WARC’s India Editor Biprorshee Das gives his view on what Indian marketers will have to contend with in the year ahead.

Normally, a crystal-gazing article such as this is penned at the beginning of the year, but here we are almost at the end of the first month of 2023. So instead I wanted to give a sneak preview into what I believe will have the marketing fraternity in India on its toes this year and a taster of the stories to come.

Getting social

We are kick starting our India Spotlight series by getting under the hood of what’s happening in social media marketing. It’s not the first time I have tackled this.

In June 2021, our Spotlight on influencer marketing was delivered at a time when marketers couldn’t ignore the power of influencers any longer. The Advertising Standards Council of India then had released a set of guidelines for brands and influencers to adhere to further showing influencers were being taken seriously.

Similar was the story with our Spotlight on DTC brands. We saw how these brands were on the rise and they leveraged the power of social media to reach their audience. And considering all that took this space by storm in 2022 (oh hello, Mr. Musk), there is a lot waiting to happen here.

Consider, for instance, this report that states Twitter lost over 500 advertisers since Musk’s takeover. This makes one stop and think. How are Indian brands reacting to this new (and improved?) Twitter? One of the few questions I am looking at contributors to this year’s first Spotlight India to address.

What I think will keep social marketing thriving this year are rising interactivity between brands and their audience, conversational marketing, creator economy, and, of course, the opportunity in the short form video format (are we even missing TikTok in India?).

Grim times ahead

It was fun while fun lasted but once again, the dreaded word ‘recession’ is becoming a common one in regular conversations. The latest edition of our annual Marketer’s Toolkit throws light on “finding focus in uncertain times”. The Marketer’s Toolkit survey of over 1,700 marketers found that an overwhelming majority expect to be impacted by economic recession. The fear is not unwarranted. The trying times will continue. When Jeff Bezos advises: “hold on to your money”, it cannot be good news. When was the last time you read about mass layoffs the way you are doing right now?

Will India be insulated? Or in simple words: are we heading into a recession as well? There are assurances galore from the decision makers that such won’t be the case. Then again, we are also battling high inflation, unemployment, and such concerns. It is, hence, never a bad idea to stay prepared for the worst.

So, I am certain ‘marketing in recessionary times’ will be a key topic of discussion this year. And there will be a lot to learn along the way.

Learning from Gen Z

The Gen Z’s continued influence on the marketing world perhaps can never be understated. Towards the end of 2022, Kantar’s Sandeep Dutta shared an article with us about India’s Gen Z and their patchwork identities that got me thinking further.

He wrote that “It is not uncommon to find Gen Z in India dressed in Tommy Hilfiger, Skechers and Zara performing traditional rituals at festivals or washing down spicy chicken biryani with Heineken beer or joining an online meditation class early in the morning after a night out pub crawling with friends.”

Barring the choice of beer, I could flatter myself thinking “I am this”. Yes, I am not Gen Z and I hurt terribly every time someone smirks and says, “okay boomer!” (I am not that old either). My point being, when you can’t beat ‘em, you join ‘em. This is a bunch of people who are conscious, woke, and have an incredible influence on the social movement around them. They are shaping conversations, behaviours; they are making you, the marketer, the strategist curious about their next move.

And with my aforementioned confidence in the power of social media, I think the Gen Z will have a lot of lessons to share from a marketing perspective.

This 2023, I am broadly looking at these three key areas for some sharp insights. Of course, there will be several other factors and events, and we will learn along the way. For what are we if we don’t? Here’s to a hopefully happy new year. Message me if you want to contribute!