Podcasts will soon become popular in India

Prof. Seema Gupta, IIM Bangalore, opines that in the future, users may turn to voice and visual searches. So, the future marketing strategy will have to be more immersive & experiential. Strategies like gamification, the use of apps and podcasts will become popular marketing tools.

Prof. Seema Gupta

IBT:  What are digital natives and digital immigrants in your opinion? What were the factors that led to their growth over the years? How has COVID-19 impacted the social media consumption among these groups?

Prof. Seema Gupta: Digital natives refer to people born in the digital age, i.e. after 1980’s; while digital immigrants refer to those individuals before the digital age. The former doesn’t have any fear or mental barriers to the adoption of technology and are willing to experiment. The latter fear technology and are skeptical to using technology. They need hand-holding when it comes to using technology and doing things like making online payments, using apps and so forth.

Increasing digital penetration has been instrumental to the rise of these two categories of population over the years. This is because companies like Jio have given access to people to internet services with their pocket friendly data packs and smartphones are becoming cheaper.

The onset of COVID-19 left individuals with no choice but to acquaint themselves with technology as it became indispensable. Moreover, there is an understanding that going forward, the use of technology is only going to grow. So, it expedited the speed of adoption of technology because people had to acclimatize themselves to new realities like work from home, virtual meetings and online classes, e-payments, etc. This exposure made them realize how useful technology can be – in terms of saving time & cost and enhancing efficiency – in their day to day lives.

IBT:  While there existed a significant number of digital natives prior to the pandemic, the number of digital immigrants has burgeoned of late. What impact will this (-rising popularity of social media and digitization) have on consumer behaviour?

Prof. Seema Gupta:  The pandemic has definitely led to an increase in the number of people adopting a digital way of life. This is having an impact on consumer behaviour. For instance, now people are likely to do more online shopping than visiting markets & malls. Within online shopping, they will search for their favourite brands and desired products, compare various alternatives and place online orders, as is evident in the fact that e-commerce is booming, after the pandemic. At the same time, social buying (i.e. buying a product based on the reviews of one’s family & friends and other customers) will also surge.

Taking note of the upsurge in online presence of their prospective customers, the marketeers will also enhance their online presence. They will start spending more money on their ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Eventually, as marketeers rush to these channels in a bid to leverage their target audience, the cost of advertising on them is also bound to rise. So, after 6 months/a year, paid ads will also become more expensive.

At the same time, more online content will be generated. Audio-visual content will become powerful. People may also turn to podcasts because unlike videos it requires less bandwidth, people are used to the headphone culture and it can allow one to multitask. So, the use of voice through digital assistants like Siri & Alexa will increase. Also, things like free trials/subscriptions (e.g. Netflix), gift vouchers (e.g. Amazon) and cash backs (e.g. Paytm) will become popular in order to attract digital immigrants. But, it will increase addiction among people because it is a known fact that social media usage releases a pleasure hormone called dopamine among people. So, the time spent online will rise. This could potentially lead to mental health issues. Also, customer care will shift online because people can tweet their grievances and get instant responses.

IBT:  How can brands leverage technologies like AI & ML to gain insights into consumer behaviour?

Prof. Seema Gupta: Artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used for price discovery and bidding needed in paid aids. AI automates the process of bidding and allows several players to participate. Technology will determine which brand’s ads should be shown based on how relevant the targeting is, the quality of ad and the amount of money that a brand bids.

Secondly, AI will power targeting through predictive modelling & algorithms. AI will figure out the audience which is likely to buy a particular product based on their past purchases and showcase the ad to them. In traditional marketing, one may not know who is likely to buy a particular product.

Thirdly, it allows messaging to be automated. Thus, based on the user’s query and a brand’s website, Google will automatically generate dynamic search ads. An example of this is that when we go to Amazon and add a product to the cart, but don’t buy it, that product will show up on Facebook.

Fourthly, almost 80% of the websites are using chatbots. People don’t mind using these chatbots because they get instant responses to their queries.

IBT:  What different marketing strategies do brands need to evolve to reach out to digital natives and migrants? What new age innovations can brands resort to in order to enhance their customer engagement?

Prof. Seema Gupta: The attention span of people is decreasing. So, brands may have to release ads based on games or release an app which is engaging. The future marketing strategy will be more immersive & experiential. Users may turn to voice and visual searches like clicking a picture and uploading it on Google Lens to find information, instead of typing. So, user-generated content will increase and brands will have to cocreate content with users.

IBT:  How can marketers adapt their teams, mind-sets and processes to meet changing consumer preferences while defending their businesses from both traditional and new competitors?

Prof. Seema Gupta: Technology is no longer an option but a necessity. So, business heads have to overcome the inertia towards digital marketing. They have to come out of their comfort zones and reskill themselves. This experience will be like walking in the fog; traditional businesses have to start walking the talk. Then they will figure out themselves what works for them and take the risks involved. So, the mindset to experiment with new things needs to evolve.

IBT: Given the consumer-choice overload, it’s increasingly difficult to win and hold their attention. In such a scenario, how can brands evolve creative content to maximize customer engagement and their ROI?

Prof. Seema Gupta: The marketing strategy has to be experiential and immersive rather than passive. The content has to be bite sized because the attention span is only 5 seconds. Video content will become more powerful because it is more engaging. Lastly, brands have to come up with creative ideas such as custom applications on Facebook.

Prof Seema Gupta is an associate professor of Digital Marketing at IIM Bangalore. She is the author of book “Digital Marketing” published by McGraw, 2017. She conducts digital marketing training and provides digital marketing consulting for companies. She is a visiting faculty at Esan University, Peru and Egade University, Mexico.

She is the winner of the prestigious EFMD Best Global Case Writing Award for 2011 and ISB-IVEY Best Case award 2011. She has published in reputed international journals and presented papers in international conferences. She has written case studies on interesting marketing issues in leading companies such as Volkswagen, Bosch, Park Hotels, DDB Mudra, Nielsen etc and they are listed on Harvard business publishing portal. She is often quoted in leading newspapers such as Times of India, Brand Equity, Financial Express, Rajasthan Patrika for her views on marketing.

She has more than 18 years of combined work experience in corporate and academia. She started her career at RPG Ricoh, in sales and marketing and thereafter moved to academics. She worked with Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad before joining IIM Bangalore.

She writes blog articles on latest developments in digital marketing www.profseema.com and also runs her Youtube channel with video tutorials on digital marketing www.youtube.com/c/ProfSeemaGupta

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