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Day 2 CreaTech Mission to India: Advertising, Gen Z and VR

March 7, 2022
Published on:
February 25, 2022

Between February 21 and 24 2022, a CreaTech UK-India virtual trade mission brought together businesses from both countries. Download a brochure about the mission here.

On Day 2 of the CreaTech Mission to India 2022, the first discussion was moderated by Prasad Sangameshwaran, Editor, Economic Times Brand Equity, India.

UK Speakers included Andy Pye, Head of Business Development, Seymour Powell; Jamie Sergeant, CEO, Crowd; Dagmar Mackett, Global Development Director, DRPG and Camila Toro, Senior Planner, VCCP.

From India, we heard from Aditya Bhat, Head, Jio Creative Studios; and Neena Dasgupta, CEO and Director, Zirca Digital Solutions.

Participants agreed that the growth of digital and data consumption has been accelerated by the pandemic in both the UK and India.

With large swathes of populations working from home, including agencies, and consumers increasingly shopping online for large parts of the last two years, many brands had to tailor their communications activities accordingly. Agencies have had to adapt their skillset to service clients’ changing needs.

The ability to analyse consumers’ digital data to gain greater understanding of audiences and improve the creative effectiveness of marketing messages is key. However, it is important to avoid over-focus on short-term digital performance data at the expense of the creative quality of messaging, which some participants felt was suffering on digital channels.

Camila Toro said: “The use of data is really, really important in terms of creative effectiveness…You can use creative to connect with your audience and use data to measure the impact you’re having with your audience.”

For agencies, there is an opportunity to build on their relationship with clients as trusted partners and solutions.

Aditya Bhat said: “I would say it is important for an agency not to be jack of one trade, but of all trades. Brands are looking for agencies to deliver content solutions.

According to Dagmar Mackett, clients were not always aware of what can be done with data analytics, and sometimes need to be educated by their agency partners in how data could be used.

Younger consumers, whether they are labelled as Generation Z, Millennials or according to some other heading, have typically been at the vanguard of digital media adoption. This was true even before the pandemic.

However, several participants advised against treating this audience as an undifferentiated mass, instead recommending using data and insight to draw up multiple ‘personas’ from this demographic based on shared ‘likes’, subjects of interest, and other digital habits.

Neena Dasgupta, CEO and Director, Zirca Digital Solutions, said:  “I don’t know what they (Millennials) want. The lines have been blurred between Gen Z and Millennials…What they don’t want is extensive communications. They want more space

It is important that we treat them as a segment and try to understand the personas.

Repeatedly, participants stated that for younger audiences, it was important that brands communicated a sense of purpose and ensured that their external and internal communications sounded authentic and were consistently aligned.

Crowd’s Jamie Sergeant said: “We always try to tell our clients to focus on authenticity”, pointing to how clients could use more informal and authentic communications on Tik Tok compared to the more polished executions they have often used on Instagram.

Speakers also saw the potential for brands to engage with consumers in the metaverse (the generic term for virtual and alternative reality environments). This includes brands in both business to consumers sectors, such as entertainment, and in B2B categories.

For instance, during the lockdown when music venues were closed, VCCP and 02 created a virtual entertainment venue in Fortnite, the hugely popular gaming environment, to offer music fans access to concerts, rides and other features expected from a physical venue.

Andy Pye, Head of Business Development, Seymour Powell, said one role for agencies was to advise their brand clients how they should present themselves in the metaverse.  This could include using metaverse technologies to develop sales and collaboration tools.

Pye said: “One of the ways we are thinking about the metaverse – is that this is really the next way of experiencing the internet. How is this going to evolve over the next 8 years? It is going to be transformational.”

There is an obvious space for greater collaboration between businesses in the UK and India. Speakers welcomed opportunities to find out more about each other’s markets, and the return of business travel and exchanges of speakers and ideas in both directions.

Session 2 was moderated by Arnav Ghosh, Consultant & Growth Advisor, Immersive Tech and Ex-Regional Director – APAC & India, Blippar.

Speakers included Tom Nield, Co-Founder of Landmrk; Dan Montalbano, Global Head of Operations , VCCP/Girl&Bear; Taran Singh, Director, Taran3d; Sami Cornick, Development Manager, Round Midnight; Niraj Ruparel, Head of Mobile & Emerging Tech, GroupM & Head of Voice, WPP, India; Anand Gurnani, Founder, VAMRR Technologies.

Topics included: What Can VR/AR/3D and new production do for brands? What new ways are brands are using AR/VR and game technologies to engage customers? What is the potential for growth in this area? What are the opportunities for international collaboration, and between India and the UK?

The market for new forms of digital content production and output is varied and growing at different speeds. For instance, it has become fairly mainstream in some markets for brands to enable consumers to use augmented reality (AR) filters.  Other technology uses – such as allowing consumers to preview how furniture would look in their homes or try on clothes ‘virtually’ - are now relatively common. Brands as different as Ikea and Gucci have implemented executions in this field, according to Dan Montalbano.

Some speakers said growth in the VR market was being held up by lack of installed headsets in the market and fragmented platforms. The cost of volumetric capture and filming was also seen as a barrier for Indian companies wanting to use this technology.

That said, there is a clear opportunity to increase the skills and diversity of the workforce creating digital content production, often drawing on talent from other areas such as gaming, experiential, and performance. The pandemic encouraged some companies, particularly in the experiential and events space, to pivot towards offering virtual experiences.

Some speakers acknowledged that there was a degree of hype in some discussions of the metaverse. But the rapid growth in smartphone and data usage in India, particularly during the pandemic, has made it a more attractive market for developing and rolling out digital content.

Anand Gurnani, Founder, VAMRR Technologies, said: “There is a lot of opportunity in terms of consumption levels going up both UK and India. COVID has flattened out that gap between the two countries in terms of digital consumption.

Tom Nield, Co-Founder of Landmrk, said: “Having really good powerful smartphone adoption creates a base. The huge entertainment and music industry in India and the size of the population make it really exciting for collaboration.

The potential markets for VR/AR and other forms of digital content production stretch from entertainment and retail to more B2B focused applications that would enable corporate sales teams to generate sales or collaborate on training and projects using virtual environments.

Examples include medical device companies that are using virtual technologies to enable their sales teams to demonstrate equipment that would be too expensive to release in the physical world. In another cases, engineering companies that deal with hazardous waste are now able to train teams globally using virtual technology.

Taran Singh, whose company has engineering firms in its client base, said: “Being able to train all their employees around the world at the same time - they (clients) are very interested in that, especially when you are dealing with hazardous situations or expensive equipment.”

However, whatever the context and the audience, it is important to ensure that the technology is made straightforward for people to use.

Karan Bhardwaj advised: “The technology has to be made so simple…Keeping the essence of technology and user journey really simple.”

To realise the promise of new technological developments, companies will also have to bring together disparate disciplines and technologies and ensure employees have the skills to take advantage of new formats.

Group M and WPP’s Niraj Ruparel, said: “The next 24 months is going to be all about integrating and up-skilling.

Dan Montalbano said:  “It is about marrying technology with the creative. The demand is coming from brands. Brands are waking up to it in the way they haven’t done before.”

The size, growth and creativity of the India market, particularly in the entertainment industries have made it an attractive place to seek partnerships for UK businesses.

Sami Cornick said: “We would love to collaborate with Indian companies. There sounds like there is a real hunger to do things differently. We like to do things differently…There is a good opportunity for us to collaborate.”

Arnav Ghosh, Consultant & Growth Advisor, Immersive Tech and Ex-Regional Director – APAC & India, Blippar, summed up: “We need to invest time in building scale, building behaviour. Each one of us should look to build an eco system within the two markets.”

Choose from all sessions at the CreaTech Mission.

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