“This is the first time I have given a presentation with sand in my shoes,” said Sheila Byfield, global director,
Insights, Mindshare. It is probably another insight into the fast pace with which the world is changing and creating
a ‘Big Blur’ in the marketplace, a subject that formed the backbone of Byfield’s presentation on the 2nd day of the
“With the intense fragmentation of media and availability of many more ways to spend and save time, the traditional
lines in consumer behaviour, demographic studies, brand behaviour, companies and media and technologies are
blurring,” she said.
While traditional men did not use any skin products, the male skin care category accounts for 30% of the global
cosmetic market; children are getting older at a younger age while elders remain young for a longer time; brands
like McDonalds LA created a skateboard campaign to promote fitness; Samsung has teamed up with Armani to roll out a
super luxury phone, as have Marriott and Nickelodeon to create theme-based rooms. Phones are being used to watch
television while televisions are being used to place orders.
Adding to the chaos caused by the ‘The Big Blur’ are reactions of consumers to it. Advice-there is a growing need
for communities to seek advise from sources they don’t know, making word of mouth, social networking sites and
searches tools brands need to react to. Experience-consumers are spending more on experience more than products,
especially in developed countries, putting even mass brands like McDonalds under pressure to strip their plastic
chairs for leather. Caring – global consumer market for ethical brands is becoming big business. Slowing down – even
though the world seems to be moving faster, the global trend suggests people are slowing down for a better life.
The challenge, thus, lies with the media men to create effective communications that can cut through the blur. A few
things to keep in mind, as per Byfield, are: consumers are concerned about personal invasion and thus agencies have
to be very careful when collecting and using the data; people respond positively about being involved; Internet
search is a complete phenomenon and brands looking at expanding their footprint should tread carefully vis-à-vis who
they partner with, how elastic they are, etc.
“Whichever part of the business we are in, we need to invest time and money in understanding people’s behaviour and
what they really want,” summarised Byfield.