Young Track | New column on youth marketing by Samyak Chakrabarty

03 Oct,2012

What’s a 23-year-old writing a column on a site where the average age of columnists is… ? Ok, ok, we won’t reveal that number, but like it or not the youth constitute a majority of India’s population. Since the last few years, young Samyak Chakrabarty has been in and around media events and offices with his vision of how the youth can be targeted.


In this period, he has organized a few conferences, participated in several of them in India and abroad, and works as Chief Youth Marketer with the DDB Mudra group. He’s organized a TedX youth conference in Mumbai, was invited to meet Hillary Clinton when she visited India and has co-authored a book ‘Generation Einstein 3.0 – India version’.


Samyak’s column will appear every Wednesday and as the title suggests, it will track the young – specifically keeping in mind the advertising, media and marketing fraternity – Ed


Measuring ROI: When it comes to spending on Marketing to Youth

I am 23, not (academically) qualified to tell Mr Brand Manager of a 100 crore+ FMCG on how to sell his product to youngsters, but yet I decide to take the Dutch shot of courage and enter the room. Someone once told me, “As a youth engagement consultant in a country like India, you have 2 choices -“either tell your prospective client how cool his/her brand is and give some worldly gyaan with complicated numericals on how I can come on board to make it cooler OR stick to what my stand is on his brand is even if its at the risk of hurting his/her ego (which, I’ve come to realize is more of a suicidal thing to do then even going wrong in the deliverables) and loosing the business”.


So at this meeting, I am faced with the question that I am asked at every other meeting, party or conference – “Youth is on our agenda now, now tell me how can i increase the number of likes on our Facebook page from this TG”. At best the variation is “I think youth is the future of our brand, can we sponsor some college festivals (sic: and tell youngsters that we exist for them?)”.


Youngsters in India who are born post 1990 are at the cusp of the transformation in the way we communicate, consume, dream, think and live. Obviously, modern external influences such as social networking, information overload, evolved societal expectations and most importantly a plethora of choices in everything does play a critical role how they make their decision. However I am a believer of the theory which says that “the modern consumer is just perceived to be so, in reality – at a store, he behaves exactly as his forefathers did”. Yes it is true that they think faster, spend more and want more all the time – but that does not change the very DNA of how a consumer behaves whether young or old.


One cannot rely on statistics alone to ascertain which way the wind will blow (predicting youth trends), it requires the brand custodian to also be instinctive, passionate and most importantly have an open mind. As prominent inhabitants of modern society, youngsters (irrespective of SEC) are more whimsical and their preferences change constantly until they touch the age of 27 since they are more exploratory / risk taking then the previous generation.


Young Track Files #1: Redbull

An example of a brand which is rich in social currency amongst Indian college students


There has always been little or no TV advertisement of this brand and nor is there a film star endorsing it. However it always enjoys top-of-mind recall among students. The red bull vans and hot ladies stationed outside colleges giving out free samples especially after exams, college festivals and sporting events has been their only sustained marketing expense which in my opinion is giving them 100 percent ROI. They hit the G-Spot by doing this since it conveyed that the brand thinks about their TG and is present where they need it. So therefore next time during a match, hardcore party or after an intensive exam – youngsters will always desire that cold can of crispy Red Bull. Furthermore, the company has ensured that their consumer does not have to walk many meters to get hold of one when he needs it - the distribution team has ensured presence of the product at all possible touch points. Their association with Formula One has also won them many brownie points in India as well.


You may find a slight contradiction in what I am saying now and what I’ve written above – my point is that as consumers, youngsters are almost the same as their forefathers but as people they are very different (than the previous generation) and it is this very ‘split personality’ which creates a confusion in thinking what will really influence youngsters. Before you disagree – let me guess what you are thinking “This is BS, my son is more aware of brands then I ever was and has more gadgets then I ever did”… right? Now, think again -“Is it only because your son (as a consumer) is more evolved then you or is it because the choices/influencing factors now are greater in number than in your time?” J . I hope this proves my point to an extent.


This brings me back to talking about the holy grail, how does one then measure ROI on investments made towards marketing to youth? Truth is, numerically the method is the same as what works when you compute numbers of what is spent on the other age groups. But then there is another parallel matrix which one must also consider i.e “Social Currency”.


As the custodian of a youth brand, being a Millionaire with this form of earning is key in not only sustaining but growing your connect with youngsters. I would base the valuation of your brand’s social currency wealth on these five things ie conversations, perception, feedback,(active) social media influence (such that it is engaging not just by number of likes / posts alone) and how inclusive is your TG in shaping your product as well as marketing strategy. I hope you noticed that this has nothing to do with how cool, colourful, cute your brand is or which film star is your brand ambassador – these are just peripheral things that may or may not be needed.


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One response to “Young Track | New column on youth marketing by Samyak Chakrabarty”

  1. dhiraj says:

    really nice article