The focus of marketing has shifted towards two-way communication where consumers are no longer a recipient but an active player in building the brand narrative. Bobble AI’s Anika Tanwar pens down her thoughts on the evolving trend of conversation media marketing.
The past decade has seen a significant shift in the marketing and communication landscape, with traditional tools such as radio and television jingles stepping aside to make way for new-age technologies such as social media and chat applications. A significant reason for this shift can be an evolution in consumers who view the brands they endorse as an extension of their values and belief system. Conversation media marketing has been fruitful for many brand communication.
The new-age consumer seeks a holistic brand experience that goes beyond the functional value of the product. The values that the brand stands for and its emotional appeal are what these evolved consumers seek and evaluate before they embark on a long-standing relationship with the brand. Thus, making it imperative for brands to develop branding and marketing strategies that bring the brand alive while showcasing their core attributes and values.
The millennial and Gen Z aren’t afraid to have an opinion and that is what they expect from the brands that they endorse as well. New age branding and marketing is about creating a brand with a distinct personality and voice and using cutting edge technology to ensure an experience that is authentic and real. Thus, rendering the traditional marketing tools focussed on a one-way communication format as archaic and often ineffective in reaching out to the more evolved Indian consumer.
Brands that engage with consumers instantly build an emotional connection and relationship that gradually leads to brand loyalty, with the consumers eventually emerging as the future brand advocates. A recent statistic shows that 89% of consumers are loyal to a brand that shares their values. Technology has and continues to shape the narrative for brand engagement with cutting-edge tools that no longer simply listen to the consumer but also try to predict what he might think, need, or desire.
New Age – New Marketing
The advent of social media changed the very definition of marketing, allowing the consumer to interact and engage with brands in real-time. Consumers followed their favorite brands on Facebook; took selfies with the product to create their visual brand narrative on Instagram; and engaged with other brand loyalists on Twitter as they shared their opinion of the brand.
As the tech-savvy Indian consumer adds more applications to his smartphone, he begins to question the authenticity of these platforms and his low attention span has him flipping through multiple platforms with little or no patience to sit through long brand posts or videos.
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Conversation media marketing through the infusion of brands in stickers, GIFs, and emojis in instant chats, addresses all the above concerns, creating a new avenue for consumer-led marketing. The brand or the platform does not push the information, but it is the user who initiates the conversation – that is precisely what makes it so powerful! Its reach is heightened with the use of popular chat and messaging apps such as WhatsApp – the most dominant messaging platform in the country. It is also fascinating to note that the current number of unique mobile phone users (5.20 Billion) globally surpasses the current number of social media users (3.80 Billion).
Moreover, with conversation media, brands finally get to foray the most engaging channel, simply because the time consumers spend on social media or any other engagement activity is still limited compared to the sheer amount of time they spend chatting with friends, family & colleagues in a day! Evidence of this can be found in interesting statistics that reveal around 70 Billion+ texts are shared each day, 10 Billion+ Emojis used every day, or 700 Million+ GIFs and stickers used every day in conversations.
Gen Z and Millennials simply love to express themselves. A “happy birthday” wish message is incomplete without the cake emoji, or Gif on ‘dancing with glee’ is what expresses the celebratory emotion more than plain text. And, it is the continuous and extensive usage of these visual media elements that form the foundation of amalgamations of consumers’ favorite brands in their day-to-day conversations.
Conversation media marketing allows brands to become part of billions of conversations with branded stickers, GIFs, emojis, animojis, and bigmojis. These media add a whole new visual imagery to the conversations adding excitement while ensuring that the emotions behind the words are not lost or miscommunicated. An excited jumping monkey allows a friend to express uncontainable excitement much more clearly than simply words. That’s the power of these visual conversation marketing tools. When extended to brands it brings alive the entire brand experience and ethos in a natural and engaging way, without seeming forced or engineered. When a Starbucks coffee mug appears with a question mark rather than a boring “let’s grab coffee?” it doesn’t simply grab attention but also enhances consumer recall for a brand, making it synonymous to the category itself.
This trend is here to stay. As humans, we will continue to be wired to our need for communication and expression – and conversation media, therefore, continues to flourish and evolve. From looking for acronyms to save typing space and time, the tech-savvy Indian consumer with a low attention span is now increasingly opting for stickers and GIFs that can communicate the same emotion but in a quicker and much more effective manner.
Brands are realizing the power of this new age marketing tool as they race to capture consumer mind space and build an emotional connection with the target audience. Brands understand the value of featuring in that fun banter amongst friends as they plan an impromptu celebration party – “Party tonight, Bira white!” and the instant brand connect achieved when an airline sticker pops up at the mention of a vacation on a family WhatsApp group.
The piece is authored by Anika Tanwar, Business head, Marketing Solutions, Bobble AI.