What Ticks for Indian Consumers/ Teens – Prashant Panday and Arijit Ray

14 Oct,2014

Continuing with our extracts from the second edition of the MxMIndia Annual, we present contributions by Prashant Panday and Arijit Ray.



Go young to cater to the youth


By Prashant Panday


There is a belief amongst the marketing fraternity that unless the youth support your brand, it won’t even exist in a few years! What this means is that brands that are ranked “number 1” merely at an overall level, but which fail to get a similar ranking amongst the youth, are doomed to fail in the long run. The long run could be as short as five years. This is especially true in a country like India, where some 50 per cent of the population is below 25 years of age.


But here’s the conundrum. When we talk of the youth, what age group are we talking about? The 18-25, or the 12-18 year olds? For many, this may be a minor distinction, but for the marketing fraternity, it makes a world of a difference. The 25-year old is already too old for the 15-year old! I recently went to a McDonald’s and was surprised to see the behavior of the 15 or something junior college kids, especially when I compared it with that of the 25-year olds in my office.


These 15-year olds dressed far more coolly (which means shabbily!), were far more into their phones, were yapping excitedly and loudly, squatting bum-to-bum in crunched spaces with gay abandon, while my 25-year olds were already starting to become brand conscious, relatively sober and socially much more conscious – in short, a little “domesticated”! So in choosing which segment to cater to, one needs to be very very careful. Getting it wrong could be disastrous….. even fatal. Frankly, it’s virtually impossible for a brand to cater to the 15-year olds while also catering to the 25-year olds.



‘We need to empathise, understand and spend quality time with teens’


By Arijit Ray


We have been used to an array of interesting statistics on how teenagers and youngsters are rapaciously consuming brands and time on social media. India has about 24.2 million teenagers (between 13-19 yrs) on Facebook, which is the largest population on FB. Even more than teenagers in the US. It is obvious that they are spending large tracts of their time on social media. Their access to information is phenomenal. Something that was un-imaginable during our time. Rapid & Progressive advent of next level technology in smartphones is adding a different layer to instantaneous communication and gratification.


The latest facilitator is “What’s App”. Multiple groups, and sharing on this platform are defining their interactions. The capability to seamlessly share content is a double-edge sword. And the teens are living on the edge. Some administer caution but some don’t. And once it is in their hands, policing is the last option. Having said that, this is only one aspect of teenage behavior that one needs to be cognizant of…There are many shades and facets of their world which goes beyond their edgy online behaviour and cool new-age lingo.




At Mirchi, our core TG is the 18-25, with the bull’s eye being 18 (the upper limit is just to ensure that we don’t sway towards the younger teens). For this age group, the first thing a brand needs to do is be comfortable with its own identity. If the brand is Mirchi (a mass brand), then there is no point trying to be like MTV (a niche one). Pretending is the one thing the youth don’t tolerate. The other thing that matters a lot is the lingo. In today’s India, the job of language is to communicate.


It’s not to impress. The more casual the language, the better. The “Bambaiya” Hindi is much sought after with kids all around the country also mouthing a “vat lag gayi” every now and then! The definition of what is vulgar has also changed. “Ghanta” means what it means, nothing more and nothing less! Move over you fogies! The brand imagery is critical. High energy colors, pacy sounds and a little “firangi” packaging helps. And yet, there is always space for the pastels, the soulful lyrics and some very “desi” style.


The concept is to be comfortable with oneself, not pretentious like I said. The content for a radio station has to be a lot more bindaas, nothing too serious. Most kids hardly care about politics, or local/national issues (except a few like corruption), or intellectual stuff like literature fests or art shows. For them, it has to be a kitschy concoction of movies, music, cricket, gossip and even more gossip! The serious minded would find radio a tad below their taste (just like they would find Hindi GECs below their taste).


One last word. And perhaps the most important one. Being available in digital is most crucial. If you’re not available online, or on the mobile, you are a dinosaur! For Mirchi, a buzzing website, seven online radio stations with the promise of more, more than a handful mobile radio stations, an active and engaged social media presence, and several other content pieces strewn across various digital formats (itunes, youtube) works. All listener interactions happen over whatsapp and its various avatars. This digital presence is critical like I said. The youth is also very impatient. They keep you on your toes all the time. In today’s world, no one can take them for granted. But this is also what makes brand marketing so much fun! The youth may not buy much, but a lot of the marketing monies go towards them.



We are increasingly seeing a breed of very practical, smart, feet-on-the-ground individuals who are digital pioneers and so comfortable with technology that they are sensitive about how far they should go. The extent to which they stay within the norm or topple over, to a very large extent is directly proportional to the following a) The openness and the relationship they share with their parents b) The generational gap that is manifested in the homes c) The role parent’s play in navigating the crucial stages of adolescence and the amount of time spent giving them company. We are seeing more multi-faceted dimensions of their personality.


They are equally comfortable in watching the Potter series multiple times, going gaga, tracking every concert of One Direction on the one hand and keenly watching Breakout, or Mega Structures on National Geographic, or Jhalak Dikhla-jaa, KBC on primetime. As parents, as practitioners of advertising and marketing, we will have to take note that the current breed is far more aware than we ever were. And probably will learn to balance the offline and online worlds better.


Their sense of what is real and what is exaggerated is extremely pronounced. To conclude, the world of teenagers is complex and we should not try to decode it. All we need to do is empathise, understand and spend quality time when it is needed. That will be their greatest impetus in grooming them into well-rounded individuals.



Tomorrow: Wednesday, October 15: Family – Ambika Srivastava and Ajit Thakur



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