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India Khush Hua: Top 5 trends that will define M&E industry in 2021

The year will be for a refreshing, rebooting, and recalibrating for the industry


NEW DELHI: 2020 was when peoples’ worst fears came true. But 2021 is a brand new year full of promise of good things to come, where the media and entertainment industry can reboot, recalibrate and recoup what it lost, voiced the panel comprising leading names from the brand and agency world at Indiantelevision.com’s ‘India Khush Hua’ virtual roundtable, organised in partnership with Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd.  

All the speakers – Think & Learn Pvt Ltd (BYJU's) head of marketing Atit Mehta, Lotus Herbals Pvt Ltd head - innovation development & brand strategy Ipsita Chatterjee, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd CEO Hiren Gada, Havas Media Group India CEO Mohit Joshi, Future Group India group head - digital, marketing & e-commerce Pawan Sarda, OMD India CEO Priti Murthy, Dabur India Ltd head of media Rajiv Dubey, PwC India partner - advisory Raman Kalra, and Madison Media Sigma CEO Vanita Keswani – also displayed great positivity towards the growth expectations for the year, as they discussed their outlook with Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO & editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari. 

Here are the top trends that they insisted are going to multiply on their 2020 growth this year as well: 

1. Experimentation

Last year forced all the media and entertainment industry executives into ‘think and adapt’ mode as the world cocooned itself into a lockdown. Experimentation happened in all aspects: from creative storytelling to recalibration of media mixes, to the mode of working within organisations. All of this will continue in 2021 as well, not just for agencies but also for media practitioners and media owners, believes OMD India CEO Priti Murthy. 

2. Digitisation

The acceleration in the digitisation process for businesses across industries was one of the few silver linings to the Covid-2019 pandemic. Now, with 5G in view, greater democratisation of internet access, and people getting used to living in a digital-first world, this will only grow in 2021 as well. 

Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd CEO Hiren Gada said, “Three years crunching of technology adoption was seen in the last six-eight months, especially in the first three months of the lockdown. While some of it may go back, we are extremely bullish on the entire home entertainment space, and also online education.” 

The past year has also seen the rise of new, disruptive players – e-sports, edtech, d2c – who bet big on the digital space, and are reaping the benefits.

Think & Learn Pvt Ltd (BYJU's) head of marketing Atit Mehta added that the fantasy sector and e-sports are going to get much bigger. “In the next four or five years, we will see the biggest of sportspersons coming from online gaming. 2021 is a big inflexion point in that direction.” 

PwC India partner - advisory Raman Kalra predicted that consumer spending on digital platforms like OTTs will grow this year, striking a better balance between the subscription and advertising revenues. 

3. Regionalisation

The panel was of the unanimous view that regionalisation, backed on rural, tier-2, and tier-3 zones will be on the agenda for all media and entertainment entities. The heartland India has reacted quite differently than the metros to the pandemic and there isn’t as much fear or the concept of isolation as in bigger cities. So, the consumers there are looking for better options both in terms of buying and viewing. 

Madison Media Sigma CEO Vanita Keswani highlighted, “The process of recovery for each state and city is quite different, that’s what we are observing. With digitisation and digital media, we can do a lot for each of these different markets. Regionalisation and rural digitisation are going to be big in 2021. In fact, from a consumer perspective as well, regionalisation will drive most of the businesses.” 

This will also accelerate the popularity of small-time influencers amongst the marketers. Lotus Herbals Pvt Ltd head - innovation development & brand strategy Ipsita Chatterjee noted, “Celebrity influencers will have a shift this year. So, when we talk about advertising or collaborations with celebrities, we are moving more towards micro and nano influencers as consumers relate more to the people who look and talk like them, especially in the beauty industry.” 

“Also, hyperlocal is the way to go forward for content whether on OTT platforms to advertising or on social media channels,” she added. 

4. Conscious Consumerism

Raman Kalra noted that the pandemic has taught everyone to save for a rainy day, an understanding that was missing in the past two generations. It will eventually result in conscious consumerism and 2021 will make that trend more popular. 

Havas Media Group India CEO Mohit Joshi said, “Consumers will prioritise needs over wants and that would impact the products they buy and the models they pick based on usage, pricing points etc.” 

Re-evaluation of marketing spends and mediums is also taking place, given the recent shake-ups in the ecosystem – like the TRP scam and suspended TV news ratings – that is having a ripple effect on a much wider scale.

Kalra added, “This will also trigger a lot more focus on marketing effectiveness. Spending will have a microscopic view; do I really need to spend a hundred rupees which we have been just spending historically? Everything that we have known is in question, including BARC readings and digital measurements. So, marketing effectiveness will become very-very important in days to come, getting bigger in scale.” 

5. Phygital Experiences

From entertainment to shopping, consumers are excited for a phygital world ahead and marketers and brands are going to tap into the market. 

Future Group India group head - digital, marketing & e-commerce Pawan Sarda noted that the retailers learned the importance of an omnichannel presence the hard way in 2020, however, he sees all the business working hard in this direction now. 

Atit Mehta added that social commerce will also see a big play in 2021 with internet connectivity getting stronger, data availability getting better, and UPI getting integrated across platforms. 

Dabur India Ltd head of media Rajiv Dubey pointed out while e-commerce has shown great growth for most retailers, starting and building their own channel is a big challenge because of fulfilment issues. However, he sees big possibilities in the phygital space. 

Kalra noted that AI, ML will play a big role in supporting this vision of brands. “Every brand will have to have a d2c strategy. You cannot not invest in getting a deeper understanding of your customers.” 

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