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AAAI seminar Day 2: ‘Beyond the Horizon’ indeed

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AAAI seminar Day 2: ‘Beyond the Horizon’ indeed

There are but a few men who do not demand but command respect, and Ranjan Kapur is definitely one of them. There couldn’t have been a better way for AAAI to mark its Diamond Jubilee celebrations than having the Country Manager of WPP India to deliver the keynote address.

Kapur started of by saying, “When I hung up my boots at O&M two years ago, I had specific objectives in mind – no more deadlines, headlines, bottom lines. These I found were the three things that drove the advertising business to profitable growth and to the fringe of insanity. Things only got more insane as time went by and, therefore, when I retired, I can say with all honesty it was the best decision I made.”

“Someone once told me never to predict the future, because you’ll never be right. And if you feel you must, then predict far enough into the future so you won’t be around to face the embarrassment when you are proven wrong. But insanity has already begun to take hold and I am about to take a crack at forecasting what is in store for us in the next few years,” he quipped.

He opined that “the future is upon us and we don’t even know it”. Last year, China claimed that they were $35 billion, while India was a mere $3 billion. Are we underestimating our own Adex? And if so, by how much and are we missing something?

“I believe that non-traditional media has grown considerably faster than our ability to measure it. I believe it accounts for at least another one billion that has not been measured,” Kapur said. He also spoke of how advertising would continue to be the dominant medium for a long time to come, but its importance would continue to erode. The erosion would come from non-traditional, non-measured media. Agencies will also have to examine their media neutral stance.

The first session on the FMCG sector was chaired by Sam Balsara, Chairman and MD, Madison Communications. He expressed the concern that the share of the FMCG sector in advertising was declining from 76 per cent in 1999 to about 50 per cent last year. Thus, he said, it was necessary for the FMCG industry to have some conclusive findings in this area so that mistakes that might have been made leading to the decline of growth rates – with an exception of last year’s growth of 6 per cent – were not repeated.

Building on this, Saugata Gupta, Chief Marketing, Marico said, “The worst is over and this year, growth will be more than 19 per cent and there are a few trends that the industry will witness. As India is getting younger, increasing number of products will be directed towards the youth and youthful segment. Kids, too, pose as a strong segment with their pester power. There is a lot of scope out there as aspirations are high. Brands will thus need to encourage multiple personalities. There will be much stronger need for innovations.”

He further said that marketers would have to devise smaller packaging strategies to find place inside the purse. “There will be increased demand for brand consultants and strategic account planning people to drive the growth,” pointed out Gupta.

The second speaker on FMCG was CavinKare CMD, C K Ranganathan. The focus of his presentation was largely at looking beyond television as an advertising medium to drive awareness and volumes. Thus, the need for experimentation by marketers. He also said, “Today’s consumers are looking for ways to look good and feel good, so it’s a great opportunity to drive per capita consumption. And instead of waiting for income levels to increase, marketers need to strategise to raise the bar of hygiene level. Smaller packs are and will be the way to go.”

The next session on ‘Evolving Sector’ was chaired by Alan Durante, Executive Director President (Automotive Sector), Mahindra & Mahindra. He laid the ground for discussion by saying that there were 200 million consuming class and this would double over the next five years or so. These consumers were willing to make decision for themselves and there were growing acceptance of lifestyle, automotive, healthcare and retail.

“Consumers are demanding more from the market place, they need more value for money, there is a greater demand for better shopping experience. Debt no longer is a dirty word,” Durante said.

Taking over from here, John Cahill, Regional Director, Asia-Pacific, McCann (Healthcare), presented his point of view on the healthcare communication industry. He said, “Even if needles, doctors, pills, etc. come to mind when one thinks of healthcare communication, actually the communication is surprisingly like other creatives. It’s about real people and things affecting them. Though the state of healthcare communication in India has not been easy, driven by the evolution of need states in health, healthcare communication will look at more meaningful contacts.”

Sudipta Sen Gupta, Senior General Manager (Marketing), Café Coffee Day, gave her analyses of retail emerging as an evolving sector. According to her, “The growth of retail outlets like Café Coffee Day and others has got a great push from technology babies, aspiring youth, balance seekers and retired affluents (terms by KSA). These retail outlets will have to build strong brands.” She gave the example of how Café Coffee Day had built a brand without investing in above the line advertising in its initial days as well as the tie-ups with TVS Scooty and Levis.

The last session in the pre-lunch segment deliberated on the services sector. The chairman for which was TV Today’s CEO, G Krishnan. He said that services today had transgressed al boundaries like banks, which was unimaginable a decade ago, but had now become a simple reality. “The discerning consumer of today is willing to pay for quality, but is greatly intangible. So there are issues as to how to measure quality and manage it. Having said this, the services sector will help India emerge a global leader in next 10 years,” affirmed Krishnan.

Giving a breathless presentation was S V Prasad, CEO of Birla Sun Life Asset Management Co. He said, “There is a rising affordability due to urbanisation and rising per capita income, but the consumers are getting under-leveraged. We have a reservoir of intellectual capital and this is India’s greatest strength, which is making the country one of the fastest growing economies. So, there is consumption-led growth, mobile telephony boom, in-bound tourism is witnessing a strong growth as there is easy availability of finance. India’s equity market is also getting bigger and Corporate India is in far better shape today. All this is enabling Indian services sector to grow.”

Atul Bindal, CMO of Airtel, spoke of branding in context of telecom services. He said that there would be some key shifts and trends like brands would now equal experience, there will be less rivalry and more competition, there will be challenges of the next scoop, there will need to be buyer behaviour paradigm shift, non-voice will be the differentiator, there content as strategic partnership and the last technology led media planning and delivery will important to note.


Kranti Gada joined the family business at Shemaroo in 2006 after a successful stint of over two years in marketing at Pepsi Co. She has been associated with the company for 12 years.

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