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Trending Now: 2020 will be the year of digital maturity in India - Hari Nallan

Hari Nallan, Founder and CEO of Think Design, part of the Havas Group, writes about the trends that will dominate digital and tech-based marketing in India in 2020. Amid growing march towards digital, Nallan cautions brands to get their equation right on “meaningful intervention Vs invasion”.

What were the few big changes that you think were of importance in 2019 for our industry?
We started 2019 on a balanced note (somewhere closer to bullish than bearish) and ended right at the centre. We anticipated big changes due to the rise in spending digital technologies also brands maturing in their outlook towards digital products, services and marketing investments. I would summarise the key changes in 2019 as:

  1. Spurt in digital-only brands shifting overall focus in the industry from physical to digital in their full spectrum of investments from product development to marketing to operations and delivery.
  2. Evolution of the digital native customers, indicating a strong shift in consumption habits.
  3. Paradigm shift in the way people consumed media and entertainment that also paved the way to newer media products, services and platforms, opening up new opportunities for marketing and advertising. 

What are the big changes you are expecting in 2020?
2020 will be the year of digital maturity in India. I expect an inflection in consumers’ digital behaviour and I already see a significant movement in this arena. Few trends to watch out in 2020:

  1. Sharp rise in cloud-enabled businesses: We have already seen upward swing in the concept of cloud kitchens and cloud retail. This is only going to grow while plenty of other traditional businesses will move under the ‘cloud’. This is going to create new formats of product ownership that will be predominantly in the back end and in the cloud, whereas the front end of sales, marketing and distribution is enabled by tech platforms. 
  2. Growth in new marketing opportunities:The trend marked above will also lead to unification of products and services; and will also provide high scale. This will mean a direct growth in marketing and new product development opportunities; and those opportunities are up for grabs for those companies that are digitally mature.
  3. Data maturity will guide a brand’s growth: Data will become an essential element that will guide superior consumer understanding and hence, creation of relevant products and services, and better targeting of campaigns. So much so that a brand’s success will directly rely on its people’s understanding of data; and their agility in acting upon data driven insights. 

How has the consumers’ behaviour changed with the introduction of tech-based marketing?
While consumers continue to accept the new marketing formats and meaningful interception of tech in their lives, there is also a growing concern about security and privacy. While I see a huge uptake in adoption among consumers that are under-reached, I see resistance among consumers that are over-reached. Balancing the two will be critical to marketers. 

Are we expected to see some big shifts around data regulation in India?
I do expect a big shift around data regulation, primarily triggered by activism. I will not be surprised to see “privacy activism” becoming a mega trend in India in the coming months. Brands must be very careful about getting the equation of “meaningful intervention Vs invasion” right, otherwise they will face abandonment. 

How do you anticipate the AdEx growth across platforms in 2020?
I expect a double-digit growth this year, with digital growing twice as much as non-digital. This growth will be triggered by tech unicorns and established players waking up to digital. 

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