. The views expressed are personal

MARKETING: kiran khalap

Great experiences, not expectations

Marketing in 2015 will be all about ensuring great experiences online and offline round the clock, all the while keeping an eye on the truth

HYPEROPIA is the opposite of myopia. In 1960, Theodore Levitt cautioned marketers against developing marketing myopia; he advised marketers to focus on customers rather than products.
In 2004, Harvard Business Review voted marketing myopia the most influential marketing idea of the past half century. It’s almost 2015, and this article is all about attempting to enthuse the Indian marketer into building some marketing hyperopia, as an idea for the next decade.
Three things arrive with boring regularity every year as the old year ends and the new year starts.
One: Santa Claus (for the rationally-challenged, a fictional character of folkloric origin). Two: The beginning of Uttarayan (for the Sanskrit challenged, the beginning of the sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere). Three: Predictions about marketing for the coming year (for the news challenged, marketing is just one more imperfect science).
Thankfully these are predictions that nobody holds you responsible for because by this time next year, it will be time for new predictions. So here are my predictions…with love and impunity. By its very definition, a marketing trend will be a mirror image of a consumer trend. Or to be more precise, trends among targets of marketers. We need this slight redefinition because today’s marketers cannot but end up dealing with stakeholders other than consumers or customers. We’ll explain soon.

So what trends did we notice in 2014 in India?
They were not just trends, they were inflection points.
1. The number of Indians accessing the internet (around 250 million) overtook the number of US citizens accessing the internet (around 200 million); now second only to China (300 million).
2. The number of Indians accessing the internet via smartphones crossed the number accessing it through PCs.
What happens when we extrapolate these trends?
Trend One: Expectation of more for less on a daily basis!
This is an expectation trend among consumers caused by Moore’s Law, which loosely states that computing power doubles and prices halve every two years. Which is what has led to you and I holding smartphones with more processing power than PCs ten years ago.Which is why when Xiaomi had an online sale, 20,000 phones were sold out in five seconds. Yes, five seconds.
What does this mean to the marketer starting 2015?
While apparel and electronics top the charts in online buying, I believe that categories like phones and electronic devices where prices crash while features increase, may now need a different kind of a marketer.
They probably need a ‘micro-second marketer’, who can fuel the need for more for less for the maximum number of people, a marketer who is herself online 24×7.
If you can’t be that kind of a marketer, look for a change in job, in categories that still move at glacial speeds — luxury goods, pharma, real estate.

Trend Two: Speak the truth, and nothing but the truth
The Idea ad says no ‘ullu banaoing’ (don’t try to cheat me) because the consumer can find out the truth online on her phone. In fact, the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report (29,000 sample size; 58 countries) confirms that trust in word-of-mouth increased to 84% in 2013!
The good news is 70% also trusted paid advertising so long as it was credible…which is the marketer’s second challenge in 2015.
Yes, the marketer will now have to rely more and more on the truth in order to achieve two results: To not have an online backlash in that word-of-mouth 84% and to multiply the awareness of his brands through influencers online. The last I heard, 1% create content; 9% curate and distribute it and 90% consume it online.
A hyperopic marketer will ensure her marketing communication content gets immediately picked up by the 9%.
This is also critical because while the marketer speaks to its customers, other stakeholders are listening. The customer as a parent is listening. So are you guilty of marketing to her kid unhealthy snacks?
The customer as a believer in eco-friendliness is listening. So are you guilty of marketing to him cars that guzzle gas and destroy the nations’ carbon footprint?
There is no way out for the hyperopic marketer except aligning all interests of all stakeholders.

Trend Three: Brand = experience; not brand = aspiration
Brand reputations are being built not on logos and collateral but on the total brand experience.
So here’s a sexy ‘aspirational’ real estate brand that spends R100 crore every six months on marketing. (Full disclosure: based on actual experience of a friend). When you arrive at their sales office, they shove an interrogation form under your nose whose first question is: “What is your budget?” Which means if you don’t have the kind of cash we are looking for, get out.
It makes marketing sense to focus on the customer who has the cash to buy your expensive signature flats, but don’t insult someone who has already walked into your office: she is going to tell her friends (perhaps she is a famous food blogger, perhaps she will be able to afford the flat one year later when her company is bought over by a besotted investor) how rude your
brand is!
The younger generation does not respect the past; it is happy relating to the here and now: it builds relationships around what it experiences in reality…and it knows the potential of the future!
So for the hyperopic marketer, it is not about releasing a lump-in-the-throat ad online—it is about the total online offline experience.
Ask yourself: Do I as a marketer respect the customer every time I encounter her, even when I say ‘no’? If not, expect yourself to be part of negative reviews that can literally kill your business!
To summarise:
1. Today marketers need to specialise more than ever before, because categories are moving in different directions: One set of categories sees dropping prices and increasing features; another set of categories sees increasing prices for exotic experiences.
2. Marketing communication is reduced to telling the truth.
3. Creating a great brand is not about creating great expectations, but about managing great experiences.
Happy Uttarayan…your northward journey!
The author is founder of Chlorophyll, brand and communications consultancy

RETAIL: Srinivasa Rao

Best foot forward

Retailers will give more importance to not only what the customer wants but also when and how she wants it

THE year 2015 arrives with much excitement and anticipation. A sense of hope prevails among consumers and businesses alike. These are interesting times for consumers as more and more options are available, not only in terms of the plethora of brands to choose from, but also different channels of purchase as per her convenience. The year gone by witnessed the consumer becoming more powerful, equipped with the power of digital, enabling instant access to all types of information in the form of review websites, “price check” apps, and social media. During the year 2015, this trend will continue, with the consumer becoming even more informed and discerning and the brands working even harder to get her attention.
Retailers will continue to give customers the ability to interact and complete transactions on their own terms. In other words, if a customer wants to view an item online, purchase it using their phone, and pick it up by dropping by at a store or have it delivered to her home, she can do so in a smooth and seamless way with the help of omni-channel retail. This omni-channel retailing is the future of retailing and this year, we will see more brands adopting it.
Big data analytics will become even more crucial for retail marketers enabling a deeper and more meaningful understanding of their customers. Demand for tools that ensure seamless data collection across offline and online platforms , assess consumer sentiments and behaviour will continue to grow. These insights will help to step up personalised marketing efforts and consumers can look forward to more customised and meaningful marketing outreach from their favourite brands ranging from relevant offers, exclusive previews and relevant content to an even more customised shopping experience.
The need to cater to the “always connected” consumer will drive retailers to further invest in digital and technology. Digital will continue to grow as a channel of impact which customers will look at for their everyday purchase decisions ranging from getting fashion or style inspirations from their favourite brands or celebrities to looking for advice and information on various platforms for the latest offers, collections, products and brands.
Social platforms will become even more powerful vehicles that will allow marketers to digitally engage customers and reward loyalty even as they drive shoppers to register, online and in-store, with relevant offers. However, brands will have to stop bombarding people’s timelines or profiles with hard-sell messages resulting in borderline harassment. Brands will evolve to being sources of original and relevant customer-centric content with the intent to create more personalised connect with the customers. Content marketing will grow at a phenomenal rate becoming a crucial part of any marketing plan.
Brick-and-mortar stores will focus on differentiating themselves by offering a more engaging shopping experience by investing more in training their staff, the overall ambience, convenience and thereby enhancing the whole ‘touch and feel’ factor that the online medium lacks in. Using technology to enhance in-store customer experience and overall improvement in the store design and aesthetics will be the areas where one can expect to see a lot of innovation this year.
All this means that retailers have to work harder to earn their share of the customer’s wallet and keep on innovating and upgrading themselves at a higher pace so that they remain relevant. 2015 will be an interesting year indeed with retailers giving even more importance to not only what customers want but also when & how she wants it. Clearly, the winner will be the customers who can look forward to even more enriched shopping experience than ever before.

The author is head of marketing, Lifestyle International Pvt. Ltd.

FILMS: Ajit Andhare

Weaving a new plot

Striking a balance between mass appeal and quality content, the 2015 line-up reflects the market’s hunger for story-led cinema

THE year that went by witnessed distinguished new milestones, where change was the only constant. Audiences evolve faster than filmmakers shattering conventions, giving birth to novel content and bolder stories being told, alongside an increasing shift in viewer palette which now seeks cinema beyond the clichéd. It’s time to buckle up for an exciting journey ahead — I see 2015 as the year of emerging trendsetters.
Need for speed: 2014 saw the rise of films wherein content was king. Audiences applauded the star but favoured strong scripts and engaging storylines equally, if not more. As filmmakers, we are divided into two clans—one that focuses on good content and the other that relies on formulae led by star power. Striking a balance between mass appeal and quality content, and killing two birds with the single proverbial arrow need to be sped up in 2015.
Sucker punch: Showbiz is a high-risk model. An increased focus on cost-review at every stage is essential to drive profitability for studios because high investments don’t always pay off. Smart planning, on the other hand, can maintain equilibrium in the business.
Breaking bad: Breaking stereotypes is now the norm. Mary Kom packed a punch with its record breaking R30 crore opening weekend collection, a feat that trade pundits would never predict for a female centric film. Films such as Kahaani, Mardaani and Highway are classic instances of female actors now being considered bankable stars. Moreover, the success of films like 2 States, Ek Villain and Humpty Sharma ki Dulhaniya is testimony to the growing
demands for new talent in the industry. Young stories played out by fresh faces is yet another emerging trend that has been embraced with open arms by audiences across demographics.
India on a global platter: While Hollywood addresses a $40 billion market, our big screens add up to a mere 1/20th of the business. Universal narratives in addition to films rooted in local cultures would be better equipped to address a wider non-diaspora market as well. Non-diaspora markets have proven to be a significant revenue stream in recent times. Creating in India, and selling to the world’ has never been more lucrative!
Unstoppable: While Bollywood appeals to India and Indians abroad, regional cinema is an avenue that is on the verge of explosion. The norm is for regional remakes in Hindi—why not flip this trend? Producing films with universal narratives will not only help the film reach
deeper into regional markets, but also expand its canvas across the globe.
Go the distance: Film syndication is an additional revenue stream which production houses need to explore further. Bhaag Milkhaa Bhaag continues to run the winning race across the world. Same is the case for Gangs of Wasseypur 1 & 2.
West is west: One takeaway from Hollywood which is a trend that is being followed in India too, is that franchises are here to stay. With the return on Terminator— Genisys, Mission Impossible, Avengers, Fast and the Furious 7 and Jurassic World — the English film slate for most studios is covered with these iconic brands.
Life as we know it: Film adaptations are here to stay – with known stories being remade to suit domestic sensibilities of an audience base. Producers get a chance to reap the benefits sowed even after the theatrical release in a particular territory. Selling rights for a remake is a business that acts as a multiple revenue model since your story has the potential of crossing geographical boundaries.
The perks of being a wallflower: A film slate that reflects quality over quantity is what is required. 2015 line-up reflects the market’s hunger for story-led cinema in the year to come. It is this new Bollywood that we would like to shape, and see, emerge into the mainstream.
The author of is chief operating officer, Viacom18 Motion Pictures

E-commerce: Binny Bansal

Fast and furious

Formats of customer engagement will continue to change depending on the product, the market and the maturity of the customer base

PICTURE this. When Radhika Mathur in Bareilly wanted to buy a pair of denims from international fashion brand Mango, instead of calling up her relatives in the metros, she took out her smartphone, logged onto her favourite apparel e-tailer and purchased that much-coveted pair of jeans. Similarly, Rahul Sharma who lives in Patna bought his first television set from an e-commerce website rather than a brick-and-mortar store. Suraj Singh too became a proud owner of a smartphone thanks to the huge discount offered by a website selling the phone.
With the e-commerce category growing 33% in 2014 as per Gartner , this isn’t surprising as more and more people joined what is known as the ‘e-commerce phenomenon’. Come 2015, more customers especially from tier 2 and tier 3 cities will be seen joining the online bandwagon as online shopping gets more convenient with faster internet speeds, simpler user interfaces and better payment options.
Interestingly, much of this growth is expected to come from mobile with traditional devices such as personal computers and laptops taking a backseat. Today, mobile contributes to over 50% of the traffic. And as everyone goes full throttle on mobile, e-commerce companies would be working towards creating a seamless experience for customers with basic phones or a slow internet connection besides launching sophisticated features such as social sharing and device-based offers for high-end smartphone users.
And as the market evolves, formats of customer engagement will continue to change depending on the product, the market and the maturity of the customer base. While it’s difficult to predict what formats we will see in 2015, mobile based sales and offers will definitely rise in popularity. Additionally, product sales on an invitation basis, sometimes as a reward to loyal customers, along with geo-targeted offers, that is offers that are visible only to customers from a specific region, are some of the upcoming models.
The new year is also going to be a year where customer service will rule the roost as selection and price points become increasingly uniform for all the major players. So far, 2014 saw the launch of services such as ‘same day delivery’ and ‘in-a-day delivery’. As lives get busier, and time becomes more of a premium, faster deliveries will come into demand. For example, deliveries within an hour of placing the order could become the norm.
Expansion and scaling up of operations are also on the cards. With e-commerce players scaling up their supply-chain, more small sellers, artisans and manufac-turers will start to connect with customers across India through the online platform.
Even as the industry continues to bet on consolidation let’s not forget that the e-commerce business in India has already seen a fair bit of mergers and acquisitions in the last two years. As of today, in addition to three to four large players, some small but niche players dominate the industry. And now as the dust settles down, what we can expect, more than consolidation, is that these players further strengthen their services and offerings, creating a world-class ecosystem for Indian e-commerce that is at par with global standards.

The writer is co-founder and COO, Flipkart. The views expressed here are personal

Advertising: KV SRIDHAR

Explore the iceberg

Being more selfless, more engaging and telling stories that are fresh and connect with the people better will be the mantra in 2015

The last two years saw the advertising industry touch the tip of the iceberg with higher digital spends, long format story based ads, adoption of online shopping and flourishing of e-commerce businesses and better and more impactful government advertising. This year we shall explore the iceberg and comprehend its magnitude. The developments of 2014 will continue to grow in 2015, with the year expected to witness new trends responding to the changes happening all around.

The adoption of internet and its influence in communication and advertising will continue with higher growth rates. A recent report by McKinsey & Company and Facebook said India would add close to 300 million internet users by 2018 to make up an online population of just under 500 million people. While this trend is acknowledged by the advertising industry, the adoption of this trend in the rural areas is still to be explored. A few pioneers such as Hindustan Unilever with its Kan Khajura Tesan have taken steps in this direction; with more than 80 million internet users and increasing penetration of low cost, internet enabled smartphones in the rural markets I hope to see more work in this space. Internet and mobile multimedia is used more for entertainment in the rural areas unlike urban India where it is used more for social purposes. This insight should lead marketers to create more entertaining content for the rural population in 2015. What has happened on the ground all these years should go online, catering to the masses; things like music, performances, plays and movies are likely to go online and accessed through mobile phones.
There are certain trends that will influence consumption and communication in the rural space —like rural doesn’t always mean poor and bottom of pyramid, there is a rural rich as well and they are consuming brands; with luxury car brands, branded consumer durables and electronics getting a fair share of their revenues from the rural space. Another very important trend is about rural children with access to satellite communication and internet who are growing up with aspirations similar to that of their urban counterparts. Hence we can’t discriminate between urban and rural kids as they are viewing the world through the same pair of lens. Hence, psychographic targeting will become more important than geographic targeting. Therefore, expect a sea change in rural marketing.
Another trend that took shape in 2014 is the increased spending on digital media and this will continue in 2015. The online advertising market in India is projected to reach Rs 3,575 crore by March 2015, a growth of 30% over last year. Along with increasing spends, what was seen in the year gone by was the maturity of the clients with respect to digital advertising; they are taking bold decisions and are understanding the immense possibilities that come with digital. Having a CMTO, i.e., a chief marketing technology officer, will become de rigeur in the coming years.
The next trend is a problem of sorts which will aggravate in the coming years, and what needs to be seen is how the industry deals with this. The trend is that many product categories are becoming commodities due to the presence of search and aggregating technologies; they lose brand value and hence the ability to charge a premium for branded products. For example, in the airlines industry where once the brand was the most important variable in the decision making process, business travellers swore by Jet Airways. Now due to the presence of Google and other aggregators which throw up the cheapest tickets, price has become the most important variable and the industry has gone into this vicious cycle of downward spiralling prices. This leads to a compromise in services, losses and hence today, a profitable airline is an achievement. The concept of branding that created emotional connect with its customers and thereby commanding a premium no longer works in spite of increased investments.
With most activities in the purchase process happening online, the scope for creating a human connection is reducing and hence in the coming years brands will be redefined by the experiences they create online and offline. Marketers have forgotten this and are now having a very transactional relationship with their customers over the internet and emotional affinity is taking a backseat. I hope in the coming year some of them will wake up and act to break this cycle.
One important trend that took off in 2014 and will continue in 2015 is the rise of e-commerce and online shopping. The online shopping frenzy that was seen during Diwali in 2014 will continue in 2015 and players should build their infrastructure accordingly. Creating ads for the government which was once below the dignity of any professional advertising agency, is now a matter of pride. Companies, ad agencies and the general public are all participating in issues of national importance; this was seen in the Swachh Bharat campaign in 2014 and this is expected to continue this year too.
Being more selfless, more engaging and telling stories that are fresh and connect with the people better will be the mantra in 2015. We saw hints of this happening and some pioneering brands and agencies working in this direction; if this is the take-off, 2015 will see the real flight and that makes it an exciting time to watch out for.

The author is chief creative officer, SapientNitro India

TELEVISION: Tarun Katial

Content on demand

Broadcasters will need to do more for discerning viewers, even as they get differentiated and distinct while building on insights continuously

CONTENT is king, and today, also democratised! The consumer has a mind of her own and one that is very clear. She no longer wants to be told what to watch, how to watch, how much to watch or when to watch. She is surrounded by choices and knows what she wants to choose, without anyone dictating to her. In other words, we live in a democratic era where content is available in large portions, each vying for a share of the consumer’s attention.

The time has come to create engaging content by rethinking whether we need a time shift, seasonal shows, social progra-mmes… essentially content that will ride with the times and ensure continuous engagement with the audience.
With more consumers seeking content tailor-made for them and with TV consumption growing on multiple screens, creating content to target specific viewers and marketers and focusing on less explored genres like comedy for instance, is the future of television. Broadcasters must look at owned content and geographic segmentation for further growth, along with its longevity and ability to deploy it across platforms for consumption and monetisation.
While content has grown substantially, broadcasters are now betting big on the advantages of digitisation. TV penetration has reached the masses and the lifestyle category is improving which shows an upward scale of opportunity in terms of capacity in the next phases of digitisation. The full impact of digitisation in terms of growth in subscription revenue, reduction in carriage fee and better addressability is expected to be realised in the next two-three years.
With content and digitisation going hand-in-hand contributing to the surging growth of the media and entertainment industry, the influence of technology is one of the most talked about factors leading to substantial growth of the sector we serve in. Viewers are increasingly consuming content on a second screen such as a tablet or a smartphone, in addition to the traditional television screens, largely using the second screen to engage on social media during ad breaks. While the trend is fairly new in India, it provides an opportunity to deliver an integrated multi-screen campaign that captures viewers’ attention as they shift between screens. Traditional broadcasting and public mass communication mediums thus need to evolve and cater to a more demanding and tech-wise crowd.
The next five years will see digital technologies increase their reach across the industry and rapid change in technologies and consumer behaviour will continue across segments. TV broadcasters will continue to leverage technology by making content available online through streaming and apps. The next year will also see television audience measurement improve through technology, with the new measurement system – BARC, which will deploy a fully digital audience measurement system.
In 2015 broadcasters must focus on newer formats, as content will drive engagement and growth. This year, broadcasters will need to do more for discerning viewers getting more consumer centric, adapting to changes in consumer trends and more importantly, getting differentiated and distinct, while building on insights continuously.
2015 is sure poised to be the year of democratisation in content if one wants to gain lasting traction with audiences!

The author is CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network

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