30 October 2014

Like Mum, Like Daughter

By Shaziya Khan, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT Mumbai) 

Brands can get closer to women consumers by helping them nurture their goals of financial freedom

There are charming quotations. There is fierce emotion. There are tender moments of unspoken understanding.

On the topic of mothers and daughters, there is, in short, endless and timeless poetry.

The slant of this piece though, is different.

One that revolves less around emotional dependence and more around financial independence. There is a new story bursting through consumer research.

Mothers and daughters, we learn, from a JWT study of (March 2014 online survey of women SEC A, B) have a common dream: Of financial independence.

A top goal of approximately 42 per cent of women in their 30s and 40s is to be financially independent. Nearly one in two mums is nurturing not just her home, her family and her children but also her own desire to be financially her own mistress. In the wake of this dream follow related ones such as wanting to advance her career (40 per cent), open her own business (36 per cent) and travel the world (45 per cent). As well as buy a home (37 per cent) and a car (36 per cent).

Thus, women today are seeking an independent financial infrastructure that supports their mobility, flexibility and freedom. Some of their key personal duties done, they are seeking to flex their professional talents and skills beyond the home sphere, step out into the world and earn their financial independence.

But that is only half the story. These women are surrounded by, and possibly raising, the next generation of women that dream alike.

Women in their early 20s are citing financial independence as a top goal too (65 per cent). 'Girls just wanna have fun' now comes with some definitive ideas of what's involved, including career advancement (61 per cent), opening own business (47 per cent), travelling the world (42 per cent), buying a home (49 per cent) and buying a car (50 per cent).

Interestingly a few of these financial goals take precedence over getting married (51 per cent). Getting married remains a top life goal - a 'suitable boy' matters, of course! But 'suitable career' comes first.

Young women are stepping out into the world driven by clear-headed wishes for financial independence. That they are today supported by mums who share the same dream implies incredible support, drive and understanding to help achieve their financial goals. (And possibly, provide wise counsel, to each other.). Across all age groups, a whopping 85 per cent women believed that having a career defines a 'successful woman' today.

Younger women (20-24 years), when asked, 'Thinking about your generation compared to your mothers, which of the following do you think have been most influential for women? ' cited opportunities for work and career (53 per cent) and financial independence/spending power (43 per cent) as the most influential drivers for change for women.

Mothers and daughters have a common dream, of financial independence.

This dream offers a relevant platform for brands to play significant roles in the lives of mothers and daughters in support of their financial independence and spending power. Ranging from enabler, educator, cheer leader, catalyst, re-inforcer, call to action. And needless to say, sponsor or benefactor. What's more, if the ladies insist on giving a treat or two, don't be surprised! They've been wishing to do so for two generations.

This article was first published in Hindu Business Line July 4th, 2014

Across the economy, shoppers rich and poor seek value

By Shaziya Khan, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT Mumbai) 

Budget used to mean cheap. Expensive used to mean classy. The world was divided into cheapskates and spendthrifts. But the old definitions no longer apply. Budget or value is the new smart. (And expensive is the new stupid). Budget spells not only good value for money, but also pretty good quality. Words like accessible, experiential, affordable and hip describe the new value. The new value consumer rejects excess in favor of responsible spending. Modern India’s enormous geographic, demographic and economic shifts drove this revised perception of value. It’s apparent everywhere:

  • In the long queues during holiday time, at the budget airline counters, where evidently the upper crust, who travel premium class on business, find it perfectly acceptable to travel budget class on vacation.
  • With the woman who has the savvy to wait and buy the latest IT gadget after it’s on sale, or the teen owner of the trendy phone who figured a way to buy it cheaper from the US or Singapore or online from FlipKart.
  • From street vendors selling designer label merchandise almost as soon as designers produce it, and from fashion forward street customers who expect no less.

Above all, value means smartness, experiential savvy and cultural cool. There is a new language and set of meanings around value. We call them the five new smart codes of value.

1.   Opportunity in the smart name As the mass market evolves it requires new names to describe the changes. These names include: the value segment, the strivers, the aspirers, the emerging markets, or even masstige. These names are laced with opportunity and panache earlier reserved for the premium end of the market. The term value now signals inclusiveness and respect, not just low price.

2.   The importance of smart timing Among the many factors that drive purchasing today, timing predominates. Consumers and marketers are engaged in a game played in the world of buzz and WOM (Word of Mouth). It’s a world when certain days or weeks, magical time zones, combined with incentives, persuade consumers to spend. The game includes whatever incentives work, such as 25 percent or even 70 percent off, free add-ons, cheaper flights on weekdays and for off-season holidays, frequent flyer points, coupons and interest-free loans. But what works today may not work tomorrow because in value, as in humor, timing is everything.

3.   The smartness of playing one offer against another A generation that just a few decades ago first tasted the sweet life of credit has evolved to a more savvy thrill. It’s learned that playing one option against another provides the satisfaction of winning a superior deal. Comparison-shopping reigns! Excel sheets, charts and even apps that help make comparisons are everywhere – from insurance packages and hotel rates to telecom options and employment offers. The catch phrase of this buyer’s market is, Kitna doge? How much will you give? Squeezing out the best buy is the new normal. Service providers, vendors, sales agents, loan officers, even long-time business partners or potential employers are not exceptions.

4.   Being responsible and understated is now smart The benefits of value go beyond the transactional and include the relational or emotional. Post-recession prudence has made value conscious thinking not just permissible but almost aspirational and responsible. Down trading, down sizing, down traveling, down housing, down anything has acquired new age minimalist cachet and approval. Value is associated with responsibility, focus, and even social sensitivity. Bling and showing off has made way for more muted, understated purchase behavior. Package lunches, group discounts, cloth carry bags, local instead of foreign holidays, redemption coupons all point to the responsibility associated with being value conscious.

5.   Smart, accessible design leads the way Value consciousness has unleashed a burst of creative design solutions. There is a promising segment, across categories, which focuses on providing premium yet accessible quality. It celebrates the good life – for all. Inclusive, edgy and driving volume, this segment attracts the hottest talent, significant investor support and the most innovative designs. Whether in hospitality, home décor, travel, fashion, personal care, technology, music or the environment, accessible design solutions lead the way.

The new meaning of value is a fascinating shift. Because it operates at several levels, it has set in motion a virtuous cycle. This follows from a sense of entitlement, brought on via exposure and experience. Once consumers have tasted a “happy meal” they feel entitled to similar happy experiences in other purchases. Experience raises expectations and entitlement and it sharpens the skills needed to fulfill new aspirations.

This article was first published in BrandZ India 2014 report.

21 May 2014

How Social Media turned the general election into easily digestible bytes?

By Sumeer Mathur, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT Gurgaon)

Did you see that slap Kejriwal got? Did you see Modi’s mistake toffee for trophy? Did you see the Azam khan clip on his views on rape? Or, Arnab’s take on Rahul Gandhi? 

Campaigning in Indian general election of 2014 has been about poking fun at each other, showing opponent in bad light, witty tweets and laughable comments. Taking the focus away from issues and debates, a lot of real conversation on social media has been confined to discussing the digital content and not the candidate or the facts and figures. 

Sumeer Mathur discusses digital electioneering and its limited influence on decision making. For the complete article, please visit http://www.exchange4media.mobi/story.aspx?news_id=55730&section_id=4

The article was first published on exchange4media (May 15, 2014)

18 February 2014

Translating trends for brands

By Shaziya Khan, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT Mumbai) 

Brand custodians are reviewing 2014 trends.
It’s time.
To step back.
Listen, see, absorb, ponder.
The emerging developments in consumers lives.
The shifts in world thought.
The angularities in choices, the dilemmas of modern living.
Read them, noted them, highlighted a few.
Great. Now what?
A trend report is not a foreign language class.
But it can nevertheless leave one wondering… how do I translate all this? For example, remixing tradition is great. Umm… what now?
The question, in other words, is how to translate trends? Into brands? Into teams? Into life?
A starting point is – translate a trend you relate most to, into behaviour, into symbol and into meaning.

1. Translate trend into behaviour.
Adopt it. Embrace it. Own it. Live it.
For instance, speaking visual is a key trend. (From a global JWT report: JWT 10 trends for 2014 and beyond is based on proprietary research across developed markets and the BRICS)
Whereby photos, videos, and other imagery is supplanting text. Sixty-eight per cent of the millennials agree that visuals are more powerful than text. Mobile photography, and 350 million FB photos uploaded daily point to a high visual skew in present times.
If images are the new story telling medium that people related to, according to the Huffington Post, how can we make them our story telling medium more and more?
Visuals only consumer home visit reports. Hmm?
Re-imagine a brand key (or main brand document) entirely with pictures or videos.
Re-think a brand’s visual aesthetic
Re-train teams to become more visually literate.
This is just one illustration, but you get the…uh picture.

2. Translate trend into symbol.
Trends matter as a sign of the times.
Signs, badges, symbols, colours, and icons subtly show that brands have affinity and connectedness with the bigger picture. Be it fashion/ environment/ humankind symbols signal being in step with the times. For example, in step with fashion via the colour of the season – such as coral. In step with a purpose such as recycling, charity, partnership, awareness, and protection.
Translating trends into symbols makes a non-verbal statement of connection to the big picture, happily often branding the holder, in the eyes of others, as trendy. At least, on the surface, at least for the moment.

3. Translate trend into meaning.
A third, and most exciting, aspect of ‘translating’ trends is reading the meaning behind them.
Asking what lies beneath the surface.
Like the question behind the question.
If coral was the (outer) symbol, can one set out to connect the dots between different data to see the key value underneath – for instance, personal liberty?
If it is all about better deals from flights to meals, do we see a shift in the meaning of value itself from cheap/ budget to smart ‘n’ savvy? We do, by the way (and more on that later).
Translating trends to spotlight, the shift in purpose and values they imply, matters more than we can imagine.
Brands with a purpose and that are values-led over time are going to be by definition more successful – Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever.
Translating trends into behaviour, symbols, meaning is a starting point for brands and their custodians. Trends are precious as glimpses of ‘what’s going on’ and what to do about it.
Mind your…trend.

The article was first published on exchange4media.com  (6th Feb, 2014)

11 February 2014

Building a well rounded brand persona

By Shaziya Khan, VP & Executive Planning Director (JWT Mumbai) 

The softening of relationships happens over little things. Unexpectedly, beautifully! Someone likes the same music you do, for instance, Farida Khanum. And a tiresome car ride through traffic turns into an animated chat, interspersed with hum-alongs. Tough minded strangers meeting in tense situations, find a surprising area to relate to...World War II authors. And in a similar vein, post cards, Picasso, Pablo Neruda, charcoal sketches.

These are just a few of the zillion real connectors that come to mind. In each case, something shifts in how people relate to each other, when they have the same sensibility, artistically speaking. It is especially reassuring in the creative industries. Providing context, point of reference and ultimately, trust and faith in their creative judgements.

Artistic traditions of India teach us that every person must practice, at least one, ideally more, of the seven arts or kalas, it is all part of being a well rounded persona. Providing channels for creativity, freshness and curiosity. And as we do that, we find relations within and without, growing, being nurtured and softening.

As with people, so with brands. The latest data on effectiveness from the IPA proves over a longitudinal study that advertising, coupled with PR and sponsorships, is the way to create the most effective bonds that stand over time. Too many brand discussions, however, especially on sponsorships and PR, are a short term point of view on costs, benefits of ‘properties’.

Useful as that is, there needs to be a deeper appreciation of brands, building a well rounded persona, and thereby nurturing bonds. Of brands actively evolving from the transactional to the relational both for their own sake, and for others. For near and dear ones (loyal consumers), as well as acquaintances (potential, influential consumers). And continuing to do so over a lifetime.

Metaphorically speaking, does your brand also sing? Or dance? Or play a musical instrument? Or sculpt? Or write? Or do theatre? Or paint? Is your brand nurturing at least one of the kalas actively? Via advertising, PR or sponsorship? One in which it has a genuine interest, and fit? There are no classes (shortcut) in class, just the great kalas to actively nurture and appreciate over a lifetime.

John Ruskin said it best, “there can be no beauty without truth”.

The article was first published on exchange4media.com  (Jan 9, 2014)

06 February 2014

What's cool?

By Bhaskar Thakur, Strategic Planning Director (JWT, Gurgaon)

Youth don’t buy stuff; they buy what stuff does for them.

“What’s cool?” Is not a list of cool youth trends but an effort to analyze what makes some things cool and how a trend ‘catches on’.

Is content dead, and context the new king?
Is spirituality the ultimate cool, is perversion becoming mainstream and is ugly becoming beautiful?

JWT identifies 1o themes to look at the ‘hit’ content and understand the context that makes it cool.

From vodka eyeballing to religion without rituals and from silent discos to stitchtagrams and instaprints… the report looks at branded manifestations, subcultures and motivations for such behavior.

For the full report, please write to bhaskar.thakur@jwt.com   


Created and compiled by Arshi Ansari, Account Planning Manager and Sarahana Sanchay, Account Planner (JWT, Gurgaon)


Steered by Mythili Chandrasekar, SVP & Exec. Planning Director (JWT, Gurgaon)

Indian advertising has always had whiter shirts, bigger cars, better food on the table. Is the neighbor's envy syndrome hitting the Indian family as a unit? As Indian families get more progressive, are they also becoming more comparative, competitive, creative?

We pick the brains of JWT planners collective, eavesdrop on families around us, do an extensive scan of media reports, track programming and compile 50 CHANGE MARKERS...

Take a look. And, let's get together to talk- add, comment, build, discuss implications, and opportunities for our brands. 

For the full report, please write to mythili.chandrasekar@jwt.com   

05 February 2014

Sex, Quaaludes and Rock 'n‘ Roll

By Anvar Alikhan, Senior V.P. & Strategic Consultant (JWT Mindset)

The saga of the wonder drug pioneered by Indian scientists  that was copy-catted by the global pharma companies, became an international block-buster, went rogue, and ended up (whew!) fuelling 'The Wolf of Wall Street’s' outrageous behavior….

The article was first appeared in the Economic Times (Jan 26, 2014).