Monday, February 24, 2020

Consumers & Advertising

In my new role at Levista Coffee, I have a dual role to play in Sales & Marketing. While Sales is something I have been on to almost every day of my 23 years’ in Retailing, Marketing is an even more interesting and close-to the heart subject which precedes my Sales experience. Right from college days (and even before as a curious consumer), I have always wondered why Companies market their products if it’s Sales worthy. In fact, it’s an old adage that a great product doesn’t need Advertising. This doesn’t hold good for any product or service in today’s context (and perhaps, even for people given how Mr. Trump & Mr. Modi promoted their agendas at Motera Stadium). So, any business needs Marketing and Consumer facing businesses need a tad more. A lot more rather, with the increasing and insane competition.


As I have been talking to Heads of various media businesses ranging from GEC Channels to Entertainment, News Channels to Spirituality, I have been able to decipher the needs of Media consumers and thought I should write about it briefly. In my opinion, Consumers have three key characteristics – Gossip, Anxiety and Greed. The programs with highest TRPs are Soaps (Tele-Serials), Reality Shows and News Debates. No wonder that they fit in to the three-key human characteristics.

Tele-Serials are all about gossip. The characters in the play gossip and play truant against one another. This vicious cycle goes on for weeks. Contrary to many people who think that Serial scripts are pre-decided and are usually written like film scripts, no they are not. Script Writers change the storyline every few weeks based on audience reaction as well as, wait “BARC Data” which ultimately announce TRPs! So much so, that Script Writers are even replaced by the TV channels / Producers should they wish to. 


As consumers (serial-viewers) love this “gossip” quality of others and themselves, they get hooked to the screens, small and ultra-small ones (almost all Tv Channels have OTTs now to view on Mobiles). So are the News Channels which have more debate-style programs than actual News Reading sessions. No matter how loud a motor-mouth he or she is, the audience love their Anchors! And that’s what raises their popularity and the program’s ratings, after all.

Reality Shows build anxiety, be it KBC-styled quizzes or Box-styled houses that prison inmates for 100 days or even Music Performances which have elimination rounds where even normal looking Musicians outperform their onscreen persona with inimitable hyper histrionics. So is it with Cookery shows or task based programs, especially ones that involve NCC-type arduous tasks in real life situations. Nerkonda Paarvai, the show hosted by Ms. Lakshmi Ramakrishnan began with a bang on 24 Feb. 2020, this time on Kalaignar Tv and is sure to rock TRPs. 


Lastly, greed. Media Consumers want more of what they already watch. With an estimated 10+ Regional General Entertainment Channels in over 10 top Indian languages and almost a similar number in mainstream Hindi, the audience is spoilt for choice with the need to make more time to watch these serials, even while on the move (on OTTs) or on YouTube rehashes. 

Surprisingly, spiritual programs such as temple information or horoscope reading have low TRPs, rather lower viewership. Maybe consumers feel God doesn’t have much to do with their greed, anxiety or gossip. Probably. But Advertisers like us have our customer profiles cracked. We know what and when they watch, so we feed them what they love. So, they ultimately visit a retail store or a website / app and order our stuff. I seem to have been in the most exciting part of my career which I think is yet to begin. Honestly.