02 September 2006

What's changing...

Changes in consumer behaviour are also a result of technology: its introduction and its application. Apart from everyday technology-based products such as TV, quartz watches, computers, home videos, microwave ovens, mobilephones, digital cameras, etc. which have changed our lifestyle in the last 30 years, it is digital technology that has really revolutionised the way we do things and live our lives.

The first major change came with TV and the news and entertainment it offered. It offered an audio-visual format like film through which we could find out what’s happening in the world around us. Even beyond. TV expanded our world as consumers, creating desires for more and more products and services by actively stimulating the aural and visual senses. As much of the TV viewing was done by the family together (as it is still done to a large extent in a country like India), a brand could reach out to the entire family, pass on its message, and speed up the decision-making process for buying.

Of course, things have changed. Many families have more than one TV set at home and much of the viewing has become personal. Today, there are many more channels to cater to smaller segments of consumers, with the content as well as the style of delivery of the content for these segments having changed over the years. Messages are more personal, playing into the basic nature of the audiences, creating stronger desires of ownership for products and brands. A current trend shows an increase in the demand for versions or models of the same product – TV sets, music systems, mobilephones, cars, computers, newspapers, TV programmes, ringtones for mobilephones, computer software, computer games, etc. – for personal use and families, today, have more of everything in their households.

With computers, the Internet, PDAs and mobilephones, the digital world has further revolutionised the format in which consumers receive messages. Playing on the personal-use route, the new technologies have made two great contributions to our lives: one, they have made life more instant; and two, they have enabled interactivity. Not only can we have access to news, information and entertainment as they happen, we can choose to receive these messages when and where we want them. Furthermore, should we feel the need to respond to these messages, provide feedback, or begin a dialogue, digital technology now allows us to do so.

For the brand and the marketer, this is a great boon. The choice of media has increased. The style and delivery format for the marketing message has increased. The opportunity to design creative messages has increased. The opportunity-to-see for the consumer has increased. The level of personalisation of the message to the consumer has increased. The ability of the consumer to respond to the message has increased. And, with the availability of multiple payment gateways, the purchase mechanism has increased. All this, apart from the fact that the new technologies now allow consumers, their interests and their purchase behaviour to be tracked using various software tools.

So, what’s changing for the brand marketer? Plenty, as you can see. It’s now time for the brand marketers to build their plans on these opportunities created by new and emerging technologies… to address changing consumer expectations, lifestyles and behaviours… to build new relationships, or renew old ones, by adding value to their consumers and their brands.

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