Tapping Into The Power Of Bharat With Culture First Marketing

India’s diversity speaks different languages and cultures, and to tap into the diverse languages and cultures, marketers will have to think huge and go the extra mile to craft innovative marketing strategies, writes Mousumi Mishra

In India, people from distinct cultures, backgrounds, and languages combine to form the fabric of its very essence. Given the growth in the country’s population and diversity, social media is emerging as a dynamic frontier for marketing and advertising. With the growing internet penetration in India, social media has found a new way to celebrate this multiplicity by connecting people from the hinterlands and diverse linguistic backgrounds, transforming the way we communicate. Moreover, its conducive political and business climate, as well as the astounding pace of digitisation presents an exciting time for the marketing communication landscape. Therefore, language and culture have become essential elements of marketing.

As the internet has reached even the remotest pockets of our country, according to a recent report by The Esya Centre and IIM Ahmedabad, Indians, on average, spend 194 minutes daily on social media platforms. Therefore, digital content is a crucial facet towards the evolving culture of India. Marrying the craft of culture, marketing and technology serves as a true north of progress.

Social media trends frequently spring forth from shared passions and cultural currents, gathering momentum through active user participation and imaginative expressions. Consequently, it becomes imperative for brands to actively participate in ongoing conversations, immerse themselves in the latest trends, and embrace them into their brand identity if they resonate with their core values. This necessitates forging partnerships with content creators and actively fostering cultural dialogues and meaningful moments across social media platforms.

Creating Customised/Personalised Campaigns

Marketing strategies for brands in the ever-evolving and dynamic cultural landscape such as India require a greater degree of customisation for each segment of the target audience. When you speak to someone in their local language mentioning things that they relate to in their daily life, the message is received and remembered better. Hence taking a culture-first approach and adding local flavours to the content can communicate messages in a practical and more effective manner.

When one wants to speak to an audience based on their cultural identity, they must understand how to speak to them and what makes them tick, therefore, respecting their cultural identities. In cases where your target audience belongs to various cultures, backgrounds, and languages, it becomes important to get an insight into their behaviour, consumption patterns, demographics, etc., to craft effective marketing strategies to connect with the right audience. This should be done via extensive primary and secondary research of your target audience, understanding what they are interested in and how they like to express themselves.

When we were designing our brand communication for ShareChat, we did extensive research to understand what trends mean to different consumer segments. For someone in Meerut, going out to shopping malls on weekends is a trend and for someone in Mumbai, a meme on the local real estate brokers is a trend. When we created our brand film, we ensured that these different nuances are captured.

Adopting culturally sensitive strategies

Stereotypes or preconceived notions against any region, caste, religion, etc., have a catastrophic impact on your brand’s reputation. It is thus imperative to unlearn these biases, traditional concepts and theories in your creative process to reach out to various segments of the target audience and respect their cultures and backgrounds.

Crafting a culturally sensitive marketing strategy as a part of the overall strategy, keeping in mind a particular segment of the audience that interacts with the media, will bring authenticity and allow you to gain a competitive edge. For instance, Whisper’s Missing Chapter campaign aimed to empower women by breaking menstrual taboos and promoting awareness around menstrual health, with the adoption of modern scientific knowledge. Looking at the lack of menstrual education especially among mothers in rural areas, Whisper found it critical to empower the nation's mothers and change mindsets with the knowledge around periods to guide the next generation of women. The hyper-localised campaign brought out both brand purpose and cultural sensitivity.

Another impactful example is Mortein’s Suraksha ka Teeka campaign which aimed to raise awareness about malaria in rural India. The brand leveraged the traditional practice of applying ‘Kaala Teeka to their children to reformulate with mosquito-repellent natural oils. Creativity + innovation + cultural sensitivity is the way to go! Moreover, brands can also establish communication through regional influencers since consumers from a particular cultural background tend to take recommendations from recognised experts/influencers belonging to similar backgrounds. This ensures authenticity and at the same time, the consumers would be able to resonate with the brand in better ways.

Tap into the passion points

Culture is a shared passion for distinct common experiences. From time spent on media to hobbies, sports, music, food, and fashion are all cultures and as marketers, we need to understand how our audience interacts with these passion points.

You can easily fine-tune your strategies to the nuances of your set of audiences and working closely with data analysts can help get a clear picture of these passion points.

Leveraging Audio & Video

Audio is at the centre of culture. Audio media, including radio, streaming, and podcasting, can remain relevant and competitive as audiences shift in demographic makeup and media consumption patterns. Along with this, the popularity of short videos & audio chat rooms with homegrown platforms like ShareChat & Moj are also breaking linguistic barriers and users can express and voice their thoughts in their languages on social media. Live streaming is the next big thing that will increase consumer engagement and brands have already started capitalising on this growing trend too.

India’s diversity speaks different languages and cultures, and to tap into the diverse languages and cultures, marketers will have to think huge and go the extra mile to craft innovative marketing strategies. The deeper internet penetration will only lead to the growth of content in regional languages.

(Mousumi Mishra is the Head of Consumer Marketing of ShareChat & Moj)

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