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Digital is now the second most important source of brand awareness after TV

Axis My India, a leading consumer data intelligence company, released its latest findings of the India Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI), a monthly analysis of consumer perception on a wide range of issues. Reflecting the view of the majority, the survey for the month of October reveals that media consumption remains the same for 48% of the families while the same has increased for a 25%. In addition, a combined 82% said that they had seen more ads on TV and Digital platforms over others. The November net CSI score, calculated by percentage increase minus percentage decrease in sentiment, was recorded at +9, up from +7 last month and rising at a constant pace over the last three months, indicative of a positive shift in consumer consumption metrics. The sentiment analysis delves into 5 relevant sub-indices – Overall household spending, spending on essential and non-essential items, spending on healthcare, media consumption habits & mobility trends. This time it has also analysed brand advertisement placements. Among the main findings were Overall household spending has increased for 63% of families which reflects an 7% increase from the last month. This increase is highest in Northern India. · The increase in spends on essentials like personal care & household items stands at 50% reflecting a surge by 5%. The net score which was +20 last month has increased to +27 this month. The growth in Rural India is slightly higher as compared to Urban markets. In terms of brand advertisement placements, 44% and 38% of the consumers said that they have majorly seen ads on Television and on Digital platforms respectively. While only 11% and 7% of the audience believe that they have seen ads on Print or Outdoor. This reflects the changing media consumption habit and the surge both in Digital consumption & advertising. This digital growth is led by 26-35 yr audience.

Govt issues digital guidelines for public procurement

The finance ministry released revised guidelines on public procurement and project management which outline innovative rules for faster, efficient and transparent execution of projects. The guidelines also permit alternative methods for selection of contractors, which can improve speed and efficiency in execution of projects. The formulation and release of these guidelines are part of the continuous process of review of existing rules and procedures. “These guidelines attempt to incorporate into the realm of Public Procurement in India, innovative rules for faster, efficient and transparent execution of projects and to empower executing agencies to take quicker and more efficient decision in public interest,” the ministry said. Some of the improvements include prescribing strict timelines for payments when due. Timely release of ad hoc payments (70 per cent or more of bills raised) is expected to improve liquidity with the contractors, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), it added. As part of the government’s digital thrust, electronic measurement books have been prescribed as a means of recording progress of works. This system, along with other IT based solutions proposed in the guidelines, will help in realising the dream of efficient Digital India, facilitate faster payments to contractors and reduce disputes. Model Tender Documents (MTDs) for procurement MTDs specifically cater to needs relating to e-procurement thereby easing the process for adoption of e-procurement and furthering the ambition of convenient and efficient e-governance. Such initiatives shall help in achieving the goal of Digital India by easing and standardising the digitisation process of public procurement.

Get ready for ‘Metaverse‘ with Facebook

The update replaces the erstwhile ‘WhatsApp from Facebook’ branding with the new ‘WhatsApp from Meta’ branding in both the Settings menu and the splash screen.  The change, however, does not seem to be available to all beta testers. WhatsApp has reportedly released new beta versions for iOS and Android devices featuring the new Meta branding after parent company Facebook Inc underwent a name change last week. While the change is yet to be implemented for users across the board, it is certain that WhatsApp will release the update for all consumers in due time since Facebook has decided to adopt the Meta branding. As part of its corporate rebrand, Meta plans to go beyond the boundaries of a traditional social network and incorporate a new immersive experience it has christened the “metaverse”. 

Kamal Haasan to launch his digital avatar in the metaverse

Lotus Media Entertainment has announced that actor Kamal Haasan has partnered with Fantico, a licensed digital collectibles platform, to exclusively launch his digital avatars. The actor’s non-fungible tokens or NFTs will debut in the metaverse where Fantico will launch a game based on the film star. Metaverse, a network of virtual communities where people can interact with each other in the form of their own digital avatars, is where Haasan’s avatar will be available on www.kamal.fantico.io. In the metaverse, digital objects and virtual avatars interact for business, education and entertainment. This will give an opportunity to his fans globally to interact with him through his digital avatar. They can also buy memorabilia and souvenirs related to the actor, said the company. Abhayanand Singh, founder, Fantico, added, “This will be the first of its kind in India. To have a legend like Kamal Haasan on our platform will only set the trend for more creators to adapt to the future of fan engagement.”Bollywood actors like Amitabh Bachchan are among the first few stars to have launched their NFTs in India amid the global craze that first began in 2015. Recently, Bachchan’s exclusive NFT collection was auctioned for $9,66,000 (around ₹7.18 crore) on BeyondLife.club, the highest NFTs auctioned In India.

Myntra begins Influencer live-led model for its customers

Myntra has started testing the ‘influencer-led live’ online shopping model on its platform. This makes India one of the few countries to test this model after China. Flipkart-owned Myntra has been testing a pilot project where a group of experts and influencers from the domain of fashion, beauty and personal care will hold live sessions on the platform and one can directly buy by adding the item in the cart while the session is going on during the session. Recently, Flipkart has also partnered with Moj-a short video platform to enable video and live commerce experiences. The live commerce model has been a major success in China,with Alibaba Taobao live having a large chunk of market share. It reported a gross merchandising value (GMV) close to $ 62 million in 2020, according to Alibaba. In India, startups like Bulbul and Simsim (now owned by YouTube) try replicating this model and are now in their early stages of expansion.  In a report by RedSheer it was reported that the expected live commerce is going to reach a $4-5 billion market in 2025.

Digital payments may seem king, but can’t push off cash

Rapid strides in digital payments notwithstanding, the Indian economy will remain dependent on cash for years to come. The reason for a steep rise in currency last year was due to uncertainties related to the Covid-19 pandemic. People chose to hoard cash to meet exigencies. The outstanding stock of currency now stands at ₹ 28.5 trillion, but the pace of increase has slowed and the need for additional cash is less. During demonetisation five years ago, CIC (Currency in circulation) was ₹ 18 trillion. In five years, digital payments went mainstream, leaving behind the need for cash  at least in metro and urban areas. In October alone, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) recorded over 4 billion transactions, a new all-time high for the payment’s platform since inception. Digital payments could be the norm in urban areas, but in tier-II cities and below, cash still rules. The semi-urban and rural economy runs on cash, and e-commerce companies are dependent on cash logistic firms. “While the economy is growing and consumption is increasing, the UPI end-users count has plateaued somewhat. The ₹ 7-trillion worth of transactions are helping create a ripple effect, with gradual increase of users. During the pandemic, we saw the government give direct benefit transfer to the economically weaker section. This helped citizens manage consumption. Of the 900 million bank accounts, only 400 million active debit cards are used. Zero merchant discount rate (MDR) may have a telling effect on re-carding the remaining account holders. Even in the case of UPI, there is zero MDR. That is why we are seeing CIC remain at elevated levels,” said Anand Bajaj, managing director and CEO, PayNearby. India has the third-largest number of ATMs in the world, but is also one of the most underpenetrated (population density-wise). The cash velocity or ATM withdrawals as a percentage of CIC  is also one of the lowest in the world at 1.5x, compared with 8 in Canada and China.“There is no reason to believe cash is going to get eliminated. Banks have to catch up, apropos the ATM network. States with low ATM penetration are getting ramped up,” said Anush Raghavan, president-cash management business, CMS Info Systems. “In semi-urban and rural areas, cash is the primary transactional model. E-commerce firms can work there only on the basis of cash on delivery. We are partners in their cash logistics,” added Raghavan.

Facebook to end use of facial recognition software

Facebook has announced it will no longer use facial recognition software to identify faces in photographs and videos. There have been growing concerns about the ethics of facial recognition technology, with questions raised over privacy, racial bias, and accuracy. Regulators had not yet provided a clear set of rules over how it should be used, the company said. It has faced a barrage of criticism over its impact on its users. Until now, users of the social media app could choose to opt in to the feature which would scan their face in pictures and notify them if someone else on the platform had posted a picture of them. In a blog post, Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at the firm said: “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”



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