Rajesh Krishnamurthy is Business Head of Consumer Product Division, The Himalaya Drug Company. Krishnamurthy joined Himalaya in 2012 and is responsible for the growth of the company’s Personal Care division, along with retails operations across India. He came with a mandate to develop new business segments for Himalaya and drive innovation to build on Himalaya’s equity as a brand that provides safe and effective personal care solutions to consumers. Krishnamurthy has implemented far-reaching changes, from restructuring the team to adding new resources and has taken on the challenge of building Himalaya’s presence in the oral care category and leads the expansion in this segment. Excerpts from an interview with exchange4media.
Digital is the buzzword from sometime back. What are Himalaya’s initiatives in the domain?
Digital platforms help in establishing a deeper connect with our customers and enable richer conversations. Over the last couple of years we have increased both focus and spends on digital. Digital is not something we do over and above ATL, BTL and PR – it is an important part of the marketing mix.
For instance, we rolled out a TVC for our Sparkling White Toothpaste and we now also have a Facebook page dedicated to this brand. The former allows us to create quicker brand awareness, while the digital medium allows us to have day-to-day conversations with our customers and add multiple layers to the product and brand proposition. We also have a corporate Facebook page – Himalaya Herbals India, which showcases our entire personal care range and by introducing other facets of brand Himalaya to our customers, such as our environmental commitments, our broader philosophy on personal care...
Last year, we launched ‘My Friend Neemo’, a Facebook page dedicated to our flagship personal care product - Purifying Neem Face Wash. Here, NeemO is positioned as a friend who understands your skincare problems and offers you solutions. To entice and engage our young audience, NeemO also shares other useful tips – from fashion trends, food to DIY.
We have also moved beyond Facebook and Twitter to look at other digital platforms such as microsites and YouTube. When we entered the men’s’ segment recently, we launched a new microsite – HimalayaforHim – to facilitate different kinds of conversations with our male TG. The choice of the digital medium depends entirely on the product and TG, but given the fact that we are speaking to a young audience, at least as far as our personal care portfolio is concerned, digital is imperative.
In the coming months, we will have exciting nationwide campaigns launched on the digital platform and supported by on-ground events. We also hope to go bigger on content. We will experiment and push the boundaries for brand Himalaya.
How does digital marketing help in mainstream campaigns?
With our personal care products, our core TG is in the age group of 17-22 and this consumer base is very active in the online world. So digital complements a conventional advertising campaign.
Digital marketing helps us amplify the message and reach out to a wider audience. It also allows for greater creative experimentation and deeper conversations. A couple of months back we launched our Fairness Cream – Himalaya Natural Glow Fairness Cream and supported it with a TVC that shows a high-achieving young girl being troubled by skin problems. The protagonist in the commercial is already an achiever and our product steps into her life to solve her skin problems. We wanted to carry the confidence of the protagonist into our online communication as well. The campaign we devised centred on the ‘Challenge Accepted’ theme. Our fans told us their stories of overcoming challenges and it generated healthy conversations with them. The best part about digital is that we can now have real conversations with our customers. We interact with them and they give us feedback in real time.
How can marketers use digital in terms of customer retention, especially for a brand like yours?
Himalaya has a policy that all customer queries must be responded to within 24 hours – and every single query must be answered. We follow this very strictly. The brand cannot behave like an inanimate, remote entity in the online space – it must be personable, approachable and attentive. Only then can you create a real connect with your customers.
Digital provides an opportunity to directly engage with our customers. If a customer has a problem, we make sure we talk to them and work towards resolving it. In our experience, we’ve seen that when we listen to our customer’s problem and offer an honest solution, she is quick to reward us with her trust.
Chatter feed tracking also helps us understand our TG and craft messages that can seamlessly flow into conversations our customers are already having.
How is social media gaining importance in a marketer’s communication plans?
The statistics spell out the story in clear terms. There are 243 million internet users in India. Out of which 106 million are active social media users. Internet users in India spend almost five hours on the net every day, with 40 per cent of that time spent on social media. There is a dominance of mobile connectivity in India, which is driving India’s digital growth. Eighty-seven per cent of Facebook users access this platform through mobile. With such large numbers consuming information through the digital medium, it is logical for social media to find an important place in our communications plans.
Users are searching for information, making purchase decision through the active use of this medium. Entertainment and social media led activities with video integration are gaining popularity.
Could you give us an idea about how digital spends have changed or increased for your company?
Presently, we allocate 5 per cent of our total marketing spends for personal care to digital.
What are the cornerstones of your digital strategy?
The key elements of our digital strategy is to engage with our customers, attract new customers, provide helpful solutions and expert advice to address our customers’ personal care problems and build awareness for brand Himalaya and our vast range of solution based herbal products.
From a marketing standpoint, what are the objectives of your digital campaigns and promotions?
Essentially our digital campaigns focus on raising awareness for our products. There is enough data to show that the probability of consumers buying your products increases significantly if they’ve had a favourable interaction with you online. There are instances where we’ve seen a spike in sales linked to digital campaigns, but primarily this medium serves as an awareness-building platform.
Also, with our products, when customers try them, they usually convert and become loyal users. The challenge for us is to initiate trial and sampling. We do regular sampling as well through this medium.
We are yet to see exceptionally creative work in the digital space in India. Do you think the digital marketing space is yet to get the best of best talent?
There is a shortage of good talent, but the Indian digital space is maturing and we are seeing some very strong creative work. Now, we need to focus on return on investment and evolve better metrics to measure campaign results.
Please tell us something about your digital plans for the next two years.
We will continue to increase spends on digital and look at deeper integration with mainstream campaigns. With more funds being pumped into digital, we will need to put in place more effective metrics to measure campaign success and evaluate which strategies, method and approaches worked well and delivered positive results for our brand.