A guest lecture was organized with the Marketing and Brand Management Guru Ashit Singh on October 1, 2020, for the Batch of 2022 at SCMC. The lecture was conducted on the theme of “Marketing in Media Consumers”. Ashit Singh is a versatile professional who has worked across different verticals of Advertising, Branding and Communication. He is the GM Corporate Brand, Vodafone Idea Ltd since October 2015. He was the Brand Head, (MH&G, Punjab) at Idea Cellular Ltd, Senior Account Director at JWT India, in the past.
He shared his experience on working on his latest project “Vi”, that is the integrated brand identity of the leading telecom companies in India, Vodafone and Idea. This project marked the completion of the largest telecom merger in the world. He commenced the discussion, sharing with us the latest data published by Indian Readership Survey that compared the engagements of consumers with various media in 2014 with that in 2017. He remarked that the IRS data is a bible for Media Planners. He highlighted an evident increase in readership of Print media by 6%, increase in audience of Radio by 9%, and a massive increase in Internet users by 28%. He explained how cheaper availability of data and mobile handsets is one of the major reasons behind the increase.
He showed us a Times of India ad film, which talked about reading newspaper with chai being a morning regime for several Indians. It is a habit, that is difficult to break, he remarked.The Habit Loop is in fact, a marketing strategy adopted by the Media companies. They build this habit in their consumers by generating interesting content, differentiating their brand from their competitors in the market and encouraging peer advocacy for their respective brands.
Consumers are presented with a large variety of mediums and media choices, by these companies. We have at least 4-5 radio stations in all the cities, who have different content styles. We can watch films on platforms other than the traditional movie theatres. We have OTT Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar, Alt Balaji, etc who have high viewership.
Radio and Television capture their audiences in an intended cycle that keeps them going back to them because they present the consumers with what they want. This triggers them to go back to the short-term rewards provided by them. Consequently, consumers keep on running in the cycle of trigger, action and reward.
He further explained how brands kept the consumers returning to them for their content. In his checklist, the primary step is to create new, original and intriguing content to attract audiences. In the next step, he spoke of brand differentiation. Brand differentiation is what makes a given brand rememberable. As content creators we must learn to strike a balance between creating content and creating association of the content with our brand. You have succeeded as a creator at Prime Video, if your audience remembers not only that they watched Mirzapur, but also that they watched Mirzapur on Prime Video. He gave us an example of ESPN building themselves as a brand of sports channel for the Best International Sports, and Star Sports as the go-to channel for watching Cricket. Hence, if you want to watch IPL, you’ll turn on Star Sports and no other sports channel on your television.
In the final step, Media brands encourage a chain of peer advocacy for the promotion of their brand. For example, Netflix has established itself as a brand for the best international content. You and I must have gotten recommendations for various Netflix Original Films or TV shows from our friends and relatives. This chain of recommendations helps the brand in reaching out to a wider audience who stick to them, as they run on “trending” and everyone wants to be associated with them. These brands run their own cult following as a result. Starbucks, Apple gadgets and Netflix lead the list of brands with a cult following.
He highlighted the struggles faced by Television and Radio in terms of maintaining their viewership or audience numbers as compared to Print. In Print Media, we have a relatively more loyal readership. A Hindu reader will continue to read The Hindu and an Express reader will continue to read The Indian Express for a considerable amount of years. On the other hand, we tend to switch the Radio or TV channel when our preferred song or show is not played, at a higher frequency. However, we have yet had the Big Triggers in both the industries. Shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati, Indian Idol, Khatron Ke Khiladi, IPL, Bigg Boss 4 have had large viewership as well as following. People were hooked onto these shows. These shows also engaged the audience by letting them vote for their favorite contestants and making them win the shows. In Radio, he spoke about RJ Malishka, Neelesh Misra, Babbar Sher and Purani Jeans which have all created their own brand identities. He gave us an example of how a person who is interested in listening to old songs will turn to Purani Jeans and someone who’s tired of Ads on
radio and is interested in love songs will turn to Ishq FM.
He also spoke on the importance of continuously evolving one’s brand in order to remain relevant to the audiences. He showed us the “Nayi Soch” Star Plus Ad where they showed a sweet vendor encourage his daughters to work with him in his business. We have always seen boards reading “Agarwal and Sons” or “Modi and Sons”, but we’ve never come across a board that reads “Gurdeep Singh and Daughters”, and that was the essence of the Star Plus ad. It reinforced the channel’s brand as one that instills progressive values in their viewers. Meghal Mundada shared her experience of attending the lecture with the Editorial Board. “It was a good interactive session which gave us an insight into the different media, mainly traditional, and their development over period. His insight of Radio was really new and no guest had earlier talked about it in earlier lectures. For me, the part of discussion about the development and current share of radio in media was the most intriguing one! I truly enjoyed the session. He was extremely interactive and engaging.”
Towards the end of the lecture, he spoke of how marketers today have our data, and they market their products to us on the basis of it. He used the example of social media and explained how marketers integrate consumer psychology and their databases to correctly assume what they want, and when they want it. Accordingly, they sell the Ads of those products to us, on social media. With the rise in consumer data management, we are not choosing our products. The products are choosing us.
Shivani S Sisodia