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Resilience With Digital – Experiences shaped

Given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and the profound changes it is causing, we believe that harnessing imagination may be just as critical and a point where I find this quote relevant - “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” - Angela Duckworth.

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I feel blessed to be a Digital immigrant. About a month back, my close pal asked me “Do you remember your first landline number at home?”  I was surprised that I did remember the 7-digit number.

The economic crisis can be assessed through the GDP contraction of 23% in April-June 2020, as per RBI. Given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and the profound changes it is causing, we believe that harnessing imagination may be just as critical and a point where I find this quote relevant - “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” - Angela Duckworth.

COVID-19 being not just a health crisis but also an economic and social crisis. The virus spread; lockdown impacted all sections of society. This dynamic digital ecosystem that has witnessed a bunch of transitions in the way we work, our habits, consumption patterns, our channelization of energies which is seen to be sketching new paradigm to the dawn of 2021. According to a survey in India, we see -Reversal of past Trend - 79% of people are not going outside except work. Trust as the Currency – 63% of people are paying more attention to the origin of the product. 

New Habits - a 60% increase in Instagram Live views in a week. 

And before we proceed, here is a glimpse of an opportunity that can be tapped from all angles- India has the second-highest number of connected users globally, at around 572 million, with substantial room for growth (41% penetration). However, India is still in the early stages of online commerce: Only 8% of Indians (~105 million) shop online for products, with an average spend of $286 per year—much lower than other markets.

Today, I am going to touch upon 6 points where I endeavour to look at the way Digital is racing, with the help of some data points while also correlating it with my point of view.

Families getting closer

Leading to the adoption of new narratives in content and creatives which are seen to be embraced. While video conferencing increasing by 12X in users per week, the time spent on it increased by 6X. 77% have reduced eating at restaurants. 55% have reduced buying clothing and fashion accessories and 48% have reduced spending on consumer electronics. What has seen a positive impact are the areas related to health and hygiene–29% are exercising more at home, 24% are consuming more vitamins and supplements. eLearning, online cooking apps, movie streaming, news consumption, online gaming has augmented substantially. 

From my lens - With families being more assiduous, spending more time together I see Kids content being capitalised with still a huge potential to tap here. Disney+Hotstar, Voot Kids, Zee5 Kids, Eros Now, YouTube Kids and more. This has also gradually seen leading to more productivity as managing time has become easier for me. Impulse online buying is now negligible. This has also allowed me to observe &  learn so much during the past few months about my little daughter as to her little changes in behaviour, sweet gestures as she steps in all of a sudden through the day and takes away my pen, notepad and mouse. She is two years and knows how to operate the Spotify app. Now I understand more about monthly groceries for home and even the diaper size of my child, micro essential details to which I did not pay attention earlier. These small experiences have brought me closer to my family at a deeper level and now we also get the opportunity to have meals together. And on a lighter note, I have never seen and heard so many nursery rhymes on YouTube daily that I get to now, the only flipside being my child does not get to go out to the park to play for now., which is also important. 

A 360-degree view of Teamwork

I recently watched the movie ‘Gold’ starring Akshay Kumar in the lead role. A fictional story mixed with true incidents about India winning their first gold medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics in field hockey. In one scene, seeing the unhealthy team spirit, the coach gave them an exercise of moving bricks from one end to other.  The thing is, this is not only about sports and corporate life.

From my lens - Teamwork applies to home as well and it also gives me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to whatever I can contribute. The early morning Jharoo, making tea for everyone, washing dishes, dusting, getting out garbage bags has become a part of my daily routine and I feel happy about this teamwork with my wife.

Video Conferencing

Conference calls have been there since long, however, it was more of a routine thing once a while.

The whole idea of ‘switching on’ your camera (at least for a while because that’s the essential purpose of a video call), and looking at your colleagues, friends, families have played a key part in bringing people closer with each other and technology.  Although, I admit that it may be almost a constant thing for our ears, however, it has helped us all speak more often while bringing office spaces and families closer. Even pitching to clients has become a different experience without worrying about getting stuck in traffic and focussing with full exuberance.

From my lens – We use Microsoft Teams at work. I was not quite comfortable with it just because of the reason I had never used it earlier. I learnt that there are 3 dots in MS Teams’ under which there is a bunch of things that we can choose to do, even easily click a group photo without being worries about multiple frames. Also, each day during the past few months has made me a better and effective listener. I am hearing families playing ‘tombola’ and ‘virtual parties’ over a video call. Plus, the comfort of working in ‘shorts’! So, it does make me think of the emerging scope of digital. 

The older generation- the Shift

Having lost touch from the outside world, people are relying completely on smartphones for news & entertainment, leading to a reason and educating the older generations about fake news, mobile banking, clickbait and of course watching their favourite shows at their convenience. 

From my lens - I recall the time when I, as a millennial used to complain that my attempts to educate the generation X does not work because they tend to always look at us as a younger generation who knows less than they do. My mom-in-law who was scared of doing anything on a mobile phone except for making regular phone calls of the key numbers of family and friends that my wife had fed into her mobile; today she uses a Bluetooth earbud, watches her favourite Bengali shows on an OTT platform, shares content with us on WhatsApp, surfs & watches YouTube like she has been doing it since childhood and also knows how her mobile banking app functions. Folks – this is a massive shift for someone at her 70s and what I observe is the deeper sense of empathy in the air.

Devouring Content 

India has the world’s highest data usage per smartphone at an average of 9.8GB per month. Mobile data traffic per month will grow at a CAGR of 23% from 4.6 exabytes in 2018 to 16 exabytes in 2024, says Ericsson report. The usage will double to 18GB by 2024, fuelled by rich video content. Also, according to Google-KPMG report, the Indian regional language user base is like to grow to 536Mn by 2021 vis-a-vis the number of English-speaking internet users in India which is expected to grow to 199Mn in the same period. India saw an overall 55% increase in overall streaming traffic, an acceleration that was foreseen to happen a year later.

From my lens –Taking a panoramic view of the digital space, this pressure on creating burgeoning content is maybe confusing content creators. I see so much random content around, including everyone now trying to become an influencer (nothing wrong with it) but just making content for the heck of it needs to be well thought of. 

To say the least, it is overwhelming considering the types of content buckets of regional OTT video streaming players – Movies, Podcasts, Sports, Music Videos, Short Films, News, Live TV, News, Originals, Web Series and TV Shows. This is a classic example of ‘creating the demand’ and more so, COVID has been a vehicle of faster change and adoption as well. Though I admit, the moment I think ‘Eighties’, my instant reaction is ‘Oh My God’. We just had one screen, DD1, DD2 and a couple of radio channels. I still remember Hum Log, Tamas, Junoon and Buniyaad, He-Man & The Masters of the Universe.

eCommerce Health

UPI transactions have doubled since July 2019 and reached a record high on 5 July 2020. Telecom industry’s active subscriber base rose by nearly 2.5 million in October 2020 to touch about 961 million. Social commerce presents a great opportunity for customers and sellers to discover one another as well. Powered by cheap data, supply-side innovations and digitally savvy customers—has become a $30 billion gross merchandise value (GMV) industry in India in the fiscal year 2020 (FY20). Just over 100 million of the estimated 572 million Indians connected to the Internet purchase products online today. And the next frontier is social. By leveraging a variety of formats, ranging from conversational commerce on chat platforms to video-led commerce to a vibrant social reseller community, millions of small retailers are finding innovative ways to sell.

From my lens – Trust and Discoverability is a hygiene expectation. Three-quarters of buyers purchase from people they know—family members, friends, acquaintances or connections, even if two levels removed. Mediation before purchase—through chat, videos and peer recommendations—is more valuable than addressing issues after purchase. The DNA of eCommerce is now even more strengthening trust as a currency. Also, a simplified, smart process of product discovery, especially as the number of products available grows exponentially, along with the integration of social behaviour-led insights to deliver curated, personalised shopping experiences will only up the eCommerce health for both B2B and B2C in 2021.

So, adaptability to change with resilience is a way of life and needs to be realized and nurtured from time to time in media + content + creative and of course life.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Ankoor Dasguupta

Ankoor Dasguupta is the Vice President - Media at Hashtag Orange. With two decades of work experience, Ankoor identifies himself as a learner, mentor and a strong believer in network effects and nurturing relationships. Connect with Ankoor on LinkedIn. Twitter handle is @AnkoorNow

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