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#DigiTales: Why FMCG brands should invest in digital media

There’s a TV show at 8.30pm that my wife used to meticulously watch every weekday, that got disrupted when our son’s dinner and sleep time coincided around the same time. Knowing that’s the only program she loves to watch, I was considering to buy a DVR enabled set top box when she simply rejected the idea saying, “Why buy a DVR and record TV shows, when I watch it a few hours later on YouTube?”. Oops! Did you notice what I learnt here?

The behaviour shift, ‘fall of appointment viewing and the rise of on-demand viewing’ is not future, it has already happened. Let’s look at some numbers to see what’s up; and why a detergent or any other FMCG brand cannot treat digital (more like YouTube) as a niche to have in media mix anymore?

A study by Nielsen reported on The Wall Street Journal in the last week of July reveals that, between 2010 and 2015, TV viewing time among people aged between 18-24 years have declined by a whopping 32 per cent. It is interesting to note that there was just one per cent drop for people aged between 50-64 years. This report comes out on the same date when YouTube announced that watch time on its platform is up by 60 per cent and viewership through mobile is up by 100 per cent as compared to its own figures from 2012.

In May, Google published a study report jointly conducted by Nielsen (again!) which states YouTube is reaching more 18-34 and 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the U.S.

Netflix on other hand as been steadily growing and has reach over 69 million subscribers worldwide with 40 million within US.

Alright, that’s a lot of data from the US. Back home in India, according to comScore, 75 per cent of internet audience are aged between 15 to 34 years. YouTube gets over 3 million daily visitors who spend an average of 21 minutes per visit!

Hotstar app claims over 25 million users in India and IPL related viewership through the app garnered 200 million+ views! All under five months from its launch. It is youth, mobile and digital all the way.

With the behaviour change on one hand and the numbers indicating a trend on other; let’s put the two together. One of the guiding principle of advertising is that, it is meant for a moving parade and not for a standing army. Maybe your detergent brand or a 50 paisa toffee enjoys the top spot today, thanks for convincing my mom and million other moms to buy it time and again by informing them about the brand benefits through mass media for years now. But what about my wife, my sister and a bunch of other similar new age moms, the moving parade I mean. How can brands reach and successfully convey the message that they are still good enough for this generation, when this generation no longer enjoy their entertainment dictated by a clock nor they have any regards for a TV channel’s concept of prime time.

The concept of multi-screen world meant TV is no longer watched in isolation, but another screen such as a mobile, laptop, tablet is also simultaneously used by people while watching TV. Going by the trends we are discussing here, there may be an irrevocable flip, mobile becoming the primary screen and TV the second screen.

Digital media must be assessed for its own merits in isolation and not in comparison to mainline advertising. It is high time brands embrace the power of digital and when doing so, please avoid the urge to just recycle your TVC into a YouTube ad. My three year old son knows how to skip them.

(Views expressed in the article are the author’s and do not reflect those of his agency / employer. This article is the first of in #DigiTales series, his exclusive column for Digital Market Asia)

Sreeraman Thiagarajan

Sreeraman Thiagarajan is Vice President at Publicis Beehive.
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