After a well-received round in Delhi, the Pitch CMO Summit 2008 was held in Mumbai on November 17. The Summit continued with its focus on gauging the ‘Impact of slowdown on Marketing’. In times of economic slowdown, when the media and advertising industry is effective cost cuts, there is need to build robust strategies to overcome the ill effects.
This Summit was an initiative of Pitch, the marketing magazine from the exchange4media Group. Colors was the main sponsor for the event.
The evening kick-started with three case studies presented by Suparna Mitra, Global Marketing Head, Titan Industries; Vikram Malhotra, Head - Marketing, Kingfisher Airlines; and Sandip Tarkas, President - Customer Strategy, Future Group.
The Summit concluded with a panel discussion on ‘Impact of slowdown on Marketing’, where the speakers included Abdul Khan, Head - Marketing, Tata Teleservices; Ajay Kelkar, Founder & COO, CEquity, and former CMO, HDFC Bank; Pradeep Shrivastava, CMO, Idea Cellular Services; and Sanjay Tripathy, EVP & Head Marketing, HDFC Standard Life. Alchemy’s Rahul Sen was the moderator.
According to Sanjay Tripathy, “This is the time when opportunities grow. And in this case, one needs to outsmart their competitors, increase the trust in the brand and also pick up a different category where one can think of spending more. For instance, HDFC Standard Life is working along the category of the pension’s plans. However, in terms of innovation, we would prefer the medium of technology platform as our cost comes from distribution. Talking about advertising, we focus on a 360-degree approach. However, we are now giving radio as a platform a little more preference.”
Ajay Kelkar felt that the strategy and innovation need not be limited to being consumer centric. He added, “However for the pricing and media budgets, it depends on category to category. But if the meltdown remains for a longer duration, then I guess there may be reasons to see the brands coming together under one mother brand.”
Abdul Khan noted that despite the current slowdown, the telecom sector continued to grow, which was good news. He added, “There is a very strong need to educate the customer on the current scenario, where many of them are not aware about it. As for the pricing, one needs to work on the affordability, and in terms of media budgets, one will need to reallocate the budget as and when required.”
Competitor Idea Cellular’s Pradeep Shrivastava agreed with most of what Khan said and observed that in terms of pricing, the customer expected a superior product at an affordable price. He added, “One can definitely do a lot more in the current scenario, and this could be one of the reasons where you can ask your customer to come back to you. We are yet to face the recessionary trends like in the US. Hence, India still has a vast potential and opportunity to get the act right.”
The panelists concluded that while the going has become tougher, certain sectors are still thriving and it is time to create more optimistic opportunities.
Pitch CMO Summit 2008: Marketing budgets stay put
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