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Indigenous music has long stood the test of time, spanning across cultures. But many a time these hidden gems go unheard compared to mainstream genres. “Deccan Beats”, the brainchild of European automobile brand ŠKODA India, is a platform that aims to nurture 16 aspiring musicians from South India to celebrate indigenous (Carnatic) music.

With a quest to encourage music at the grassroots level, it will give impetus to local talent from different languages and cultures This campaign also helps ŠKODA India to establish itself as a creative partner, and entrench itself with India’s rich musical heritage.

Culturally Relevant

In Asia Pacific, the increased globalisation over the past several decades has now turned into a counter-trend where consumers want to celebrate the uniqueness of their country and cultures according to the Mintel Trend ‘Culturally Connected’. Furthermore, in Mintel Global Consumer research, 4 in 5 Indians said that heritage is an important part of their identity.

In this view, brands will find opportunities to incorporate the past in modern ways to help consumers understand their culture. They will also need to retain the core values of each tradition while, at the same time, transforming some of the customs to cater to consumers’ changing needs.

As ŠKODA is not well established in India yet, the Deccan Beats campaign can serve to connect the brand with local consumers through music, which, according to American poet and educator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “is the universal language of mankind.” Paying homage to South Indian music and partnering with stalwarts like Andrea Jeremiah and Raghu Dixit to mentor the participants will help establish ŠKODA as a brand that is in touch with local culture and with a willingness to invest in the market.

Culturally Appropriate

The celebration and rightful representation of one’s roots goes a long way in convincing consumers to place their trust in a brand. Examples from other brands prove to be the case.

India’s Tata Coffee created an ad to commemorate the onset of Pongal (a major festival celebrated in South India). Coffee, specifically Indian filter coffee, is the beverage of choice among South Indians and the ad helps create a subtle yet strong emotional association between the brand and the festival by capturing nostalgic and emotional visuals and sounds that bring back the sentiments of celebrating a joyous occasion with loved ones.

In Singapore, fitness trainer Brosnon Chan is transforming the fitness journey among the older demographic who are usually cooped up at home and leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Brosnon Chan created a series of senior-friendly workout videos in local dialects and languages such as Hokkien, Tamil and Malay (which are available for free on YouTube and Instagram) and feature tunes from the past to cater to the seniors.

What we think

India is a diverse country represented by an eclectic mixture of cultures. When brands like ŠKODA make an effort to connect with consumers on a cultural level, they establish a personal bond that users can relate to. Brands that celebrate aspects of local culture will earn goodwill and affinity. This will also help shape the positioning of the brand as a local one through a better understanding of its surroundings.

However, there is a fine line between paying respect and cultural appropriation. In today’s digital world, consumers aren’t afraid to call out brands that appear, for instance, to profit off of ideas that originated from a more marginalized demographic. Collaboration with individuals and communities who represent a specific heritage and culture is essential for brands to avoid the pitfalls that happen from making assumptions.