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Adopt bottom-up approach to build Brand India: Jairam Ramesh

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Adopt bottom-up approach to build Brand India: Jairam Ramesh

'Brand India needs to be built not through a uni-focus process or a single brand approach, but by building a cafeteria of sub-brands which will support the parent brand,' said economist and Member of Parliament from the Rajya Sabha, Jairam Ramesh, on the second and final day of the Third CII Brand Summit in Chennai on Friday.

Speaking in the second session of the day, on 'Changing Image of Brand India and Implications for Marketers', Ramesh stressed on the need to build on the individual strengths of sub-brands like Bangalore, and added, "Let us be bullish on Brand India, but let us go beyond headlines and not fall into the same trap as 'India Shining'. We need to look at India in its complexity and diversity without getting carried away by individual instances at particular points in time."

The day began with a session on 'Enhancing customer connect'. E.K. Bhushan, Principal Secretary-Tourism, Kerala, elucidated the importance of creating multiple touch-points where the customer can experience the brand but added that it was not enough to provide sampling at touch-points, and said, "It is important to provide unexpected, exciting ways to create involvement of customers and potential customers." Parag Samarth, Country Manager - Industrial and Distribution Sector, IBM India, in his address on 'Consultative Selling' explained the need to understand where the customer was in the buying process and add value at each step.

The third session of the day was titled 'Is the consumer expecting the moon?' and C K Ranganathan, Chairman and Managing Director, Cavin Kare, answered, "Maybe yes. So what?" Stating that whenever the consumer was asking for the moon, marketers needed to understand that there lay a huge opportunity and added, "When the consumer asks for the moon, there is a great innovation in the offing." He elucidated with the example of Chic shampoo that revolutionised the Indian shampoo market by introducing affordable sachet packaging.

Jaydev Galla, Managing Director, Amararaja Batteries, explained the challenges before the marketers in segments that were not in the FMCG space. Galla said, "Our biggest challenge was to get our customers to even think about our product category. We undertook a 360-degree brand building process and adopted a brand attitude to create consumer interest." Ajit Mantagani, President of Raymond India's Denim Division, noted that there were two Indias that marketers had to address, and added that the two Indias were "so distinct economically that one had to address them individually."

The post-lunch was exciting with R. Balakrishnan, Executive Creative Director, Lowe, talking on the theme 'From consumer connects to consumer insights'. Through TVCs on Lifebuoy, Vim, Bajaj, Balbir Pasha (AIDS Awareness), Fair & Lovely and VIP, Balki explained the concept of Brand Connects with consumers. He said, "The best way to connect with any consumer is to connect with yourself. If it works for you, chances are that it will work for a lot of Indians." And on a question posed to him, he referred to the modernisation of the Indian customer, and added, "All of us are NRIs who haven't lived abroad", much to the delight of the audience!

The other speakers at the session on 'Consumer Connect' were Pankaj Mehra, National Sales Director, L'oreal India, who spoke on 'Last Mile Branding' and Rajesh Gupta, Vice-President, DCM Shriram, who made a presentation on 'Rural Connect'. Gupta said, "The primary drawback is the mindset that the rural customer is totally different from the urban customer and that the 'rural customer' category is homogenous."

Mehra from L'oreal said that the last mile in the customer connect is the journey from intention to action. He said, "Now there is a concept of the extended mile, which enhances brand affinity and familiarisation and even reduces post-purchase dissonance."

The valedictory session saw Venkat Ramasamy, Professor at the University of Michigan Business School, elucidating on the need to create differentiation through the brand experience. He said, "We have to start thinking of creating consumer experiences rather than products or services. Experience is the brand." Talking about co-creating brands with consumers, he pointed out that today's customers are a lot more evolved and that sharing of experiences has become more possible today, thanks to technology. Answering a question from the audience towards the end of the session, on local brands copying national / international brands, he said, "Products alone can be copied and faked. Brands cannot."

The two-day summit came to a close in Chennai this evening.


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