On the first day of the Nasscom MarTech Confluence 2015 in Mumbai, the first key note session was addressed by D Shivakumar, Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo India Holdings. He spoke about ‘The Modern Connected Consumer: Informed, Empowered, Assertive’.
The question with which he stared the session was- the consumers are connected to what? And the unanimous answer to which was Mobile Phones- the device which makes people multitask, is omnipresent and it never goes out of reach. He pointed out that, in 1/4th of the markets, the main digital device is a mobile phone. These consumers are connected to friends on all the social media platforms. This circle of friends is very important, because consumers believe in them and in their word of mouth for any kind of decision making today.
He elaborated, “Today 89% of the youth today prefer social media platform than TV. They spend 6-8 hours on social media every day, whereas it is around to 1-2 hours on TV. Also even while watching TV; they are hooked on to the social media platforms. Regarding who is online, the common belief which majority of us have is that consumers from metros, but the truth is that around 1/3rd of the people are from the tier II, III and IV areas access social media. So around 25% of the online audience comes from the rural areas. ”
He further added that the link between a good mobile experience and recommendation is very strong in India. For brands on the other side, people prefer to visit global brand sites because they are better designed and easier to navigate. But the purchase satisfaction is better locally and local content wins over global content. Consumers in the online medium are connected to commerce, health, banking and education. For health and banking, the person looks for government approval, because they don’t want to take unnecessary risks and feel safe with the government sanction. But for education they look for private endorsements.
On what consumers buy online, Shivakumar cited few statistics: almost 42% buy Personal Care, 40% Cosmetics, 36% Pet Products, 38% Food & Beverages, 36% Baby Care and 22% Alcoholic Drinks. However in the rural market, this is a big challenge, because firstly people don’t trust the internet and secondly, they don’t know how to access the internet. So a lot of education needs to be given in order to break the notion. People in the rural areas are usually concerned about poor after sales, price being higher, poor company website and unfriendly payment method. A lot needs to be done by the telecom operators and brands, who should join hands and attack these barriers.
On the other hand, they also find the following reasons to buy online- detailed explanation about usage, tailored needs, easy to use and easy return policy. “Therefore, in today’s age, it is important to judge the pulse of the consumers; brands need to do a lot of digital listening. Every day at Pepsi, there is a lot of mood and sentiment analysis done of the consumers, whether it is negative or positive. The reason being, today the brand is no longer talking to one consumer, but two consumers are talking to each other, with the brand in between,” he said.