Catch them YOUNG!

A United Nations study reveals that between 2010-2030 India will add around 241 million people in working-age population which means that this category right now belongs to the 'youth category'. In the country nearly 30% of the population is in the age group of 10 -24 years and nearly half of the population of the country is in the age group of 18-35 years. With the current potential young population in the country the big question that arises is how do brands look at them as potential buyers?

Is the growing young population's role just as an influencer or are they potential buyers as they start earning as early as 17 with the growth and wide spread network of BPOs and retail industry in India?

As the smartphone comes handy for a young college goer and as a kid walking along with a father in a shopping centre points out to an identifiable "brand", the Indian market has a new opportunity. With the ever-growing importance of the smaller finger in the family and as the meaning of young stops maybe at late 30's brands need to look at attracting the "young at heart" India and not just young India.

So Adgully caught up with industry experts to know what opportunities and challenges does the Indian market face given the increasing percentage of young consumers.

Talking about the opportunities for brands in a given youth populated market situation like India, Anisha Motwani, Chief Marketing Officer, Max New York Life Insurance, says, "So the Indian consumer is getting younger. I think the demographics are in our favour as far as India is concerned with youngsters. The true insight as far as youngsters are concerned is that they have got so much choice and opportunity today that its making them very fickle minded. So the staying power with youth is the real challenge for any marketer."

"As a brand you need to enroll them a little earlier. But when I look at my brand the earliest when I want to start talking to them is when they start earning. However that necessarily does not mean I am excluding the youth, the relevance of my product is for parents with younger children. So you talk to children as influencers rather than consumers themselves," she points out.

Today, the growing connectivity of humans in virtual societies and real ones all happen through a mini-gadget called the mobile phone. Given this situation as the mobile phones cut through the age group barrier and become more of a mass product, the marketers will have to look at capturing the young consumers in the country as soon as possible.

Providing an insightful thought on the growing youth population and being the largest mobile handset brand in India, Viral Oza, Head Activation, Media and Online Marketing, Nokia India, says, "India has one of the largest youth population in the world today and clearly India's Gen Y is very important to all marketers. India is a very diverse market and hence every brand needs to carefully understand the unique needs of this segment and reach out to them through innovative and more appealing formats. Besides the regular outreach mediums, social media is very popular with the Indian youth. Therefore besides a strong offline presence, the brands need to have a significant online presence too. In order to be heard one needs to be creative, advertise smartly, catch their attention and simply think outside the box."

But as youngsters start earning at a younger age today and as disposable incomes are steadily increasing in the country newer and newer categories of brands need to market themselves to young India. Acknowledging this, S. Yesudas, Managing Director ,Vizeum (Aegis Media Group company), says, "The Youth in India are reasonably wealthy. BPOs and other related services have brought the average working age down. This segment with their open minded approach with the kind of spending power, is certainly an attractive target for all marketers - Cosmetics to high end homes. They are aware, networked and have a point of view.

However communicating with them and catching their attention is a challenge. This screen bound generation as Isobar, our digital wing, puts it is moving from "search" to "discovery". Hence in my opinion marketers need to develop smart strategies to get these consumers to not only see the communication but actually also get them to talk about the brands. Unilever's "crowd sourcing" or Coke's shadow campaign getting released on internet before mass media can all be counted as a part of such strategy."

When asked how will the Indian market be placed compared to the International markets, given the increasing number of new generation consumers in India?

Motwani says, "The great thing about the Indian youth that it is actually coming up the curve much faster than some of us did in our generation. So they have all the information available at a click of a button, they are knowledgeable and they are ambitious. And we need to harness that energy in the positive direction. If we can harness that as brands and as companies I think India has a great way to go ahead."

On the other hand, Yesudas points out, "As a country it provides huge opportunity for marketers compared to other countries in the word. Although 60% of the country's population is below 35 years, a concentrated marketing effort to effectively talk to around 15 million people from this segment in the top 40 cities of the country would mean the message is carried forward to the rest."

As the Indian consumers get younger the brands need to gear up to attract the young and easily distracted eyeballs. The brand values have to be easily identifiable and have to enroll youngsters at an early age, so that when they reach the age group of +24 they are already turned into brand loyalists. Besides the youth today consumes each and every kind of media, as new media grows in importance amongst urban youth and as print media grows in importance for the newly literate rural youth. The marketer will have to make communication plans that utilize each of these media effectively and engagingly. | By Prabha Hegde [prabha(at)adgully.com]

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