Guess who’s the INDIAN MARKETER’S NEWEST CHALLENGE? THE ALPHA PUP!
4Ps B&M examines the challenges & opportunities that these little dynamites offer to the communication pundits and checks out whether they are on the same, page, chapter, book!
“A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” is how the great iconic British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was once reported to have described Russia. In year 2013, bewildered marketers and communication professionals could well be tempted to borrow that description wholesale, to describe their most challenging target-base … kids! A maddeningly fickle and unpredictable demographic segment whose minds are extremely difficult to enter, marketers continue to grapple with a constituency whose influence on the purchasing intent / decision is increasingly getting bigger by the second!
In short, Pester Power (and other forms of insidious badgering, nagging, coaxing and blackmailing etc) as a means to persuade and convince parents to buy is an area, which to enter, is no child’s play. New parameters need to be drawn if this tsunami is to be understood, tamed and steered in the right direction. Point is: Have the blinkered, tunnel-viewed, rigid marketing and communication people even begun to understand the sub-text, nuances and subtleties that layer this endeavour? Do they have the appropriate skill-set to decode and swing it, their way?
However, before hitting the market, why not peep into the lives of one community, that is totally involved, connected and aware of this phenomenon, first-hand, every day … the Moms! Admits 26-year-old, Delhi-based working mother Seema Sen (who has an angelic 5-year-old daughter, Mishti) that life is far from heavenly! “She is just 5 but madam has a mind of her own! Clothes, food, snacks, cold drinks, TV programmes, outing spots, even friends, cousins, relatives – she has definite preferences and it’s a job to get her to change her mind! At 5, I was a Puppet!” says Seema.
Mumbai-based, 30-year-old Belinda Fernandes understands Seema’s predicament totally. The homemaker has two live-wire boys aged 9 and 7 and freely states that “going bonkers or grey is no longer an option!” She says, that “thanks to TV and the digital wave, my brats have more knowledge and opinions about … everything … about which I (comp-illiterate) am clueless! Only when I yell who’s the Boss comes into play. Parenting today is no child’s play!”
Social Commentator Santosh Desai urges us not to dismiss this as frivolous and take a big reality-byte. “We live in a completely different, technologically and digitally-driven time and are – willy-nilly – creatures of the age of consumption. Kids are hotter and hippier with the new lingo and jargons of this phenomenon and therefore cooler with it,” Desai tells 4Ps B&M. Hence they are forever tuned-in or logging-out of the latest trends in this space. In this KGOY (Kids Getting Older Younger!) environment soft toys and old-fashioned board games (Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, Carrom) are dumped for iPad, iPod etc. They are much more clued-in too, about products that go well beyond the usual (clothes, sweets, toys and movies) range. Today cars, mobile phones, DVD players – among other adult purchases – zoom into the radar too with alarming speed! No wonder a recent Disney’s KidSense survey indicated over 60% kids discussing products mentioned above with their parents / elders. Also, smart parents turn to their techno-savvy kids for insights and info before the decision-making process.