Be it retail or be it advertising, digital cannot be ignored any more. That was the key take-away from the Pitch CMO Summit 2012 – South that kicked-off in Hyderabad yesterday. From here, the Summit goes to Chennai, where marketers and media managers come together to present their cases on June 22. The theme for the two-city event is Communication to Commerce: Converting Share of Voice to Sales.
The day kicked-off with Bijou Kurien, President and CE, Lifestyle, Reliance Retail, delving in his Keynote Address – Modern Retail: Reshaping Consumer Behaviour – on how modern retail was becoming a media vehicle in its own right. The entrance, the floors, the walls, the ceiling and columns are important places where with right execution, by both the marketers and retailers, the consumer could be turned into a customer. And there colour and lighting, which according to Kurien are a mood enhancer, play an important role in converting ‘intent’ to ‘purchase’.
In shopper marketing, the difference between a retailer's and a marketer's perspective, he said was, while a retailer wants to drive in consumers to a store, a marketer wants to bring in a differentiation between his and the other brand.
Pointing out the challenges in shopper marketing, Kurien said that retailers have to think like a shopper; building the retail store as a brand in itself; and making the store a fun place to shop, as the place with same look and format could start looking jaded to the shoppers after a certain point of time.
Elaborating on the benefits of modern retail, Kurien said that according to international surveys and researches, 68 per cent of store-purchases are on 'impulse'. And modern retail with the benefit of allowing the consumer to touch and feel and move around the store and in fact make comparisons between brands, can fuel that impulse.
Speaking during a question-answer session with the audience, Kurien said that e-retailing was here to stay and in fact a reverse trend is being seen where, particularly in the consumer electronics and gadgets segment, people were experiencing the touch-and-feel offline and going online to shop, because of the deals offered online.
He assured that while modern retail was here to stay it is no threat to traditional retail. The latter is in fact complementing modern retail. Ninety three per cent still is traditional retail, he said.
A home for all
Delivering his Special Address, K Ravinder Reddy, CMD, Janapriya Engineers Syndicate, said that purchasing a house was an emotional decision for all, and banks were playing an important role in making that dream come true. While buying a house, the buyer was only paying 20 per cent and the rest being funded by a bank, and considering the tax benefits on housing loans, appreciation of property rates over the years, and considering the inflation over the years, it was a win-win situation for the buyer.
Marketing in a low involvement category
Delving on the challenges of marketing in a low involvement category, like chewing gum, salt, cooking oil, or cement, Madhusudan Mokashi, VP, Marketing, Hyderabad Industries, said that touch and feel did not matter to a consumer. Product benefits weren't evident much enough and there are substitutes available easily.
Brand loyalty is a last thing in these categories, he said. For example, a consumer would not go back and say, that he is not going to build his new house, if he did not find his favourite brand of cement at a shop. That is why, he said that the low involvement categories have to be positioned on emotions and feel good factor.
Brands like Captain Cook, Tata Salt, Dalda, Safola, Annapurna are some examples in a low involvement category that have managed to become big brands as they have been positioned thoughtfully with being positioned on health and hygiene platforms, so much so that some of these brands have become generic to the category itself.
Another successful example, he said, was Cafe Coffee Day, which went beyond the drink to touch the emotional chords of consumers, with its positioning: A lot can happen over coffee.
He also gave an example of Ultratech Cement, a company where he has worked earlier, how the brand, which was positioned on product benefits has evolved in its positioning over the years to touch the emotional chords of the consumer, while retaining its catchline: Iss Cement Mein Jaan Hai.
Embrace convergence of media
Next in the line-up of speakers, was Suresh Balakrishna, the CEO of the newly formed Brand Programming Network, a part of the Lintas Media Group, who spoke on: Media Convergence – Is it an Opportunity to Move from Communication to Commerce? While on the topic, he said that it was important for brands to embrace convergence of media to create a meaningful dialogue with consumers. He said that brands should evolve by in novelty in the areas of strategic thought, technology and brand planning while focusing on new method of media measurement.
He gave examples of Union Bank of India and Cadbury – the latter for the Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye campaign, how the two accepted convergence of media. Cadbury used internet (matrimonial sites), railway tickets, radio and mobile phones (a new purchase of reliance SIM card).
Challenges in marketing intangible products
Delivering her address, Manisha Lath Gupta, CMO, Axis Bank, spoke on the challenges of marketing an intangible category like finance. In service marketing, advertising was the last point and is not the first point. Till your service is not good, till your banks don't have the infrastructure there is no point in advertising. So even packaging was more important in intangibles. But at the same time, social media was the place to be on, where they could have direct interaction and educate the consumer more.
She gave an example of Kingfisher Airlines, which with its 'branded talk strategy' was able to become a differentiator. It was one who started calling passengers as 'Guests' and all of a sudden, it became a branded word, which no one else would use it. People would talk about its services like how their luggage was picked up at the airport and how they were addresses as 'Guests'.
Financial categories had to move beyond selling products and sell propositions, she said.
The new-age consumer
Shubhranshu Singh, CMO, Visa, in his address, emphasised how the consumer was evolving. The new-age consumer, he said was not shying for spending more as compared to an earlier generation, which focused more on saving. Also, people were getting more comfortable spending online, and that has given a fillip to e-retail.
He put the consumers in three categories – young, the not so young and the old. He said while the young wouldn't think twice before spending, the not so old would think twice because responsibilities made them cautious towards saving, while the older generation was conservative in its approach towards spending, which focused more on saving.
He also, talked about the growing influence of digital, something marketers cannot ignore any more. He agreed with Manisha Lath Gupta that today digital marketing has come on top of traditional advertising. It is not that it has come as an alternative to traditional advertising.
He said that people ‘believed’ word more on social media rather than believe an advertisement. They would prefer a feedback from a friend about a service or product rather than an advertisement. In agreement with Gupta, he said that brands could with just a click of an 'Unlike' button find themselves blocked out from the consumer's preference list.
Digitisation of all media platforms
Last but not the last, the day ended with a panel discussion on 'Luring National Advertisers to Regional Media: Challenges and Opportunities'. The panel was of a consensus that one of the ways to lure national players to regions was by digitising platforms such as newspapers. Today newspapers too are being consumed on gadgets such as the mobile and tablets. Similarly, outdoor too offered more scope for interactivity by going digital.
However, the challenge, the panellists said was that players, particularly in the regional media space did not understand digital very well.
On the panel were I Venkat, Director, Eenadu Publications; Syed Musharraf Mehdi, MD, Ad Age Outdoor Advertising; Ramesh Bhaskar, VP, Marketing, Big FM; and Suresh Reddy, Chairman and CEO, Ybrant technologies. The panel was moderated by Sriram Gopalakishnan, Director, Marketing and Communication, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.
The title sponsor for the event was The Economic Times and associate sponsor was TV9. It was supported by Ad Club Hyderabad and Ad Club Madras.