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AdAsia 2011: A fourth dimension to building brands

Consumer behaviour is changing dramatically and the terms of engagement are undergoing a paradigm shift among new age consumers, courtesy social platforms

AdAsia 2011: A fourth dimension to building brands

Consumer behaviour is changing dramatically and the terms of engagement are undergoing a paradigm shift among new age consumers, courtesy social platforms

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | November 2, 2011

The second session on Day 1 of AdAsia 2011 was about understanding the 'New Age Consumer’. It tried to shed more light on the consumer’s behavioural pattern and the impact it will have on the marketplace. The session started with a presentation by Adil Zainulbhai, Managing Director - India, McKinsey & Company Inc., which talked about how the consumer of today is spoilt for choice. He went to present results of the survey conducted by McKinsey by taking inputs from 1,500 senior executives and government officials to ascertain what they thought would be the future of the world economy. Will the developed countries continue to thrive or will the developing markets be the driving force of the future?

Four scenarios were presented, the first being the ideal scenario, where the developed world would continue its current momentum and the developing countries too will start to chip in and get into the race. The second scenario was that developing countries will not be able to maintain their position and the developed countries will continue to shine. The third scenario was that the times to come are the time of the tiger and the dragon, and the Western economies will take a bow. The fourth will be a situation of total chaos where none of the two will be able to prove themselves.

Some of the results that came out of the survey were that 59 per cent of the people believed that the developing markets would continue to do well irrespective of what happens in the developed world, while a staggering 70 per cent felt that developed countries will lose their lustre. The idea is to bring out how uncertain the coming times will be.

After Zainulbhai, the conversation was taken forward by Laxman Narasimhan, Director, New Delhi, McKinsey & Company. He talked about Internet being very big in today’s time. For numbers, China added the same amount of Internet users as the US and as a result, China is already number one in terms of connected population and India stands at the third spot. Even right now there is a lot of communication happening on the social platforms which are two-way communications. Most of these communications are about local topics. So, keeping this in mind one needs to now evolve the three-dimensional brand structure to a four-dimensional one.

In the 1990s, consumers were basically looking at getting three things from a brand. The first was functional benefit, that is, the product should be better, like it should provide more whitening for clothes. The second was that the process should be simple and convenient. The third factor was relationship. All three were very important for brand building. “But what we see now is convergence in the functional benefits as there is only so much white that you can deliver in the case of washing soap. Also, in terms of process, there has been so much that has happened in the last ten years or so, that things have become more ubiquitous and the investments that are made in relationships are also changing as the consumer wants more,” explained Narasimhan. Consumers are looking for engaging with the companies and brands. Half of the social population in China is following a retail brand’s page and they are expecting benefits like information and promotions. It is these engagement benefits that are driving choice.

The other thing that is changing is how consumers are buying products; it is no longer a funnel but a wheel. Buying decisions have undergone a radical change. The third important factor to keep in mind is that not only is the performance of the brand important; its long-term health is more important.

Finally, it was the turn of Koichi Yamamoto, General Manager, Global Solutions Center, Dentsu, to take centrestage. He said that as an advertiser they were aware of all these trends, but were also frightened about them. The reason is that it is really challenging for them to keep changing.

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