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Kartik Sharma- Group CEO- India- Omnicom Media Group
Brands know their consumers like we know our closest friends.
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Consumer Insights: When humans become data, how do you keep it human?

Brands know their consumers like we know our closest friends.
  • Ever wondered why an increasing amount of premium content is available only after registration and login? It’s more straightforward than you’d think. Kartik Sharma- Group CEO- India- Omnicom Media Group tell us the reason behind it.
  • He further writes why we must also explore human behavioural trends that impact marketing processes, and how media owners can keep up with changing sensibilities and sentiments.
The value of data does not lie in its quality alone, but in how this data is analysed, interpreted and then applied. When it comes to consumer insights, we have oceans of data available at hand, and this can sometimes cause one to view the end consumer as less human and more numerical.

Today, brands know their consumers like we know our closest friends. Their age, gender, ideologies, political leanings, even their sleeping and eating habits.

So, when humans become data, how does one keep data, human?

The Age of Addressability

In the era of experience, it is imperative for advertisers and marketers to innovate and stay one step ahead of the consumer by addressing and predicting their needs according to where they stand in the purchase cycle. People-centric first, product-centric second.

Ever wondered why an increasing amount of premium content is available only after registration and login? It’s more straightforward than you’d think. The simplest details like phone numbers and email IDs are valuable pieces of information that can help brands identify a particular consumer as a standalone person rather than as a random part of the homogenous crowd. This makes the audience addressable to the advertiser in the most direct way possible – through first-party data. As search engine optimisation gets increasingly sophisticated, effective targeting and hyper-personalisation will not only comprise commonly entered keywords, but will also factor in voice recognition tools that will serve as an individual fingerprint for targeting. With current voice search, SEO keywords have already undergone a revamp to include words and terms and tonality that are used more in speech than in text. Considering that your Alexa probably already knows what you’re going to buy tomorrow, it won’t be long before virtual shopping assistants become the norm.

With hyper-personalisation, the audience is empowered to choose the ad content they consume. According to a 2019 Deloitte report, a staggering 77% of consumers state that they would skip an online ad if they were given the chance. This further highlights the need for respecting the final consumer with extensive research into audience segmentation. Another important aspect to consider here is programmatic advertising. This system eliminates the trial and error approach to targeted advertising and helps to effectively leverage consumer data to come up with the most robust targeting options possible.

With better, richer insights, ad content can be targeted to the audience in a way that prevents bombardment and waste. For the consumer, this means that they do not end up viewing an ad several times, across multiple devices until they are so overwhelmed that they get disenchanted with the brand in question.

From the steady rise of OTT before the pandemic, to its unprecedented spike in lockdown times, there is great value in creatively exploring platforms that already have addressable audiences. It’s also advisable to learn from these and apply the same to promising new opportunities such as podcasts, which do not yet rank high on addressability, but show superb potential in terms of the format itself.

Fusion and the art of evolving

We must also explore human behavioural trends that impact marketing processes, and how media owners can keep up with changing sensibilities and sentiments.

An adage that many might be tired of hearing, but which nevertheless will always remain true is, “Customer is king.” However, the strength no longer lies with brands that merely answer customer needs, but with those that diversify how they answer these needs. And this is where the creativity and innovation of cross-industry fusion comes into play. For brands to achieve this, they need to leverage consumer insights from beyond their industry and understand consumers as having interests that are diverse, yet highly interconnected.

Specific categories that have always excelled in understanding their customers in a compassionate and effective manner are the food & beverage industry and the fashion industry. F&B brands have a keen understanding of how important food and family are to our country. A good meal with close ones is enough to sum up any Indian celebration. Whether it is the convenience of instant ramen, the health benefits of energy drinks or the refined taste of India’s finer spices, we as a culture love to spread love through food and many ads today appeal to just that. Interestingly, with consumer insights being readily available, brands have factored heart health and general fitness into every step from product development to ad filmmaking. With a finger on the pulse of India, brands are evolving to meet the needs of the consumer.

With fashion brands, the picture is a little different, but just as inspiring. Fashion has long been a representation of individuality and a statement to the world. Several clothing brands have kept up with changing sensibilities so that their ads speak to a diverse audience. Where make-up brands now reach out to male influencers, garment brands for working professionals increasingly feature working women as the protagonists in their ads.

In the larger scheme of things, such disruptors of the status quo are important. We as media professionals are speaking to an audience that is steadily becoming more aware of and empathetic to the world around them. And that’s our biggest reminder to forever and always – Keep it human.