The year 2022 was a reset year. Many behaviours that changed during Covid-19 have so far stayed for good. For instance, awareness about health, the need to reassess life goals and comfort with online payments were some of the changes that have lasted. Many other behaviours, however, got reversed as people sought the comfort of the old times. 2022 saw the return of offline shopping, travel and tourism, and even if hybrid, a back-to-office movement, in a desire to go back to life as we knew it before the nasty virus.
Here are some of the patterns that will have a lasting impact on the future of our business and the marketing world.
What’s your real purpose?
Classically, brands wanted to embrace a purpose so that they could play a deeper, more significant role in the lives of people. Often this had little to do with action, more to do with posturing. But the days of woke-washing are over. Yet, the need for businesses and people to have a larger purpose has never been higher than now. It’s no longer good enough for businesses to pursue pure capitalistic goals while ignoring the world at large, or at times leaving it a worse place.
People will support businesses and brands that want to leave the world a better place. Businesses will be held accountable for their karma consciousness, as will be individuals and people in public life. While woke-washing may be over, the time for capitalism to have a socialistic streak is here.
Designing for new gen
In the last decade, the digital surge has brought with it a major change where the other half of India has found empowerment. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology with more people opting to use online methods for shopping, payments and entertainment.
Now with 5G on the horizon, and the ongoing smartphone revolution, brands need to bridge the gap and bring access to these new audiences. This, however, needs designing the product, solution, and service for them, not merely repurposing what has worked thus far. Home-grown brands like Josh, Share Chat, PhonePe are already using localised, regionalised insights to break through these new segments. This is the new consuming class beyond the current 100 million or so, who are already on the bandwagon of online shopping, D2C brands and so on.
No brand is an island. This is the day and age for collaborations. For example, Oreo, in collaboration with Stranger Things (Netflix), has launched limited edition Red Velvet cookies in India. Boat has launched a collab headphone range with Netflix, and so on.
Brands need to build a community amongst themselves too, not just look out for consumer communities to be a part of. Call it a pot-luck of your respective audiences that we pool together to get bigger and better.
Winning Indias within India
The idea of many Indias in one India is not a new assertion. However, when it came to building a product or a brand strategy, we have almost always resorted to one national strategy at best, adapted in a few local languages.
Typically, brands have adapted one central idea into different languages, often missing the cultural nuances and instead appropriating a generalised stereotype of different communities. This is set to change. In today’s India, it is possible to only win region-up rather than nation-down. You could focus a particular innovation or a strategy to a part of the country. Either way, the new-age digital savvy audiences sitting in several corners of the country do not relate to one national narrative or language. To help brands bridge the gap with this generation, we need to speak their language.
This is why at Leo Burnett, we’ve launched LB Regional, a specialised division to provide a more defined and nuanced service within the network and help rewire how brands approach the Indias within India.
India at the global stage
This year we have seen marketing and advertising material from India make its mark at the global stage. This is a reset. It is no longer about India playing an insulated game, it’s about work from India measuring up to global benchmarks, beating them and resetting them.
Today, the work we are producing is already redefining the norms for the industry. The biggest success parameter will be consistency. As an industry, we have the superpowers of creativity, data and technology – how can we use these to solve for a billion people? This is what will put India on the world map.
After two years of home gardening, kitchen experiments and new found exercise routines, 2022 has been a refreshing breeze. As usual, we’ve kept the best of both the worlds. We have kept the best of the great reset that Covid-19 gave us. Yet, we’ve gone back to everything else pre-Covid that we loved doing, rather with a vengeance. The new world now is a mix of both, and a great one at that!
Dheeraj Sinha is CEO, Leo Burnett - South Asia and Chairman, BBH - India. He is the author of India Reloaded: Inside India’s Resurgent Consumer Market