Modern Marketing

Marketers, here is what the new-age consumer really cares about

By DEEPTI KARTHIK |

June 6, 2022 | 6 min read

A question often asked to marketers is how much do consumers care about the oft-fought social media trials and battles? Do they care enough for it to alter business outcomes, and influence brand love and loyalty? Deepti Karthik, senior vice-president marketing at DaMensch India, a D2C menswear brand, talks about what increasingly matters to the post-Covid consumer, and what marketers should do.

The marketing team is often accused of fixating on the tiny details that might make no difference to the business outcome. The retort is often: “Who cares? The customer won’t even notice.”

Unless you live under a rock, everyone has read about the public scrutiny and trial of advertisements – even those from the house of some of the most prominent brands in the country. Whether they brushed the boundaries of political sensitivities or weren’t woke enough, the dissection was painful. Then, as a brand manager, can you really afford to not dot your i’s, cross your t’s and think of every possible cohort that might take offense at the ad?

The new-age consumer cares about transparency and authenticity

The new-age consumer cares about transparency and authenticity

However, beyond the social media circus there are so many of us who wonder if the consumer even cares – if they care enough to alter business outcomes, and influence brand love and loyalty.

The pandemic shook everyone, and we became more discerning, conscious, doubting and skeptical. We truly rethought every facet of our life. Beyond the power and anonymity of the online trolls, the consumer has changed, and they are asking for more...

More transparency

What did you put in my soap? How many grams of saffron per bar? Is it just 1g a tonne? Today’s consumer is like the spouse who has been brushing indiscretions under the carpet, but is refusing to do it any more. Be honest with me, they say. What are you putting in my food? Are you really good for me? The entire D2C FMCG segment is just a testament to the consumer willing to pay a little extra for good ingredients.

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So, as a legacy brand, if you still resort to old tricks then that market share box will continue to look red on the chart year-on-year... until you choose to come out of denial.

More authenticity

If you don’t work 15 hours a day, how can you expect a promotion? Try saying this to a gen Z and they will be quick to clarify that they don’t need that promotion. Today’s consumer was just jolted in their boots – life might not be the way they planned a few years ago. Who thought we would all be locked in for months? The fear of not doing well tomorrow has been replaced by the fear of there being no tomorrow.

As a brand, if you tell a consumer to save up for tomorrow, be on their best behavior or sacrifice today, then you are truly not ‘in with it’ – or, in other words, you have not checked in on the consumer recently. The consumer is asking what you will do for them today so they have a tomorrow. Sustainability is a conversation that is here to stay as humans realize how one microorganism can bring life to halt. Brands that are genuinely showing they care about the planet and are authentic in trying to make a difference, no matter how small, are acquiring loyal consumers for good.

More value for money

Most industry leaders agree that 2019 should be seen as a new baseline. The growth figures will not be represented year-on-year from 2018 but rather 2019. While some industries are witnessing rejuvenation, the average price value is higher today for most products due to the rising inflation.

In such a time consumers are finding it rather easy to ask themselves, can I live without this? The muscle memory kicks in of having lived just on basics, and abstinence becomes an easy option. As a brand you truly run the risk of growing out of favor, both from mind and cart, if your pricing strategy isn’t revisited to account for the new world order.

More fluidity

More than ever consumers don’t want to be pushed to make a decision, to perform better or be efficient – they want to have more than one right answer to every query, and even in how success is defined.

Have you noticed ads featuring entrepreneurs as the protagonist, speaking of the kind of change our economy is witnessing? Call it the gig economy or the rise of the solo-preneur, but the desire to be free of rules, boundaries and pressure is governing consumer behavior. With a greater awareness of mental health and the lack of desire to have a house, a car or a family by 30, the consumer today is asking for more time to figure their life out. And marketers will have to respond appropriately.

It’s for the marketer to make the consumer care for their brand, and with the ‘cluttercore’ gen Z the task will be even tougher; however, it promises great rewards. We live in times when one reel can alter the trajectory of a brand and deliver business outcomes. The ask is simple – get the consumer to care.

Deepti Karthik is the senior vice-president of marketing at DaMensch India.

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