Convergence: Businesses, With A Common Consumer, Collaborate

Data teams up with audio and video and creates new avatars of social media. Government teams up with various hospitals, pharma companies, NGOs, insurance companies, etc. to offer affordable healthcare. Banks and NBFCs team up with financial technology entities to offer co-lending to MSMEs. An interior design company teams up with NBFC, technology company, retail chain and a large builder for an off-the-shelf solution in making a dream home. Welcome to another wave in marketing.

Brands. All of them successful in their own right but fearing their growth stagnating in the near future. All of them attempting to offer their consumers an advantage that is unique for their offering. All of them trying to offer an experience that is complete, a product that is easier to use and lower in cost. All of them trying to use mutual brand equities for better credibility. All of them trying to reach to a consumer who cannot be reached currently. Welcome to convergence!

When one visits some of European countries, travel within a city is so easy. One daily pass and you can move around anywhere. Virtually, all of Europe is now a single geography, single market and single entity. Infact, I now start wondering whether the benefits of convergence, more than political compulsions, was the idea behind European Union. And BREXIT an example where one partner in the convergence partnership feels it is receiving less but giving more.

Convergence is arriving everywhere. Some brands seem to have successfully mixed oil and water when the mixed education with entertainment or editorial content with advertising. Now biotech is mixed with data, telecom with media. And more.

Marketers need to think afresh. And think continuously out of the box. Thanks to rapidly increasing acceptance of technology, the consumer is getting spoilt with choices and wants all vendors to adjust to her comfort zone. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, big data, faster personal computers, etc. will make convergence of different products and services a compelling need for brands tomorrow than a luxury. It is time for marketers to think hard.

Another macro development that would impact this trend is the financialization of savings in India. The country has been traditionally huge in her savings-to-GDP ratio. With bank deposits getting unlocked and the increasing access to invest in more liquid instruments, the tendency to buy gold or a scooter from the savings will decrease. A jeweler and the scooter brand will need to offer better reasons than ability to flaunt wealth or display upward social mobility.

Tomorrow’s world may not respect you if you are only a steel maker, a builder, a textile manufacturer, a travel agent, a refrigerator brand, a school, a political party, an NGO, etc. Guess, the time to function in silos is over. Technology will break all the silos and make this as a one unified world. Brands with a better idea and flexibility to converge are more likely to succeed and have a better chance to be in consumers’ comfort zone.