“Take all lists with a pinch of salt,” says Ambi Parameswaran who is founder and CEO of Brand-Building.com and has spent many decades working with brands and advertisers. He has an interesting insight. “We did a study at SPJIMR (SP Jain Institute of Management and Research) on the Forbes celebrity rankings for India, China and US. In India, the lists are all dominated by Bollywood and cricket (and some other sports). The US is very different, in the top 100, only 10-15 are from Hollywood. There are many from sports, TV, music and so on. In China it is like India, TV and cinema,” he says. Every country throws up the lists its people represent.
The lists leave a trail of breadcrumbs to the consumer. Even more interestingly, though, the nature of lists drawn up tell us what brands want. Take one of the many lists that Twitter
put out this year; the top 10 brands that make people happier, for instance. More than conveying a sense of what the customer seeks, the idea is to tell brands and advertisers what Twitter
wants. To dial down the animosity on the platform. At a time when social media networks are under the scanner for the hate and venom being spewed under their watch, this is a more than just another wish on a New Year star.
Similarly for Instagram.
The platform that has spent a lot of time exploring ways to keep its screen hate-free has a list of all the positive things that trended on its platform. Love, saree-grammers, weddings and festivals are the top trends.
For brands, these platforms that draw in millions of users offer a ringside view of the lives of consumers as they live it. Ashish Mishra, managing director of Interbrand India says, “The future of brands clearly lies in understanding that it is the ‘age of you’ we live in. Brands will have to move at the speed of life and enable multiple micro experiences around the consumer.”
However brands must pick and choose the insights, as must they strategise according to the platforms they choose. Many online trends are ephemeral says Parameswaran, pointing to the girl whose wink won her brands or a dancing uncle who went on to star in ads. “A brand’s alliance is more tactical on these platforms. But there must always be a brand fit, otherwise these associations don’t make sense. Ultimately the tactical must align with the strategic aims of the brands. Following what is the 70:20:10 rule. 70, for classical and traditional advertising and marketing, 20 for experimental and 10 for going completely off the grid,” he adds.
Brands would benefit also from looking at lists as many pieces of a single consumer. The sharp differences between popular endorsers on Twitter
and TikTok, for instance, reflect the multi-layered nature of the Indian consumer. The same consumer may behave differently on different platforms. Pops K V Sridhar founder and chief creative officer HyperCollective says, “Data helps us go where the consumers are and where the producers of popular content come from.” His advice and that of other experts is that read the lists and go armed with a bunch of insights for 2020, but do temper it all with a large dose of realism.