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Narendran's Article

Sometime in the year 2000 as a young brand manager, I was involved for the first time in creating a media plan for a detergent brand. The brand was strong in the south but had pan India ambitions. My immediate boss N. Krishnan said, ‘Naren we need to make five voice overs for our new AD’. Fresh, young and raw just out of India’s most premiere management institute, I countered my boss…

‘We need to sell our brand in almost all states of India. That’s what we agreed. All these states speak different languages. Why only Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi for the rest of India?”

“Hindi is enough for the rest of India’ he said sharply and tried to comb his bald head with his fingers. He always did that when countered with an intelligent question, so I thought.

Back home that day, hiding the book from the eyes of my mother, I quietly rechecked my 9th standard geography book. Each state had a different language, different culture, different tradition.

Today as a brand consultant after nearly two decades, my fingers ran through my bald head as I read the South Side Story, 2023. A story of four languages and the rest of India! It can’t remain the same I thought…I debated with myself …

With India’s median age hovering around 28+ and destined to hit the 35+ in the next decade, India is growing older. Balder. Still it would be unwise to write off India en bloc as an aging country. Over the years, India has unwittingly orchestrated two different countries. South India with a higher degree of education has typically slipped on their birth rate and is growing older by the day. By 2035, TN would have a median age of 40 years followed very closely by the other southern states. And in the other country within India, a whole lot of states up north like Bihar and others would be at a median age of 20!!!

2024 and the forth coming elections will be fought hard by strong regional powers with states compelled to play the regional aspirations. With several states now fighting hard for increase in their GST allocation, regional development will rear its head. Smart cities well dispersed across the breadth of the country will be a growth driver of regional prosperity, self-sufficiency and local expression.  Add to this heady mix, the new sauce, 5G. Any smart phone with 5G in the hands of a roving eye is a content creator. An ocean of local content is on the verge of exploding and will well quench the thirst for local expression.

A new young population in the rest of India coupled with purchasing power and a passionate local resurgence will demand a deep relook from brand and advertising pundits. No more will a Bhojpuri be excited on a Hindi AD or a Bollywood model. Nationalism will pause for the new regionalism.

A hell lot of brands would need to rethink their advertising strategies and media reach. The South Story which has shaken up national brands to re-orient their advertisements and personalise them to the regional cultures, regional heroes and regional aspirations could very well be the new Indian Story in the years to come. An unified fragmented approach to brand building begs!

A smart brand manager in the coming years will think twice before accepting ‘Four language dubs and one Hindi!” I can hear the siren sound… but in the process, I have grown a bit bald!!


Brand Consultant – www.brandoc.in

Narendran is a Brand Consultant and Strategist and runs BRANDOC, a brand consulting agency with focus on developing strategies and communication which is PURPOSE led.

 When not busy working on path breaking branding ideas, Naren is busy pursuing his other passion, Writing. He has already published two books and is currently brewing the plot for his third. He is still married!

www.brandoc.in[email protected], 9962922297


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