A rapidly developing and changing nation like India demands new marketing ways. The need for companies and brands here are two-fold: first to compete with and secondly, to find their own place in an increasingly globalised world.
“Marketing is under pressure globally,” Sam Balsara, Chairman, 11th CII Marketing Summit and Chairman and MD, Madison World, remarked. Elaborating further, he said “In the West, the pressure is of a demand that is not growing. In India, the demand is growing, but companies here have become extremely ambitious and aggressive. In virtually every category, there are more brands, more competition, greater proliferation with retailers demanding more margins, increasing cost of raw material, etc. There is a need for marketers to turn bold, more innovative and embrace change.”
Gulu Mirchandani, Chairman and MD, Mirc Electronics Ltd, put the growth of India in perspective when he talked about the three phases of the nation: the era of production in the 60s, the era of selling in the 80s, and finally, the era of marketing beginning with the liberalisation of the 90s. “In this marketing era, consumers have a wide choice of brands. And the most important way in which you can create profits is by innovating and differentiating your service or product. You got to spend a lot of time on R&D and building your core competencies. That way you can create an uncontestable market space, make competition irrelevant, create and capture more demand, all of which will lead to more profit. I am interested in value creation. More than market share, I am interested in my companies profit share,” he said.
According to Chitranjan Dar, Chief Executive, ITC Foods, “Brands are not the focus of interesting things happening in a consumer’s life. However, some brands stand out and all of them have a strong innovation theme.”
Rick Kash, author of ‘How Companies Win’ and CEO, The Cambridge Group, laid out the next big economic opportunity for the world. He said, “The world had seen three great economic revolutions: the industrial revolution that is a few hundred years old. The 30-odd year old tech revolution in which you can still participate, and the demand revolution that is currently unfolding, in which you can become an active participant and change agent. If you do not understand the primacy of demand, you will never reach the full measure of your opportunity.”
Highlighting the most important aspect for profitability under the paradigm shifts happening globally Kash noted, “The supply chain remains every bit important. Now, it has a partner – demand chain. If you don’t know who your most profitable customers are, you are putting artificial barriers between you and success. In any company, you’ll see that a small percentage of customers represent a larger percentage of profit. It should be your business to know them and how their demand is evolving.”
Giving a success mantra for Indian companies, he said, “Companies in India can choose how to lead and compete. You can be more aggressive and committed to growing faster than the economy and your competitors in the category. The really big idea is for native Indian companies to not just become great Indian companies but global powerhouses.”
Commenting on the theme for this year – ‘Elephants Can Dance – New Ways to Market to a New India’ – Sam Balsara added, “Marketing companies in the past were characterised by three fundamental attributes: big, slow and change-resistant. A new breed of younger companies then emerged, who read the market better, offered innovative products at competitive prices, had quick response time and challenged large companies. The large companies had no option but to respond. So, today in India we have many large companies who have learnt to make their size an advantage, and with their large resources, have become nimble and quick-footed. They are not averse to change and this is creating an exciting marketing space.”
The speakers were at the 11th CII Annual Marketing Summit, hosted in Mumbai on March 31, 2011, which was the first day of the Summit. This edition was chaired by Madison World Chairman and Managing Director Sam Balsara.
The two-day summit is aimed at focusing on issues relating to the needs and importance of consumers, the manner in which demand is picking up and the importance of marketing strategies that respond to the changing and dynamic consumer demands unique to India.