Facebook ads and pesky pop-ups. Billboards and SMS sales pitch. The Indian middle-class consumer is bombarded by no less than 2,000 commercial messages a day.
If you are an Indian middle-class consumer,then you are the one they want. You are a constant target,eternally on their radar. The possibilities are that you havent noticed their overbearing presence yet,or have begun to feel uncomfortable under the relentless glare; unless,of course,you like the attention being lavished on you.
According to estimates from advertisers,there are over 10,000 brands either aggressively hounding you or quietly trailing you every hour of the day. Their messages are everywhere inside your living room via the idiot box,in the newspaper you spend your mornings with,on the FM radio in your car. They have crept into the message box of your phone,they stare at you from bus stands and Metro stations,they are on the back of train tickets and at restaurants and petrol pumps. They are strategically placed to influence you when you are about to make a buy at malls,multiplexes and departmental stores. Many mobile marketing companies offer to pay for your text messages if you allow them to embed their commercial information alongside.
Depending on their profile,a regular urban consumer sees anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 commercial messages a day, says Shripad Nadkarni,a strategic marketing consultant,and founder and managing director of MarketGate Consulting.
The ubiquity of advertising is the result of two factors. One,the increase in the number of brands eyeing the ballooning wallet of the Indian middle-class consumer. Two,the evolving technology that is giving consumers more platforms to remain in touch with the world outside, says Naresh Gupta,director,strategic planning,Dentsu Marcom,the media-buying arm of marketing communications group Dentsu India.
It is the fear of getting lost in the clutter,specially on traditional platforms such as TV,that is forcing marketers to seek newer avenues of reaching consumers. Everything that is likely to come into a consumers contact is a medium to reach them, says Gupta.This bombardment is a need and a compulsion.
Besides,these so-called non-traditional platforms are cheaper to ride,compared with regular mediums. The difference in ad rates of TV or print and off-beat mediums ranges between 50 per cent and 200 per cent, says Gupta.
Cheaper access,however,doesnt mean only small brands with mean budgets resort to these tactics. Big boys,including big-budget advertisers such as Hindustan Unilever (makers of brands such as Lifebuoy,Lakme,Sunsilk and Lux),Nestle (Maggi noodles,Kit Kat chocolates),car makers such as Maruti Suzuki,Hyundai and Hero Honda,retailers such as Big Bazaar and Pantaloon,are also in the game.
Catching the consumer off guard is another trigger for these innovations. People like to know but they dont like being told, says Nadkarni. So a message that doesnt come across as a sales pitch is likely to be absorbed with less resistance.
You are wrong if you thought the logo on your favourite cricketers T-shirt or the expensive wrist watch worn by a film star was just a coincidence. Many savvy marketers,in fact,go to the extent of gifting or loaning their premium wares,such as handbags and shoes,to celebrities who then flaunt them in their public appearances.
Then,there is a fairly established practice of branded content in TV shows and films,where brands are woven into the story in such a way that they seem to be part of the plot. And even though you do not realise it,they quietly break into your mind space.
You may not,thus,know why you found a particular brand more appealing while buying your groceries from the neighborhood department store.