- Forrester Councils
- Councils Overview
- log in
Posted by Anthony Mullen on May 14, 2013
I was lucky enough to spend some time in Kerala working with Indian classical musicians many years ago. I first arrived during the monsoon season, and along with the world-class thunderstorms that I watched from a thin rubber bath mat on the roof, I could see the jungles getting greener and the people happier. For thousands of years, monsoons have had significant economic, emotional, and cultural importance in India. Rain determines whether there will be food to eat, and monsoon season typically used to signal the long-awaited return home of soldiers to their wives. Classical music in India, unlike its Western counterpart, is always very attuned to time, place, and mood. Rāgas, the name given to Indian classical forms, have rules to help guide improvisations in the moment and the monsoon season has inspired the Malhar group of ragas, a formulation specifically attuned to the emotions, environment, and context of the monsoon season.
Marketing and advertising, like Indian music, has always been contextual. As far back as 1867, billboards were being rented by marketers in dense urban areas outside train stations, and even earlier, direct mail took demographics into account to determine which regions and people to deliver flyers to. The truth is, though, that targeting brush strokes were broad, with flesh and bone staff doing a much better job of understanding a moment, a customer’s intent, and what the best thing to say would be.
The game has changed over the years, in large part to the use of digital technologies and improvements in modeling groups, segments, and life stages of consumers. Context marketing represents a new pinnacle of what marketers are striving for - modeling the internal and external worlds of the customer in order to deliver meaningful, real-time experiences.
The characteristics of this new approach consider that:
Indian classical musicians are the left-field cousins of modern marketers and can teach us a lot - about the importance of sensitivity and mood, flexibility in following rules, and improvisation in real time. Context isn't an optional approach for brands; it is one increasingly mandated by a connected smart consumer. In my upcoming Marketing Leaders EMEA Forum speech, I will be exploring this context challenge for brands, how to view the paradigm shift, and what to do about it.
I look forward to seeing you there!