Advertising In India – Adapting, Innovating, While Old Trends Intact

Posted on March 6, 2011 in Media


By Rijuta Gupta:

Advertising is about striking the right note on those chords of the brain that most often are in sync with the heart. When this happens, a need is generated and brain directs to buy, be it a product or a service or an idea. Indian advertising too follows this rule but here age-old advertising trends are still thriving along with the latest innovative trends.

Advertising started with the need to sell, and word-of-mouth advertising was the oldest mode to advertise; with the advent of social media it again has become a focal point of advertising. Social media has also altered the trend of one-way flow of information to interactive sessions where consumers have also become a part of the process. So instead of being force-fed advertisements, users are now getting empowered to choose.

Internet has revolutionized the advertisement world. It has introduced international trends and made them more acceptable, especially in urban centres. Also, it is one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise. Though internet accessibility is increasing in India but a vast percentage of population is not yet exposed to it. Newer technologies have shifted focus from mass promotions to target marketing. Use of plastic money provides information on spending habits of consumers. Internet helps in tracking individuals’ interests. Opinion polls, television rating techniques and audience profiling leads to specific targeting of niche customers. This precision marketing is cost-effective and consumer is getting proactively involved due to importance given to his feedbacks.

Today we don’t like giving a single minute from our time to advertisements whenever we have a choice to do so. We surf channels while watching television or listening to radio. We don’t waste time in opening unwanted emails. “Do not call registry” has given us option to stay away from telemarketers. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t like advertisements. With increasing spending power and more available options advertisement industry has much to provide. They simply have to remain on their toes to constantly satiate consumers’ changing sensibilities and sensitivities. Embedded ads during programs, some of which are woven in stories itself is one such example of changing times. Shorter, smarter, and wittier advertisements, which are believable and specific, are replacing exaggerated advertisements.

But nothing could replace jingles from Indian ads! Occasion-based advertisements have been introduced in big way for which new occasions are created and older ones are reinvented. When we were kids we used to celebrate Republic Day and Independence Day but we never had merchandisers to come up with so many products to sell. Dhanteras and Akshaya Tritiya are well utilized by marketers. Present generation is more aware of these festivals than the previous one and no one is complaining! Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Daughter’s Day and all such days were never heard of a decade back. Even days to put across social messages are included in this long list and advertised on vast scale. If we put cynicism aside for a while and separate consumerism from this, it has reintroduced celebrations in our lives.

With the changing times – there are noticeable cultural changes in our advertisements. Not all of these changes are progressive. Advertisements are commoditizing every emotion and confusing young minds that fail to segregate information. Kids are more often targeted these days for all kinds of products, which reflect changing social scenario. Kids are not only influencing spending patterns but are getting more demanding with increased consumerism.

Everyone is confused on what they really need. Some insurance companies still portrays that insurance is needed for son’s education and daughter’s marriage and nobody notices. Though not all ads projects our society but few such ads make us see the real picture of ourselves. We still have miles to go before we can actually say that ours is a progressive society. Instead of reacting when a female sitting judge of Supreme Court listed her daughter’s marriage as liability, we need to convey right message constantly. There are undoubtedly many barriers which have been broken in recent times. Gender divide has softened in our advertisements. Though traditions haven’t lost their place but new values too are welcomed. Here special mention to Government advertisements is very important. These ads have most of the times struck the balanced note in conveying their messages in a convincing manner without having overzealous tones.

In India, television, radio, newspapers, pamphlets and billboards are still a good bet. Viral marketing and direct mailers too are registering their presence. Youth may choose newer modes and there could be a rural-urban divide, but majority population in India still look for traditional modes of advertisements. Not just billboards but advertisements on walls while travelling on highways is a common sight. Along with all these exists our good old bhopu i.e. loudspeaker, which city dwellers do not miss but they play an important role in many canvassing in rural areas.

Whether it is a celebrity who is promoting or a mere mortal, Indians want value for their money. Some of them might have learnt to spend without analysis but majority of them want ads to convey whether the product is worth their attention. Serve them well and reap the rewards.

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