Sunday, July 26, 2009

Everyone wants to Go. An airline wants to Go. A radio station wants to Go. Goa wants to Go. VISA wants to Go. A bike wants to dhak dhak and Go. A freshness soap wants us to get out and Go. Kids want a GoYo instead of a YoYo. India’s No 1 Mobile Network wants the belly of the market to Go for it. An unlikely Yogurt brand Govardhan too wants to Go.

Speed is the new mantra that stands unabated. Fast track Watches want us to Move On. Fanta Orange wants us to Go Bite. Philips wants youngsters to GoGear. A leading telecom service provider peddles its new Broadband offering for a generation that brashly admits it has No time to Wait.

"Arguably the two key needstates we are hurtling towards, are Indulgence & Expression. Moods that are directly linked in to Spontaneity & Impatience, respectively."

The ‘No Theory Please’ Generation
The over arching impatience seems to find an echo across the categories. There is an impatience with anything and everything that causes a delay. Theorizing, a carryover of our knowledge accumulation heritage, now meets with a stern rebuke from IBM – ‘Stop talking. Start doing’. World’s premier financial Group Citi too simply sums up its new no nonsense approach with ‘Let’s get it done’.

Rude is Good
Occasionally this impatience takes on aggressive tones of rudeness too. Rude today seems to be in. A TV producer and reality show host Raghu Ram, who would have been deemed unfit for presenting anything in the past, is the new rude dude on his popular show.

But why does everyone want to Go? Why is it that even the slowdown of recession hasn’t been able to contain the spirit of Go?

The answers to these Qs lie in our history, our present and our future.

Historically pent up desires imploding in Spontaneity
Having lived an extended past marked by destitution and denial, today’s India, beneath it’s newly acquired confident exterior, is hiding bottled up aspirations and desires. The Spartan Hindu way of life that eulogized self denial as a way of dignifying the scarcity, has had enough. It is now understandably, gushing at every opportunity of expression.

The current Rush to get there First
The present India therefore is an India released. A billion plus population trying to outrun each other to get to the new opportunities first. Rushing to make the most of now.

The Urgency of Ambition
There is also an element of future ambition playing its part in churning out the Go zombies. With a neo patriotic zest about India’s enhanced stature in the revised eco political balance, India today is too charged up to take it’s somewhat over hyped place under the Globalization 3.0 sun. And in a way, that’s a vantage sign for our resilience in overcoming the slowdown.
Even if we look at it from the defining need states and country moods perspective, the new Signs of Impatience and Spontaneity seem to make sociological sense. Arguably the two key needstates the society is hurtling towards are Indulgence and Expression. Moods that are directly linked in to Spontaneity and Impatience, respectively.

So would it be fair to say that we are all growing up in a Go Era? Should we start measuring people by their Go Quotient? Will the walks of life that haven’t already been subsumed in the Go lifestyle have a Go at it soon? And finally for how long would this Go frenzy go on? May be some Go getters should have a go at these posers.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Driving back from work last evening, a sudden commotion at a traffic signal caught my attention. The exciting disruption of a normally excruciating wait was being caused by, of all things, a live musical sound!

The sight that drew both a surprise and a smile at the same time was that of a middle aged woman driver, playing the beautiful melody on her wooden flute, as she waited for the signal light to turn green.

Yes, in spite of the pall of gloom in the downturn, there seem to be many positive Signs pointing towards a new way of “being” for us all. Signs around Brightsiding, or optimism about a positive future beyond the recession, are washing over the globe. Simultaneously, Signs around Maturlism, a new trend of mature materialism, are helping us counterbalance our past socioeconomic excesses and revert to the stable values at the very foundation of our society.

With the economy having flipped the way it has, there are signs that our idea of normalcy and everything that constitutes normal seem to have undergone a significant change. It looks like the harsher times are helping us reexamine our priorities. A refreshing wave of maturity, humility and realism seems to be imploding within the saturation of decadent consumerism, winning and expression.

One of the clear fallouts of the economic slowdown is the concept of slowing down itself. We seem to be pausing more, paying greater attention to the smaller things that were earlier lost in the rush of the work-life frenzy. Visiting Dads, used to seeing their kids grow up in sleep, seem to be finally discovering the Grade in which their sons or daughters are.

People also seem to be spending money differently. The global crash has led to the intertwined quartet of realty, credit, blue chip and oil being more affordable. But inspite of sales abound, we have all become far more conservative in what and how much we buy.

The excesses of our past may not have been erased completely. However, they definitely are catching up with us. The auto industry is a clear example. Take GM for instance, the poster company of the US and a true symbol of the industrialism that led to mass affluence in the first place, has also buckled and sworn to correct the irregularities of its past as it inches towards bankruptcy.

Big fat cats of the Stock Streets who rode the crest of notional wealth, splurged, debauched and generally thought of nothing as impossible, are being overtly rebuked for their bonuses and extravagance.

While our financial and social senses seemed more attuned to the rich-poor juxtaposition earlier, the truths we must now confront are helping us evaluate matters more deeply - examine the way we lead our lives and what we spend our precious time and money on.

Quality of life has become key. Take for instance, the growing popularity of “home do’s”, parties and get-togethers at home for friends and family. They’re quickly replacing the splurge and dazzle of yesterday’s template parties. Or the increasingly popular dual-SIM phones that can separate one’s work and family lives with just a flick.

Media too seems to be catching on. The new splash in broadcast media is around a new channel, and genre, tellingly christened ‘Real’. A showcase of real characters and real stories - a welcome change from the usual melodramatic quagmire on offer. Getting real seems to be the mood of the season.

As are hope and optimism. And in tough times, the breakdown of traditional systems and symbols of power seem to provide that very hope and optimism. The story of the victorious underdog is everywhere. President Barack Obama springs immediately to mind. As does Slumdog Millionaire - the little movie from India that raced up the red carpet and podiums of all awards to bag top honours. “Jai Ho!” has become the clarion call of the world.

Change then, is in the air. Brands and their custodians seem to have sensed it too and are reflecting freshness in approach that is more grounded and rooted in realism, yet buoyant with a sense of hope. Banks, the harbingers of the meltdown, are now speaking of ‘The Power of Belief’ and structuring their brands around a solid foundation of leadership, ideas, trust and education.

In the aftermath of the crash, there seems to be a nascent optimism and an increasing need to chip away at frivolous luxuries to leave what is real and solid underneath. People are looking for and responding to symbols of hope and trust. There are signs that we’re all just waiting for all the noise to quiet down and the light to turn green again.