Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Though Valentine couldn’t have been very happy as he was martyred on this day. Anyhoo.

Over time and thanks to Chaucer writing about it, the day became associated with love though it used to be a rather more violent fertility festival. Chocolate which has a reputation as an aphrodisiac became popular thanks to endorsements from Marquis de Sade and Giacomo Casanova. And that’s why you got sweets from your sweet today. Or a rose. With lights, maybe. That sings.

As you can see, good marketing can transform our associations dramatically. Whether it is to celebrate love or to get the Queen to stop wearing fur. It’s a question of framing a narrative and identifying an untapped want. I guess Valentine’s Day was an outlet when romance was a far more private affair. It still is in many cultures which may explain its allure. Continuing with the theme of marketing as a transformative agent, I’d like to suggest that we cast our marketing charm to address an underserved market – seniors. Before images of adult diapers and grab-bars cloud your vision, I’d like to point out that just like any other demographic the senior audience is diverse with different needs. Hey, some definitions of seniors start at 50+, and of course if you’re a millennial a senior is anyone 10 years older than you 🙂

Years ago (ie before I needed reading glasses!) one of my bosses gave me a tip that has helped me a lot – make your font size bigger if you are presenting to a senior audience. It doesn’t inconvenience the others but improves life for those who have difficulty. I think those are the kind of changes businesses can easily consider. For example, in Big Bazaar Kolkata I spotted a special queue for those with mobility constraints. Or the way airlines have a separate queue. Today these efforts are a little half-baked, but as life span increases I’m hoping more empathy will arrive. Carvaan is a product that is awesome for those who are not able to manage fiddly buttons and digital music. I do wonder why it hasn’t inspired a simpler set-top box remote, yet. Voice-enabled search and device operation is great for everyone, but especially for those with impaired eyesight or shaky fingers. This isn’t a small market – 173 million Indians are going to be above 60 by 2025. I’m helping out with http://www.unmukt-festival.com which is helping me learn more about this demographic, even as I inexorably become a part of it.

Speaking of the right thing to do, let’s also talk about diversity. There’s usually a peak in articles on the causality of gender diversity with business impact in the run up to Women’s Day – less than a month away! But this year there are more voices that say that we should ensure diversity, because it’s the right thing to do, not because of its impact on profitability. Inclusivity isn’t something you do for economic rationale but because not doing it would make the world a less loving place.

Over the past decade with Paul Writer I have consciously worked on broadening my scope of interest beyond my specialization in B2B IT marketing. But it remains my first, er, love. So I’m really looking forward to being on the jury of the ET Most Promising Tech Marketer initiative. The awards and event is on 4th March in Mumbai – hope to see you there!  Do apply – last date is 18th. To Nominate now click here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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