The National Marketing Summit organised by the All India Management Association (AIMA) brought forth the diverse and distinct marketing strategies being deployed to lure the new breed of consumers. The two-day seminar titled 'Chakravyuh aur Chakradhar' saw corporate heads brainstorming on the arduous task of winning and retaining customers.
Speaking on the theme of the summit, Summit Chairman, Rajeev Karwal, said, "The market scenario in India is changing dramatically and the Indian market place is skipping a few steps in between, unlike the currently developed markets which took their own time to evolve. This pace of change is bound to increase with new technology and tools in the hands of organisations today. It is a 'Chakravyuh' to understand the new consumer and connect with them. Marketers will have to be like 'Chakradhars', who break this 'Chakravyuh' and emerge winners. It is with this ambition that we have chosen the theme of this year's National Marketing Summit."
The first day had three sessions each prodding the panellists to speak for the new age consumer. The fist session titled 'Kal, Aaj Aur Kal' emphasised on the evolution of the Indian consumer. Prof S C Makani, Professor (Marketing – IMT) moderated the session, which had N D Badrinath, Director, Client Service, AC Nielsen; Muder Chiba, Senior VP, TNS India; and Harminder Sahni, Principal and Associate Director, KSA Technopak, as panelists.
Badrinath put forth his step-by-step theory, which included changes through demographics, regional diversity, product category, changing market paradigm, back to boardroom to understand the evolution of the Indian consumer and the way forward.
Chiba observed that evolution always took a long time and thus marketers could tackle the situation in that period, and it was called adaptative strategies. He pointed out that marketers should look at the adaptative strategies of the consumers and take advantage of the knowledge.
According to Sahni, "Marketers are making a mistake by segmenting the market much more than is required. As a caution, marketers thus should not be skipping steps and should grow gradually. Though all consumers are and look the same on a superficial level, they are necessarily the same."
The second session was 'Kal Hamara Hai', which deliberated on connecting with the new consumer. B S Nagesh, MD, Shoppers' Stop and Shripad Nadkarni, CEO, Marketgate Consulting, were the panelists in the session, which was moderated by TV18's editor and anchor Anuradha Sengupta.
Nagesh started by saying that though it was nice to know and say that the future was ours, it helped to visit and look back at what the consumer was like 10 years ago. This would also help to look at what the market would be like 10 years hence.
"There are two kinds of consumers we encounter, especially during a new store opening. One is the rich class, which wants to shop at new shops, and the second one is the young generation, which probably just wants to hang out in the shop. Targeting these two sets of people might not be feasible. Also, as a retailer I have two ways of seeing the new age consumer, young college guys who probably don't spend a lot, but I have an option to either see them as spenders now or rather invest in them and make them my customer for tomorrow," Nagesh said.
He added that with conviction that quality of tomorrow could not be based on today's quality as it was based on mediocrities of yesterday.
Giving the marketer's point of view, Nadkarni said that the Indian market had changed dramatically and was much in tune with the global market. He asserted that marketers could not fit a consumer to equations or a model. Much emphasis was given on market research, but the key to success would lie in synthesis and not analysis, he pointed out.
The last session of the day was titled 'Kabhi Tum Kabhi Hum'. The panelists included Gulu Mirchandani, MD of MIRC Electronics and Deepak Sethi, CEO of Solutions QED, who spoke on the challenges for global brands in India. The session was moderated by Senthil Chengalvarayan, Executive Editor, TV18.
Both Mirchandani and Sethi gave plenty of examples to drive the point that a company being a multinational one did not guarantee success. Mirchandani asserted these MNCs in India worked only if they customised and showed true commitment to the Indian market.