30 April 2013

18.3 and Under, The Changing Mosaic of South India

A recent study by JWT, India titled “18.3 and Under, The Changing Mosaic of South India” led by Navonil Chatterjee (Vice President & Executive Planning Director, JWT) breaks some of the deep rooted myths about Southern India and highlights the untapped potential of India’s southern states - Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The report title “18.3 and Under” is a name inspired by Southern India’s northernmost tip called Srikakulam.

According to Bindu Sethi, Chief strategy officer, JWT, no longer is it enough to insert a south Indian family in your campaign to make it 'work' for the southern market. Marketers must truly understand that there's more to the south than idli, dosa and IIT.

These South Indian states not only have average literacy rates of 73% while the national average rests at a modest 60% but are also home to top 10 Indian cities by GDP.  The study conducively presents 9 themes that marketers and brands should look at to connect with South India.

1.      PROUDLY SOUTH - National brands ought to tap into this 'South-proud' sentiment and avoid 'language adaptation'. Portraying South Indians as world beaters, acknowledging and rewarding Southern excellence in relevant fields, depicting one-upmanship over North, choosing Southern celebrities as national brand ambassadors, etc. are some of the ways for brands to resonate with South India.

2.      TRENDING TRADITIONS - Brands can connect by giving a contemporary twist to established South Indian traditions or by providing digestible capsules of tradition and taking the tedium out of traditions. Southern brands can do this to revamp their brand imagery and appear in sync with times, while national brands can adopt this fusion to demonstrate their understanding of the South and their desire to connect with it.

3.      THE SQ ICING - Brands can be positioned and sold on looks, style and aesthetics as well. Also the stereotypes are to be avoided: An ad for a brand in the North features the model in western clothes while its Southern version features the model with Jasmine-in-hair and as a saree clad mami.

4.      CELEBRATING COOLAVERI - Southern Chic today is a wave that spans across art, fashion, entertainment, apparel, etc. and could provide a great opportunity for lifestyle brands. At its best, it will help brands to make the statement that South is the New Cool.

5.      BOLD EXPERIMENTATION - The region is a hot-bed of experimentation across disciplines. Brands should highlight the risk-taking face of the new South Indian Or launch bold, new, experimentative products to encourage and invite experimentation from its consumers.

6.      SOCIAL CHANGE - Here exists an opportunity for brands to direct that anger into something positive - to question, challenge and raise awareness about issues, both national and unique to the region.

7.      (DON'T JUST SHOW), TELL ME WHY- South Indian pride in its intellectual superiority is still very much intact. Brands will therefore still need to offer clear pay-offs and give consumers valid reasons on why they should choose them. Complementing the consumer on his or her 'smart choice' is an old trick that will still appeal to consumers down South.

8.      HUMBLE SPEAKING - Riches and fame must co-exist with humility. Brands should therefore stay away from overt displays of opulence, do more and talk less, and stay humble. This should also influence the tone and manner brands adopt in their communication.

9.      CHARACTER NOT DHEELA - Brands who want to resonate with the South will benefit from telling stories that exemplify strength of character. A lot of South based brands use communication platforms that reflect strength, quality, trust, honesty. For instance, Kalyan Jewellers' tagline is 'Trust, isn't that everything?'

The study was published in 

For more details on complete study, please write to navonil.chatterjee@jwt.com

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