Vocal For Local: Opportunities and Challenges For Advertising and Marketing Companies Advertising and creating visibility to your brand in a highly cluttered market is important to create top-of-mind recall in the mind of consumers

By Madhavan Sankara

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The pandemic has ushered in a new normal, in every sphere. If there is one thing the pandemic and the lockdown has brought to fore is self-reliance, putting the spotlight on local produce. As the decibel around "vocal for local' gains momentum and with the government giving the necessary impetus, support, and resources to fuel local production of goods, it will only be a matter of time before we become completely self-reliant. Many home-grown brands are occupying spaces in our homes while also gaining global acceptance. Around 70 per cent of India's economy constitutes family-run businesses, be it small kirana stores or large conglomerates.

Marketing and advertising have a significant role to play in giving impetus to the "vocal for local' movement. There is a famous saying, "Doing business without advertising is like winking in the dark. You know what you are doing, but the others don't." This neatly sums up why advertising and creating visibility to your brand in a highly cluttered market is important to create top-of-mind recall in the mind of consumers.

Today there are a plethora of options and mediums available to create visibility for brands. That said, the opportunities are only going to get bigger. Changing consumer behavior is another factor at play. The fear of the pandemic is so deep-rooted that consumers are no longer venturing into malls and shopping complexes. The preference is shifting towards the neighbourhood stores. Consumers today are going with a list of shopping items, making purchases quickly, and heading back home to a safe zone. This visible shift in buying patterns and behavior is bound to propel the proliferation of more local brands vying for a share of consumer spends.

New entrants' vis-a-vis well-entrenched brands need to create visibility for themselves and their offerings through unique and innovative messaging and mediums for brand salience, equity, and success. For local brands, relevant local media, vernacular language press, social media, and digital platforms will witness increased traction as they would be crucial for reaching out to where the consumer is. Advertising agencies, on their part, need to become more agile, innovative, and "create' opportunities for local players to be more visible. As more local brands begin to proliferate, the clamour for consumer mind space will get shriller. This calls for a fundamental shift in the way agencies operate. They should move beyond just executing the creative brief and get the ads published in media outlets in a prominent position. Agencies need to be more vigilant than ever, to evolving mediums, have a pulse on the ever-changing consumer needs and behavior, and create opportunities for brands to thrive and prosper. Agencies should don the mantle of being the "custodian' of the brand and do all that it takes to make it a success.

Local brands can also lead to the emergence of hyperlocal e-commerce players in the future, where one would be able to buy a white-labelled chips packet from a store within a 3-km radius. All these are nothing but an opportunity for marketing and advertising. The mediums may evolve, but opportunities will never perish. Brands, too, on their part will need to become innovative in the way they "engage' with consumers. Deeper engagement with the consumer will define their success. Marketing and branding will play a decisive role in grabbing consumer mindshare.

Internally, agencies will need to undergo a cultural transformation. Each and every employee will need to have a sense of ownership fuelled by passion, commitment, and the willingness to go the extra mile. Go beyond their assigned roles and responsibilities, moving forward with a sense of urgency. Self-driven, self-motivated people who can function from anywhere, anytime will be the ask, from a people perspective.

In sum, the emergence of a new order is round the corner which will fundamentally alter the way products and services are delivered to consumers. This is the opportune moment to look beyond the challenges and lunge forward with greater zeal and enthusiasm and create history.

Madhavan Sankara

Founder & CEO, Madarth

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