In the last few months interest in India among technology companies seems to be at an all time high. With #GoogleforIndia Summit, Facebook’s Free Basics campaign, Microsoft’s Hyderabad Conclave and Global Business Heads talking Digital in India, one would believe that we have finally arrived. Connecting ‘One Billion Indians’ is the new mantra adopted not just by tech giants but also telecom service providers and Government institutions.
Here are top 6 trends that may shape storytelling in the digital age in India.
1) Go deeper, go local
Marketers who are looking to tell relevant stories will need to go deeper to understand consumer journeys across digital touch points, to be discovered at the right time. Also, with the increase in data and smart devices adoption the consumer will drive demand of ‘now’ fulfillment. This can be served only with a sound understanding of the local context. For example, a young executive walking to a coffee shop from work to a ‘nearby’ Starbucks in New York has a distinct experience from her counterpart in Mumbai. This local context in Indian urban and non-urban centers will guide access, outreach and conversions for brands in 2016.
2) Regional will become mainstream
The first 300 million internet users in India grew around urban markets, with access to connectivity and devices, disposable income, predominantly English speaking, mostly Millennials and Middle-aged working professionals and mostly male. There is a sharp increase in the demographic and socio-cultural shift in the next 200 million who joined the internet in the last 14 months. More users are accessing internet through mobile, comparative growth from non-urban markets is higher, comparative growth in female internet users is high. Also, there is a marked increase in creation and consumption of regional language content. This is not just driven by consumers but also supported by mainstream media news organizations and publishers to create more regional content. Google with its Indic Keyboard for Android may just result in a spurt of local language texting, messaging and social sharing. It’s time that marketers recognized that regional language content in India may become mainstream, in 2016.
3) The rise and rise of influencers
Those in the know of the Public Relations business have always defined their operational role as ‘influencing the influencer’. This rise in ‘influencer’ marketing and engagement especially on digital platforms seems to be an old wine in a new bottle. However, the game changer here is data analytics and being able to identify, engage meaningfully and develop relevant content for successfully driving an influencer program. Paid models will continue to evolve and the focus may shift from ‘Twitter influencers’ to ‘Instagrammers’, ‘YouTubers’, ‘Digital Content Creators’ and other digital ‘celebrities’. Also, Mainstream Media in India will adopt and leverage old school ‘news gathering and distribution’ infrastructure to new age digital formats. For intelligent marketers and agencies the ubiquitous question across digital channels will be getting a fix on ‘What does influence mean to me and my business?”
It would be interesting to see if there is an emerging school around reading, visualizing, interpreting, and creating Indian language content using technology in 2016.
4) The age of smart devices
There is enough said and written about the next generation devices and how we discover the world through them such as affordable high performance smart phones, wearables like smart watches, Virtual Reality (VR) applications or Internet of Things (IOT). However for the Indian market a higher penetration of smart devices would also mean that there may be reason to believe in an alternate engagement model which revolves around the way we use mobile internet. The average Indian user accesses mobile apps and websites in short spurts and may not enjoy high speed connectivity at all times. This will change the way the brands think and deliver their proposition to the Indian consumer. More videos, images, location based offerings, contextual to environment, shorter content formats, low bandwidth applications, digital products, lighter operating systems, etc. in 2016.
5) Technology at the helm
Data Science may finally get its due in India in 2016. As large businesses grapple with the rising complexity of interpreting their business environment some of these answers are rooted in a deeper understanding and application of smart technology solutions. Most data analytics components are developed on western models and trained to derive meaning for businesses. India’s linguistic complexity and a digital consumer’s usage in communications pose a phenomenal challenge in developing indigenous solutions that can address this issue. It is certain that a lot more organizations will gravitate towards ‘Data Driven’ models for the Indian market and apply their own unique solutions to bridge the gap between listening and conversion.
6) India means business
With an increase in investment in connectivity infrastructure, smart devices and local solutions the Indian market is poised for a leap forward in 2016. Those who take time to understand the Indian consumer, changing environment, socio-economic context and work towards viable indigenous business ideas stand a better chance to gain from this surge in momentum for India in 2016.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of my employer or associates.