Monday, December 26, 2011

The Multividual Man

The Multividual Man

Narayan Devanathan /  December 26, 2011 (The author is National Planning Head, Dentsu Marcom)

The Indian man of the future isn’t one. He’s many. Meet the Multividual Man. He’s the ways he is because of social forces around him. And because he can be. But first, those social forces.

Pre-Independence, the Indian Male was defined by a single-minded patriotism. “I wear my country on my Khadi sleeve. Test it at your own risk.”

Post-Independence, the Indian Male was about security. Ensuring it for himself and his family. At all costs to himself. It was only after roti, kapda and makaan were secured by the 1980s Indian Male to a certain extent that he started focusing on himself, as an individual.

As a Ladies Man. As the “Impossible is Nothing” man. As the man that others looked up to. Especially female others, gazing up at him while riding pillion on a fast and not-so-furious bike. Or so he saw his own image. Being seen by others as emulate-able was important for him.

And then along came Liberalisation. Of the wallet and the mind. And a new millennium that brought with it an inner-directedness. To an extent only though. It manifested itself as the man who oozed confidence as India on the global stage, enjoying its many moments in the limelight. He was no longer showing off to the galleries. He was merely showing his prowess at the helm.

All around him though, the world was changing furiously, doing more things simultaneously to itself than it had ever seen in multiple millennia. It was as if the world could only keep pace with itself by multi-tasking. Not surprisingly, it asked the same of its people. Do more. Be more.

That’s when he morphed into the Multividual Man. His identity was now to be split into many. How to manage this schizophrenia without becoming unbalanced was the challenge before him. How is this different from the different life roles that man has played in the past? Was he not Brother, Career Man, Lover, Husband, Father, Caregiver before too? It’s just that he’s made peace with paradoxes. Inside him and in the world outside. He doesn’t think having a good time has to be at the cost of the earth. Or cost the earth either. Responsibility doesn’t have to hamper his freedom. Nor do career considerations need to temper his adventurous spirit. Because I am We.

Some marketers have marked this multividuality as experimentation, restlessness or just the ephemeral nature of youth. Like FasTrak, urging him to move on. Multividual Man, though, doesn’t feel the need to move on so much as move around, within his multiple selves. Other marketers, like Titan, seem to recognise his multividuality, and equip him to Be More.

So what selves should a marketer engage with? As people, we are not uni-dimensional. Neither are brands. So recognise the single entity that Multividual Man is, but cater to the multiple selves within. While this is contrary to all the accepted wisdom about single-mindedness of messaging and positioning, the fact is that if a brand’s persona has to engage with real persons, then it must be as colourful, as diverse in its characteristics as the people it wants to engage with. E unum pluribus will be the new mantra. Out of one, many.

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