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"There is massification of everything, as opposed to customisation"

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"There is massification of everything, as opposed to customisation"

The past few years have seen enough changes in technology as well as on customer preferences. This has resulted in making the marketing ecosystem much more complex. But do these challenges have hidden opportunities?

Marketers and industry honchos sought to identify the challenges and opportunities in today’s complex ecosystem at the 10th exchange4media Conclave, presented by NewsX. With smartphone penetration reaching out to 75 per cent of the penetration achieved by television, and social media turning out to be yet another platform for marketing, marketers are have too much to do. Challenges have grown extensively in today’s context, with marketers trying to use all their creativity to impress the smartest customer.

“Race to keep pace” is how Anupama Ahluwalia, VP - Marketing, Coca Cola India summarised the challenges. She said, “Today, marketers are facing the same challenges, which are first faced by the customer. How can the brand continue to remain connected, is a question that haunts the marketer every day. A product’s lifecycle is shorter than ever, campaigns die down too quickly and Indian customers have a very short memory to retain anything you do.”

Challenges are always bundled with opportunities. Hence, there is a need to change the strategy, remarked Subodh Marwah, Marketing Director, Carlsberg. He noted, “Customers have become more aware, logical and smart. Just creating visibility using media is not enough, and according to me, customisation or experiential marketing is what will matter the most in the coming days.”

He further said that to reach out to consumers today, media is not enough. Consumers are looking for experiences. Marwah added that experiential marketing is not a new phenomenon and we all have known it as sampling, but now with social media and digital space becoming hyperactive, this facet of marketing has developed a lot of ways to interact with and woo the customers.

If creativity is the solution to a much more complex marketing ecosystem, then direct contact with the customer through experiences is what the way forward is. According to Arunabh Das Sharma, President, Bennett Coleman & Co, “This is the time when we need to create opportunities to present a fresh approach to our customers. It can happen by integrating various channels under one campaign. Few of the marketers have started doing this, but most of them lack the confidence in experimenting.”

On the other hand, Alok Bharadwaj, Executive VP, Canon India felt that customer reading is still very faulty and by the time marketers get equipped with proper information about customers, the customers themselves change. “We need to understand customers’ preference, demands and meet them not before or after, but at the correct time,” he stressed.

For Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV, there are three challenges that marketers face – lack of differentiation, the lazy marketer and lack of measurement. Elaborating on these, he remarked, “The market is full of similar looking stuff, and what I feel is that the marketer is not ready to experiment.” Calling marketers lazy marketers, Kapoor blamed the marketing fraternity and said, “We lack the confidence and willingness. Marketers should understand the customers even before they themselves get to know about their preferences. With pro-active behaviour brands can win it big, but this is possible only by experimentation.”

Challenges are many and each sector will have to develop its own ways to reach out to its customers. Experiential and other innovative ways of marketing are the way forward.

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