(L-R) Professor Bino Paul (TISS), Sam Ahmed (Rediffusion), Bhaskar Bhat (TIL), Aditya Swamy (MTV) and Kaustav Sengupta (NIFT)
On the occasion of Titan Industries turning 25, the company has launched a quarterly discussion forum themed ‘Paradox Panel’. The property involves discussions to get insights into India’s 21 to 35-year olds. The first of the discussions was hosted in Mumbai on 16 May, focused on the ‘millennial generation’.
Speakers were Aditya Swamy, executive vice president, MTV India; Dr Bino Paul, professor and chairperson, Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Kaustav Sengupta, associate professor, National Institute of Fashion Technology and youth trend analyst; Sam Ahmed, vice chairman and creative director, Rediffusion Y&R India; and Bhaskar Bhat, managing director, Titan Industries.
The discussion was moderated by Roger Darashah, director, Rediffusion/Edelman.
Bhat started the discussion by describing the youth as fearless. He said, “India has become younger. The behaviour of the youth is fearless and borderless. They’re influencing the behaviour of the whole country. In fact, it doesn’t remain within the boundaries of the country.”
Swamy added to Bhat’s observation by bringing out a point from one of the studies conducted by MTV. “Indian youth is the happiest in the world. They take pride in their country unlike the youth from the West. The youth is an exclusive club and irreverent,” added Swamy.
Sengupta spoke of how this generation has a concept of ‘micro celebrities’. He said, “The concept of micro celebrities has come in to the youth. Pages like the ‘confession’ pages on Facebook are making a celebrity out of just about anyone. Any person whose name is mentioned on one of these pages becomes an instant celebrity as others end up viewing his/her profile on Facebook after his name is mentioned.”
Swamy observed that the youth of today are voicing their opinion more, with a great deal of opportunity to be heard. Social networks would count among media avenues that have allowed them this, according to him.
Always on, ‘costless’ friends, ‘friends on hire’
Alok Kejriwal, founder of 2win, was present at the discussion as a blogger. He was of the opinion that young India is always connected by giving examples of his daughters. He said, “My daughters are always connected. There are instances when I switch off the wi-fi router at home and immediately get a barrage from my daughters that the internet is not working. They change their BBM status of the restaurant they’re dining at even before they enter the restaurant. This shows they’re connected 24*7.”
Paul spoke about the concept of ‘costless friends’. “The youth used to earlier seek the opinion of family members or their neigbours. Now, they’re moving to ‘costless’ friends who they connect with online. They’re costless because the youth speak to them, get what they require and are not obligated to return the favour. Also, these ‘costless friends’ do not have to be invited for weddings/birthdays, which involves costs.”
Kejriwal added to this by talking about a concept of ‘friends on hire’. “When Farmville was doing well on Facebook, I noticed this phenomenon and term it ‘friends on hire’. Someone needed to constantly water plants, etc. on the game and that’s when a lot of people looked to people from other time zones to do the needful and added friends specifically for this.”
Brands on FB, ‘Skip’ on YouTube
Bhat then spoke about brands on Facebook. He had a word of caution for brands that had a lot of likes on Facebook. He said, “I keep telling my Fastrack team to watch out for what’s been said about them on Facebook. Having seven millions fans is good but there’s no way to find out how many of those fans are actual consumers of the brand.”
Swamy then spoke about YouTube as a medium and mentioned that the most clicked button on the medium was the ‘skip’ button.
Ahmed said that this would only change if advertising became entertainment. He cited the example of BMW’s two-minute films from the past and said, “People actually went on to buy DVDs of those two-minute films because they were entertaining. BMW gave top directors two million dollars to work with and create anything with the condition of featuring the German car brand in the film.”
On the subject of technology, Ahmed said, “Technology is always in its puberty. It never matures.”