Media as an Ingredient

27 Sep,2011

By Premjeet Sodhi
There was a time when the usage of media was optional. Media was an add-on which if a brand so desired or if needed would use to spur sales.
When, I look at this from the cooking perspective (since, I love cooking a lot) I would say that media was used just as a garnish. Yes, it did make the dish seem more desirable and added some flavours but one could certainly do without it.
Media was never appreciated. When the sales were healthy – there was no need for media and when the brand was in dire straits and there was strain on profitability – media was the first to be curtailed.
But, those were the times of the seller; the consumer then was a deprived citizen and had no say or choice in what was being served to him. The seller prepared the product and used media just to ‘inform’ the consumer either of its existence, its merits or its price. Media was never embedded in the value creation that the product or service promised; it was so far only communicating the value. Hence, the use of media was need based.
The world has changed. Consumer is King.
It is not about the seller asking the consumer about what they want and then manufacturing the product or service accordingly. The matters have progressed far beyond that. The sellers are no longer in control. They have morphed from brand owners to brand custodians to just being brand moderators. Despite all the theory that existed – the brand in the yester years was still in the mind of the brand owner (with due feedback and research of the consumer). But, now the consumer is in control of the brand.
Here, when I say consumer  it is again different from the consumer of yester years. Earlier you would imagine the consumer as an individual (or a number of individuals – not connected to one another) but today the the consumer is a group – a group of connected and communicating people. Earlier, the consumer was a multitude of individuals but now is a Collective.
More and more products and services are being designed so that their consumption also happens or heightens when consumed as a Collective. And, these are not being designed by just the companies. The companies are a participant in this collective along with the consumers. Media runs as blood in the veins of this collective binding the consumers to each other and hence media is intrinsic to the construction of the brand.
Media is no longer an add-on; no longer a garnish; no longer need-based.
Media is critical and essential to the construction of the brand and the consumption of the brand.
Media has become an ingredient for the brand.
Brands that still treat media as an add-on have a lot of thinking to do. And, the day brands change this perspective – I am sure they will start looking differently at how they select and integrate media into their value promise. This will change the value they attribute to media in their P&L and will also impact the remuneration they pay for those who advise them on media.
Media is no longer a garnish, but is a critical ingredient in the brand.

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