Online Classified Market In Pakistan


Online Classified Market In PakistanPakistan has traditionally always been a nation with strong social support systems rather than institutions. Even for things as simple as schooling or buying a house, we seek after the opinions and recommendations of our own and extended family and friend networks rather than depending on external reviews or peers.

Over the last few years however this system has seen a gradual shift especially in the upper income segments. As technology has permeated into our lifestyle, the increased exposure and information flows has resulted in making judgements based more on the recommendations of strangers and experts than just existing peers. The increase in more and more people shifting to nuclear families as well just amplifies this trend further. To cater to this sophisticated audience, a growing plethora of classified advertisements sites are springing up in the anticipation of this growing market of the future.

Globally a $100 billion business, Classified sites are the new form of how consumers and businesses or more appropriately sellers and buyers find each other. Whether individuals or businesses are looking for a used car (pakwheels.com), a new employee (rozee.pk), a place to sell their mobile (hafeezcentre.pk) buy a plot for investment or their new home (zameen.com), or even find a partner (shaadi.com), the first stop is increasingly becoming the Internet to sites such as these and more. The appeal lies in the convenience and ease of use such sites provide with powerful search capabilities, more personalized “push” services such as automatic ad alerts, more timely and up-to-date listings and features such as photos, video, and sound clips in online ads. Best of all they are FREE!

In some aspects, the evolution of the online classifieds in Pakistan is unique from its global counter-parts. Pakistan has seen the rise of vertical sites i.e. specializing in one area such as jobs, real estate and matrimonial first unlike say US where the first and still biggest classifieds site is Craigslist, a horizontal site specializing in many categories simultaneously. Secondly, unlike the west, where online classifieds have taken business away from newspapers, online classifieds in Pakistan have grown the overall market. During this time even the print classifieds have grown substantially. This is comparable to our telecom markets where the fixed lines though have been growing gradually, whilst the mobile market has shot through the roof improving tele-density significantly. The future however is mobile and similarly, the online classifieds industry will ultimately cross the print classifieds through the sheer reach, flexibility, cost effectiveness and ease of use for both advertisers and searchers.

Classified sites are the ideal web 2.0 business for a country like Pakistan for unlike Ecommerce models based businesses such as EBay or Amazon where the transactions are completed online, users never buy directly from these classified sites thus our limited infrastructure and payment gateways do not restrict the growth of these online business. Instead, users to these sites use the service to look for best offers and get in touch, while transactions are conducted in person or by phone. The sites benefit from advertising revenue and some paid listings for ‘Featured’ ads. Whilst numbers of the size of the market and revenues are harder to come by, leading the traffic race is OLX with 2.2 million unique users every month in Pakistan. Local sites such as Pakwheels, which deal mainly with second hand cars, claim 15 Million Page views in a month and 150,000 registered users. Zameen.com claims over 180,000 unique monthly visitors and 10,000 site listings a month.
“The market is interesting because of the potential – Pakistan is a huge market in terms of sheer numbers There are roughly 20M Internet users in Pakistan today, and we believe that this number will grow substantially over the next decade. So there’s definitely a big potential in the Pakistani Internet market. We believe that a free, quality classified site like dekho.com.pk is a service that most of the Internet users in Pakistan will want to use”, said Nils Hammar, CEO at dekho.com.pk, one of the pioneers of classified sites in Pakistan.

The launch of Dekho.com.pk since November last year is interesting because this is a horizontal site, much like OLX or Locanto in Pakistan and amongst a growing number of foreign horizontal sites investing in the future of this country and this market. Even with local players, also the market is shifting from vertical category sites to horizontal category sites. Even the players who were earlier in one category have launched other verticals or their own horizontal sites e.g. Pakwheels have launched naitazi.com and tringtring.com, verticals for general goods and mobile phones in Pakistan.

The trends and the factors governing classified ads markets support their assumptions. There is a substantially large numbers of micro and small entrepreneurs who are increasingly looking at advertising options that are free or low cost to market their businesses, services or products online. Online classifieds provide them with a local as well as a national reach and like we mentioned it’s free. A site like dekho.com.pk already claims 50,000 listings in a span of few months.

Classifieds online is definitely evolving but it needs a critical mass. Pakistan’s online industry is in the nascent stages. The overall internet population in Pakistan is limited. Even though it is said to be around 20 million, a person accessing Internet at least weekly is not more than 5-8 million (estimated). Out of this, people looking for search based information would be 2-3 million. This is not a critical mass when compared to US or other developed markets. Secondly, there is a problem of information hoarding e.g. the real estate brokers thrive on their knowledge of whose buying and whose selling and would not part from this information easily. However even with these challenges, the number of classified listings and the audiences would increase substantially in the next 3-5 years because of two things:

1. Pakistan is an emerging market growth with both GDP per capita and online media consumption growing at a good pace. The increasing salaries, more disposable income (many times due to both partners working), increased choice of goods has ensured that users are changing their laptops, PCs and cars faster than before. 50% of mobile especially gets changed within 6 months of purchase. These trends are resulting in a spurt in online listings. People are selling everything – right from washing machines to laptops and even air conditioners. Currently the household in Pakistan which wants to sell items doesn’t have any option offline except the people they know. Hence, online classifieds sites are providing these solutions.

2. Sellers are not online, while buyers are all over the Internet. How many apartment landlords are willing to put up their rental ads on a website? Infact how many landlords are Internet savvy in the first place? However as awareness about online classifieds increase, this will change and more people will join in the marketplace. Online classifieds currently stand to become the trade portals of all C2C transactions in Pakistan and fill in the huge gap between buyer knowledge and sellers disadvantage.

The future for these markets look bright. Internet penetration in Pakistan has been constrained because of broadband and PC penetration where as Mobile penetration has been explosive. People are beginning to realize the ease of access of Internet through their mobiles and in many cases they are having their first exposure to internet through a mobile handset. Online classifieds on Mobile are gradually gaining traction and with the rapidly growing mobile internet users, it could become the largest chunk soon.

“A great mobile service is a must as the Internet usage goes mainstream. We have a mobile site today on dekho.com.pk/m that is being used by all kind of mobile devices. As the market grows we will add more options for mobile users. The future looks promising. We have a lot of belief in Pakistan and the Pakistani Internet market and we want to be a part of the progress as the market grows. So far, the response we’ve had from our users has been great, so I really believe dekho.com.pk will bring value to the Pakistani market”, said Hammar.

One thing is for sure, no matter how the classifieds market will look like in the future, more Internet users mean better services being developed, and better services in turn attract more Internet users. Hopefully we’re in the beginning of this positive spiral where it’s hard to imagine 5 years from now a better way to sell our cars, buy our houses or even find our partners for life.

Original Post: http://auroramag.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/classified-and-online/

The Client Brief – Perfecting The Art


The creative brief is your roadmap. Your Sherpa. Your guide to the buried treasure. The creative brief is the contract between the client and the agency and between the agency account team and the creative team. It spells out in inspiring terms exactly what is that needs to be produced to solve a specific business problem.

Yet it is either treated like a piece of literature with an unending number of pages or an uninspiring piece of paper with check boxes to be filled out. There is also a problem of inconsistent understanding of how to develop and use the brief. Usually the account team does not think about adding value on top of what the client provided. The creative brief is developed in silos and this creates disconnect between the strategy, account management and creative teams. Given that the quality of the final work depends on the brief (Garbage In is Garbage Out) there needs to be a shift in the way we approach the creative brief. Creative Brief

To improve the briefing process, PAS recently hosted a one-day training workshop ‘The Client Brief – perfecting the art!’ on February 1, 2012 at Marriott Hotel, Karachi. The workshop was conducted by Sunil Gupta, a Master Trainer and a veteran of Indian advertising with 28 years of a wide range of experience across diverse brands, consumers and markets.

The new brief is a growing testament to the availability of hyper-choice in an extremely cluttered marketplace where traditional differentiation is no longer enough. The creative brief now is no longer just about the document. It’s about the thinking behind it and the ideas that comes after it. “I want to expand the definition of the brief from that piece of paper in which you put down that I want a 30 second Tvc and two print ads to this is my problem and I’m looking for a communication solution part of which can be advertising. Can you come up with ideas that create customer delight”, evangelizes Sunil Gupta. “The customer has to say WOW!” He continues, “Word of mouth now is very critical and that is created by experience. Now you have to say as your communication brief or engagement brief, what is the experience we want to create for our customers and can our systems support those experiences. Therefore internal communication and training becomes as important as communication and advertising. That is the point to create today. Your entire company has to be aligned around your brand. This is a question of willpower and discipline. You can have the best advertising and it still might not meet objectives because the product experience is damaging. Thus advertising is just one part of the strategy today”, said Sunil Gupta.

Muhammad Shoaib Baloch, Creative Director, Prestige Communication concurred with an observation of his own “A brief is a process and the agency is never made part of the actual process of what resulted in the need for advertising. Brief can be the dust or the gold, depending on how the client briefs the agency. The more exciting the brief, the more the out of the box campaign you’ll get”.

Thus it can be said that the brief is not a form to be filled out but the beginning of the creative process, the first creative thinking, the first imaginative leap and the first ad of the campaign and if it’s not written in the format that gets into the agency people’s minds, than they will not measure their work against it – one reason why despite bad briefing, the agency still produces great work…They simply ignore the brief.

Creative BriefYet advertisers cannot afford to take this aspect of communication lightly. With the pace of business quickening and as the number of brands multiplies, increasingly it is not companies but the customer who will decide which brand lives and which brands die and to do that it is now highly important to stand out in the market place. This means finding something, anything which can separate your brand from the clutter. To start this process ask yourself “Are you Asking The Right Questions”. The brief in 1992 which the agencies used to send to their clients included questions like:
• What is the problem or opportunity?
• Who are we talking to?
• What should the advertising achieve?
• What thought do we want to leave with others?
• What will make them believe this?
• What is required?
• Anything else?

Come 2012 and for most part agencies still follow the same brief format namely a problem to be solved by advertising, consumers’ to ‘target’, a message to say AT them, reasons to believe, tone of voice and what media the client needs. This is despite of the fact that the consumer and the media both have changed dramatically in the last decade. A more relevant method of questioning now is What’s the real problem?, Who is this among?, How might we best approach solving this?, Why might they talk about this idea?, How do they get involved? and What will keep the conversation going?

The brief also needs to follow some guidelines amongst which are:
Marketingese / jargon has no place in a brief. Speak with personality (ideally that of a consumer), and immediately you’ll use far more evocative inspiring language and not hide behind generic marketing nothingness.
A briefing is not a dictation. Make a brief closed or directional, and you’ll know what the creatives will produce even before they go away to work on it. A brief should be a platform from which they can launch off from. Not a means for you to force your ideas on a team. Always double check – can you think of two or three ideas from the brief you’ve written immediately? Are any of them your pet ideas? If yes, your agency will produce more or less the same.
A brief should not be written in exclusion of others. Whilst the planner should own the final document, but it is absolutely imperative to go to speak with the creative teams when writing it. Take some options, get their point of view.

If the creative brief is not itself creative, if it does not suggest solutions to problems, present information in an expansive and interesting way, and interpret the information with imagination and flair, then its authors and presenters have no right to expect anything different from the creative agency. To check whether it’s an engaging proposition or not, it helps to ask questions like Is it instantly clear and does it communicate exactly what you want to say?, Does it contain a fact about the product you didn’t know before you started writing? Is it surprising or thought-provoking?, Does it contain a strategic insight?, Does it contain a benefit to the consumer?, Do you yourself believe it? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these, it isn’t an engaging proposition e.g. we can say Dawn Newspaper is the paper of choice of the upper income segment of the population of Pakistan which are the core decision makers of the country, which in all likelihood will produce a typical ad. However a better brief would be Dawn Newspaper is for people who like to make up their own minds and a great brief would be Dawn Newspaper – not written for sheep. Thus when writing a brief, these are the top tips.

Consistent – The brief is brief for a reason. There is no space for tangents and multiple ideas. Pick your core theme, and trail it through EVERY element. If it is as fertile a thought as it should be, this will be easy.
Get the right info in the right boxes – Often boxes are mixed up in which Insights are passed off as objectives and the audiences are often found in mandatories. There are no “dull, functional” boxes. Everything should inspire and stick to your theme.

Language – Work hard to avoid the mundane. Let your vocabulary flow and inspire. Rewrite it. Rewrite it again. Every word is sacred. Make them all work hard. Remember, if you leave a loose word or loose thought, what’s to stop the creative picking up on this and basing their idea on it.

Follow The Template – It is a fixed template for a reason – to stop everyone going on for pages. If you need to shrink text or expand boxes, you are writing too much. Edit yourself, not the template.

How To Advertisement

Find your trueline – Marty Neumeier in his book ‘Zag’ says that all brand communication should emanate from your trueline. A trueline is the one statement you can make about your brand which is the reason why your brand matters to customers. It can’t be reduced, refuted or easily dismissed. The key to crafting a trueline is to focus on a single proposition. If you find yourself using commas or ‘Ands’, you may need more focus e.g. Avis – Because We’re Number Two, We Try Harder or for a insurance company don’t let your illness cripple your family.
With the wealth of increasing clutter of products, features, media, advertising and messages creating a poverty of attention in our world today, we need to ensure that we create emotions, aesthetics and experience that excite our audiences and creates vibrancy again in an increasingly dull and similar advertising landscape. To do that kind of magic requires crafting a magical brief.

Published: Dawn, Aurora Magazine, April, 2012.

Yes! We Khan – Social Media Case Study Of Imran Khan Rally On December 25th, 2011


Imran Khan Yes We Khan Rally Picture HopeThe highly successful Jalsa of 25th December, 2011 organized by Pakistan Tehreek Insaf was a major social media milestone for Pakistan. By using a disruptive technology in early markets, PTI has upset the status quo, catapulting a man who did not look like a serious contender for government initially into the forefront of the race whilst engaging voters in fundamentally new ways.  This form of tech adoption has also ushered in a new relationship model between leaders and their supporters (especially young ones) with all political parties now announcing and jostling for the ‘youth vote’ with their youth wings. Perhaps in the future it will also serve to change expectations of ‘Citizens’ and ‘Leader’s’ roles in government.

Imran Khan’s campaign epitomizes the opportunities  to be gained using your ‘customers’ to amplify the effect using new technologies despite contending with established players that have far greater resources and legacy. At its most basic however it’s about good fundamentals. For a start it’s about selling a product which people want [an innate buzz]. Dr. Awab Alvi, the person responsible for PTI’s social media strategy said “We are just an interface to communicate the product to people online. People want to see, hear and want to interact with our brand and we use a medium to give them what they want. The buzz is nothing to do with us marketing the product. Fundamentally the product is a need of the time due to the country’s situation and people are looking for an alternative and Imran Khan is being seen as that alternative.”

Thus authenticity matters and If one looks at the competitive landscape in this context, Shahbaz Sharif and PML-N have recently spent an inordinate amount of money on social media trying to make up for lost ground, but the difference is again in the vision that Imran Khan sells and the ‘more of the same’ approach which is being used by PML-N. In social media one can’t just adopt a brand and expect people to buy into it without authenticity. The new ‘Khudari’ message (something which PML-N didn’t do in 20 years) thus will not work for their brand in this case.

Another one of the tenets of social media that holds true for PTI’s approach is “go to where your customers are.” PTI made it possible for people to participate where they want, how they want, using the tools and friendships they want. Whilst it’s a butt of jokes that most of Imran Khan’s base cannot even vote and that children under 18 are not relevant to be targeted because they can’t vote. However in this traditional thinking, political bigwigs forget that these same generations can talk [and inspire] and help to build a wave of change. Social media enables them to use lower or zero transaction costs to do it. It is these passionistas  who serve as the base for the party.

“There is a tremendous army working for the organization which responds to queries, reputation management, etc and to date NONE of the volunteers have ever been paid. When you have passionate people doing something they love… they believe in the change, in doing it as an end in itself and all they want from us has been the recognition of that aspect’, said Dr. Awab. ‘I tell them truly that it’s YOU whose done this for Pakistan and I mean it’. Faisal Kapadia, a blogger and activist at ‘DeadPan Thoughts’ describes the feeling as ‘It was a high that I’ve never felt before with an energy level not even found at a U2 concert’.

Social media use by PTI includes clarifying and defense of the party’s policies and actions, reputation management and killing of the rumor mill, engaging with voters, provide the imagery that give hope and provide for a catalyst of change. The key engines thus that propelled the social media movement forward for the organization included but were not limited to Imran Khan (Official) Channel and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (Official Page) which are the Facebook channels responsible for organizing and mobilizing people for initiatives that support key processes whilst ‘We Want Imran Khan to Be The Next Prime Minister Of Pakistan’ and ‘Jagutho’ are initiatives for sharing viewpoints, helping supporters, volunteers and campaign workers to co-ordinate their offline and online activities.

Combined there are over 500,000 ‘fans’ of PTI & Imran Khan with over 50,000 plus active participants at any moment in time. These channels were the ones which provided the support needed during the Jalsa online and the figures below show the impact of these on the Jalsa and vice versa.

Constant engagement is key. Imran Khan campaigns and encourages users and artists to use the imagery they provide for their own purpose acknowledging and recognizing that they should give up control. The best creative developed Imran Khan addressing the Jalsa with the caption: ‘Hope Is Priceless… for everything else there’s Mastercard’. A big lesson for brands here is to ‘Make it easy for people to make you their own’. Let people act on their desire to get involved at a low transaction cost, and very visibly. This increases leverage.

PTI has also been present on Twitter with @Imran KhanPTI and @PTIOfficial channels. Twitter works since during the span of the Jalsa the PTI broke 11 global twitter trends within a 5 hour window and because of it reverberated across the 300 million strong community on the platform including ‘DilDilPakistan’ quickly being picked up across the region.

To understand its significance, one can take into account that as a baseline it takes a minimal of 500 active users and 1200-1900 tweets per hour to break a global trend. To dominate it as PTI did, it takes much more. Another platform which has been very successful for PTI has been the mobile 80022 which drives the membership for the party.  Utilizing this form of technology, PTI has their ‘army’ segmented via city, via constituencies and clumped by affinities which allows them to mobilize with great speed and effectiveness.

This informs people with SMS messages when an event such as the Jalsa is about to happen and asks for participation. Roman Urdu works better than English on the platform. In the future, this database form of marketing will serve its purpose for voter turnouts.

Other features enabled on mobile include mapping via SMS which was used to provide directions to nearest available pickup points for people and recently an iReport debut feature on the platform which was used to identify and resolve the problems that people were facing at the jalsa.

iReport holds the potential to be much much more. This is going to be a powerful form of Citizen Reporting platform and once properly activated will become a force for accountability in Pakistan as normal Pakistanis report their encounters on issues which PTI raises.

The jalsa also used an innovative platform of ‘Live Streaming’ the event globally to all those who could not be physically there. Using a 50 Mbps fiber connection, the event was streamed to over 35000 people at its peak LIVE across the globe.

The PTI Jalsa has broken new grounds in the marketing of politics and perhaps even for business. Marketing executives need to start focusing on what will happen when their stakeholders self-organize, mirror each other’s interests, magnify the interests into passions and make a lot of noise. This can change expectations fast. They should be aware of traditional thinking in their organizations so they can counter these. It must be remembered that all disruptive change always presents as a fringe activity at first. Thus marketers need to make it a priority to understand social media adoption milestones, so they don’t get caught by surprise. Some of the good lessons out of the Jalsa which marketers can learn from:

  1. PTI strategy is to focus on selling leadership, not policies. Most political campaigns sell their candidates like products, replete with features and benefits (“policies” and “programs”). More profound, leadership and personal qualities and beliefs inspire more easily than policies.
  2. Trust your stakeholders to discover and do the right thing. Smart organizations are becoming more cooperative by sharing “control.” Letting go energizes people to contribute in a meaningful manner.
  3. Realize you cannot control the conversation and that’s okay.
  4. The more transparent and collaborative, the stronger your organization will be as a competitor.
  5. Think small. Industrial Economy marketing held that the only things worth watching were big numbers and big initiatives. Yet in the digital age, many many people doing small things can have a big impact when they are using digital social media because it affords so much leverage. Many small numbers can roll up to a big number. Many-to-many means geometric growth and acceleration.

For PTI after a successful campaign, now on the Social Media Roadmap is to move on from ‘just defending ourselves’ to organization of the masses and translate the online activism to offline activism. “Right now it’s all Imran Khan’s draw but now we’ve seen potential we will be organizing leaders in colleges and universities. Jagutho is one of the initiatives which has created a ‘Responsible Citizen’ model which is organized around a mohalla basis which we hope to implement soon.”, said Dr. Alvi. “The Future is calling”.

Jeremy Gutsche – Unlocking The Cool Interview


Jeremy GutschePopular is not cool. Cool is the next big thing and in a world of increased competition, intensified customer demands and globalization, understanding how to be creative and then build up a culture of innovation is more important than ever before. One of the ways companies do that is to use ‘Trend Hunters’ or ‘Trend Spotters’, people who research ‘what’s cool?’. One of the pioneers of the field is Jeremy Gutsche, a Canadian innovation expert, author, “one of North America’s most requested keynote speakers” and chief trend hunter at trendhunter.com which has been described by The Independent as “the world’s biggest online cool hunting magazine”.

At the Marketing Symposium organized by Revelations, Jeremy was in Pakistan to talk about ‘Unlocking Cool: How to inspire innovation potential and infect products with Cool’.  Jeremy’s Culture of Innovation framework exposes the audience to ground-breaking ideas related to perspective, customer obsession, tolerance for failure and creativity. Aurora caught up with him to talk about the next big thing.

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and do explain what do you mean by Trend Hunting?

I guess the best background for me is just to say that I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart and I never knew what my business idea was going to be. Everywhere that I worked I was trying to get that inspiration. So eventually when I started trend hunter, I wanted it to be a place where people could come when they wanted to get their ideas and I’d get ideas from all over the world and hopefully I’d find my own. As TrendHunter took off I never needed to pick. The interesting thing is that still guides us. We have the world’s largest trend spotting network with 50,000 contributors signed up around the globe from where we publish ideas each day and with 40 million views a month we gather data to understand what clusters and what groups are interesting.

Q. Why should marketers care about Trend Hunting and what’s Cool?

Cool is unique, cool is cutting edge and Cool is viral. Micro-trends and innovations surround us so how do we make sense of all the noise? Trend Hunting thus is basically the search for inspiration. Looking for something new, a pattern that could inspire your next big idea. It’s not about the rise of big trends that everyone knows about like ECO or FEMALE PURCHASING POWER since everyone knows about those including your competitors. We’re looking at micro-trends, those unique niches of opportunities. When you see these opportunities you can take advantage of them and if you don’t your competitor or a new startup might and overturn you.

Q. For most businesses your ideas are quite scary. You advocate constant change, relentless questioning and an anti-bureaucracy. How do you create a culture like that in a traditionally steeped organization?

There are two parts to that that are important. One is the idea that you need to constantly change. Second, you have to realize is that the world never returns to normal. If you look at marketing, you can see things like social media changing the landscape.

I like to say that ‘Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast’. Thus in terms of how you get a traditional organization and get them to change, an interesting way to get an organization to get more innovative is to create a ‘Gambling Fund’. The idea is that it’s tough to try to persuade everybody to do things a new way but the real thing that stops people from being creative is because you get caught up in a routine. With a gambling fund you are allocating a specific amount of money and time trying something new. BBC’s ‘The Office’ was their most successful program and that came out of that fund.

Q. You talk a lot about destroying value to unleash new creativity and innovation. Yet cannibalization in business is hard. Is there a middle way for managers where they can balance both shareholder demands yet ensure that they live for tomorrow.

In innovation there are best practices and having someone kill your idea is important. There is a need for people to challenge the idea and there needs to be a push in all directions. Situational Framing Dictates The Outcome Of Your Creative Process. What is it that you’re trying to do?

It’s so easy to get caught up in your profit center that you stop adding fuel to your innovative new ideas. When push comes to shove or when you need a little extra money, companies cut off their innovative arms. For the long term, one of the most important questions is how do you re-invent ourselves and that always comes from destroying that which you’ve created.

Failure is part of the experimentation process.  In order to win, you need to constantly be gauging customer needs, tracking evolving trends and testing new ideas. Google is an example of this. They’re constantly testing new portfolios.

Q. You have come up with “The Exploiting Chaos Framework.” Give us a brief description of each of the four tactics and how they work in the framework. Do you think these tactics can be employed by Asian cultures which are more passive in nature?

The framework has four parts. Creating a ‘culture of innovation’ – Deeply Understanding Your Customer and Willing to Try New Things. The next part is ‘trend spotting’ – you identify opportunities from your customer, competitors or other industries. The third part is adaptive innovation – constantly adjust your strategy to ensure that you’re on top of a changing world and the forth idea is ‘infectious marketing’ – to create a meaningful change it’s about finding a way to break through the noise and create word of mouth. What this framework is about is that in periods of change these are the elements that help companies adapt and win.

There’s a difference between how people remember you and having people feel how they see you as part of their team. You can either make an emotional connection or you can go deeper and making a cultural connection. The difference is that with a cultural connection I see you as being part of my team. I don’t see you telling me what to do, I see you as part of my team.  Because we’re on the same team I want you to win and you want me to win. In any industry when you make a cultural connection, people are willing to refer you. That someone else says your product or message is the best.

Q. I love the quote you often use, “Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast”. Do tell us more about what that means and how does culturally steeped nations can create the Culture of Revolution you often talk about. Are we doomed to passivity?

No matter how cool your PowerPoint deck is, if the organization is not willing to adapt and embrace change than it’s not going to happen. At the end of the day, what will make your company succeed or fail is the culture you’ve created. This means both the culture within your organization’s teams AND the cultural connection you’ve made with your customers. Within your team, you will always be more successful if your team feels connected to your cause, empowered to try new things, and able to test and fail. With your customers, you will always be more successful if you can create a cultural connection that makes people feel like your product is made just for them. Too often companies speak “to” their customer, but companies that create an authentic cultural connection make the customer feel like they are part of the same team… They talk “with” their customer.

Q. For a message to go viral, you recommend that marketers should Relentlessly Obsess About Your Story. What does that mean?

People talk about it in a given way. You can control that message by having a story idea that is simple, direct and super-charged. The idea is that if you can only remember 7 words or less – slogan or in every part of my company – you might want to think what those words are. You need to best describe what you do. By constantly figuring out what are the exact words that best define what your company is about you can get a disproportionately better impact and each word really really matters.

You need your story needs to be simple. I’ll give you the words that you can tell us. The second is you need to be direct. You convey your value proposition and why I must choose you. Super-Charged – messages, slogans, titles that makes me want to tell someone else.

The Future of Digital Marketing: Pakistan 2015


It’s sad that at every turn we tend to focus on the negatives when this great country really offers endless opportunities amidst all this chaos – if one is focused to see the forest for the trees. Because of a lack of legacy infrastructure to burden us down, the marching advent of technology and telecom is shaking up the old and ensuring that Pakistan is coming of age in one of the fastest of the new growth industries such as Digital Media and Marketing which will only go up and up over the next decade.

Let me start by making a bold prediction. Expect 15% of all advertising in Pakistan to shift to digital, interactive, mobile, social and online video over the next five years. Why is it bold, because currently digital spending is estimated at US $5 Million and if the prediction were to come true, we’re looking at an amount hovering in the $40 -$50 million USD range. That’s a growth by a factor of 10 in just 5 years. It’s an impossible figure at first sight but like in the rest of the world, the increasing consumer connectivity (4 million+ broadband connections by 2013 – Source: PTA), Mobile and social technologies are rapidly evolving the very definition of marketing and commerce in our country and the on-coming world of 3G / 4G technologies, cloud computing, mobility and even SMS/WAP based services will quickly bring this prediction about. With this in mind, the following will be growth areas in our country over the next few years:

Prediction #1: The Ubiquitous Mobile Eco-system

If you think the Telecom sector is huge right now, wait for a few years. With close to 60 million phones and 90 million SIMs providing the foundation, already without a doubt the next big thing is going to be mobile. You maybe getting tired of hearing about how it’s going to happen, but it is coming and coming soon and it’s going to be not just about phones, it will be an entire ecosystem built around the mobile – any service, anytime, anywhere and on any screen.  Bring in location based services, m-commerce and Proximity forms of marketing enabled by a million strong SME sector and it’s a no brainer that mobile-assisted shopping will be integrated into the physical and m-commerce especially will become a necessary part of multi-channel retailing and an important component of Point of Purchase Promotions. With that we can portend the rise of mobile comparison shopping, mobile coupons, mobile affiliates and ever more SMS services. Add in social networks which are being promoted on even the Chinese mobiles, we can easily perceive that social media and social commerce on the mobile device will be a big part of our marketing efforts. For the marketers the challenge in this regard will be even more platform fragmentation.

 

Prediction #2: Digital Marketing Will Be About New Possibilities

Digital marketing will be about connecting information that’s otherwise not connected to create new possibilities and experiences. If my own personal experiences in game development are taken as an example, applying game mechanics to the customer journey, particularly product awareness/brand discovery – with levels, engaging fun challenges, and certain rewards can be very effective way to market your own brands even now and in the future will be certain to grow as ‘experiential marketing’ takes over from traditional activations. You’ve heard life is a game … this time we’ll be living it especially as augmented technologies come into play in this country – some we’re developing even now. For those who’d like to see what the Pakistani marketing world can be like in 2015 Google ‘Nike London Grid’

Prediction #3: TV Will Still Rule But The Focus To Something New Will Come

In a Feb 2010 published report by the European Interactive Advertising Association (IALS), the number of hours that the average person spends connected to the internet in Spain now exceeds that spent watching television. The study, conducted in 15 European countries, revealed that people in Spain spent an average of 13.3 hours per week connected to the internet compared to 13 hours in front of the television. There is quite a difference between age groups, with younger people spending most time online, while those over 55 years of age almost exclusively use only television. Whilst on the same note a study by Ipsos Reid last fall found that Canadians are spending more than 18 hours a week online, compared with 16.9 hours watching television. In the UK, According to a Sept 2009 news report by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), online has overtaken television to become the biggest single medium growing to 1.75 billion pounds, with the medium accounting for 23.5 percent of all spend, ahead of television. If the European and Canadian trends are to be taken as a benchmark for our world in the future, than there will be a major shift in advertising from being predominantly TV focused to something new. The economic drivers are already compelling marketers to try their hands on digital.

Prediction #4: Digital will continue to remain a Paradox

Digital marketing will always remain a challenging paradox for the traditional marketers because the way currently marketers think about digital is flawed, fully racked as they are with a mindset tuned towards providing immediate gratification, a one-off mentality and a propensity to constantly chase the next shiny object. Understanding conversations, the loss of control, co-creation, engagement are forms which will take time before they’ll be manifested in the marketing communications here.

It can be said that digital technologies have changed everything, not because of the speed of access but because there is a direct connection to what we want which is always on. This has changed the experience from one which used to be disruptive (turning on the PC to check email e.g.) to embedded (checking email on the phone whilst on the go) and being integrated into everything we do. This is the same technology that will be powering our media and marketing over the next decade and giving us continuous hope and reason for bringing our country into the developed world at an extremely fast pace.

A truly connected world is going to be a radically different world from the world we currently inhabit and understand. It will be a world where mobile devices and computers will be as prevalent as the air we breathe. It will be where social media will compete against mass media and real time ‘Now’ will complement the traditional forms of ‘Search’. It will be a world where Apps will compete against ads and context will be king. The cloud, semantics, Android, mashups, mobile, social graphs & social-spheres, user targeting,  HTML5, location-based, gaming, ad exchanges, path to conversion, 3D, channel interaction, HD video, augmented reality, data visualisation, apps and even more, and all present even on the lowly Chinese devices will stand to drive the consumer on a different path to purchase than the current models. Already the trends show that consumer preferences are already shifting towards the digital landscape. We’re watching Indian soaps on YouTube, banking through our mobile phones, finding life partners and ordering grocery online. What happens when these technologies become embedded in our lives? We’re already witness to the decline of the ‘Broadcast Business models’ from newspapers & magazines to TV & music, none command the stature of previous decades and as technology progresses they’ll lose their importance even more. With this will come the end of noise & interruption form of advertising and the rise of context, relevance and real experiences for brand building.  Consumer behavior will continue to change as technology evolves and permeates even more into our lives, giving greater influence and control to the consumers over the relationships and the experiences that they choose to have with the brands.

 

 

PAS – Aurora – The New Value Seekers


Dawn New Value Seekers ConferenceIn the last two decades, with the march of technology, increasing commoditization, increasing global sourcing and competition and increasing discretionary incomes across the boards, the consumer in Pakistan has gotten selective and buys only those products that precisely met their changing needs which unlike before  are not immediately obvious anymore. With the evolution of new forms of media, global outreach and the current hyper-fragmented channels, the marketing process too has evolved making life harder for the marketers in Pakistan.

In this new world of ‘value’ reconciling what the customer wants and then delivering on their expectations, has never been more important or more challenging. This is especially more-so, because in many of ourUmair Mohsin sectors, over the years consumers had been effectively taught to buy on price and price alone. Thus the PAS-Aurora Conference that took place at the Karachi Pearl Continental Hotel on the 20th of March, 2010 sought to answer these questions about the new consumer. If the presentations could be summed up in one sentence it would be ‘the customers are now fully in control and marketers are scrambling to understand what their customers value and the value they place on those values.’ The mood at the conference was entirely dedicated to the topic of seeking value in three key areas namely ‘the organization’, ‘the brand’ and ‘the customer experience’. It was especially interesting in hearing how the current state of the economy had altered the value equation and what the industry experts expected to see in the coming months / years.

Highlighting the changes between the old value seekers and the new, the conference started on a keynote session by Mr. Hamid Haroon, CEO, Dawn Media Group. His focus was the underlying morality that drove the Hameed Haroonold-value seekers in creating for their consumers. He minced no words when talking about the short-termism of modern industry practices including the growing number of media & agencies offering kick backs to clients which he said “undermined the advertiser, media and society”. Writing off today’s campaigns, he remarked that “Advertising agencies today are low-med sweatshops for implementing strategies created in larger markets” and implored people to find answers that would actually create value for their consumers.

The session was followed by Mr. Aly Mustansir, Chairman, Pakistan Advertisers Society, who talked about recent initiatives taken by the PAS including banning advertising on pirated cable channels and establishment of the Consumer Multimedia Index. Jamal Mir, Ad Hoc Vice-Chairman, Advertising Association of Pakistan ended the session with a talk about the challenges facing the industry including Economic, Human Resource, Compensation, the problems of Media multiplication and the standards AAP was setting in driving value for the organization and the industry.

Seeking Value From The Organization

The session started off with Mr. Atif Bajwa, President, MCB presenting his views on “Internalising the
Mr. Atif Bajwanew  value equation” and talked about how the customer should be the starting point for all decisions. Talkingabout MCB’s strategic thrusts, he spoke greatly towards building a leading payments bank including becoming #1 in alternate distribution channels like the mobile phone. Citing numbers he said already MCB had signed up 50,000 users for its Mobile Banking initiative.
Subsequently Mr. Abrar Hasan, CEO, National Foods talked about “value driven strategies to meet consumer expectations”. Citing ‘The Consumer Decision Journey’ model published recently in the McKinsey Quarterly (June’09), he challenged the traditional linear progression of consumers from awareness through familiarityConsumer Decision Journey to sales, purporting that that the traditional funnel concept failed to capture all the touch points and key buying factors resulting from the explosion of product choices and digital channels, coupled with the emergence of an increasingly discerning, well-informed consumer thanks to the “epicenter of consumer driven marketing which was the internet especially during the active evaluation phase.”

He said that “40% of the customers changed their minds because of something they saw or learnt at the point of purchase. Therefore it was imperative to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions.” His advice to create value to was to Invest in customer driven channels and win in-store. He ended his presentation on the note that “The key is not change… but to adapt and survive under rapid change.”

The final presentation of the session was delivered by Mr. Farhan Hasan, COO, UG Food company, titled “The smart organisation in a value seeking world”. He talked about how value was about a bundle of services for the consumer and not price. Talking about Pakistan being a ‘Sachet Economy’, he commented that if 2/3 rd of Farhan Hassan, COOworld’s population made less than $1000 than why were marketers selling them products designed for those nations making 20 times as much. His value creation process involved targeting the aspirational classes with small quantities and larger volumes with good margins. He summarized his discussion as “high volume + high margin plus additional [sachet] volume with good margins = smart business sense”.

Seeking Value From The Brand

The immediate session which followed answered the questions as to what it took to innovate in advertising and provide value for the brand. Answered by Julian Saunders, Managing Partner, The Joined Up Company in his presentation,” Value for Time – It’s What People Really Value”, Olivier Auroy, MD, GS Fitch, Middle East who talked about “Why Good Design Never Lies” and Mr. Guy Winston, National Creative Consultant, JWT Pakistan in his presentation “Stop Talking, Start Involving”, these international experts focused on how content and delivery were the next wave of getting one’s marketing Olivier Auroymessage out. They talked about how creativity was going to be about creating content that was funny, amusing and could quickly be shared. Julian Saunders in his presentation advised to ‘Brand Play’. He referred to cognitive research that “what we remember is determined by how the experience feels when it peaks and when it ends”. He concentrated on providing simplicity (“don’t make me think”) and talked about how respecting time was also a sales strategy. Olivier Auroy on the other hand, focused his attention on how brands needed to remain accessible and relevant to consumers. He cited studies which proved that fun could change behavior for the better. He concluded with how people wanted brands to connect to their community, give them control, were friendlier and funnier.

Seeking Value From The Experience

The last two talks were delivered by Mr. Sirajuddin Aziz, CEO, Bank Alfalah who gave a thoughtful presentation on “Consumer Touch Points As Effective Communication Tools” whilst Mr. Karim Rammal, President Unicorn Consulting, concluded the session with ‘Meet The Digital Native’ advising marketers that that “…unless you bring something to the table – Inspire, Passion, Laughter, Curiosity, nobody cares if you’re on twitter”.

Aurora TeamThe conference ended on a high note delivered by Mr. Irfan Mustafa, VP & MD, Yum Restaurants on “Yeh Tera Pakistan Hai, Yeh Mera Pakistan Hai”.

If the conference has proved anything is that what really has changed is the way we implement marketing and the way we run our marketing organizations. In the oncoming world we will no longer talk about mass marketing. For all future marketers it will be vital to understand that the price-value equation will be different for each consumer. That’s when real value will be created.

InStore, InStyle – Marketing in Retail Stores Using Digital Media


Dawn Aurora - March-April 2010 IssuePublished in Dawn, Aurora, March – April, 2010

Over the last decade broader socio-economic changes, including growth in the urban middle class and disposable incomes have given rise to the modern retail sector in Pakistan.  There has been a marked decrease in traditional ‘kiryana’ stores, an increase in general stores and the emergence of new formats such as superstores, malls and retail chains to cater to the increasingly time-compressed consumer[1].Instore Marketing

Even a few years back, the concept of in-store marketing did not exist in this country. Yet today due to the fragmentation of traditional media and the tremendous clutter of information assaulting today’s consumer, stores are emerging as a viable alternative to the challenging mass-market advertising environment. They’ve quietly become a hotbed of advertising activity as more and more brands, big or small shift to in-store advertisement, providing effective and direct communication to the customers.

“Currently all our marketing activities are sponsored by our suppliers. Roughly speaking [instore marketing] accounts for 2 to 5% of Makro’s revenue. Instore marketing also include Makro-mail, which is fortnightly published and distributed to top 5000 customers as well as to all concerned suppliers and stakeholders.” said Salman Zafar, Asst. Category Manager at Makro Pakistan.

Research indicates that over 70% of decisions are made in-store or at the ‘First Moment Of Truth’[2] which is why marketers are increasingly seeking ways to control what ad messages their customers see and what information they access for making purchase decisions increasingly through digital media – one of the primary digital vehicles being used in-store is Digital Signage, one of the staples of modern trade outlets.

Through the use of Digital Screens / Retail TV and Interactive Kiosks, marketers are increasingly targeting consumers looking to learn about new product offerings, recipe ideas, advertised specials, etc. Fast Moving Consumer Goods brands in food, dry food and non food segments are most active industries in this space and actively use digital signage to differentiate their brands and provide customers a break from the rather mundane shopping experience.

Amongst the innovators in this category, has been Dalda Foods Pvt. Ltd. Recently in Ramadan, they launched an ‘Activation’ across Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad using Digital ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Interactive Kiosks. Using touch screens to provide instant play, software to control the inventory and multimedia to add excitement to their consumer offer (play and win on buying 10 KG of Dalda’s products), Dalda added entertainment to an otherwise mundane activity and the results of the activity backed their decision. In an otherwise crowded marketplace, these kiosks helped Dalda to differentiate from all the other brands out there using traditional formats.

Similarly, a high-end beauty products company utilized this medium to interact with their customers too. Using motion sensing technology called ‘Eye-Sense’ developed by Tuesday Digital, the digital characters would call out to the passerbys and get them to interact with the screens and products of the company. Aside from FMCG, PSO has also setup digital screens at its pumps, whilst banks such as Standard Chartered are experimenting by setting up live kiosks at their branches to give their customers a demo of their online banking facility.

These companies are not the only ones. Realizing the gains from going digital, retailers too are jumping on this band-wagon. Originally viewed as a potential incremental revenue stream and a way of sourcing more marketing rupees from brand manufacturers, digital instore formats are now also being seen as a way of differentiating the shopping experience and promoting their own offerings.

“Currently digital signages are not there in Makro, but yes Makro has plan of introducing them in future. In-store media can provide us with an effective way to increase revenue, both through higher average shopping baskets per customer visit and increased customer loyalty in terms of number of visits and what they regularly purchase while in that store during each visit”, Said Salman Zafar.

Aside from Digital Signage, another digital medium which is growing is the use of Mobile technologies in the retail environment. ‘BlueCasting is a relatively newcomer to advertising but stands to greatly change the way we market. The pioneers in this field are Mobilius who have developed ‘BlueStorm’, a proximity marketing tool which aims to engage the consumers. Using the technology marketers can broadcast pictures, audio, video and text within a 100m radius ensuring a very innovative and cost effective way of spreading the messages across thousands of people who visit these outlets. Since it’s fully mobile, BlueStorm” can be used to reach out to customers for special promotional campaigns like distributing redeemable coupons. It can also be utilized to organize promotional game shows such as treasure hunt at exhibitions/shopping malls or anywhere else, thank customers on exit and get instant feedback.Instore marketin

The future of this format is only expected to be bright. If the experience of Thailand is taken as a benchmark, one can expect that by 2010, modern formats particularly large supermarkets, hypermarkets, and convenience store chains will have captured about 25 per cent of the total retail market, and most of the middle and upper class markets. At the same time, one can expect that the number of outlets per thousand population would decrease from the current level of about fifteen down to ten. It is expected that the share of total retail sales held by both traditional kiryana and general stores would decrease from about current levels of 95 per cent to 50 per cent.[3]. Marketers are taking note.

“I think “the last mile” is becoming increasingly important even in Pakistan as categories go back towards commoditization with an endless supply of brands and the consumer lost between their choices. Especially for intangibles like telcos where data is the only thing that the consumer buys, it is much more convenient to deliver interactive ways to select and change package plans on the go”, said Tamseel Alvi, Brand Manager, Zong.

He continued “Retail is surely becoming a key “moment of truth” in terms of delivering brand experience. In terms of dedicated brand outlets, franchises and more so our customer support centers are becoming more like experience centers rather than just a sales outlet. In the rural sector, our mobile customer support centers are taking the retail outlet directly to the consumer”, Tamseel Alvi, Brand Manager, Zong

With the falling price of digital media gadgets and flexibility in content creation that only digital technology can offer innovative store technologies now allow grocery retailers to give consumers what they want: time and money savings. This is just the start of what digital can do for marketers and retailers.

“Retailers must make the jump to a totally integrated closed-loop model. To maximize return, retailers must deploy a macro system which seamlessly connects all in-store digital marketing with their POS and loyalty database systems [and if they don’t have any, they should start thinking about creating them] and in-store activation devices that connect customers in real-time to the retailer’s systems. What I’m talking about, is CRM applied at the store level. We call it transactional media, because it involves bringing together all the in-store marketing pieces in a coordinated customer-centric fashion to enhance the in-store shopping experience for consumers, increase sales transactions and build loyalty for retailers. What’s intriguing about this model is that by better serving their customers, retailers and brand marketers better serve themselves”, said Salman Abedin, CEO, Tuesday Digital.

As digital media  increasingly prove their effectiveness  — To retailers by turning their communication vehicles into steady revenue streams and to advertisers through better reach and targeting — the flood of interest and money will disrupt the status quo. This change will affect nearly all in-store marketing players, from agencies to retailers and everyone in between. Those that embrace the disruption stand to benefit the most.


[1] Mr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, Consolidation In Pakistan’s Retail Sector.

[2] Source: POPAI, Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI)

[3] Mr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, Consolidation In Pakistan’s Retail Sector.

From The Archives (2006) – Marketing To Kids


Branding Kids
Published In Dawn, Aurora Magazine, April 2006

by Umair Mohsin

Anybody who has ever actively chosen to watch kids shop in a super market will testify to the fact that it’s a fascinating experience. These ‘little angels’ are very much the devil in disguise and quite capable of toppling the mightiest brands in Pakistan. They have their own tactics of getting what they want. Kids are very likely e.g. to slip the product they like into the shopping cart, replace your product with a competitor’s (as countless exchanges of Lux for Safeguard soaps have shown), hand it directly to the cashier, pester either of the parents or the best one – throw a tantrum right there on the spot if they don’t get what they want. The use of such indirect influences termed ‘Pester Power’ combined with their own purchasing power makes them the biggest market in Pakistan and one that is the least understood.

To date there has been no study of the potential of the kid’ s market in Pakistan. However, a rough estimate can be devised. The 0-25 years old market in Pakistan comprises around 64.9% of the 153.96 Million (Source: Economic Survey 2005) people in the country. Slicing the same percentage from the approximately 60 Million people living in the Urban sector and taking out the 16-25 bracket comprising of 8.9 million individuals and the 12-15 bracket comprise of 4.1 Million individuals (Source: AC Nielsen Data) leaves us an estimated 25 Million kids in Pakistan out of which the 3-12 years segment can comprise of anywhere between 15-20 million potential users of all kinds of products ranging from juices, confectionary and even mobile phones.

In terms of direct spending only e.g. the average pocket money for the lower SECs (B,C,D) school going kid is Rs.10 per day. In the upper SEC’s, it can reach as high as Rs. 50 per day. Taking the conservative approach at Rs. 10, gives us a direct spending potential of Rs.150 million per day or an eye popping Rs. 54.750 Billion annually in just the urban sector.

Kolsen’s Slanty & Ding Dong Bubble Gum are two examples of the potential that lies in this segment. Slanty, the largest selling snack brand in Pakistan, sold more than 300 million packs in 2005. The sales of Ding Dong are estimated to be Rs. 2 Billion a year (Note: Hilal wasn’t available for comment).

Meet The New Kids

Almost every aspect of today’s younger generation is different from what we might have experienced in the past. They’re growing up faster, are more connected, are more direct and much more informed. They also have more personal power, more money, influence and attention than any other generation before them. With so much autonomy and decision-making power within the family, it follows that kids are vocal about what they want their parents to buy.

“This is the first generation to have a lifestyle and the segment is growing at a decent percentage. It is also the most global generation the world has ever seen. They’ve been exposed to both local and international trends since birth”, said Asif Iqbal, CEO, Post Amazers.

This is the generation which can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if not via the landline than via an SMS, a chat room or an IM message and there is no doubt that this steady diet of information, available 24 / 7 through a whole variety of channels, is playing a major role in shaping this new generation.

Ahmed Iqbal, Marketing Manager, National Foods said “Generation gaps now appear as closely as 5 years. They can take more information, process faster since they’ve been exposed to more mediums.”

“The kids know about all the content available on channels now and parents have been unable to limit this knowledge. These exposures to so many mediums have made their thinking broader. Kids now are far more intelligent and clever. They cannot be pushed anymore”, said Sabin Talib, BM, Prince Biscuits.

Says Hatim Shaikh, BM, Slanty “The kids of today are more computer and technology savvy and their ability to absorb messages and recall things has increased phenomenally as compared to the previous generation.”

This generation expects replies to SMSes in minutes. If not they get bored and move on to something more engaging. They are also used to things happening instantly and growing up on instant gratification has meant that it is also more demanding.

All this awareness is turning these kids into a NOW generation. They want things to happen here and now. They want to solve their problems now, not tomorrow. They must make the purchase now, win the game now or learn what they want to know now. Thus this is a generation with little, if any, patience. How can you be anything otherwise, if the media presents a world where pop stars are created in 4 weeks and millionaires are made in half an hour.

As with two sides to a story, the media is not wholly to blame for this either. Parents today are willing to compromise to and buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. Guilt plays a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids. The thought of nagging in the little time that the parents have with their children, is enough to open the wallets.

With all these information flows however, there are signs of worry. “The new generation is losing its creativity. Creativity now comes packed in a box. Young people once spent hours outside playing games in parks and friend’s places. They invented games, rules, played cricket, they played as leaders and war generals. No more. Nowadays, kids barely leave their bedrooms. Too few games now ask them to create the environment or the rules of play”, said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik. “Increasingly their behaviors, thoughts and attitudes are being created by the entertainment world”.

Marketing To Kids

Kids are the easiest segment to market to. Give or take a little, their interests are similar globally and unlike the adult markets where a thousand variables (and choices) can exist, the kids market on the other hand with few disagreements is a global one. Toys like Barbie, Pokemon, Beyblade or characters like Harry Potter are global trends.

Kids also make the perfect target groups, because they are old enough to have formed clear brand preferences, yet are young enough to be dependent on their parents and thus have the ability to directly influence their parent’s spending. They keep asking their parents over and over for what they want so they have a tremendous say over what gets bought in the household including major household purchases. In some cases of purchases by parents they have such an influence they may be thought of as the primary decision makers. No other generation has ever had as much disposable income as this one.

Kids are VERY MUCH brand conscious

Teens are active lobbyists when it comes to brands. Babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots, brand loyalties can be established as early as age two and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.

Their brands are the symbols for an identity, offering the opportunity to be trendy, cool, rich, rebellious, stylish even sexy and thus are an integral part of the way kids define themselves. It’s the way they express who they are at home, at school even on the net but that doesn’t mean they’ll regurgitate anything. This generation is very skeptical and they have a built in B.S. alarm that goes off quick and fast when they know that the advertiser is lying. They’re very media savvy and it’s getting harder and harder to market to them….their needs change at such a fast pace.

Sabin Talib commented “Mother’s can’t force their kids to eat something anymore if they don’t want to. Especially in confectionary and biscuits, after 6 years of age, the child will make their own choices independently.”

Thus, brands must continue to surprise and innovate in their communication to keep the brands fresh in the minds of kids because once a brand hits a peak, there’s no where to go but down.

Why is it worth it? Brand relationships formed in childhood do last into later years in adulthood, giving you years and years of solid, dependable growth and revenue.

Their Dreams And Desires – How To Reach Their World

“I Can’t Stand Britney Spears. My Friends Hate Her”

Kids want security. Whether boys or girls, kid usually feel very lonely and look for connections and relationships. Therefore a fundamental factor of a kid’s life especially as they reach their teens is peer pressure. They tend to follow the herd rather than their own instincts, thus popularity and fame scores high on their lists. If they aren’t after it for themselves, they’re deeply in love with those who do. This makes them less likely to develop loyalty to a brand unless it also appeals to their friends. But mass appeal does not elicit loyalty in any form. Kids follow their peers and equals. If their identified groups shift brands, then everyone else will follow without remorse.

“Mom, I Want My MTV”

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, fifth- and sixth-grade boys were about as fashion-conscious as their pets. Come this generation and they scorn any symbols of their immaturity, cultivating a self-image that emphasizes sophistication. They’re very concerned with their “look,” and a growing minority have begun using hair mousse and baggy jeans. This young generation wants cool, hip, and sexy.

“I Want To Be Commander Safeguard When I Grow Up”

Kids want mastery. They love doing things their way and want the same control that they witness in their heroes which incidentally we have a dearth of in Pakistan. Marketing pundits wrongly assume that kids will relate to cricket or singers. They don’t.

“We don’t have local heroes or kids celebrities. There is a big gap. They’re not turned on by cricketers or by singers. That’s basically a teen forte”, said Asif Iqbal.

Kids are desperate for regional / local heroes. They want content to which they can relate themselves with their language, their style, their choice of names, etc. They may watch cartoons like Dexter or Tom & Jerry but they cannot relate to these characters. Local marketers will need to create our own stories specially customized for these kids.

“Ha Ha Ha… that’s funny Mr. Monster Man”

Humor easily reaches across to both boys and girls as does fantasy, providing the fantasy is not too unrealistic. Kids have their own special humor, intrinsically related to their own unique concept of fun. Making your friends laugh also generates acceptability and loyalty.

Fantasy on the other hand expands the imagination. The younger the child, the greater the capacity for fantasy. Kids spend a lot of their time pre-occupied with day dreams which often star themselves as a hero of one sort or another living in a boundary free world. Characters such as Batman, Harry Potter, Spiderman all have taken advantage of this tendency to create very strong brands.

“Whatever they see on TV, they follow. They live in a fantasy world. That’s why we’ve given Prince a new look. He’s now more like a friend for the kids and someone they look up to”, said Talib. “Since confectionary and biscuits are impulsive buys, if they like and associate with the commercial or character, they will go for it.”

“Due to the massive reach and popularity of TV, kids of today are inspired by cartoon characters and super heroes and want to emulate them in their daily lives as well as use products which are linked to these characters”, said Hatim.

A ‘Today’s’ kid’s room will make it increasingly clear that the role of toys too have changed. Where once you would have found traditional toys in a 10 year olds bedroom, now in all likelihood you’ll find gaming consoles, CDs, movies, etc. The only toys that kids know of now are those linked to branded shows, ones like Pokemon or Commander Safeguard.

The Answers To Breaking Into The Rs. 55 Billion Market

“Not That Again”

Slanty was the first of its kind snack, Squeezy is the first of its kind of packaging. Even the Squeezy ad was ‘different’. Thus to reach this segment, innovation is very important.

“It’s Good. I Saw It On TV”

The life of most kids esp. urban ones is of routine including school, study, madrassah. By 5pm, escape is their deepest desire. In those two hours anything which provides them entertainment is undertaken or watched. Thus television plays a central role in their lives. They absorb more details and faster than adults do and contrary to conventional wisdom they genuinely love good ads and talk about them in their schools, at play, etc. They actually expect ads to take them to a different place and show them things they aspire to see and become. Entertainment, humor, light action and friendship are very important to these segments and they’re attracted to them.

“They’re less involved with publications than one might believe. It’s another form of education and kids already have enough of it. That’s why TV viewership is definitely growing in this segment with channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network leading the way”, said Asif Iqbal.

Therefore the answer lies in Experience and Involvement. To build a deeper relationship, interaction is the key. An engaging and involving experience in which the brand plays the lead role is the key to building a successful relationship with this segment.

“The only reason behind the success of Commander Safeguard was that no one did something like this before. It was the first of its kind animated series and most of all it was in Urdu. Pakistani kids had never been exposed to anything like it before”, said Asif Iqbal.

Asif Javed, ABM on Squeezy said ‘The prime factor is fun. It is the platform you can easily target. Cartoon characters especially involve the kids”

Why characters? Firstly, you don’t have uncontroversial celebrities in Pakistan. Secondly, with us being an emotive nation, we hate and love in a sine wave.

“The day Inzi scores a duck we hate him and the next day when he wins the matches we love him. Same is the case with singers. There are over 500 groups in Pakistan and there is none who have ever composed anything for this segment. There is no poetry, rhymes, or famous songs. Comics again are in English and mainly restricted to ‘Archie’. There is no belongingness in any of this.” said Asif Iqbal.

Thus if characters are done well, in accordance with brand values, it has a great chance that the brand will shine through, since there is not much competition in the mascot area. Characters also represent your brand, are ideal role models and most of all you own something that is totally yours forever. These characters will never die and never age. Celebrities after 5 years would probably not be attractive enough to be use as brand ambassadors. Characters live forever.

“Your desired positioning is best driven through a character. Your brand values are depicted easily. Squeezy is Top of Mind right now and the sales targets are well on their way to being achieved. Kids have actually pestered parents to get them the product”, said Asif Javed.

“Music is about who I am”

Music separates and unites various groups and a clear indicator of brand preference. Brand preferences often correlate with musical tastes.

“Music does more than simply create emotions. It creates trends. When kids like a song, they also focus on the artist who’s performing. Thus, you’d have people following the artist’s looks, behavior, speech, dancing style, attitude as well as their opinions and recommendations. This is a whole new ball game.” said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik.

“Mom, You’ll Never Guess What Happened At School Today?”

Campus Marketing programs are also increasingly becoming the best way to reach this segment. Last year LU alone targeted 70,000 kids and 21 top schools. Sponsorships especially are a cost-effective way of getting your message across to this segment and involve them. The kids get a better event (e.g. School Mela) and the advertisers benefit through sampling and presence.

“What You’ve Never Played CounterStrike”

Internet and Gaming too are a fast growing area but neither will be a hit without specific programming of their own. The best option right to exploit these new media is through TV and branded entertainment.

Conclusion

Dealing with kids is dealing with your future in all manners & forms, even to the point where you have the power to shape the upcoming world. That is why marketers must follow ethical guidelines and practices when marketing to these segments, as these little people are special. Dishonesty in advertising, producing low quality products just to make the sales this quarter will result in a future generation impaired in some form. Remember, kids are not as cynical as adults. They trust… a LOT! That is why care must be taken and once you have the opportunity to work with them, keep your word and enjoy the company of fun filled, exciting people for years and years.

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Anybody who has ever actively chosen to watch kids shop in a super market will testify to the fact that it’s a fascinating experience. These ‘little angels’ are very much the devil in disguise and quite capable of toppling the mightiest brands in Pakistan. They have their own tactics of getting what they want. Kids are very likely e.g. to slip the product they like into the shopping cart, replace your product with a competitor’s (as countless exchanges of Lux for Safeguard soaps have shown), hand it directly to the cashier, pester either of the parents or the best one – throw a tantrum right there on the spot if they don’t get what they want. The use of such indirect influences termed ‘Pester Power’ combined with their own purchasing power makes them the biggest market in Pakistan and one that is the least understood.

To date there has been no study of the potential of the kid’ s market in Pakistan. However, a rough estimate can be devised. The 0-25 years old market in Pakistan comprises around 64.9% of the 153.96 Million (Source: Economic Survey 2005) people in the country. Slicing the same percentage from the approximately 60 Million people living in the Urban sector and taking out the 16-25 bracket comprising of 8.9 million individuals and the 12-15 bracket comprise of 4.1 Million individuals (Source: AC Nielsen Data) leaves us an estimated 25 Million kids in Pakistan out of which the 3-12 years segment can comprise of anywhere between 15-20 million potential users of all kinds of products ranging from juices, confectionary and even mobile phones.

In terms of direct spending only e.g. the average pocket money for the lower SECs (B,C,D) school going kid is Rs.10 per day. In the upper SEC’s, it can reach as high as Rs. 50 per day. Taking the conservative approach at Rs. 10, gives us a direct spending potential of Rs.150 million per day or an eye popping Rs. 54.750 Billion annually in just the urban sector.

Kolsen’s Slanty & Ding Dong Bubble Gum are two examples of the potential that lies in this segment. Slanty, the largest selling snack brand in Pakistan, sold more than 300 million packs in 2005. The sales of Ding Dong are estimated to be Rs. 2 Billion a year (Note: Hilal wasn’t available for comment).

Meet The New Kids / You’re In MY World Now

Almost every aspect of today’s younger generation is different from what we might have experienced in the past. They’re growing up faster, are more connected, are more direct and much more informed. They also have more personal power, more money, influence and attention than any other generation before them. With so much autonomy and decision-making power within the family, it follows that kids are vocal about what they want their parents to buy.

“This is the first generation to have a lifestyle and the segment is growing at a decent percentage. It is also the most global generation the world has ever seen. They’ve been exposed to both local and international trends since birth”, said Asif Iqbal, CEO, Post Amazers.

This is the generation which can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if not via the landline than via an SMS, a chat room or an IM message and there is no doubt that this steady diet of information, available 24 / 7 through a whole variety of channels, is playing a major role in shaping this new generation.

Ahmed Iqbal, Marketing Manager, National Foods said “Generation gaps now appear as closely as 5 years. They can take more information, process faster since they’ve been exposed to more mediums.”

“The kids know about all the content available on channels now and parents have been unable to limit this knowledge. These exposures to so many mediums have made their thinking broader. Kids now are far more intelligent and clever. They cannot be pushed anymore”, said Sabin Talib, BM, Prince Biscuits.

Says Hatim Shaikh, BM, Slanty “The kids of today are more computer and technology savvy and their ability to absorb messages and recall things has increased phenomenally as compared to the previous generation.”

This generation expects replies to SMSes in minutes. If not they get bored and move on to something more engaging. They are also used to things happening instantly and growing up on instant gratification has meant that it is also more demanding.

All this awareness is turning these kids into a NOW generation. They want things to happen here and now. They want to solve their problems now, not tomorrow. They must make the purchase now, win the game now or learn what they want to know now. Thus this is a generation with little, if any, patience. How can you be anything otherwise, if the media presents a world where pop stars are created in 4 weeks and millionaires are made in half an hour.

As with two sides to a story, the media is not wholly to blame for this either. Parents today are willing to compromise to and buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. Guilt plays a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids. The thought of nagging in the little time that the parents have with their children, is enough to open the wallets.

With all these information flows however, there are signs of worry. “The new generation is losing its creativity. Creativity now comes packed in a box. Young people once spent hours outside playing games in parks and friend’s places. They invented games, rules, played cricket, they played as leaders and war generals. No more. Nowadays, kids barely leave their bedrooms. Too few games now ask them to create the environment or the rules of play”, said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik. “Increasingly their behaviors, thoughts and attitudes are being created by the entertainment world”.

Marketing To Kids

Kids are the easiest segment to market to. Give or take a little, their interests are similar globally and unlike the adult markets where a thousand variables (and choices) can exist, the kids market on the other hand with few disagreements is a global one. Toys like Barbie, Pokemon, Beyblade or characters like Harry Potter are global trends.

Kids also make the perfect target groups, because they are old enough to have formed clear brand preferences, yet are young enough to be dependent on their parents and thus have the ability to directly influence their parent’s spending. They keep asking their parents over and over for what they want so they have a tremendous say over what gets bought in the household including major household purchases. In some cases of purchases by parents they have such an influence they may be thought of as the primary decision makers. No other generation has ever had as much disposable income as this one.

Kids are VERY MUCH brand conscious

Teens are active lobbyists when it comes to brands. Babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots, brand loyalties can be established as early as age two and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.

Their brands are the symbols for an identity, offering the opportunity to be trendy, cool, rich, rebellious, stylish even sexy and thus are an integral part of the way kids define themselves. It’s the way they express who they are at home, at school even on the net but that doesn’t mean they’ll regurgitate anything. This generation is very skeptical and they have a built in B.S. alarm that goes off quick and fast when they know that the advertiser is lying. They’re very media savvy and it’s getting harder and harder to market to them….their needs change at such a fast pace.

Sabin Talib commented “Mother’s can’t force their kids to eat something anymore if they don’t want to. Especially in confectionary and biscuits, after 6 years of age, the child will make their own choices independently.”

Thus, brands must continue to surprise and innovate in their communication to keep the brands fresh in the minds of kids because once a brand hits a peak, there’s no where to go but down.

Why is it worth it? Brand relationships formed in childhood do last into later years in adulthood, giving you years and years of solid, dependable growth and revenue.

Their Dreams And Desires – How To Reach Their World

“I Can’t Stand Britney Spears. My Friends Hate Her”

Kids want security. Whether boys or girls, kid usually feel very lonely and look for connections and relationships. Therefore a fundamental factor of a kid’s life especially as they reach their teens is peer pressure. They tend to follow the herd rather than their own instincts, thus popularity and fame scores high on their lists. If they aren’t after it for themselves, they’re deeply in love with those who do. This makes them less likely to develop loyalty to a brand unless it also appeals to their friends. But mass appeal does not elicit loyalty in any form. Kids follow their peers and equals. If their identified groups shift brands, then everyone else will follow without remorse.

“Mom, I Want My MTV”

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, fifth- and sixth-grade boys were about as fashion-conscious as their pets. Come this generation and they scorn any symbols of their immaturity, cultivating a self-image that emphasizes sophistication. They’re very concerned with their “look,” and a growing minority have begun using hair mousse and baggy jeans. This young generation wants cool, hip, and sexy.

“I Want To Be Commander Safeguard When I Grow Up”

Kids want mastery. They love doing things their way and want the same control that they witness in their heroes which incidentally we have a dearth of in Pakistan. Marketing pundits wrongly assume that kids will relate to cricket or singers. They don’t.

“We don’t have local heroes or kids celebrities. There is a big gap. They’re not turned on by cricketers or by singers. That’s basically a teen forte”, said Asif Iqbal.

Kids are desperate for regional / local heroes. They want content to which they can relate themselves with their language, their style, their choice of names, etc. They may watch cartoons like Dexter or Tom & Jerry but they cannot relate to these characters. Local marketers will need to create our own stories specially customized for these kids.

“Ha Ha Ha… that’s funny Mr. Monster Man”

Humor easily reaches across to both boys and girls as does fantasy, providing the fantasy is not too unrealistic. Kids have their own special humor, intrinsically related to their own unique concept of fun. Making your friends laugh also generates acceptability and loyalty.

Fantasy on the other hand expands the imagination. The younger the child, the greater the capacity for fantasy. Kids spend a lot of their time pre-occupied with day dreams which often star themselves as a hero of one sort or another living in a boundary free world. Characters such as Batman, Harry Potter, Spiderman all have taken advantage of this tendency to create very strong brands.

“Whatever they see on TV, they follow. They live in a fantasy world. That’s why we’ve given Prince a new look. He’s now more like a friend for the kids and someone they look up to”, said Talib. “Since confectionary and biscuits are impulsive buys, if they like and associate with the commercial or character, they will go for it.”

“Due to the massive reach and popularity of TV, kids of today are inspired by cartoon characters and super heroes and want to emulate them in their daily lives as well as use products which are linked to these characters”, said Hatim.

A ‘Today’s’ kid’s room will make it increasingly clear that the role of toys too have changed. Where once you would have found traditional toys in a 10 year olds bedroom, now in all likelihood you’ll find gaming consoles, CDs, movies, etc. The only toys that kids know of now are those linked to branded shows, ones like Pokemon or Commander Safeguard.

The Answers To Breaking Into The Rs. 55 Billion Market

“Not That Again”

Slanty was the first of its kind snack, Squeezy is the first of its kind of packaging. Even the Squeezy ad was ‘different’. Thus to reach this segment, innovation is very important.

“It’s Good. I Saw It On TV”

The life of most kids esp. urban ones is of routine including school, study, madrassah. By 5pm, escape is their deepest desire. In those two hours anything which provides them entertainment is undertaken or watched. Thus television plays a central role in their lives. They absorb more details and faster than adults do and contrary to conventional wisdom they genuinely love good ads and talk about them in their schools, at play, etc. They actually expect ads to take them to a different place and show them things they aspire to see and become. Entertainment, humor, light action and friendship are very important to these segments and they’re attracted to them.

“They’re less involved with publications than one might believe. It’s another form of education and kids already have enough of it. That’s why TV viewership is definitely growing in this segment with channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network leading the way”, said Asif Iqbal.

Therefore the answer lies in Experience and Involvement. To build a deeper relationship, interaction is the key. An engaging and involving experience in which the brand plays the lead role is the key to building a successful relationship with this segment.

“The only reason behind the success of Commander Safeguard was that no one did something like this before. It was the first of its kind animated series and most of all it was in Urdu. Pakistani kids had never been exposed to anything like it before”, said Asif Iqbal.

Asif Javed, ABM on Squeezy said ‘The prime factor is fun. It is the platform you can easily target. Cartoon characters especially involve the kids”

Why characters? Firstly, you don’t have uncontroversial celebrities in Pakistan. Secondly, with us being an emotive nation, we hate and love in a sine wave.

“The day Inzi scores a duck we hate him and the next day when he wins the matches we love him. Same is the case with singers. There are over 500 groups in Pakistan and there is none who have ever composed anything for this segment. There is no poetry, rhymes, or famous songs. Comics again are in English and mainly restricted to ‘Archie’. There is no belongingness in any of this.” said Asif Iqbal.

Thus if characters are done well, in accordance with brand values, it has a great chance that the brand will shine through, since there is not much competition in the mascot area. Characters also represent your brand, are ideal role models and most of all you own something that is totally yours forever. These characters will never die and never age. Celebrities after 5 years would probably not be attractive enough to be use as brand ambassadors. Characters live forever.

“Your desired positioning is best driven through a character. Your brand values are depicted easily. Squeezy is Top of Mind right now and the sales targets are well on their way to being achieved. Kids have actually pestered parents to get them the product”, said Asif Javed.

“Music is about who I am”

Music separates and unites various groups and a clear indicator of brand preference. Brand preferences often correlate with musical tastes.

“Music does more than simply create emotions. It creates trends. When kids like a song, they also focus on the artist who’s performing. Thus, you’d have people following the artist’s looks, behavior, speech, dancing style, attitude as well as their opinions and recommendations. This is a whole new ball game.” said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik.

“Mom, You’ll Never Guess What Happened At School Today?”

Campus Marketing programs are also increasingly becoming the best way to reach this segment. Last year LU alone targeted 70,000 kids and 21 top schools. Sponsorships especially are a cost-effective way of getting your message across to this segment and involve them. The kids get a better event (e.g. School Mela) and the advertisers benefit through sampling and presence.

“What You’ve Never Played CounterStrike”

Internet and Gaming too are a fast growing area but neither will be a hit without specific programming of their own. The best option right to exploit these new media is through TV and branded entertainment.

Conclusion

Dealing with kids is dealing with your future in all manners & forms, even to the point where you have the power to shape the upcoming world. That is why marketers must follow ethical guidelines and practices when marketing to these segments, as these little people are special. Dishonesty in advertising, producing low quality products just to make the sales this quarter will result in a future generation impaired in some form. Remember, kids are not as cynical as adults. They trust… a LOT! That is why care must be taken and once you have the opportunity to work with them, keep your word and enjoy the company of fun filled, exciting people for years and years.

From The Archives (2008) – Meet Generation NOW


Meet Generation NOW
Published Dawn, Aurora Magazine, September 2008

by Umair Mohsin

When Pavlov trained his lab dogs to salivate on the command of a ringing bell, he inadvertently set the world’s stage for over a century worth of conditioning-based consumer messaging. The resiliency of the current model (create associations – link to product – hammer – repeat) especially was cemented in the early decades of the 20th century, when characters such as J. B. Watson and Edward Bernays “proved” that when businesses rang the right bell the right number of times, they could conjure desire and action in their audience. Branding as we know it today was set in place with the same model applied to every region of the world including ours successfully.

One reason for this was that even as close at 20 years ago media outlets globally were inherently limited by geography and scope so consumers lacked broad exposure to alternative experiences and information. Such was even more of a characteristic of our part of the world where communities were even more localized. Thus alternative exposure was limited. Indeed, the responses to the most heavily marketed (which in the old days meant buying advertising on the 9’o clock PTV news) goods and services then seemed to prove that all customers could be conditioned to salivate on command regardless of demographical differences between segments.

Come the 90s and the markets still hadn’t developed to anything remotely like today’s. Political upheavals from General Zia’s era, localized communities and lack of or restricted access to any forms of information or alternative viewpoints than the approved versions ensured people’s knowledge was restricted. Music channels were starting to be beamed into the country but then they were mostly western (MTV / V) channels that were aired through satellite to the privileged few. The preferred jobs were CA, a Doctor or an Engineer. A new breed of technology was just starting to come into the country called the internet launched by a company called Digicom. Yet that too was inaccessible to the common man. Infact up to the year 2000, we still only had 133,900 internet users in totality. Available advertising media choices were still limited and the model still worked successfully.

The era of transformation was finally reached 10 years ago when everything began changing and in some cases all at once – Information, media, educational institutes and even books. New channels including cable were launched in a country which had been to date used to only watching what was aired by a monopoly. Telecom companies started operating. A global IT revolution was underway worldwide so everyone wanted to be in IT business in Pakistan too. A bigger & silent revolution underway however was hidden beneath the calm oceans of the demographic data. On the exterior of things there was still no clear differentiation between the youth audiences and other audiences. From the young consumers’ point of view however, the increasing information from multiple channels and mediums was morphing them from dogs into cats.

The opening of the 21st century became the boiling point for media fragmentation in Pakistan. This blossoming of media placed an unprecedented amount of information in the hands of customers, rendered geographic barriers moot and for the first time set up clear differentiations in the behavioral structures of the sub-population including now what’s being called the youth market. The advent of the Internet and wireless technologies like the mobile phone gave everyone access to information anytime and anywhere whilst the opening up of media markets to competition lead to what’s today’s increasingly fragmented, always-on media landscape. Young customers now had access to an unprecedented amount of information and could communicate any time and place they pleased.

Let’s stop here for a moment to understand the basic difference between cats and dogs. The prime difference is motivation. Let’s stereotype – a dog wants to please you, a cat couldn’t care less. Dogs are devoted, loving and selfless. Cats are aloof, indifferent, and self-indulgent. Dogs are social and act in ways that maintain and support the social order. Cats are solitary and act in ways that benefit themselves. A cat’s engagement with you lasts only as long as she wants it to last. A cat is not out to please you. Cats tend to see the world revolve around them. These describe the characteristics of our youth perfectly.  Young customers now resemble cats – notoriously self-motivated and generally not biddable. The ‘Brand’ is now defined in customers’ minds by their personal experiences with a particular product or service and not the advertising or marketing support and they are attentive only to the information that matters to them.

These emerging sub-markets are now starting to shatter marketer’s assumptions. Businesses have started finding out that they no longer control the strings – neither can they evoke desire nor elicit responses like they used to. These “bell ringers” who had grown accustomed over time, to the fact that their “dog’s” responses could be conditioned and, through certain repetitions influenced, are finding out that the youth is no longer passive. Empowered by knowledge the youth has started taking the steps to being in charge-much like cats. It is this sea change that’s got them them focused on what is relevant to them and start ignoring the rest.

“The main difference because of which the youth are now choosier is just the access of information. Everything else is the same. The youth for generations have always been demanding- such is their nature. Now however the range of their demands has increased and this is simply because of the knowledge they possess. Now it’s not what their parents give or can’t give, like it was in the 90s. These days even a kid has information about things which we never knew about when we were their age. Where before information was suppressed or released in chunks, now kids can search for anything. Thus they are more specific about what they want and are not dependent on their parent’s choices.”, said Asif Iqbal, CEO, Post Amazers.

Technology has changed the landscape and emerging media are now subdividing the masses into specialized audiences. The biggest challenge we face as marketers is the customer’s ability to assert control over the entire process. However, while emerging media and technology undermine the effectiveness of traditional mass-marketing models, they also create unprecedented opportunity for us to redefine and profit from how we communicate with customers.

Don’t Back A Cat Into A Corner

It’s a foregone conclusion that as media fragments, so does the “mass” in mass-marketing. Yet many marketers today still seem to think if their message can be broadcasted to the young consumers, they WILL listen to them. Most marketers look upon the new burgeoning media as vehicles for delivering messages to even larger audiences who (in their thinking) are predisposed to devour information at face value, respond accordingly and then constantly clamor for more. The current marketing philosophy seems to be to ring better& bigger bells for increasingly more dogs and because of it bells are ringing everywhere. Few marketers understand the full effect of blossoming media options on the current marketing models, however, and even fewer understand that the young customers don’t pant and whine anymore. Even worse, most of them find all that bell ringing annoying.

If defined than marketers will realize that there have been four major trends currently underway which will impact further & has been transforming this generation because of the transitional changes of the last 10 years. 1. Their lives have become almost completely digital. 2. They are taking a lot more stress AND are a lot more optimistic. 3. Everything’s about ‘US’ now and 4. They’re more socially aware & conscious.

1. Increased Connectivity

The youth have been turning away from old media channels and even most methods of advertising to embrace new media at a growing pace. A research undertaken by Google Pakistan estimates that 70% of the 14 Million online users spend now between 1 & 6 hours online DAILY. Yahoo! Pakistan cites that there are 2.64 million i-generation (under 25 years) Users on their networks whilst MSN cites that there are 1.8 million i-generation users on their networks. These numbers are expected to grow rapidly over the next 5 years. Despite repeated attempts an equivalency in telecom numbers couldn’t be determined, however estimates range from 14 Million to over 25 million mobile phone users.

These technologies are changing our youth into a generation of multi-tasking users, not used to missing a beat and always connected with the world around them. They have been freed from their traditionally passive role as receivers of marketing communications. Whilst in the past, marketers presented the view they wanted customers to see; today the customer chooses the angle from which they want to view the product. These angles of engagement reflect different motivations and different buying modes, and occur at different stages in the buying decision process. This growing abundance of alternative information resources give the young much greater control over the information search and acquisition process, and allows them to literally become active participants of the marketing process.

“The Web is a democratizing force as the world’s largest global brain. It educates everyone on the pros and cons of every product, service, and even person. An educated person doesn’t react well to the traditional ‘art of manipulation’ that most marketers attempt to employ in their campaigns. As a matter of fact, it makes them angry and defensive”, said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik.

What marketers need to understand is that for teens, it’s all about how technology is meeting their needs — to stay connected, express themselves, etc. Teenagers are subject to need for social validation. Despite technology advancements, the motivation to socialize hasn’t changed since time immemorial. Instead, it’s been dramatically enhanced and enriched with the explosion of digital communication platforms and social networks online.

“Kids and young people don’t love the technology itself — they just love how it enables them to communicate all the time, express themselves and be entertained. Under the age of 14, kids generally use the phone as a toy. After 14, the mobile phone quickly becomes a means of self-expression and communication,”, said Ehmer Kirmani, CEO, Media Idee. “Even if we look at the power of online communication tools, like instant messengers [8.6 million users] or social networking sites, which enables young people to communicate both privately and with multiple friends, we’ll find that they mostly use the features like winks, emoticons, etc. to add to the fun of chatting and allow them to express themselves more deeply,”, he continued.

“You can get your own e-identity now at 8. That possession is for life and you’re famous because of that ID. This is what makes them an individual at such an early stage.  Twinkle is the personality not Ayesha. [Marketers have to learn to] talk to that Twinkle and not Ayesha. She logs in from a CyberCafe in Lalo-khet. Online she is a different personality which is not the same personality as she is at home where she might not even be allowed to talk to her cousin or neighbors. Once on the net, however, she can talk to anyone she wants anywhere in the world and she’ll do it in ways that Ayesha will never.” said Iqbal.

2. Lots More Stress & Lots More Optimistic

The current youth says that their stress levels are “high” or “very high”.  They feel the world is now a more complicated place to live in today. However, they are optimistic about their future believing they can personally achieve anything they set their minds to.

“What’s happening in Pakistan. .. the interpretation of religion and way we enforce that on our youth, is putting them in very difficult situations. On one hand they have access to all this information about the world. When they look outside their window, however, the world is a different place. They don’t find that lifestyle around them. This is one of the reasons why there’s so much brain drainage. The youth especially from the Middle class has the tendency to make choices and wants to get somewhere. There is increasing frustration as they see less opportunities here than elsewhere in the world. That is why they involve less in group activities and go deeper into their own personal worlds.”, said Asif Iqbal.

3. Socially Conscious

Unlike previous generations, ethnic divisions are no longer a concern to the youth, especially for the middle class. Those ethnic divisions were fostered because to become a govt. employee there were quota systems. This is not present anymore since there are so many professions to choose from now. Thus the validity of the reasons that propped up the ethnic boundaries has reduced. Govt. bodies themselves are becoming privatized and the politics are slowly changing. So these people are changing along with themselves. They’re opening up to ideas and the world and want to make a difference. The new global campaign for the Greening of the Earth is already having a positive effect in the upper echelons of society and over time it is spreading to the masses as well.

It’s all about Us

The youth are driving a shift from a “me” culture to a “we” culture where the opinions of the group drive consumer trends, preferences and behaviors. Even though they want to stand out and express their individuality, young people strive to feel connected with each other.  They are looking for shared experiences and constant communication with a diverse group of people. The youth constantly seeks ways to put their stamp on products and have their voice heard.  It is a way of showing the outside world who they are and what they value.

“This is the most versatile generation has never been born in Pakistan.  Youth is more about themselves now”, said Iqbal.

“We have to learn to talk in their language and that is not what we are advertising with right now. There are few cheering moment in their life. The cricket team and hockey team has failed them, music has failed them, squash is almost finished. They don’t’ have heroes like Miandad, Imran Khan, Jehangir or Jansher Khan anymore. You have to create those idols again. The biggest problem in our advertising is role models.  They can’t relate to Shoaib Akhtar. They can’t relate to Qadir Khan and because of our lack of understanding of talent management we’re literally creating and destroying personalities. This is a problem for our youth. Who do they identify with then.” said Iqbal.

Times have changed—and so must we. Nobody could have foreseen the challenges today’s marketers would face. Twenty years ago, getting through to customers was only a little tougher than filling a thimble with a fire hose. Then multi-tasking, instant-messaging, e-mailing, cell phoning, emoticoning ;-), always on, web-searching, blogging, gaming, customers we now need to reach did not exist. Clearly we are moving through a time of irrevocable change that has profound implications for businesses large and small. We need to reinvent the way we market to consumers. Within it we’ll need to remember that cats don’t bark.