Opinion: Managing business as un-usual is the normal

Tirthankar Dash is senior vice president, Quantum Market Research

Mar 01, 2011 06:56:00 PM | Article | Tirthankar Dash


Learning to do business in an unreasonable world

Nothing in the consumer world today is moving along predictable linear lines. Gone are the days when marketers led the consumers along a “new and improved, better than before” step-wise journey.

Over the last decade, forces like the Internet, mobile telephony, liberalisation, digitisation, modern format retail, accelerated urbanisation, media revolution, amongst many others, have completely transformed the way consumers connect with business and vice versa.

Consumers and categories are evolving, metamorphosing and producing new genetic mutations that force marketers to rethink all their assumptions everyday.

Remember when you cracked the consumer code last month? The consumer has cracked, fried and served his own code a hundred times since. The ecosystem is shifting so rapidly, that reality is transformed every moment.

The days of “business as usual” are over. Un-usual is the new usual. Unreasonable is the new reasonable.

As marketers, how do we navigate our brands and businesses in this ever-mutating world?

Three things marketers must do to navigate brands and businesses in an unreasonable world:

Be humble

Acknowledging that one does not know opens one’s mind into a state of acceptance. Why do we have to start by saying we do not know? This is not an empty philosophical gesture, but the essence of our current reality. Before we get a fix over a version of reality, that reality has changed.

The willingness to explore the unknown world will lead up to new understanding of it. How is the youth of India behaving today? What is the housewife thinking about these days? What is the agony of the Indian teenager? How is technology impacting our lives? What are the new consumer anxieties?

If we go searching for answers with an open mind, we might discover some latent insights, which might bring a revolution of an idea into being.

In order to engage with the consumer in an un-reasonable world, we need to open our minds to the unknown. And this humility is our edge.

Imagine, beyond reason

All innovation, anything that leaves its mark on history, is driven by thinkers who understand reason, but exist at its limit. Driven by their imagination, they go beyond and explore new possibilities in a whole new reality.

We imagine, because that is the only way we can exist. We can only imagine the future if we break from reason. Reason is the gravity that holds us down; imagination is what gives us the man on the moon.

“What would be the needs of an ever mobile, permanently broad-banded, chip-embedded, 24/7-Facebooked man with a replaceable body and memory-enhanced mind! Just Imagine.”

Competitive advantage in an un-reasonable world would be gained through imagination


Marketing in the new world order this is not the job of one man, or two experts, or one department. Marketers need to create a kaleidoscope of experiences, knowledge and insight to fathom the new reality. The greatest folly is to think that any being is driven by one frame of reference. Answers can come from anywhere. The challenge is to engage with as many perspectives as possible.

Psychology, sociology, semiotics, neuroscience, anthropology, socio-analytics – inspirations can come from anywhere. Marketers need to use new tools of investigation and evaluation to better understand the shifts and movements

The wider the perspective, the clearer the view of the landscape

“In an increasingly un-reasonable world, there are no guarantees and insurance policies for marketers. But humility, imagination and co-creation might just differentiate leaders from followers.”