While much has been said about the exponential growth in digital consumption, there has been an emerging profile of the digital user as well, that has been less researched. Between now and 2030, when we expect a billion Indians to be online, some of the consumer archetypes to drive trends: 1) The Digital Sophisticates who will account for the top end, with high income levels and consumption preferences that mirror a global M&E user. 2) The Digital Enthusiast is a more complex persona and would not only include most of the Internet’s early adopters in India – those who consumed content prior to 2016 – but also grow to embrace younger millennials and Generation Z consumers who will enter their prime working years by 2030. Most of the internet consumers who came online post the drastic fall in data prices in 2016 will form the core of the Digital Mainstream. Lastly, the Fringe users whose digital consumption is likely to be restricted to mobile messaging and free bundled content as they may lack the required socio–economic mobility.
Marketers are you ready?
Digital marketers will need to invest in understanding these individual niches as even the smallest among them presents an attractive opportunity. Given the growing digital user base, there will expectedly be a wide range of socio-economic profiles, consumption patterns and preferences according to KPMG India’s Media and Entertainment report 2019. The regional digital user base in India is growing in scale and relevance. Digital businesses are seemingly taking notice of this trend and have invested in easing the process of discovery on their platforms through machine learning and recommendation engines. A substantially larger digital citizenry that is varied across multiple parameters – age, income, language, mode of access etc. – presents marketers with many options and opportunities along with a few challenges as well:
Consumer segmentation: In a digital world, marketers must consider not only the obvious socio-economic and demographic factors that differentiate one user from another but also factors like choice of device, reliability and strength of available telecom infrastructure and readiness to transact online.
Hyper-localisation: The smaller the segment, the more relevant and engaging advertising will be. In essence, there will be a mass of niches that will demand hyper-local content and advertising to go alongside. This ability to hyperlocalise both content and advertising should also help onboard the largely offline SME community who can then cater to their target catchment area.
Personalised engagement: Digital media is ‘always on’ and there are multiple channels available to a marketer to reach the consumer. A platform that allows people to connect and create communities is a marketer’s dream, as much of the psychographic profiling is already done when like minded people gather together organically. OTTs will attract more advertising spend as they offer a brand-safe, narrow case environment for marketers.
Performance marketing: Brands will need to pay much more attention to performance marketing options on digital platforms. This ranges from paying for mere clicks to full-fledged attribution where the consumer’s journey is tracked from awareness to purchase. Return on investment on digital advertising will become more critical especially when ad-fraud in India is almost 9% of the global total.
Privacy concerns: Brands will be needed to balance monetisation methods – still predominantly advertising led – and the increasing concerns around privacy on digital platforms. While there is an undeniable trend to move towards performance marketing, this requires larger and more accurate data to be collected on the consumer for it to be effective. The online-offline attribution model where GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth trackers now can monitor physical movements – and purchases – only heightens the perceived threat to privacy.