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Marketing Interviews

Eric Fredericks

Chairman | 31 Jan 2008

With the proliferation of opportunity, the industry is also witnessing a specialisation and fragmentation of the marketing functions. Media and creative functions are no longer managed by the same people. Internet advertising is managed separately from mass media advertising… If you measure in fragments, you manage in fragments. This is where MCA or Market Contact Audit comes in.

Eric Fredericks was born and grew up in Egypt. His parents then moved to Austria, where he graduated from a business academy. He joined Y&R Vienna in 1973 as a junior account manager, working on the P&G account. His career with Y&R lasted 27 years, with postings in Berne, London, Singapore, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Frankfurt, Zurich, and finally back to London. In his final position, he was Executive VP Y&R Inc with international responsibilities for Y&R’s group relationship with its key corporate accounts. Largely, he was responsible for the Kraft and Citibank business.

He resigned from Y&R in 1998 and became acquainted with Oscar Jamhouri, the Founder of Integration. He became so intrigued with the MCA system and the company’s business prospects, that he became an investor and a partner.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha, Fredericks talks in detail about the problems face by marketers today and the proprietary marketing tool Market Contact Audit (MCA).

Q. What are the problems faced by marketers in today’s media world?

For marketers planning the communication mix, the biggest problem is lack of comparable measures for different kinds of activities. Consumers are increasingly becoming more selective, individualistic and saturated and, therefore, are harder to connect with. At the same time, the media world is becoming more fragmented and specialised. There is a proliferation of traditional mass media channels and new Internet-based opportunities. There has been growth of major retailing operations that offer many new ways of reaching consumers, and the growing reach of major events and star performers (sports, cultural, etc.).

Earlier, a brand could reach a majority of the target consumers with a few prime time TV commercials and a few ads in the general press. Today’s marketers can no longer rely on intrusive communications techniques, they have to look for interactive permission-based communications platforms. While these changes are full of opportunities for brands that can move fast, they also present a major challenge. Consumer choice and the media world have fragmented and proliferated, but the marketing services industry has failed to develop a measurement system that enables brands to plan their communications mix holistically.

With the proliferation of opportunity, the industry is also witnessing a specialisation and fragmentation of the marketing functions. Media and creative functions are no longer managed by the same people. Internet advertising is managed separately from mass media advertising. Direct marketing and sponsoring have become highly specialised functions. Sales and merchandising management are separate from brand management. All these functions have developed some way to measure the effectiveness. But these measures are not comparable. And if you measure in fragments, you manage in fragments. This is where MCA or Market Contact Audit comes in. MCA provides a common currency for brand activities in different contacts and makes the effectiveness of different activities comparable.

Q. What is the TNS-IMC collaboration all about?

Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is a highly focused, niche operator that provides MCA as a solution to an urgent need of the industry globally. TNS, a world leader in market insight and information, recently announced the launch of MCA in India. IMC is the owner and developer of the proprietary MCA methodology. Globally, TNS is the only market research company with whom IMC has a strategic alliance for the MCA methodology. Our partnership with TNS will make it easier and more cost effective for customers all over the world to implement and apply MCA.

Q. How would you define MCA for a marketer? What is the basic guiding principal of MCA?

All MCA data is directly derived from the consumers. MCA measures what the consumers perceive rather than what they receive. Our tool is a global steering and diagnostic tool, which delivers on-going early warning indicators on how successfully the brand’s communications mix is interacting with consumers relative to competition; how successfully the brand is converting interaction into sales relative to competition; how efficient the brand’s marketing communications budget is. MCA helps integrate marketing.

Brand Experience Points (BEPs) provide managers with a common currency for the effectiveness of different communications activities. A common currency is often the catalytic mechanism that federates the different functional teams that tend to work in separate silos, for example, advertising, sales, direct marketing, merchandising, and public relations into one collaborative team pursuing a common goal – increasing brand experience share as efficiently as possible. Typically, MCA users can expect to see efficiency gains in marketing communications of 10-15 per cent within one year of implementing MCA. And typically, measuring and tracking brand experience with MCA costs less than 1 per cent of a brand’s total marketing communications budget.

Q. How does it broadly aid a marketer?

MCA helps marketers manage the communications mix holistically rather than in fragments.

Q. Is there any special software that helps the marketer use MCA data?

Most of our customers use licensed MCAutomated Read & Reporting software. This enables them to analyse and develop MCA reports using MS Excel and Powerpoint formats quickly and efficiently.

Q. How can one say that the number of touch-points in India has increased?

As consumers’ choices and technology develop, there is a proliferation of the number of broadcast channels and printed media. Internet and mobile communications add new ways to connect with consumers. Consolidation and development of the retail sector provide new merchandising opportunities. The combination of all these in turn enables brands to scale communications initiatives such as sponsoring and events, etc. India will continue to witness many new exciting and impactful ways for brands and consumers to encounter.

Q. Is MCA data aimed at advertising agencies or marketing companies?

MCA is a tool for brand owners and marketing services alike.

Q. How do you see the growth ahead for MCA in India?

India’s economy is growing at a breathtaking rate. This is spurring competition and investment in brand building. The market research industry is growing by over 15 per cent a year, and we expect MCA to participate in that growth as MNC brands, who have piloted MCA elsewhere, roll out its implementation in India. Local companies discover and pilot it in one category and roll it out to other categories. Growth in India will be further accelerated by our partnership with TNS as they will be able to bundle MCA their existing services and tools into very attractive and locally relevant propositions. MCA has been growing primarily with MNCs. Our partnership with TNS will accelerate MCA penetration with local customers, which is especially important in India, where there are strong local brands in many sectors.

Q. How does TNS use MCA globally to develop its business in the brand and consumer engagement field?

TNS’ licence to market and implement MCA is exclusive within the research industry and provides the company with unique growth opportunities. We expect that as TNS and their customers gain experience with MCA, they would apply it to their businesses across segments and markets and reap the benefits of monitoring communications effectiveness frequently.

Q. Has there been any application of MCA in India so far? Have any studies been done by TNS using MCA in India?

As a matter of policy, we do not reveal our clients. But yes, MCA has been implemented in India in the tobacco, skincare and foods sectors.

Q. What is your assessment of the Indian market contact environment?

The contact environment will develop at an accelerating pace. While it will catch up with more developed markets in many areas, it is likely to retain unique and exceptional characteristics. There is a wonderful challenge and opportunity for brand building.

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