Impressions of the World Marketing Congress, India



The onset of the 24th morning in November was buzzing with thinkers, visionaries and magicians at the World Marketing Congress hosted at Taj Lands’ End, Mumbai. Understanding that the premise of the conference was to unite experts spanning across diverse categories and roles, I believe the core cause was to share with us on how to make sound decisions in the realm of innovation that focuses on impacting lives to amplify values vs. promoting products/services to fatten the profit margin.

Thoughts and conversations at Market Research Forum:

  1. Yearn for innovation, budget for hope:

It’s hard, but necessary. Especially in categories that define themselves as sales brands and meander around numbers to attract consumerism with basic communication activations. How do we not gather guts to make a difference? How do we expand our peripheral vision in order to allow a surprise? Experimentation is a good word we all use but words are certainly anchored in actions. Unless brands live what they believe in, it would be challenging for them to superficially convince consumers to believe in the same.

I strongly believe that ‘Innovation’ is more of a mindset to delve and be comfortable with the unknown and focus on revolutionizing the assumptions. Brands that invest in aspirations and hopes, eventually find a way to reach the end goal.

Too often, brands are so busy measuring opinions that they often forget that they have the power to mould them. So busy listening to statistics they forget that they embody the potential to create them.

  1. More money, no banks

With the advent of digitization in India courtesy the demonetization revolution, attitudes towards money spending are drastically changing. Offline to online transactions have accelerated encapsulating the depleting cash flow in our pockets. Are we behaving with money differently? Furthermore, are we looking at banks with a different lens? Banks have of course started to cater to this need and transition into the online services more aggressively but are they as good as e-wallets? How can banks seamlessly deliver services that don’t require cautious attention? No physical spaces? Virtual Reality? It’s gratifying to see the change in the wind regarding the behavior that would ensue however, frightening to envision the lack of human touch.

As brands get richer (and hopefully go green), are they cognizant of how consumers switch behaviors and adapt to changes? Are they investing in consumers?

Most importantly, are banks acting as service brands?

  1. Empathy in business

Discussing emotions has never been the core objective for any brand whether it entails behaviour understanding or decoding usage patterns. Conversing to engage, build and mutually respond to the feeling/reaction is time consuming, most definitely nerve racking and hey, worth it. Consumer investment is considered to be ‘THE’ thing and being agile is of course what it all boils down to, but aren’t brands fundamentally made by the people? Since when did brands divorce consumers for profit margins, engagements for discounts?

It is, by far the saddest thing to witness when brands discount consumer feelings and emotions, fail to leverage self-fulfillment and give in to the number race.

Being global is not cool anymore. Hence digging where you are and trying to polish the gold in your valley would be wise than pitching to investors to expand opportunities overtaking consumer understanding. Brand empathy is felt and experienced first before the product is even used. Do we want brands to be more humanistic in value or experiential in purpose? That’s the choice the consumer makes. And THAT defines your business strategy.

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