Sense-making is the key essence of a magazine, noted Santosh Desai, MD and CEO, Future Brands at the 9th Indian Magazine Congress, which got underway in Chennai on 23 February.
In his address on ‘Emerging Consumer Trends and Implication for Magazines’, he outlined the evolving yet discerning nature of the consumer in today’s world.
He reflected that with brands perceiving themselves to be ‘magazines’, it was hardly surprising that social media in today’s context ‘remains a giant ongoing segmentation study for magazines’. While there was tremendous opportunity for the storytelling of a brand, the distribution strategy has to be re-imagined so that the replication of the successful newspaper distribution model is possible, he noted.
The need is to align distribution in a way in which the category fits into the consumer’s life, was his message.
According to Desai, the media is in the midst of some fundamental changes with many questions about its future still unresolved. A significant challenge could be the relevance of its form when compared to other consumer communication channels, said the former adman.
India, in his opinion, was ‘between mindsets‘. It is a nation where a consumer is in search of more; wanting to express herself but lacking a vocabulary to do so and having an aspiration, desire, opinion, exploration, stimulation and seeking self-improvement. If the dominance of TV and the pervasiveness of print are a reality, then one must not ignore the fact that the digital shift is paving the way for democratisation of voice, he contended.
Developing newer categories of consumption, a unique attribute of magazines, was the need of the hour, said Desai. He added that this could be done by ‘creating hierarchies, implanting codes, showing rules of discrimination, manufacturing celebrities, multiplying identities, building communities around interest‘, among other things.
“Investing in content and its creators is imperative,” noted the speaker. With the power shifting from managers to creators, there is a need to ‘create a compelling cast of characters who the readers will get excited by‘, he surmised.