New Delhi: Head of insights and captivation at Starcom MediaVest Group, Asia, and behind the study titled How the Slowdown is Affecting Asian Consumers, Joanna Vonfelkerzam offers her take on the findings relating to India and lists lessons marketeers can benefit from in the coming year. Edited excerpts:
With the economy looking up, are the effects of the slowdown still visible in consumer buying patterns in India?
Communication strategy: Vonfelkerzam says television is still very strong in India but there is a lot of clutter for marketeers in the country where they are constantly battling for consumer mindspace. Rajkumar / Mint
Going by the results of Intentrack, our weekly tracking of consumer behaviour, the slowdown is not over for consumers because they are still making significant trade-offs here in India and the rest of Asia. Take the shampoo category, for instance. Consumers in India have shifted from individual to household purchases and traded down from core brand choices to cheaper brands. Even the consumer electronics category has seen a drop in the intent to purchase premium television sets while the mid-tier TV sets have remained stable.
There has been a decrease in the number of sign-ups in telecom, too. While Indian consumers have remained relatively insulated through the slowdown, they are still making planned decisions which will get them the most cost-effective solutions.
Apart from trade-offs in consumer products, how has consumer behaviour been affected?
People are increasingly going on “staycations”, and by this we mean people are opting to stay in more but they are still escaping to social network sites where they are getting their share of interaction and conversation.
The slowdown has also curtailed international travel but people still want to enjoy communal time so local travel has grown. In India pilgrimages have been driven by the slowdown as people turn to faith and religion for good luck in such trying times. Indian consumers have also become more superstitious and depend on age-old sciences such as astrology and numerology, and indulge in more donations to deities rather than charitable donations to society.
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What’s your advice to marketeers for their 2010 communication strategy in India?
Nearly everyone you see on the street here owns a mobile phone, so there will definitely be a lot more conversation around mobile marketing. In China, there has been a similar uptake in mobile and consumers there check everything including all product information on their phones. In India, too, the growth in urban as well as rural India is a great opportunity for marketeers.
The Internet, too, is growing in India but unlike China, in India the whole one-stop shop solutions in the digital space is yet to catch on. Marketeers still have to see if the role of the digital space works for their brand.
Television is still very strong in India but there is a lot of clutter for marketeers here where they are constantly battling for consumer mindspace.
Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint