How does a marketer keep adept of the fast changing digital world? D Shivakumar, Chairman & CEO, Pepsico Ltd, gives his insights on what brands have to do to stay relevant in a mobile-first digital world.
Commenting on the increased fragmentation which has led to specialized agencies, Shivakumar says the challenge for the marketer is how to integrate all the agencies with the values for the brand. The increased number of agencies servicing the client has another challenge – which is “who has the seat at the table with the client”. Shivakumar says, “Fragmentation leads to specialisation, many more people dealing with the marketer but we need to ask, what is the priority and who integrates us. This is where complexity comes in.” He adds that marketers need somebody to connect the dots, become collaborators and integrate with all aspects of the brand. He adds, “both fragmentation and complexity have serious challenges for a way a marketer works with all the agencies who work with him.”
Shivakumar emphasised on the need to rethink marketing in a world impacted by media.
Analog to Digital evolution
The evolution from Analog to Digital began with screens evolving from Cinema and then moved to television and the advent of branding, to laptop, phone, tablet and retail. Shivakumar says, “The biggest real estate over the next decade is going to be the mobile phone screen. Everybody will want their brand or app on that screen and that will become the costliest real estate in the world and every brand will fight for space here.” Shivakumar also adds that the Digital will have big role and influence in the retail space. With the merging of online and offline, digital screens will facilitate shopping, while technology will monitor the pattern and movement of consumers in retail shops. Shivakumar also adds that the analog to digital evolution will be complete with retail.
A mobile first Digital World
With internet advertising set to overtake television advertising in the next few years making the world a “mobile first” and this change has already taken place, especially in emerging markets. The impact on brands is being seen as consumers, from India, China and Brazil, who like a brand’s website recommend the brand more than consumers in western markets. Emerging markets will be a mobile first marketing world. With youngsters adopting the digital screen and looking for fame online, and this is driving behaviour with respect to brands. He also adds that while social media is the ultimate media channel for marketers, whereas it plays the role of a community in the area of consumer complaints. Not addressing consumer complaints immediately results in consumer collectively raising their voice. Shivakumar says, “We have always said consumer is king, but with the digital medium the consumer is not only king but he has a voice which will shake you. If you don’t respond, you get hurt very badly. So, it is a media channel for marketers and a great community for redressal when they feel the brand is not delivering on the promise.”
Precision @ Scale
A big change with content on social media is that consumers seek content as a social commodity and share it freely. With users, brands and community generating content, the insight for brands is that consumers are deeply invested in content because their online reputation depends on it. Shivakumar says, “Content will be king in the mobile first digital world and people will be hungry for new and good content which they can share and build their reputation on.” The future implication could lead to broadcasters and advertisers will collaborate to create content that makes consumers look great. Content creation for the brand will no longer be the domain of the creative department but be a collective exercise.
Real Time Marketing
Real time marketing will involve taking content from somebody else and then generate and building on it for your brand. Borrowing from someone else’s idea will be seen a lot more, with consumers also approving of it. However, brands will have to worry about this and real time marketing will force brands to work as a team and brave to take a call immediately. With consumers demanding immediate responses and if brands don’t have a collaborative point of view, they will not be able to participate in real time marketing and brands need to invest in technology.
Shivakumar says that big data needs to be encouraged and says,” Lot of companies in India are data rich and insight poor. We just don’t use the data we have right now.” Looking ahead, Shivakumar believes that marketing departments will be staffed with data scientists and sees this trend to pick up in the next five years.
While many e-commerce players have attracted a lot of investments but with little money being made, it seems to be unviable option in the long term. The dilemma now is that with the retailer is behaving like a principle. With distribution playing a big role, Shivakumar foresees a lot more partnerships in this space. He also believes that e-commerce is viable for niche brands, premium brands and nascent categories
Shivakumar says that future recruits will have to be tech savvy and curious people who can sense the change in the world. He adds that people have to be trained for skills but with fast pace of change, experience may be a waste n many industries going forward and having a fresh eye is worthwhile. He says The whole concept of training has to change in this mobile first world.” With technology being a big part in the media and creative agency, the traditional media and creative agencies have to change and have technology specialist.
Shivakumar ended his speech with his checklist of what today’s client expectations are:
• Strategic planning
• Quality of management
• Value for investment
• Technology solutions