Mumbai leg of the exchange4media Conclave 2011 got underway at the ITC Grand Central on July 15 with Nitin Paranjpe, CEO and MD, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, delivering the Keynote Address. Paranjpe spoke to a packed hall of audience, which consisted of big names like Dominic Proctor, CEO, Mindshare Worldwide; Mike Cooper, CEO, PHD Worldwide; and Vikram Sakhuja, Chairman and CEO, GroupM, South Asia, among many others. Jagran Group is presenting partner of exchange4media Conclave.
Paranjpe commenced his address by talking about things that one could not do without at present and how they would be irrelevant in 10 years from now. He said that consumers didn’t feel the change, but asked the marketing and media professionals dealing with them to find ways to engage them and to make the change fast enough to address the need of the consumers as we moved forward. Speaking about technology and how it had been changing in the recent past, Paranjpe remarked, “It is not surprising to see how digital has made way into the overall mix of how we communicate with the consumer. At 4 per cent in the Indian market in 2010, it is small, but you know the rate at which it is growing.” He stated that in the UK, the total advertising spend on digital had already surpassed TV and print spends in 2010. According to him, there were some in the Indian market who predicted that such a change might happen sooner than one anticipated.
Paranjpe also drew the audience’s attention to the concern of mainstream media and how its role in building brands and engaging consumers would come down. “Take the example of the digital video recorder (DVR). What this technology does is that it simply provides the power to choose what to watch, when to watch and where to watch. It liberates the consumer from the normal module of being dependent on schedules that are published,” he said. Paranjpe explained that he was thankful that DVRs had made their way into only some homes, because even as they offered tremendous value to the consumers, the consequences of it were quite significant to the advertisers because then the effectiveness of TV advertising became almost zero. He emphasised that the market penetration of DVRs was limited because of the cost factor. If it were to come down, as did the prices of mobile phones and call rates over the last decade, it would mean the death of the 30-second commercial that today’s marketers gave so much importance to. In the possibility of a changing scenario, how companies engaged the consumer and what it would take to do that would also change, he noted.
Further, Paranjpe reiterated the importance of the Internet and the role it would play in shaping consumer behaviour in the near future. “Because the consumer will decide what he wants to watch, when and how, the big implication will call for new skills and new expertise,” he remarked. Adding to that, he said, “Understanding consumers and picking up data and converting it into information and quality analytics will be the differentiator between one company and the other, between success and failure. And while we realise this, I fear that the amount of resources and time we need to be putting into this may not be at the level it needs to be as we move forward.”
Paranjpe concluded his address emphasising on the importance of social media in the context of understanding and reaching the target audience. According to him, why social media had become so large was because of the human need to connect and social media offered an opportunity to do so. It is because in this large world people want to be heard, because every person wants to rise above his anonymity, and social media allows him to express his viewpoint and let other people hear it and see it. “We should not underestimate how deep this desire in human beings is and that is why all of this is becoming so significant. All of us realise and are moving to leverage social media for our brands and connect with our consumers,” he concluded.