“We are going through a period of unprecedented change. I have been tracking the Indian consumer for 22 years now. I started as a marketer selling Maggi noodles and what I see today is a period we’ve never seen before," said Nimisha Jain, Managing Director and Partner of the Boston Consulting Group. “Today, 12% of Indian households are affluent. They make an annual household income of greater than 10 lakh. These households already account for 35% of consumption in the country. Over the next decade, they will account for two-thirds of the consumption in the country. Knowing how to win over them is going to be critical," she added.

The ninth episode of HT Brand Studio Live, Season 2, had industry stalwarts like Jain discussing about the convergence of India and Bharat, which has given rise to a ‘new Bharat’.

HT Brand Studio Live is a series that gets the brains behind India’s top brands to decode marketing innovations and more. It is anchored by Rameet Arora, Chief Operating Officer, HT Digital Streams, and co-hosted by HT Brand Studio and DMAasia.

For Dheeraj Sinha, MD, India and Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett - South Asia, a new Bharat is more of “an attitude than a demography".

“We are seeing a very unapologetic, almost an arrogant kind of India emerge from the underfolds of Bharat. Most narratives in India were derived and run by a very small, privileged, and advantaged minority. What we are seeing now, in the last five-six years, is a huge disadvantaged majority rising up," he said.

He also believes that while Indians are evolving in their tastes and preferences, they are still greatly rooted in their culture and traditions. “We are changing but we are taking traditions with us. In marketing and advertising, we are selling so much basis Indian pride," added Sinha.

Most marketers believe that it is ‘digital’ that has completely transformed the face of India, but according to Archana Aggarwal - VP - Media, Airtel, each platform has its own role to play. She also emphasised on TV as a medium that is still relevant in this day and age.

“Television still continues to play a very large role in even talking to the new Bharat. Approximately 92% homes are still single TV homes, out of which, 82% watch TV as a family. TV is here to stay - I don’t see TV dying," said Aggarwal.

She added, “Digital is supposed to be the most measurable medium, but it is actually the most unmeasurable medium. There are several walled gardens. So, I can’t look at the consumer journey from one platform to the second platform. There are innumerable metrics to measure in digital, while television has one metric."

For brands all over the world, it is about getting the pulse of the audience, and that’s exactly what it boils down to. Puneet Das, Vice President - Marketing, India, Tata Global Beverages, believes that while product insights are important, it is “about really understanding regional insights, cultural contexts, and connecting with your audience."

Unlike the advertising of yore, “today, advertising is about fitting into the world of consumers; it is about mirroring their beliefs and aspirations," he added.

The nature of communication is not just about giving information these days; it’s about having a point of view and working with the consumers. But trust in a brand is of utmost importance, whether it’s in the fitness sphere or otherwise.

Nikhil Kakkar, COO, Gold’s Gym India, said, “In India, fitness is still perceived as a luxury and not a lifestyle. Not even 1% of the population goes to the gym. There are some changes that I have seen in the last four to five years - the new uber class is not just looking at just cardio and strength training, but also new forms of workout."

At the end of the day, all that matters is what your consumers like, but hyper-localisation is a pivotal aspect. “You have to customise the product - in a metro, when you set up a gym, it takes 3 crore. You can’t replicate the same business model in small towns, because the dynamics, population density and penetration are different. Based on our experience of 17 years, we have curated different formats," he added.

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