Both marketing and advertising are, after all, exciting only when you take a few leaps in your mind.
During my MBA days, I remember being asked 'what is competition for McDonald's?' A standard answer would have involved Burger King and KFC. Then I remember a classmate presenting the 'Vada Pav' as a competitor. A vada pav and McDonald's both fulfil an urge to snack and fulfil your small hunger urges. That was still easy for me to digest, although I wondered how amchi vada pav could compete with a Maharaja Mac.
Then I heard a statement from Chetan Bhagat that anyone who watches Bollywood cinema is a source of business for him. That got me thinking - the same need for 'timepass' is being fulfilled when one watches a Bollywood flick or reads a Chetan Bhagat book. It is quite possible that a timepass youth film could be losing out to a book called 'Girl in Room No 105' on a Saturday afternoon.
I started wondering if the model of - who wins when you lose and who loses when you win - can be applied to even so-called unrelated categories that can fulfil the same need.
Then something strange happened in my life. Friday nights used to be drink sessions with heavy starters. A form of escape where the mind would switch off from a lot of things completely for a few hours. These sessions become sacrosanct as a means to switch off and spend time with friends over a drink or two. This continued for years until one day, Netflix entered my life.
One Friday night I skipped my drinks session and watched a few series on Netflix. The next Friday I repeated the same viewing pattern with a series called 'Money Heist' that I enjoyed very much. It suddenly struck me that the Friday drink session was not as important as before.
A little later I realised that the need to escape from my current realities of the week was being fulfilled by Netflix due to a combination of lust, drinks, sleaze and everything that the fascinating darker side of life could offer for those few hours.
When I see OTT platforms and television channels take digs at each other, I sometimes wonder if they are defining their competition and source of business a bit narrowly. As competition intensifies and every OTT channel increasingly makes an effort to become a part of the everyday 'job list', can someone actually look at needs that other categories are fulfilling during the day or week?
We've gone from a content deficit nation to a nation that's being overwhelmed with multiple platforms serving rich content. I have heard people say there is so much to binge on that it is difficult to choose. I firmly believe that one has to attempt owning different slices in the consumer's life on an every day, every week basis to be able to win this game. This can only happen if one looks beyond one's category and at various needs being fulfilled across categories, day in and day out.
Are there bigger opportunities in owning a slice of the consumer's mind space by looking at the different moods that one experiences during the day or week? For example, during the day, on a dull, boring afternoon, there might be a need to have a chocolate biscuit like 'Dark Fantasy' to lift your mood. But the same need could be fulfilled with a quick 15-minute burst of comedy on Amazon Prime.
The need for 'Me Time' that a mother has during a busy day catering to her kids' needs 24x7 can be fulfilled by a 15-minute cup of chai or a program on an OTT channel.
On a stressful Monday, amid an ever-ballooning job list, there could be a need to just break free and go wild. Maybe this need could be fulfilled through a short 15-minute show that enables you to go wild.
Once again, coming back to the marketing theory, there is the need to look at the 'need scope' model and maybe even Carl Yung's archetypes a little differently from the classic marketing theories. Rather than slotting individuals and even brands as fulfilling certain needs or behaving like certain personality types, OTT and even TV channels have the opportunity to switch between different needs and different personality types daily. For example, the same platform has different facets like the Jester - the stand-up comedian who can make you laugh till you cry before the intense job list session begins on a Monday morning or the Sage - who can offer unlimited wisdom for you to mull over for the rest of the week.
Currently, the relaxation need may be fulfilled by some who go for a quick smoke or maybe even meditate in office for a brief period before the intensity of the week hits them. But perhaps an OTT platform can grab that slot amongst a small percentage of the audience. Who knows, with such a rich variety of content, maybe it is possible for OTT platforms to grab a share of the consumer's mood and mind space at so many more points of the week and a share from categories we felt were completely unrelated to each other.
By trying to occupy slots in this space, they can start increasing their number of subscribers and ensure that subscribers spend more time on their platforms vis-a-vis other platforms. The opportunities are endless.
By the way, I did lose a little bit of weight because Netflix replaced some of my Friday night escape sessions. Now that's something that Netflix can celebrate.
(The author is co-founder and director at MAAD, a user-generated advertising and marketing platform).
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