We pick up strings of happenings in and around, absorb huge amounts of bytes from social media all day, averaging at least three hours a day on the last count, and gaining information mostly from TV viewing hours. All of this sits in the subconscious mind in a particular pattern, which is, to a large extent, still mysterious.
The human mind is the greatest blockchain system ever created, not with regard to crypto currency, but in the more complex crypto-neuron sense which no algorithm or AI will ever be able to replace.
There is a lot of developmental work in the neuroscience field aimed at understanding how people respond to messages. Most of us don't know how the convoluted mind works, but being communication specialists, we use a lot of techniques, case studies, anecdotal evidence and pots of common sense. There is what is called the 4 Senses of communication - the straight sense, the rational sense, the economic sense, and the deeper (in the deeper realms of emotions) sense.
Research has shown that people from different regions and backgrounds think differently, but essential human motivations remain the same and we have the age-old Maslow wine that we can trust to decode the tectonic shifts occurring.
The demographic dividend story in the famed new economic order has brought about a new social pyramid which some economists have called the Double Belly.
If we place the Maslow law of hierarchy next to this social pyramid it should ideally mirror the same, but we don't have any empirical evidence (yet) to re-draw the pyramid. However, as communications from one-to-many turns into one-to-one, here is where the challenge lies in a burgeoning consumer class. There is significant correction taking place in the market and hence, this is an ideal period to examine these studies and look for newer consumer insights.
The point about communications, hence, is that India is one place where we would still talk to a large spectrum of the audience through Mass Media and the challenge is to bridge the aspirations in the social strata through meaningful stories that resonate. No matter how big the digital pie is currently or in the future, talking differently to each segment will remain a challenge. Hence, the creative media nexus has never become so imperative in the communication design.
So here are some examples of applying the '4 Senses' principle that I set out to discuss in this piece:-
• Straight Sense - TOM awareness is the metric. Highly dependent on long-term engagement platforms (Swachh Bharat). It is still playing in the lower hierarchy, as security/ safety/ hygiene is the key. One-to-many is still the choice of media where we are able to trigger the 'reminder' neurons in the brain. Then, of course, we need to appeal to the social responsibility of each citizen.
• Rational Sense - Persuasion power would be higher. Need repetitive exposure of the functional 'pay offs'. Emotional benefits as support at the master-brand level. Media needs to build topicality and association through relevant content. Programmatic buying would play an important role in the mix.
• Economic Sense - Defend market share. High on functional 'pay offs' low on emotional. More tried and tested. Fewer experiments.
• The Deeper Sense - Brand building: new categories, growing the premium segment, building new geographies.
The footprint in India today can be classified in different ways. We are very familiar with urban, semi-urban and rural. Then there are metros, middle India and small India. The eagerly awaited new IRS report should throw some light on this (hopefully). Similarly, mobile companies have shown us different definitions called iPhone cities, Samsung towns and even OPPO/ VIVO towns. In all of these, the Maslow hierarchy of needs is determined by digital reach and this is where there is a complete paradigm shift taking place. Media has to be disruptive and highly experimental; creative has to be market-agnostic, easily adaptable to micro-local culture and very local media platforms and languages.
In all of this, we need to unravel mental blocks and adopt brevity. The genius of the crypto-neuron game would need to unlock psychological fencing to make a better impact and curate meaningful brand stories.
(The author is founder-director of Rubixkube Communications, an advertising and media consultancy company)