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Madhumita Dutta

Chief – Marketing | 19 Aug 2013

‘Wait and watch’ is a preferred route that most Indian marketers adopt, which leads to postponing investment in digital marketing. Secondly, it also involves the ‘traditional mindset’, which results in lack of confidence in emerging technologies and fear that the investments may not pay off.

Madhumita Dutta is the Chief Marketing, Pantaloons. She has over 10 years of experience in marketing and advertising. Prior to Pantaloons, Dutta was Head of Marketing Development - India at World Gold Council for over six years. She has also worked with Tanishq, Ogilvy & Mather and Lowe Worldwide on various big projects.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Dutta speaks at length about Pantaloons’ digital initiatives, her opinion about the evolving digital marketing and more...

Q. As a retailer, what are the different ways in which you have leveraged the digital media space?

In a retail business, the objective should always be to establish meaningful connections with the online audience across social channels and, therefore, bring forth an engaging conversation alive.

Facebook is by far the leading, largest and visually appealing network. We have built over 1.65 million fans on Facebook and growing strongly. We ensure that our fans are constantly kept engaged with fashion content, contests, fashion polls, etc.

Twitter has given the opportunity to give continuous real time updates of what’s happening around the brand Pantaloons to over 2,000-plus followers.

We have recently launched the Pantaloons blog ( This is an online platform where users can get their daily dose of style through a variety of tips, tricks, and tools they need to stay fashion forward. The objective is to get the blog’s followers to discover their or create their own unique style quotient. The blog gives the perfect opportunity to build long-term relationship with online influencers to ultimately foster healthy brand advocacy.

Q. What, according to you, are the key things that a brand should keep in mind to build a healthy social conversation?

Listen carefully and converse effectively. The biggest strength of digital media is the ability to connect with people on a one-to-one level, understand them and their needs and turn the fans into brand advocates, and not to forget to engage them into the brand world, speak the brand lingo in the social space and familiarise the consumers with the brand nuances.

Q. What can Indian marketers learn from global digital marketing practices?

The key focus lies in ‘customer engagement’, which is fundamental to any successful social presence. A constant and seamless two-way interaction encourages consumers to participate and share the brand content, which can generate effective word-of-mouth. It also helps maintain mindshare with the current customers.

With the ever-increasing popularity of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc., every marketing professional can now have more ways to reach out to the consumers in a meaningful and effective manner.

Producing interesting content, customised for specific social channels, is important for increasing engagement and driving brand-oriented conversations. For example, in Facebook, fan interactions in the form of likes and shares and tags are indicators that they have found the content interesting and relevant.

Integrate. Integrate. Integrate. Instead of thinking either or, marketers should focus on integrating social media with conventional media space. For instance, integrate live events, which are experiential, with social media where the audience can tweet their experience or live streaming the event online, thereby manifesting in a brand related conversation. Driving in-store consumers to online can also help build content, which will ultimately lead to brand affinity.

Q. With brands coming on digital, what are the trends that will impact consumers’ purchase decision in the days to come?

The Indian e-commerce sector is still in a nascent stage and a tricky place to be in, considering the socio-cultural implications. On the one hand, e-commerce provides the convenience to shop from the comfort of your home, but on the other hand, it lacks the touch and feel factor, which is deeply embedded in the Indian consumers’ mindset. This has led to the emergence of options such as ‘pay cash on delivery’.

One common phenomenon exists quite predominantly in India – consumers do product research and price comparison online before they go and purchase it offline, especially when it comes to household electronics and appliances.

Therefore, digital offers retailers an opportunity to promote the brand, drive a two -way interaction with the customers, and maintain a social presence, which is extremely beneficial in driving business.

Q. Mobile is still not leveraged to its best capabilities by Indian brands. What is your observation on this?

It is the emerging channel or preference of choice and the impact and effectiveness of evolution of mobile is evident in the way we live – it has replaced the alarm clock!

Brands need to develop content specifically designed for this device which is carried 24x7 by the consumers. Mobile marketing allows increased customer engagement by involving QR codes, check-ins, pushing real-time messages and offers, especially when the customers are in and around the store.

As the traffic on mobile starts increasing its share in the overall web-traffic, it will become imperative for marketers to make mobile marketing part of the overall media mix. Branded content such as six-second Vine videos or mobile catalogues can further help enhance the brand’s perception and affinity.

Q. How do you think the Indian digital ecosystem will shape up in the coming years?

I feel the convergence of social and mobile with offline brand experiences will take customer engagement and interaction to newer heights. It can begin with something as simple as retailers utilising their existing loyalty database to deliver customised messages to the customers by integrating it with social applications.

Similarly, as mobile platforms mature, we can have communication running across all mobile content as well as deliver specific offers or messages to customers when they are in and around stores. Shopping will literally be available at the consumer’s fingertip by adapting e-commerce to mobile screens.

The implications are that as marketing professionals, we need to gear up our technological investments to build a robust infrastructure that will deliver seamless communication to the consumers.

Q. It is observed that an Indian marketer is still apprehensive about shelling out money for digital marketing. Is it because marketers don’t have confidence on the talent that we have in the digital space?

‘Wait and watch’ is a preferred route that most Indian marketers adopt, which leads to postponing investment in digital marketing. Secondly, it also involves the ‘traditional mindset’, which results in lack of confidence in emerging technologies and fear that the investments may not pay off. Having said that, many brands in the Indian marketing landscape is going active in the digital space - involving and socialising the brand amongst the youth effectively.

Q. As a marketer, what are your expectations from the digital agencies?

The digital agencies should work more closely with the creative communication agencies and should ideally be involved right from the planning stage. This will allow brands to deliver an online integrated with offline communication strategy. The outcome will be more sharply focused and the brand across online and offline will, therefore, speak the same lingo.

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