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By Antara Ghosal , afaqs!, Bengaluru | In Marketing | February 22, 2010
Finding answers to questions, such as who are millennial customers and what makes marketing to them different, marked the beginning of the two-day event at Bengaluru

'Marketing disruption'-- the phrase that has set alarm bells ringing for marketers across the globe -- is a direct outcome of the rise of millennial customers and their love for the new medium. In the first session of CII Brand Summit 2010, a panel of eminent speakers, comprising Dave Evans, consulting director, 20:20 Social; Andrew Robertson, president and CEO, BBDO Worldwide, USA; and Arun Tadanki, managing director, Yahoo! India tried to demystify the term, 'millennial customers'; and thereby, evaluate the present status and future prospects for new media in India and abroad.

& #BANNER1 & #Millennial customers have unique characteristics, stated Evans. According to him, they are the key drivers of the society, who have grown up with Reed's law and believe in collaborative intelligence. Technology is one of the truisms of their lives, which has gifted them a democracy of access. In India, the panel predicted, the power of internet is only going to intensify with technological development and broadening of the mobile phone industry.

Going a step further, Robertson defined the millennials as 'Homo mobilis'-- a new race that has emerged from the tools of mobility. He also stated that no matter how much technologically advanced the millennials get, but their fundamental needs as a consumer would remain the same. They would do what they do the best -- live life sensibly. Therefore, the best way to connect to these millennials would be through creativity.

"Any creative content that can effectively engage consumers, and is faster, easier and cheaper, will work out. Therefore, marketers need to acquire behaviour based strategies; they should come up with ideas as big as they can be defined in a text message and also craft the snot out of it. Do not 'target' your audience, instead seduce them, engage them and make them participate in your communication. Consider 'digital medium' not just as a 'new medium', but a language to create experiences and to share emotions. We do not just need to understand or speak the digital language, but have to dream in it," he said.

Although internet in India is growing by 20-25 percent a year (as compared to traditional media, which has a growth rate of 3-4 per cent, in terms of new audience) and around 5 lakh new consumers join the brigade everyday, marketers are yet to make serious investments in this space. And, the reasons are certain myths still associated with internet and internet advertising. Tadanki busted some of these myths about the digital medium.

The first myth, Tadanki stated, is that today's marketers are allocating their ad spends rationally and giving equal importance to new media. According to Tadanki, most brands spend the least in online marketing, even though they know that the biggest percentage of their consumers are hooked to the medium 24x7. He believes that it is time for marketers to do a reality check on this.

The second myth, as per Tadanki, is that the internet is a niche medium. In his words, only 1.5 percent of the country's population reads English newspapers, whereas 5 per cent population uses the internet. However, every year, around Rs 6800 crore is spent in the form of advertising for English newspapers, which caters to just 1.5 per cent of population. And for the 5 percent consumers on the internet, the total ad spend is just Rs 650 crore.

The perception that internet is all about young consumers, Tadanki said, is the third myth. He acknowledged that the medium is much fragmented; yet, he added, it is the only tool to target one's consumers as per their interests; whereas traditional media gives no chance beyond demographics.

Tadanki condemned marketers who believe that online advertising could be done with a meagre budget. He pointed out that the trend is for marketers to accord maximum priority, and funds, to traditional media such as TV, print and radio; and whatever they are left with at the end of this, to the digital medium, just to ensure their presence there. "Investing for the heck of investing is no solution. Every medium needs the right level of investment to generate desired results," explained Tadanki.

Talking about another myth, Tadanki stated that the internet is not just a medium for lead generation, as is mostly believed; there is much more to it. Its biggest bonus is that it's a measurable medium. Tadanki further asserted that creativity on the internet is quite possible, thanks to technological advancement. "The popular belief that a good ad can only be made for TV or newspaper no longer holds true. Technology is already with us, all we need is equal dedication and importance from the marketers, so as to create an effective online campaign," he added.