The four-city Pitch Brainstorm 2005 kicked off in Chennai on Friday with top marketing professionals from the city's corporate-scape agreeing that the consumer today has lesser time than before to see brands, thereby reducing the interaction time for marketers.
Delivering the keynote address, Anita Gupta, Senior VP & GM, JWT, Chennai, explained the role of communication in building categories of products. The panel discussion featured Ramesh Vishwanathan, VP, Marketing & Sales, CavinKare, S Vaitheeswaran, Director, Sales & Marketing, Royal Enfield, Vishwadeep Kuila, VP, Marketing, GM Pens (Reynolds), and Vijay R Singh, Vice-Chairman, Hyundai India Telecom.
Raja Ganapathy, VP & GM, rmg david, Chennai, moderated the session. He said that while youth are a key constituent, a large portion of them did not watch television. "The consumer today has lesser time to see brands than ever before. So how do we communicate with the consumer and what are marketers going to do?" he said, setting the tone for the panel discussion. The panel responded and it was settled that the challenge was to connect with a differentiated offering and communicate the advantages at touch-points.
Vishwanathan explained the need to customise products for the benefit of customers. "The biggest chunk of the expanding base in many categories is at the bottom of the pyramid. To penetrate and expand this segment, marketers need to innovate," he said. Besides quoting CK Prahlad, he cited the example of sachets revolutionising the Indian shampoo market.
Vaitheeswaran made a presentation on creating and marketing 'cult brands', highlighting the case of Enfield's Bullet. "A cult brand needs to have a distinct set of values it is proud of. There is no need to appease everybody, it caters to a specific few", he said.
Much to the excitement of the audience, Vijay Singh elucidated the need to offer more from a product with an impromptu demo of a to-be-launched handset. In his presentation, he said, "You can no longer survive if you offer phones which are mere phones. You need to offer entertainment in the form of television and music on the phone, and even deliver the office on the mobile for starters."
Vinod Manikkath of Marrybrown spoke on the challenges in franchising, and explained this with the case of the restaurant chain he represented. He said that one of the challenges was to make the international chain acceptable to Indian audiences, and the introduction of local flavours. "Visibility for the brand was very important. Even the small advertisements we released helped create visibility for the brand in India. Then it was about creating an experience that would have people coming back for more", he explained.
Kuila spoke on the opportunities available and the opportunities lost in the pen industry. "In the Rs1700-crore writing instruments industry, Rs1100 crore goes to the trade. A part of this could be used for R&D to take on the global markets", he said. Explaining that India was now a leader in pen spare parts, he pointed out that a huge challenge for the category was in fighting Indians' obsession with foreign brands.
Answering questions at the end of the session, Anita Gupta said that the market was moving towards a communications system which went beyond conventional advertising. Vishwanathan mentioned earlier that an internal research by CavinKare showed that over a third of consumers for its shampoo brand 'Chik' did not have access to television, and that there was a need to look closely at audiences to expand product categories.