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Differentiate or die: Anuradha Aggarwal

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Differentiate or die: Anuradha Aggarwal

Leading marketers from across the country discussed innovation and its importance in the success of a business at the 10th Pitch CMO Summit held in Mumbai on Thursday.

The first speaker for the evening, Anuradha Aggarwal, Director – Biscuits Category, Mondelez International, led an interactive session that revolved around the question, ‘Are we focusing enough on product innovation. The session was chaired by Anupriya Acharya, Group CEO, ZenithOptimedia Group.

Aggarwal began by posing a question to the audience. As she questioned the audience, the screen displayed a visual of a group of men playing a game. She asked the audience which sport they thought it was. Some replied cricket, some hockey and some baseball. Eventually, Aggarwal answered that the picture depicted a game of cricket from the 16th century. In contrast to the first image, the second slide of her presentation showed cricket as we know it today. Listing the ways cricket has evolved over the years or rather centuries, Aggarwal drove home the point of evolving and innovating to stay relevant.

She said, “Everything you see in the game today is innovation. Evolution is the only way something stays relevant.”

Stressing on the importance of change, Aggarwal went on to explore why we innovate. She listed three points -- human needs evolve, necessity is the mother and disloyalty is rewarding. She said, “When a brand innovates, a consumer gets choice and variety.”

The market is full of choices for consumers, making it rewarding for them to be disloyal to brands. In which case, Aggarwal said, “Innovation is about rewarding consumers without them having to be disloyal.”

Consumers want more, they want products that can improve their lives, that can change the way they do things today and innovation is the only way to get there. She cited several examples of brands that didn’t evolve fast enough, leading to their disappearance.

From the age of reel cameras to today’s digital era, Canon has been a brand that has stayed abreast with times.

However, Aggarwal’s favourite example of a brand that leads innovation is Apple. She feels that even Vim bar is an important example of product innovation. Remembering her days at Vodafone, Aggarwal said, “We would have organisation-wide meetings and discuss what could kill the telecom industry. The tech industry is constantly asking the question, who could make me die?”

She said, “An important question to ask yourself is -- are we differentiating enough?”

Aggarwal stressed that marketers today do not innovate enough but everyone has the potential to do so. She asserted, “Differentiate or die.” She also pointed out that innovation could not be delegated, or expected out of the R&D team alone. She mentioned an instance of getting an idea for the Australian market while talking to a plant manager in Indonesia. Another significant point Aggarwal made was, “When you innovate, you can charge a premium.”

After looking at the role of innovation in marketing from several angles, Aggarwal explored the meaning of innovation. She said the word innovation doesn’t mean invention or creation, rather it means ‘new’. “Innovation is a new way of thinking,” said Aggarwal. “We live in a sharing economy today, nothing is a secret. Whatever you are thinking is already out there. Innovation is about doing what already exists in a new way,” she elaborated.

Another visual in her presentation was that of a mango. She said, “We all have the same mango,” the next slide showed different types of food items prepared from mangoes, “if given to five chefs, they would each concoct their own variation.” She concluded, “As Indians, innovation is in our blood, what we like to call ‘jugaad’.”

The annual event is organised by Pitch, the marketing magazine of the exchange4media Group and powered by general entertainment channel Colors,  the presenting sponsor is Big Magic.

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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.