Although our world was already highly digital, this past year saw that trend not only grow, but take over all aspects of life. From remote work becoming the standard, to adjusting to Zoom holiday parties, and of course the emergence and burgeoning of TikTok, the shift does not appear to be a temporary adjustment-rather, a reconstruction of the norm. Digital marketing savant, serial entrepreneur, creative, writer, and world traveler, Sourabh Sharma fully believes this new reality is here to stay. With a world-class education from Wharton Business School and The Rotterdam School of Management, and vast experience working with brands and clients encompassing branding and creative direction, to the actual execution of new companies from the ground up in this digital world, Sourabh is acutely in touch with what makes things work in the crowded, albeit opportunistic marketplace..
Sourabh's breadth in companies where he has either been co-founder, creative director, marketing head or all of the above, make him a marketing expert; FIG or out is a multi-faceted creative and digital strategy agency, Print All Over Me is a leading on-demand print fashion and custom clothing brand, Histoires de Parfums (now acquired in North America by Europerfumes) is a niche perfumery to which Sourabh brings vision and business growth expertise, and Dot & Pin is an influencer-based travel service. With an innate knack for forecasting market trends he navigates the ever-changing digital landscape with focus and innovation. Sourabh describes himself as a "Renaissance man with an incurable case of FOMO. Read this as one who has his hands in a variety of things due to the refusal to accept that this was not possible." It's a zeal for life that keeps his creative and analytical mind forever churning new approaches, which turned out to be a major benefit during the pandemic. Since the year called for adjustments and pivoting in every area of life.
Although Sourabh lives in a state of sensory overload, as he says, his area of expertise is ultimately a deep understanding of the behavioral trends of Gen Z and its predecessors, millennials, and how they differ from boomers (who are a large population, and likely with high spending power). This is showcased in public presentations at nationwide conferences and seminars, along with whitepapers in Allure Magazine, the New York Times, Global Cosmetics Industry (GCI),Quirk's Magazine, Yahoo! and others, with one notoriously calling on the decline of experiential marketing-which seems to have nearly predicted the shift of 2020. As an all-encompassing pop culture guru, Sourabh transverses the digital landscape with the belief that technology's role will only keep growing. With brands adjusting to virtual events and customers shifting to shopping directly on Instagram, it's clear that what lies ahead will be dictated somewhat by technology. "Boomers use Facebook to share memories, keep in touch, and sometimes for commerce, although this is primarily on retail sites or the likes of Amazon; by contrast Gen Z is supporting local via technology and abandoning convenience if it negatively impacts businesses, ethics, or impacts their carbon footprint. They are also ballooning on TikTok and Clubhouse and speculating about the future of Instagram which is losing originality for them," says Sourabh. This epitomizes why digital is simply a tool for marketers and a way of sharing for people... not the era it is made to be.
The fact that Gen Z is growing as a customer base and entering the workforce further supports the theory. Sourabh sees a clear distinction between the mobile-savvy, selfie-clicking, filter-favoriting and Insta-backdrop millennial, versus the AI and VR powered Gen Z, who will not just utilize technology but also act as co-creators to amplify it to the next level. Even brands that aren't exactly tech in their product nature, will employ technology for everything from creating and customizing, all the way through delivering more convenient and easy technology. How this shapes the growing concern of environmentalism remains to be seen, as Gen Z, including Sourabh himself, is particularly cognizant of the impact former generations had on the environment, and hopes that technology can better our relationship with the Earth. "We have to ask ourselves, does technology empower us or does it imprison us further? Honestly, it isn't a binary, you can use it to empower and sparingly, or you can, like any other form of addiction or dependence, become dependent on it. The choice is yours," concludes Sourabh on how technology must be differentiated between brands and the market.
In a world that's always changing there is some solace in knowing that we are adaptable and malleable to the evolution of social, technological, and behavioural trends. With new developments or challenges come new opportunities. The ability to pivot, find the silver lining, and make the most of what is put before us, like Sourabh does, is truly the formula to success and happiness.