Last weekend, on my way to Pune, the share cab halted at the Food Mall for a break. A couple (presumably courting) and traveling in the same cab bought a fruit salad that was packed very fancily. However, for over 30 minutes into the ride from the Food Mall, they didn’t have a single piece of fruit. Instead, they went about taking pics using different phone filters and were busy posting them on Instagram. Very clearly, they were seeking likes, and comments, the colourful salad was just bait.
Likewise, on the 11th of December at the third T20 between India and West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium, groups of people, young and old, were getting their faces painted in the Indian tri-colour, with the only intention of clicking selfies and making their peer group on social media aware that they are always amidst the thick of action.
It’s anybody’s guess that selfies taken at Starbucks or Haagen Dazs or any such wannabe outlet has to do more with bragging rights on the social landscape than real brand affinity.
All of which brings us to one question. In a world that’s getting driven by the attention economy, where do long-term brand resolutions stand; and do they really have a story to tell. Food Delivery behemoth Zomato’s underlying promise has changed from ‘Never have a bad meal’ to ’Delivery under 30 minutes or free’. Swiggy has been hugely incentivizing its user base with coupon codes galore in a bid to retain loyalty. (You take away the incentive and consumers start ordering on UberEats). Likewise, almost every brand is competing primarily on the basis of discounting. And in all this, while the consumer is really being treated like a king, what’s happening to the brands’ values. Aren’t they getting eroded?
Ask any Marketing or Advertising professional worth his/her salt and they’d be quick to point out the fundamental of brand building that products are nothing more than a set of rational benefits; while real brands are built on emotional benefits. When Zomato stood for ‘Never have a bad meal’, it was a promise of quality and taste, two key benefits any hungry person would desire when it comes to ordering food. By diluting that to ‘30 mins delivery’, they have just become an alternative to Pizza-giant Dominos, who’ve interestingly used ‘convenience’ as an emotion in the fast-food category.
Increasingly, with dwindling attention spans, isn’t it imperative for brands to focus on fulfilling an emotional need-gap and occupy precious mind space in the consumers’ minds? With information overload becoming the norm, let’s hope that 2020 sees a marked shift in the way brands are built; and let’s wish that all categories from real estate to electronics; FMCG to Durables; Retail to Services go back to getting their basics right and start building brands that appeal to consumers as human beings first and not as a bunch of cold statistics. Because when that’s done right, brands will be able to create endearing pieces of communication and advertising that has a shelf life much longer than the date of release, one that will outlive the media plan, both across mainline and online mediums.
Copy is my cup of coffee
Copywriter and Creative Director
Young Creative Services