On stage at Media 360 Summit in Hong Kong, Dasgupta stressed that demographics and psychographics—two of the most fundamental approaches to consumer marketing—is no longer effective.
“Today when I’m trying to sell an organic product, I do not look at a demographic segment,” said Dasgupta. “I look at the sort of people that are being influenced by health like people that are into yoga and are taking that as a lifestyle trend.”
Dasgupta added that consumer marketing is more community-oriented.
For example, in a recent campaign, Doritos Tortilla chips targeted the LGBT community. “It became the talk of the town,” said Dasgupta. “In our briefs to agencies we cannot put a consumer definition that says mothers 25 to 35 with one child. That doesn’t do the job.”
At the core of this approach is that consumers are more like tribes, which are linked with “passions, generational dynamics, and a shared and common experience”.
“Communities are driving brands, which is what makes it challenging for marketers,” said Dasgupta. “How do you target communities that do not buy based on psychographics and emotion alone?”
On a more macro-level, he said, “cities in countries are also behaving like other countries”. Citing a recent economic model that looked at per capita income and the consumption patterns of different countries and cities, Dasgupta said “local brands have gained significant influence and advantages.”
“As cities become more important, local businesses are becoming really big and they’re behaving like multinationals,” said Dasgupta. “And for actual multinationals that is a challenge. So when I enter into China, my biggest challenge is not the Nestles of the world but local companies like Yili. They are faster and more connected.”
The fundamental changes to the consumer landscape have directly impacted the marketers and how they look at strategy and “buy media and creative”.
In addition, it has also become harder for brands to engage with consumers. Citing a study in the UK, Dasgupta said people only remember 11 per cent of the content they consume the day before. Of those people, only 3 per cent like the content that they remember.
“You could be spending a billion dollars on advertising and what consumers actually like is a tiny amount,” said Dasgupta. “How do you generate content with true implications for your brand? Remember people are being bombarded with 7000 pieces of content everyday.”
Dasgupta believes two kinds of content stand a chance in the current climate. Firstly, there’s scaled disruptors, “something everyone will talk about because it’s so big that no one has done it before”. Secondly, content that thrives on “continuous conversation”.
For scaled disruptors, Dasgupta cited Pepsi’s short film “Black Knight Decoded”, in which the company hired “top Hollywood film directors” to take a fictional story and activate “brands underneath it”.
“The challenge if you’re a brand is do you have enough money to create something like that?” said Dasgupta. “If you don’t then, what are other ways you can partner up with stakeholders to get to that scale?”
When it comes to on-going content efforts, he said that the traditional brand and agency approach of producing “two to three TVCs per year needs to be more like 50-100 pieces of content per year.” The solution is to figure out ways of creating this large volume of content with a budget that’s very small.
“That’s changing things where boutique agencies are coming in with solutions that big ones can’t deliver on given the scale and overheads that some of these big agencies have,” said Dasgupta.
For established brands and large multinationals, shaking things up can be challenging for marketers and doing so can mean going against the ”grain of the company you’re working in”.
“You have to do things that are not necessarily in the culture especially in the older audience who are sitting there at the top of the company,” said Dasgupta.
This has larger ramifications for how brands find creative solutions, which may not come from the agencies of the world but through “online crowd sourced innovation and creativity".
“As marketers I think there’s a changing idea of ‘who do I work with and how do I work with them’,” said Dasgupta. “We can’t be set in old ways and we have to be open-minded in order to make these breakthroughs.”
During his presentation, Dasgupta also highlighted a piece of work he was particularly proud of from Anchor.
"We took a category like milk that was becoming like wallpaper and we did something creative with it," he said. "We recently launched Anchor Go Strong in New Zealand and it's already top on social media. We also took one piece of TV content and expanded it into many stories and activated them across digital with storytelling."