The way we communicate has changed today. Branding is a different game altogether. The strategy that was considered the right way to build a brand just a few years back is all wrong today. We, as marketers, were doing a great job all these years and then came Tim Berners-Lee and changed it all. He is the man who invented the ‘World Wide Web’. With more than 2 billion users the growth in the number of people using the Internet in 2013, as compared to 2000, has been 566%. Whoa! That’s humongous. It’s this Internet which has created a unique generation of consumers called the ‘Millennial’. People in the age group of 18-34 fall in this category. Why are they so important? Let’s look at a few quick facts. 75 million is the population of the Millennials in US alone. In countries like India and Bangladesh most of the population is around this age. What it translates into is a few simple facts. By 2022 at least 30% of all retail sales will be to this generation, and by 2025 about 75% of the total car sales will be to this generation, making this age group the most important consumers. They are the consumers of the future and as brand builders it’s critical for us to make them believe in our brands. However, this generation is very different from its parents. They live differently, decide differently, and hate being marketed to, making things very difficult for marketers. Gone are the days when you picked up a Lonely Planet or any other travel guide book to know about a new destination you wanted to travel to. Today, you just ‘google it’ and can know more about the place, and even see real time videos of the place. You read books on the Internet and buy them through Amazon. If you want to change your job you don’t go to a placement agency but to LinkedIn. If you want an education many prefer to go online than to a campus. In fact, even if you want to protest for a cause you do not need to go out on the streets rather you go to the Facebook page and ‘like’ it and voila you are a protester!

Reading, writing, travelling, protesting – you name it and it’s happening on the Internet. So, logically your brand building too should happen on the Internet.

 Consider this, when someone from this generation wants to buy a car he does not got to the company showroom or collect the car company’s brochure. The first thing he does is visit various websites, at least 25 of them, and then goes to a showroom when he has almost made up his mind of what he wants. Very rarely is the salesman able to assert his influence, for it’s ‘third party reviews’ which hold more weight than the salesman.

It’s said knowing your audience is the key to building a great brand for then you know exactly what he wants. However, this time it’s going to be an uphill task just knowing the audience as these guys are different. All these years brands were built by connecting and engaging the customer at various ‘touch points’, and the traditional touch points used to be TV, print, radio, outdoor hoardings, and direct mailers. A close look at these touch points reveals that this new generation watches his favourite TV programme on YouTube, or records it on his set-top box and watches it by fast forwarding the ads. He does not wait for the morning newspaper to arrive to know what’s the latest for he can log on to Twitter and read the summaries of the top headlines, or log on to the website and get the information. With live streaming of music he does not listen to the radio but tunes in to his iPod, MP3 player etc. Be it direct mail or e-mail most of them go in the junk box if they are promotions of brands. To top it all, with new laws coming in the number of hoardings is also fast decreasing. So, if this is the scenario then how do you ‘touch’ this guy?


 If you want to reach the new guys then there are certain things you need to forget.
(a)Forget physical media. Instead think digital.

(b)Forget traditional TV. Think of the second screen. Mobiles will be big in future and most brand building activities will happen here.

(c) Forget mass, think personalization. Mass mediums like TV and print have lost a lot of their sheen. It’s mediums which can send customized messages to consumers that will work.
You need to think like Amazon. Once you buy from it, the second time that you go there it knows you, and suggests things to buy that you may like depending on your past purchases. This is the personalization, the customization that the consumer of today wants. One size fits all no longer works. One campaign for TV, print, outdoor, radio, et al will not work any more. They say it’s the end of ‘lazy marketing’ and marketers & brand builders have to wake up and shake up and think of new ways to engage the consumer. Thanks to Facebook and other such sites today you can break up your customer base into micro segments. Pizza Hut, for instance, discovered that it had 17,000 different types of customers and planned different online campaigns which worked for the various groups. Read More....

An Initiative of IIPMMalay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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