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Phigital Marketing to Redefine Future Brand Strategies

Virtual reality is yesterday’s story, as digitalization is opening new and unprecedented avenues for businesses to grow. Augmented reality is already in vogue with A-Commerce walking hand in hand with Ecommerce. The digital fever however is taking a new turn to culminate with the physical aspects of Marketing and is evolving into Phigital Marketing. ‘Lets get Phygital’ is the buzz-word these days, as Brands strive to bring traditional Physical marketing methods to be complimented with Digital experiences.

‘Phigital’ literally is defined as Physical + Digital. It is an interactive and engaging means of building and enhancing customer experience. Technology has been constantly blurring the boundaries between physical and digital worlds, and the generation Z is hooked to this phygital world that is a combination of the physical as well as the digital experiences providing the customer with personalized yet standardized in-store and/or online shopping experience.

What are the drivers for the phigital marketing? Well, India is amongst top two countries digitally on many dimensions of digital adoption. With about 1.2 billion enrolled in unique digital identity programme, India is fast emerging as a potential digital economy with an ample room to grow. The digital adoption index covering the three elements of Digital Foundation-comprising of speed, cost and reliability of internet service, Digital Reach which includes the number of mobile devices, app downloads, and data consumption, and Digital Value made of consumer engagement online through chatting, tweeting, shopping, or streaming, is constantly rising. Since 2014, India exhibited a rise in its absolute score by 90 percent (McKinsey & Company) From 483 million internet users In 2018, India is projected to grow to 666.4 million internet users in 2023. (Source: Statista) Despite the untapped potential, India already stands second amongst online markets globally. The potentiality makes it imperative for digital aspirations of businesses to reach new heights.

Is Phigital generation the Gen next? By all means! So powerful is this phigital wave that generation Z is labeled as the Phigital generation, and is said to be the main reason for seamless incorporation of digital experiences into physical manifestations of the Brand. The phigital generation is usually ascribed some characteristics. It is observed that phigitals are friendly and comfortable with both digital and real worlds. They are extremely mobile friendly and tech-savvy. They don’t see technology as an enhancer or an add-on, but consider it as an indelible part of the entire brand experience. It is very important for them that the brand they choose has a digital element to it to prove its approachability and ease of operation, and it is also equally important that it manifests itself physically as the basis of trust and safety for its customers.

For example, increasingly traditional centers of education like universities are providing for online portals and mobile connectivity, for each and every aspect of the learning experience of their students, right from admissions to certification, which is a combination of physical process like regular contact classes at the campus, with an equal digital engagement like online examinations and assessments. From touch screens to magic mirrors, phigital marketing is making its presence felt by making the brands stand apart from clutter while pushing them ahead of competing brands. Today’s brands are not expected to be the best in their category alone. They are supposed to be ultra-personalized and tuned to the users so much so that they have a relevant presence across all touch points.

Tomorrow’s brands on the other hand, are expected to provide a personal touch by interactive and engaging interactions with the brand with the help of digital enablers. Weather APIs, and geo-location trackers are such digital enablers that help in taking these experiences to altogether a new level. The latest among these innovations are personal AI assistants or chat bots. Be it retailing, banking, education or fashion, brands are slowly, but surely, galvanizing towards digital interventions to support the physical aspects of the experiences. Free Wi-Fi, Augmented Reality, location-based coupons, QR-code scanning and virtual-tour guides have all been used not only to spice up the customer’s physical experience, but also to and keep them loyal and coming back for more.

How phigital branding can be enabled? First and foremost, brands in order to be phigitally successful need to be optimized for the smart phone. The phigital generation has access to digital touch points, which are being extensively used to compare, evaluate as well as purchase brands. However, to instill the trust and balance between physical and digital dimensions brands need to be as adept as in their physical presence as well. It is found that most phigitals would like to order online, but pick up the order from a show room or vice-a versa. Wide offline manifestations are also considered as the future of brands. For example Lenskart is already making waves in Indian eyeware industry with its new app Lenskart Lite which is 80% lighter than the app, allowing for easy downloads and for customers to browse choose and place an order even without internet after an initial internet-enabled download.

Phygital Brands are expected to create a lasting and impactful experience. Apart from being tech savvy, they are expected to touch the emotions of the customer in a very candid manner. The Home court, the concept store of Adidas in Chennai, allows its customers to test the shoes in a football arena, and get their names printed on the jersey and the football. Phigital Brands are expected to be ultra-personalized and provide the customer with an unmatched experience fitting the physical scope of the brand’s experience with its digital functionalities. Vanhuesen Style studio allows the body scanner to measure the exact size of the customer and suggest garments accordingly, thereby giving a shot in the arm of the brand’s in-store experience.

Phigital brands are also expected to be customized in their touch points and are expected to cater to the rising need for ‘try before you buy’ through digital previews, and assuage the hunger for ‘best deals by creating digital assortments and arranging for complimentary in-store experts for advise and counsel. Brands need to engage in wide-spread and engaging storytelling to attract the phigitals. Virtual tour guides as well as digital menus are the requisites to provide the customers with a feel of what is in store for them. Brands like Revlon, Caratlane and Lakme allow for their customers to digitally try their merchandise without physically visiting the stores so that they can order online. In all, phigital brands need to exhibit the versatility of both physical and digital worlds without hindering the customer’s overall experience with them, and yet compliment the customer’s personality with their manifestations whenever, wherever and however required.

Phigital brands are also expected to be customized in their touch points and are expected to cater to the rising need for ‘try before you buy’ through digital previews, and assuage the hunger for ‘best deals by creating digital assortments and arranging for complimentary in-store experts for advise and counsel. Brands need to engage in wide-spread and engaging storytelling to attract the phigitals. Virtual tour guides as well as digital menus are the requisites to provide the customers with a feel of what is in store for them. Brands like Revlon, Caratlane and Lakme allow for their customers to digitally try their merchandise without physically visiting the stores so that they can order online. In all, phigital brands need to exhibit the versatility of both physical and digital worlds without hindering the customer’s overall experience with them, and yet compliment the customer’s personality with their manifestations whenever, wherever and however required.

The Challenges to Phigital Branding in India…It is said that 80% of the firms consider going digital as absolute priority, however only half of them are integrated to the effect. Digital integration needs skills and digital expertise that need fine tuning, especially in the wake of large-scale migration of expert workforce to foreign countries for better opportunities. Indian brands also have a larger base of diversified population to address, with several pockets of unique tastes and needs, which would be a challenge when need to be addressed for customization and ultra-specificity of the brand to meet the customer’s needs. However, with the trend pointing more and more towards the customers’ seamless and engaging experience in purchase, use and recycling of products, phigital marketing is here to stay.

The Tech Interplay in Advertising Industry

Advertisers and marketers are revisiting their strategies with the help of disruptive technologies like AI and AR to woo GenZ. Traditional advertisements do not appeal to the millennials and GenZ anymore. While they may pick newspapers or watch television, they seem to be doing fine without them. They are the 'instant generation' - instant information, instant communication, and above all, instant gratification. For advertisers, this behaviour is both a challenge and an opportunity. Imagine a mall which has a huge sale planned. Instead of combing through the mall, the young population will appreciate notifications via mobile from their favourite brand with sale offers especially designed for them basis their past shopping behaviour. Geo target led advertising is a reality today and is one of the major shifts which the advertising industry has observed, thanks to technology! A recent report by Ericsson highlights that Indians consume maximum data as compared to the rest of the world at an average of 9.8GB per month. This is expected to reach 18 GB per month by 2024, fuelled by rich content. For a young nation like ours where 65 per cent of the population is below the age of 35, marketers today have become more precise and personalised in their approach while targeting, understanding and engaging with their audiences through the vehicle of the internet.

To keep up with the sea change in the advertising ecosystem, brands are now getting more creative by making advertising content less "ad-like". And it has become imperative for advertisers and marketers to revisit their advertising strategies. At the centre of this, undoubtedly, is technology. Many technologies have proved to be of help to the advertising industry. One of the most important of them all is Artificial Intelligence (AI). These AI algorithms are helping in analysing the behavioural pattern of single users and drawing insights. Brands are now using this technology for target market segmentation- to target the right customers at the right moment with the right message. AI's predictive algorithms help in doing action based bidding. For instance: Now an e-commerce brand can bid for customers who are likely to purchase a smartphone in the next one month. With more data to power these algorithms, the accuracy of such campaigns would improve with time and further reduce the cost of marketing.

For a marketer to monetize a mobile marketing campaign, choosing the right kind of ad format is important. Digital technologies have given birth to new ad formats, which are namely - interactive ads, expandable ads, vertical video ads, and native ads. While these formats serve different needs of brands and campaigns, Native advertising is one of the most preferred and used formats. Native advertising is basically when the ad merges exactly as if it's a part of the editorial platform itself, giving the ad a more authentic feeling because it just doesn't look like an ad anymore.

Speaking of engaging advertising formats, the use of another technology, Augmented Reality (AR), has helped brands and marketers find a way to reach out to the audience in a totally new, never seen before interactive manner. For instance, AR has brought a video game-like format for consumers, making ads more thrilling and helping brands make an emotional connect with customers whilst creating brand awareness at the same time. Location data is already influencing advertising in a big way, more advertisers will look at launching campaigns specifically based on location data. Mobile devices will spur location-based advertising further and will help predict trends as well. For instance, a user entering a Nike showroom, would get live notifications from e-commerce companies offering discounts on Nike products.

Blockchain, on the other hand, serves the other side of the coin: making advertising more secure, it is an advanced technology which enterprises have identified as an important tech for digital times. Digital advertising industry which accounts for a significant part of the ad industry, is plagued by fraud which is estimated to account for $19 billion as per a 2018 report. Challenges in the form of non-transparency and traceability are the glaring gaps which lead to significant losses due to the rise of 'bot traffic'. With Blockchain technology, monitoring and ensuring the records are reliable and accurate will become easier.

Looking at the list of technologies, it is clear that these will pave the way for the next shift in the ad tech space which will be chaotic. But at the same time, such technologies will be cheaper than traditional print/TV advertisements and more effective in their reach, and will generate more ROI for marketers. These tech changes will also help the most creative reach unsurpassed heights and the future can actually be exciting for those who are really good at what they do.

Flipkart to start free video streaming service

Walmart-owned e-commerce company Flipkart is launching a slew of technology-led initiatives to tap the next 200 million consumers online. These include introducing the Hindi version of the Flipkart app and 'Flipkart Videos', a curated range of movies, shows and entertainment series. It would also be showcasing specific products to customers based on their needs. These initiatives are expected to help Flipkart in its battle with rival company Amazon and competition from the yet to be launched e-commerce business of Reliance Industries.

"In the past 10 years, our vision and ethos have been to solve for 'Real India', create India specific tech solutions here (in the country). What we are rolling out when it comes to addressing the needs of the next 200 million users in our country, is taking forward those founding principles of access and affordability," said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart Group. "We strongly believe that the next phase of our growth is rooted in loyalty, democratising e-commerce and the country will continue seeing more innovations that stem from our deep understanding of Indian consumers, especially middle India," added Krishnamurthy.

The company is introducing the Flipkart app in Hindi. The plan is to unveil it in other languages as well such as Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali in future. Flipkart said its approach to solving the language barrier problem people face when they come online is by using technology. The key result of that is, the first in the industry 'audio- visual guided navigation' in Hindi. This enables easy onboarding for new consumers, through a step by step guide making it easier for them to shop. "As per research, 90 per cent of new Internet users in India are native language speakers and coming from Tier 2 and beyond cities," said Jeyandran Venugopal, head consumer experience and platform at Flipkart.

Flipkart is also providing accessibility to premium content with free-for-all video streaming. It is introducing 'Flipkart Videos', a curated range of movies, shows and entertainment series for all of its consumers. The video content offering is focused on three primary aspects, keeping in mind its understanding of the market: free, curated and personalised. "We are partnering with (various) players to get the content," said Prakash Sikaria, head growth and monetisation, Flipkart.

Most consumers' first touchpoint with the internet is through online video content. Statistics suggest that video content and entertainment play a key role in bridging the gap for consumers to come online and experience e-commerce. Flipkart said it believes that great content if made available to a wider base of consumers, especially the ones who are new to e-commerce but not Internet, can bring them on board on an everyday basis. This also helps take away the anxiety that they may have towards online shopping.

The company also aims to bridge the content to commerce gap with the launch of 'Flipkart Ideas'. Customers will be able to use 'Flipkart Ideas' to narrow down specific products which are suitable for their needs. Integrated within the existing Flipkart app (both iOS and Android), this offering will empower users to make better purchase decisions by providing them with information that helps them research while shopping. To start with, content from over 30 brands and 400 influencers will be showcased with associated products from Flipkart in different formats such as videos, GIFs, images, stories, quizzes and polls.

With internet penetration rapidly increasing in India, people, especially in Tier-2 cities and beyond, are consuming content very differently. Flipkart said there are a new set of consumers, amongst the next 200 million shoppers who have a variety of questions and seek to mimic their offline shopping experience online. Flipkart Ideas is an effort to aid these consumers shopping journey. "Our focus is to democratise access to e-commerce...How can we do better selection and go deeper into tier-2 and tier-3 towns," said Rajneesh Kumar, chief corporate affairs officer, Flipkart. "So it becomes extremely important that we are able to help our consumers especially in that part of the country engage with an e-commerce model which is a lot better."

Delhi Government to collaborate with the Events Industry to make Delhi a Wedding Destination

The Delhi government will soon collaborate with the events and wedding industry of the city. Tapping the industry growth of 17 per cent, the government will soon be tying up with local players and monetize the city’s resources and heritage sites to develop Delhi as a wedding destination. Talking about the plan, Vijay Kumar Dev, Chief Secretary of Delhi, said, “We need the events industry more than they need us.” According to Dev, the event management industry has potential both in terms of employment creation (3 million people are related to the industry) and cultural branding. The move is expected to give a boost to the industry in the city that is feeling the impact of destination weddings. According to industry insiders, around 30-40 per cent people prefer to go out of the city for their D-Day celebration. Nearly 20-30 per cent of the business is disrupted due to the reason.

Iconic places in Delhi are facing a curse of time. The heritage sites are in a rudimentary state, which the events and experiential marketing can help restore. Sanjoy Roy, President of Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), said, “We, as part of the industry, have to rebuild brand Delhi that has been ruined by several factors. We need to travel that extra mile to make our city truly an international destination.” According to Roy, working with the government would be a huge privilege for the fraternity. The move by the Delhi government to collaborate with the events industry will not only organise the extremely unorganised sector, but also foster enhancement in the economy as well as bring great business for the city. Britain can be a good example to follow as the country spends 12% of its earnings on the entertainment and events industry.

Reacting to the news of a possible collaboration, Shweta Acharya, Founder of Baraati Inc., said, “The integration with the Delhi government will be a boon for the industry. This is a great step for the revival of the lost heritage of the city.” Acharya gave an insight that there is a lack of experience in most of the players in the city, other than 5-star hotels. So, people move to destinations such as Jodhpur, Jaipur and Goa that have maintained their rich heritage, she said. “The wedding industry can surely revamp the historical monuments of Delhi. Ruined forts like Tughlaqabad Fort, Qutub Minar and Vijay Mandal can be used as iconic spots for weddings. This will give dual benefit to both the client and the industry, and also help restore the cultural heritage of the city,” Acharya added.

Some other industry people also expressed varied views on this move. Kaveri Vij, Co-founder at Kaveri Vij & Akshay Chopra Designer Events Inc., said, “In the light of the recent announcement, it is too soon to comment on the expectations. Delhi has its own set of venues that can’t be matched by any destination venue, and vice versa. Someone wanting to do a boutique wedding in a fort would not consider Delhi, and similarly someone wanting to do a 1000-people farmhouse wedding will definitely consider the various options Delhi has to offer.”

Jio Fiber unleashed with unlimited freebies

“Today, I want to announce that starting September 5, 2019 - on the third anniversary of Jio's launch - we are launching Jio Fiber services on a commercial basis.” This announcement by the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani was certainly the highlight of the company’s 42nd (Post IPO) Annual General Meeting.

Jio Fiber is Reliance Jio’s fibre-to-home service that promises to provide homes access to hi-speed internet and high definition entertainment. “Starting August 15, 2018, we invited registrations of interest from across India so that we could prioritise Jio Fiber rollout in localities with the highest interest. The response was simply overwhelming. We received over 15 million registrations from nearly 1,600 towns. Based on these registrations, we have drawn up a plan to reach 20 million residences and 15 million business establishments,” Ambani said.

Jio Fiber plans, that start at Rs 700 per month, will allow access to 100 mbps broadband service, and unlimited phone calls to any landline or mobile network in India. Customers will also get a digital set-top box, opening up doors to high definition entertainment. There are plans that go up to Rs 10,000 per month, which will give access to 1 gbps internet speed, Internet of Things (IoT) and many other Jio facilities.

“The experience of Jio Fiber and Jio Set-Top-Box really comes to life when combined with an LED Television. So, Jio Fiber customers who opt for our annual plans, called Jio-Forever plans, will get an HD or 4K LED television set and a 4K set-top-box absolutely free. We are calling this the Jio Fiber Welcome Offer,” announced Ambani. The Jio Fiber plans will “come bundled” with subscriptions to most leading “premium OTT applications.” “Also, for the first time in India, we are introducing a disruptive concept for watching new movies. Premium Jio Fiber customers will be able to watch movies in their living rooms the same day these movies are released in theatres! We call this Jio First-Day-First-Show.” Ambani said that Reliance intends to launch the First-day-First-Show service by mid 2020. He also informed the shareholders that Reliance Jio's customer base has crossed 340 million users, and that the telecom operator is signing up more than 10 million new customers each month.

COLORS Cineplex launches Uttar Pradesh’s first solar power theatre 'Electro'

Summer comes with its own little perks of happiness and joy; vacations, prolonged baths, ice creams and more importantly the leisure of boundless TV/movie time. But it equally puts all our plans to rest when life comes to halt as a result of electricity issues. With the remarkable progress that India has had in its journey to light up every town, the issue of power cuts have stayed put and crippled many lives. Facing this dire issue in the scorching summer is one such city of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh where like other cities, people are deprived of their necessities, comfort and moreover their daily dose of filmy entertainment. To contribute its fair share of solution, COLORS Cineplex, the flagship movie channel from the house of Viacom 18 launched Uttar Pradesh’s first solar-enabled theatre - Electro COLORS Cineplex at the Nauchandi Mela this year. With thousands of footfalls recorded every year, this initiative marks as a one-of-its-kind move towards social welfare and an innovative effort to provide an unparalleled and ever-bright entertainment zone.

Taking a giant leap in the entertainment segment, this initiative is curated to bring cinema closer to its viewers. Electro COLORS Cineplex is an enclosed theatre capacitated with solar panels and comfortable seating to facilitate non-stop and on-the-go entertainment. The blockbusters lined up include Boss, Mary Kom, Bazaar, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, and others. Further using solar power beyond movie screening, the audience can also charge their mobile phones via mobile charging units inside the hall as well across the mela at certain strategic points.In addition, the viewers can enjoy the local flavors and experience various fun and engaging activities including a ride on a giant wheel, participating in Bollywood quiz and mimicry contests whilst in the mela. Winners will be picked hourly and gratified instantly by featuring their names on the big screens put up across the mela.

Sapangeet Rajwant Senior Vice President – Marketing at Viacom18 added, “Nauchandi Mela is one of the Uttar Pradesh’s biggest social gatherings and accounts for lakhs of footfalls every year. It opens new doors of opportunities for brand building and Colors Cineplex, having been revived its brand identity recently, will get an extra nudge to establish itself as a premium entertainment destination. Solar built Electro theatre is our endeavor to build a strong brand positioning and ensure greater visibility through newer innovations.”

To assure maximum reach and availability, the channel launched an aggressive social media outreach which includes the opportunity to win the golden sofa ticket by clicking a selfie with the Electro theatre logo and uploading it using #ColorsCineplex. In another move, leveraging the popular messaging app WhatsApp, the brand has smartly used this to keep the audience updated with daily show information and promo videos. As an extension to the activity, they are also on a lookout for Nauchandi ka hero and heroine where users can also upload fun videos mimicking the iconic Bollywood film dialogues or recreate a popular hook step and post it on either social media or send it to the assigned number on WhatsApp. To grab hold locally, the initiative has been promoted through OOH and Bhopu announcements.

COLORS Cineplex has always been a premium name when it comes to movie entertainment and with this distinct move the channel has leveled up its game. A brilliantly curated initiative perfectly mingled with a noble cause, the channel has yet again carved a niche for itself by continuing its legacy to entertain without any cuts.

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