Authenticity and engagement is what brands must give consumers: MTV youth summit

30 Apr,2012

By A Correspondent


Brands today need to listen, learn and begin to engage with the youth; they need to be authentic as young people today are willing to speak positively about the brand they trust. These were some of the points discussed at the ‘MTV Power of One’- Youth Marketing Forum 2012.


Ms Angela Barkan, Senior Director, Marketing and Publicity, Sony Music Entertainment; Mr Chetan Bhagat, Author of five blockbuster novels; Mr Andrew Ridley, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Earth Hour; Mr Henri Holm, Senior Vice President, Rovio Entertainment, the creators of Angry Birds; Simon Smith, European Digital Director at Interbrand were some of the speakers at the Youth Marketing Forum which saw presentations and a panel discussion on ways to engage the youth in the digital media era.


Aditya Swamy

The MTV Youth Marketing Forum 2012 kick-started with Mr Aditya Swamy, EVP and Business Head, MTV India sharing some of the findings from the MTV’s study on the Indian youth. The study titled ‘Power of One’ was unveiled on Friday, April 27. Mr Swamy said that over 5,000 youth were interviewed across the Country and an overwhelming 76 per cent said that they are happy with their life. According to the findings, for today’s youth family is more important than their friends, as a lot of young people see their parents as their role model.


The survey also says that 97 per cent of the youth believe that they can bring about change and that social media has given them a voice, thus making them feel empowered. “Single screen engagements are not going to work, today web and mobile are required to engage the youth. Today the youth do not need inspirations but engagement, so there needs to be a two way conversation. If brands learn to keep the promises they make to their consumers, it will see more people, particularly youngsters flocking towards their brands” Mr Swamy added.


Andrew Ridley

A good idea needs good platform:

Mr Andrew Ridley, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Earth Hour spoke about how the movement first started in one city -Sydney, before it became a global movement. He spoke about how every individual has the power to change the world they live in and how social media strengthens that power and provides a vehicle to take action. Citing the example of how Earth Hour was designed to build reach and increase its reach to billions of people around the world, Mr Ridley was of the view that a good idea needs a good platform in order to reap rich benefits. “I believe that for the first time we have the power to connect. We are still at the initial stage of creating a big change, but if our core idea is relevant and connected to the young people in particular, it will lead to a huge change in the world” said Mr Ridley.


Henri Holm

It’s all about communication…

Speaking on the success story of Angry Birds, Mr Henri Holm, Senior Vice President, Rovio Entertainment, said that it took the company nearly eight years to be where it is today. He also spoke about how to engage the younger generation with the powerful concept and the characters and also how the distribution channels were also chosen carefully to reach out to the millions and to be of service to the fans. Since youth is the core TG, Rovio Entertainment hopes to stay relevant, connected and constantly find new ways to engage the youth.


Besides the online experience, Angry Birds also gave the audience offline experience of the game, thus not only engaging its TG but even getting newer audience. “One of the reasons for the success of Angry Birds is its simplicity. We put a lot of weight on communication and feedback from our audience, therefore for us it is all about building business with fans and not features. Angry Birds is a permanent part of the youth culture and our aim is to further service the youth efficiently in the years to come.”


Chetan Bhagat

Reaching out through social media

Author of five blockbuster novels, Mr Chetan Bhagat, also known as the marketing guru gave his insights on marketing. He said that social media is a good way to execute the power of one: “Social media has become very popular today and one must know what a Facebook or a Twitter is. As far as I am concerned social media is a great platform, my goal is to reach out to maximum number of people and social media is one of the ways to reach out.”


He said that one of the reasons why his books worked was because the plots were tight, they were unputdownable, the language was simple, and the characters were relatable. Mr Bhagat also gave some insights into the mind of the youth. He said that the youth today has the ‘hunger’ to do well in life, to gain respect and make money; that they want an education that could provide them skills that would help them make money. Besides the love for their careers and seeking out their love, youth today deeply care for their country and are willing to clean up the system.


Simon Smith

The power of one

Mr Simon Smith, European Digital Director, Interbrand spoke about the power of conformity, and the willingness to conform publicly in order to attain social rewards. We need to understand the power of one and how powerful it is. The power of one, I believe, is simply about being human. One must not move with the crowd but, remain an individual he or she is supposed to be. “Fundamentally, as humans, we haven’t changed much, but our expressions to our needs have dramatically changed with technology, society and changing power structure. The relation between brand and consumer has fundamentally changed, so if a brand makes a promise to its consumers, it better deliver on those promises or the consumer will never trust the brand and influence others to rebuke the brand too.”


Angela Barkan

Authenticity and the art of listening to the youth

Ms Angela Barkan of Sony Music International spoke about millennials, youngsters aged between 12 to 30 years. She was of the view that millenials are multi-taskers and optimists, that they expect brands to be authentic and have two way communications with them. She also said that this is a group which loves to share and that they define themselves by what they share. She also said that this unusual group is found mostly online. “Collaborations and interactions are very important when talking about music as it results in lifelong fans. However, there is a need for brands to be authentic because if a brand is authentic, then millenials are willing to speak positively about the brand they trust.”


Reaching out to the youth

A panel discussion which included eminent panelists like Mr Avinash Pant, Marketing Head, Nike India; Mr Sumeet Pahwa, DGM – Marketing, TATA Docomo; Mr Vikram Malhotra, COO Viacom 18 Motion Pictures; Mr Bejoy Nambiar, Director and Screen Writer; and Mr Ayushman Khurana, VJ turned Actor and was moderated by Mr Nikhil Chinappa, VJ and Founder, Summer Sunburn Festival spoke about the difficulties of marketing to the young generation and the possible ways of reaching out the youth. They also spoke on the role of social media marketing and whether social media is actually an effective tool to reach out to the youth.


Mr Pahwa spoke about how the social media is a big platform to engage the youth citing the example of how it helped Tata Docomo successfully engage the youth by having a two way conversation with them.


According to Mr Malhotra, “Brands need to listen a lot more, even to criticisms, and problems must be solved as and when brought by the consumers. The attitudes of the youth are fast changing, today they trust their family and friends more than the brands, hence brands need to listen, learn and begin to engage with the youth.”


Mr Pant was of the view that the youth today are looking for innovation: “Things are moving so fast today that our conventional thought process itself needs to change drastically. We have to think a lot more digital.”


Ayushman Khurana pointed out that the youth do not have the patience to listen, but they do have a strong opinion about films or any other product or brand. So one needs to understand its audience and find ways to connect with the audience and have a two way communication with them.


Be authentic, have a two way communication, listen a lot more to your consumers, respond to criticisms and fix problems because young people are willing to be advocates of brands on social networking sites as long as they trust it otherwise brands must be ready for a backlash. These are some of the lessons to be learnt from the MTV Youth Marketing Forum 2012.


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