We live in an exciting time that's witnessing change of an unprecedented magnitude. The financial meltdown has resulted in the realignment of global economic leadership. The world’s attention is now unalterably riveted on Asia in general and China and India in particular. The playing field has been levelled and several disadvantages that we, as emerging countries, faced in the 20th century, have become a thing of the past.
India’s time has come. All key indicators are in our favour. Our economy continues on its bullish growth path, with our GDP growth rate second only to China. While leading Western countries battle to grow even at 2%, India continues to enjoy a growth of 7-9 %. While the West struggles with a large greying population, we have a sizable part of our population in the younger age brackets.
When it comes to communications technology, we have leapfrogged into the future with mobile phones penetrating into the remotest villages that do not even have a single phone line. With regard to language skills, our command of English, the language of global business, is second to none. The list is long.
Most importantly, our markets have changed unrecognisably. Gone are the days when the three things that an Indian consumer wanted was value, value, value. India is witnessing a rampant rise in consumerism. We now have greater disposable incomes and therefore more spending power. Our lifestyles have progressed and our aspirations have changed. We now have a better choice. It is no longer just a black Fiat or a white Ambassador. The Indian consumer is now looking for specific benefits for which he or she is prepared to pay a premium. He or she can no longer be seduced by price cuts.
Advertising will have to reinvent itself to keep up with these economic and market realities. Mass media and one way communications are on the way out. Marketing is dead, engagement is in. Trust is dead, excitement and edginess is in. What will be the new rules of survival for brands and their marketers? Is our business still advertising or is it managing communities? From chat rooms to Twitter and Facebook, to mobiles as the new micro blogging device… how can brands cope with such dynamic enablement of consumer engagement?
Consumers are communicating with each other at a furious pace, learning to use new categories and spending more. Today, a consumer group can influence purchasing decisions with a single review — such is the power of social media and viraling.
How do we master the ever evolving operating environment, its impact on business and the new age imperatives for long-term sustainability?
The answers to these and many more such posers are not very clear. The one thing that is clear though is that the future is going to be marked by chaos, flux and new paradigms. Indeed, the only certainty about the future is that it is going to be uncertain. Uncertainty is the new certainty.
The writer is MD & CEO, Mudra Group