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Agnello Dias, Sanjay Purohit, Vikram Sakhuja, Sunil Lulla mull over whether consumer is the new devil

04-December-2009
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Agnello Dias, Sanjay Purohit, Vikram Sakhuja, Sunil Lulla mull over whether consumer is the new devil

Bidding adieu to a challenging year and looking forward to 2010, the Ad Club of Bombay on December 3, 2009 held a panel discussion with three eminent speakers – Taproot India’s Agnello Dias, Cadbury’s Sanjay Purohit and GroupM’s Vikram Sakhuja – bringing alive the perspectives on the changes in the consumer society seen in 2009 and what to expect in 2010. The session was moderated by Sunil Lulla, Managing Director, Times Television Group.

The speakers shared their perspectives in an interactive dialogue as they addressed the biggest challenge that Indian brand marketers face – ‘The Indian Consumer - The New Devil’. Many precepts have changed in 2009 and it requires a new mindset to engage with the consumer. According to the speakers, a new kind of vision to exploit the relationship of media and communication with the consumer; and the value system of the consumer society is required.

Taking the dais first was Taproot’s Dias, who noted that in recent times, the creative point of view had been grappling with a new so-called ‘devil’ – the consumer. He, however, wondered whether the consumer was a ‘new devil’ or an ‘Old Angel.’ “Today’s creative person is more of a specialist to all rounder, back end to front end. Things have changed from chaos out of order to order out of chaos and from energy to synergy,” he noted.

Dias supported his presentation with case studies on the works of Coca-Cola and Thums Up, DTC and Raymonds. He explained that the future of creatives was based on three aspects – skill sets versus mindsets, uncracking the system, and honesty being the best creativity.

Cadbury’s Purohit called the consumer the ‘devil’. Quoting ad guru David Ogilvy, Purohit said, “‘The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife’.” Purohit explained that today the consumer was termed as the ‘new devil’ because he had been surprising us with his new unpredictable behaviour, but that was not something new.

He added, “Cadbury India accelerated growth despite the challenging times because the company did not stop spending on its brand on mass media, compared to other companies, who became strong on BTL and other on-ground activities. As a marketer, one needs to give a better deal such as improving the product.” Giving examples, Purohit stated that they had improved the quality of the éclairs brand and had launched Cadbury Shots, which had notched up 10 per cent of the brand sales. Thus, Purohit concluded, “The devil is not a consumer, but he exists in our thoughts.”

Agreeing with Purohit, GroupM’s Sakhuja commented, “Devils are those who plot and design evil things, and consumers are not the ones who do that.” He, however, pointed out that it was a challenging job to get the consumers attracted to brands because there was a range of good quality choice, but undifferentiated brands get challenging. “It is the lack of brand differentiation and fragmentation of media that makes it difficult to get the consumers to the brand,” he noted.

According to Sakhuja, the brand would need to be differentiated on consumer insights and brand concepts. Citing examples, he said that the work on Jaago Re by Tata Tea, Lead India and IPLs were the brands that conversed with the consumers. Sakhuja stressed that brands needed to have conversations with the consumers.

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