What Ticks for Indian Consumers/ Teens – Anil Nair and Rajan Narayan

29 Sep,2014

Continuing with our extracts from the second edition of the MxMIndia Annual, we present contributions by Anil Nair and Rajan Narayan



How young are you?


By Anil Nair


Great advertising should always draw inspiration from the society and at its best help in shaping it. In a young country like ours, it is even more imperative that we must practice this than merely preach it. Many brands fall prey to the trap of typifying the youth and convert their advertising campaigns into pontification campaigns. For a generation that is shaped by smartphones and social media networks, life has gone a long way ahead than what the 40-somethings who are creating advertising campaigns to ‘target’ the young can ever comprehend.


And I must admit that I belong to that section who is struggling to understand the young and be relevant to them. Having said that I have, in all humility, made an attempt to study them through conversations without bias and here are my few pointers on how to connect better with the young adults. Invite: Campaigns at best should be an invitation to participate in a conversation. Once they give you the permission you can have a deep conversation which can lead to a long term relationship.


So out goes propositions and benefit statements and in comes dialogues, point of views and sharing. Involve: The golden rule in making the connections is to talk less about yourselves (brands) and more about themselves. Challenge them, provoke them but don’t you dare decide what is good for them or suggest a solution to their problems. Though they may outwardly appear confused they know their way out of the confusion.




‘Education is a tool to achieve social distinction and not knowledge’


By Rajan Narayan


Americans understand their teenagers well. This is visible in their popular culture – books, TV serials, Hollywood and their advertising. We Indians on the other hand also understand the American teen well; this is also visible in our popular culture – Bollywood and ads! The 2012 film ‘Student of the Year’ is an indication of this malady. Switch on any music channel and watch ads portraying Indian teens rapping, playing basketball, beach volleyball and performing Broadway or Rock in their college campuses.


Seriously, how many of us did this in our college years? Maybe 5 per cent did this in some select uptown colleges in metro cities but the rest who spent the major part of their teen years in small towns across India, know how different it was and continues to be till today. Reality is that few brands in India have really tried to understand the Indian teen and develop genuine insight based communication to engage them. Here are some realities we need to understand about Indian teens…


1. ‘Teens’ are not a homogeneous set of people. In fact besides boy and girl teen being very different, early teens differ from late teens as chalk from cheese. E.g. the mother could be the decision maker for the choice of beverage for an early teen and decide that a cola is not permissible. But for the late teen the competitive set may include stronger spirits!




So when you talk to them mind not just the language but the content too. Inspire: Youth are not all about fun and frolic and short-term views. Many brands are guilty of understanding them only superficially. The youth have a latent sense of purpose in their lives. The real challenge is to understand it and convert the latent purpose into a felt one. Here’s where campaigns like ‘Jaago re’ and ‘Idea’ (earlier campaigns) have hit the bulls eye.


I believe the single biggest reason for the success of our “Hum mein hain Hero” campaign is this insight. The above three are not the holy grail of effective advertising but mere guiding principles of connecting with young adults effectively. But more than all of them, I believe that brands and their custodians need to unlearn a lot and fundamentally alter the basic construct to be relevant to the youth of today.


A new vocabulary needs to be learned and a new method of engaging needs to be adapted. If the brand at its core has changed itself to connect with the youth then advertising has to just communicate that truth. The result will be a deep and mutually beneficial relation for a long, long time.




2. Ambitious, career and future focussed. Indian teens may excel in competitive test but this leaves no scope for general interest pursuits, making them poor conversationalists. Education is a tool to achieve social distinction and not knowledge.


3. Strong familial attachment and a conservative home environment. The ‘rebel teen’ is a miniscule minority. Strong family bonds ensure Indian teens are mostly wellbehaved at home and respect their elders. The mother-daughter relationship here is unique as the mother is often the girl’s best friend.


4. India has the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of youth suicides. This is a culmination of the pressure built in the teen years of having to be at the top of the academic heap, failure to do so sometimes lead to a huge drop in self-worth resulting in suicides. Brands that understand these nuances and address teen issues and angst as well as work to gain parental approval stand to benefit hugely.




Tomorrow: Tuesday, September 30: Children – Amit Tripathi


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