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Prey is better than spray: Bijou Kurien

20-June-2012
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Prey is better than spray: Bijou Kurien

One of the biggest challenge for a retailer, is to make the store a brand itself, said Bijou Kurien,
President and CE, Lifestyle, Reliance Retail, while speaking at the Pitch CMO Summit 2012 – South, in Hyderabad yesterday.

Kurien was the keynote speaker of the day and the topic of his presentation was Modern Retail: Reshaping Consumer Behaviour.

Elaborating on the benefits of modern retail, Kurien said that according to international surveys and researches, 68 per cent of store-purchases are on 'impulse'. And modern retail with the benefit of allowing the consumer to touch and feel and move around the store and in fact make comparisons between brands, can fuel that impulse.

Modern retail is becoming a media vehicle in its own right. The entrance, the floors, the walls, the ceiling and columns are important places where with right execution, by both the marketers and retailers, the consumer could be turned into a customer. And there colour and lighting, which according to Kurien are a mood enhancer, play an important role in converting ‘intent’ to ‘purchase’. While he said that physical infrastructure in retail is critical, he pointed out that in-store marketing and communication and marketing at point of sales is so under leveraged in India.

In shopper marketing, the difference between a retailer's and a marketer's perspective, he said was, while a retailer wants to drive in consumers to a store, a marketer wants to bring in a differentiation between his and the other brand.

Pointing out the challenges in shopper marketing, Kurien said that retailers have to think like a shopper; building the retail store as a brand in itself; and making the store a fun place to shop, as the place with same look and format could start looking jaded to the shoppers after a certain point of time.

Speaking during a question-answer session with the audience, Kurien said that e-retailing is here to stay and in fact a reverse trend is being seen where, particularly in the consumer electronics and gadgets segment, people are experiencing the touch-and-feel offline and going online to shop, because of the deals offered online.

Also, the opposite is equally true, where people found online and researched online and purchased offline, particularly in a category such as fashion, where the experience of trying out garments and fashion accessories is critical to trigger purchase, he said adding, buyers and consumers like to buy online, especially garments and then come to store and collect the garments after trying them physically in-store.

He assured that while modern retail is here to stay, it is no threat to traditional retail. The latter is in fact complementing modern retail. Ninety three per cent still is traditional retail, he said.

Reliance Retail, Kurien said, has not used mass media in a big manner. For Reliance’s jewellery stores, it relied more on one-to-one direct marketing, affinity based initiative where the store sent a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates with a message about its range of jewellery to its shoppers from loyalty database. This was much more effective both in terms of investments and RoI as well as response as by spending Rs 2 lakh, Reliance was able to get in customers who on the average spend Rs 65,000 in a single visit and purchase. Hence, “I say 'prey is better than spray',” he said.

Talking about the trend where modern retail is being brought up by entrepreneurs to be able to be bought over by bigger ventures, he said, “The retail industry in India has lots of daughters and lots of sons. The daughters are being brought up and groomed and the parents, as in promoters of retail companies, are looking at marrying them off as in finding right suitors. Similarly, there are many sons whose parents, as in promoters, are looking to acquire brides for them.”

On asked, if he looks up to any one for inspiration in life and career, he named Xerxes Desai, the founder of Titan Industries, and Kurien's former boss, who Kurien feels has had the ability of articulating a dream and getting the team to adopt it as their own and inspire them to realise it. He also had good words to say about his current boss, Reliance's Chairman, Mukesh Ambani, who Kurien feels is a rare combination of thinking big, executing big but working together and detailing from an execution level.

The title sponsor for the event was The Economic Times and associate sponsor was TV9. It was supported by Ad Club Hyderabad and Ad Club Madras.

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