Guest Column: How brands revive consumers from email fatigue?-Kalpit Jain

The use of MarTech tools, brands can synchronise consumer data points collected through digital footprints and create detailed consumer profiles writes Kalpit Jain, CEO, netCORE Solutions Pvt Ltd.

Kalpit Jain 23-November-2016

Guest Column: How brands revive consumers from email fatigue?-Kalpit Jain

The use of MarTech tools, brands can synchronise consumer data points collected through digital footprints and create detailed consumer profiles writes Kalpit Jain, CEO, netCORE Solutions Pvt Ltd.

Consumers today are digitally evolved – they know the exact what, how and where of everything. They have their set preferences of what device and technology they prefer to use to gather information. Additionally, they know ‘how and where’ to receive and consume this information. Though mobile is able to engage with on-the-go consumers, email still remains the most preferred source of marketing for brands as it is the most affordable and detailed platform. But the question still remains: Do consumers like to be contacted by email? The answer is a resounding YES!

Today, India has nearly 370-400 million mobile users and 325 million smartphone users. This means that the country’s appetite for digital consumption is huge. In addition, due to increased smartphone penetration, people sync both their personal and official email on their smartphones and tend to check it a lot more frequently through their internet-enabled devices. People from Tier II and III markets are also fervent mobile users. Thus, brands are culling out basic information from the digital footprints of customers (such as email, name, age, sex etc) in order to better engage with them. Then, emails are crafted using that information and are powered by MarTech to make each message as personalised as possible.

With many brands thinking along the same lines, most consumers are inundated with several marketing emails every day. There are two factors that cause email fatigue amongst consumers: when the content of the email is not relevant or if there are repetitive emails sent to same consumer. This is where marketing technology can help in a big way. Marketing technology helps to create a unified consumer view. Using MarTech tools, brands can synchronise consumer data points collected through digital footprints and create detailed consumer profiles. Segmentation also plays a vital role in effectively engaging with consumers. Through segmentation, brands are now moving towards mass, one-to one marketing. Brands can segment their target audience based on their age group, preferred method of communication (mobile/SMS/push notifications), etc. MarTech tools then help deliver relevant content that is well-suited to each segment.

Making email marketing real-time

Information updated in real time has been a path-breaking advancement for consumer brands today. Traditional email marketing was static, which created ambiguity and confusion about the content, if not accessed on time. For instance, imagine a media house sends out the top three tweets of the day to its consumers. If the brand uses traditional static email as its tool, the content of the mail is most likely to read: “Top 3 tweets of the day”, even if the consumer opens the mail on the subsequent day or many days later. Using real-time emailing tools, marketers are now able to append a real-time ticker to their mail which changes according to the time the mail is accessed. In the same example, with real-time emailing, the content would read: “Top three tweets of yesterday” if opened the next day, or “Top three tweets of (date on which the original email was sent)” if opened at any date in the future. We have seen daily increases in revenue of 50-70% for various consumer brands from using such engagement tools.

A brand marketer should remember that their consumers receive several emails in a day since most brands use email for engagement and communication. Therefore, messaging also plays a vital role in upscaling the marketing proposition. The key here is personalisation. Brands have to innovate their messaging according to the medium on which the content is accessed. So if the consumer accesses their email only on mobile, the content has to be mobile-friendly. Brands are also beginning to use customised email that is targeted at the individual consumer. These personalised messages contain content that is relevant to and interests the consumer. Brands can also design emails for their customers’ special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. This helps brands build lasting relationships with their consumers and drives brand loyalty. We have seen that personalised, triggered communication brings in 40-50% better results than any other campaign.

Cross-channel communication

SMS marketing is yet another tool for brands to engage with consumers. However the medium has its limitations. First, the tool is slightly expensive compared to email marketing and has a limit of 160 characters. Second, there are certain regulations which govern promotions made through SMS. Finally, the volume of SMS marketing has significantly reduced with the advent of WhatsApp. Push notifications have emerged to be a better channel of engagement on mobile than SMS for various brands. Taking the recent example of the demonetisation of currency, brands in the mobile wallet segment used push notifications as medium to promote their services and offerings. While email, SMS, and push notifications fall under push marketing, there is another vertical called ‘pull marketing’ that uses Chatbots, a buzzword in the technology space. Pull marketing requires consumers themselves to pull out data. Hence, chatbots are used more for resolving consumer queries, rather than marketing. However, in the long run, both push and pull marketing will need co-exist for successful consumer brand marketing.


Millennials have been estimated to be a brand’s most coveted customers due to their high future annual purchasing power. Omni-channel connections are what will help create connections with this demographic. While email helps build a personalised connect with consumers, SMS helps to engage with on-the-go consumers. Email marketing is drifting towards marketing automation; therefore, brands are pre-planning their messaging, setting their context and targeting their consumers segment-wise for a better communication flow. In today’s world, silos do not work effectively. The integration of email marketing with MarTech can help brands to combine all channels under one roof and synchronise data for a superior consumer experience.


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ZEE5 launches high-decibel marketing for its latest original 'Rangbaaz'

The 360-degree marketing campaign, planned for ZEE5's latest original show, will be outdoor and digital heavy

exchange4media Staff 4 hours ago


ZEE5, the digital video streaming platform from ZEEL, is all set for its latest tentpole property 'Rangbaaz,' scheduled on December 22. The crime thriller series starring actor Saqib Saleem, Ranvir Shorey and Tigmanshu Dhulia set in 90s, is based on the life of UP gangster Shiv Prakash Shukla and is the biggest show after 'Karenjit Kaur' that will be launched across 190 countries. A 360-degree marketing campaign is already up and about. Spanned across two weeks it will be digital and outdoor heavy.

Manish Aggarwal, Business Head, ZEE5, explains the reason for purposely choosing outdoor as it helps them drive ‘desired imagery and impact’. He adds, "We have a big outdoor campaign going alive across six cities including Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kanpur and Agra. We are focusing on standard top 20 priority markets. We have also planned certain innovations on outdoor around the show premiere. There is a big influencer partnership.”

Interestingly enough this is the first time marketing monies are almost equally distributed between outdoor and digital. "In fact outdoor is at par with digital," Aggarwal points out.

The platform is confident of attaining success with 'Rangbaaz’ as it has all the elements, “You have gang-war, fights. There is an emotional side to it. There is a nice balance. Scale wise it is on the same lines as ‘Karenjit Kaur’.”

On digital marketing ZEE5 has partnership with the giants Facebook and Google. “Spends wise it will be very heavy both from Google and Facebook. We are working closely with them in terms of creating assets and populating them across respective platforms. Activities are planned in Twitter Blue activity with the actors. There will be Facebook Live as well. This will continue for two weeks,” explains Aggarwal.

Based on the reception of the first season they will decide the season 2. Aggarwal shares, "We have just released it. It will depend on the consumer reception.” ZEE5, which has seen a lot of traction from digital movie premieres, will have multiple Bollywood releases and will also bring in original content. It is all geared up for 2019 with minimum one hero property launch every month. 

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2019: The year of the voice

Voice may not be a media product yet, but it has varied applications and offers brands a unique way to engage with consumers, say experts

Venkata Susmita Biswas 4 hours ago


If you have attended even a few industry conferences and heard some keynote addresses over the year, you possibly remember one factoid clearly: 28 per cent of all searches online are voice searches and is growing at 270 per cent. And you have possibly gone back wondering, “Ok, Google. How do I optimise my brand for voice search?” 

If you are asking yourself that question, you are already on the right path. Because voice today is like the internet in the 1990s. Voice is already becoming a very important business tool that can play a critical role in marketing and the consumer journey.

Anand Chakravarthy - Managing Director - Essence India, says, “Clients with digital assets that play a critical role in their marketing or consumer journey will need to have a voice presence. This is especially true for companies in the financial service sector.”

Some banks in India are already building voice-led chatbots that can help users transfer funds, check balance, and more. Agrahyah Technologies, a voice agency that was launched in 2018, is working on such solutions for its clients in the financial sector. Sreeraman Thiagarajan, Co-founder of Agrahyah Technologies, believes that unlike fads like AR and VR, voice is a “need to have” capability.

“As consumers are increasingly using voice to interact with computer, home appliances, and even automobiles, it is time for brands to be there to welcome their customers,” he says.  

Since the launch of Apple’s voice assistant Siri in 2011, voice-enabled technology has become a standard feature on smartphones and all devices that can connect to the internet. These devices are not just smart speakers like Google Home or Amazon’s Echo, but also low-end feature phones like the Rs 1500 Jio phone. 

There was a widespread belief that only owners of smartphones and smart speakers are using voice to interact with their devices. But the Jio revolution made Google Assistant available to all owners of the effectively-free Jio phone when it was launched in 2017. As per a study by Reliance Retail, “the number of voice commands on the (Jio) phone surpasses those on smartphones by five times.”

The prospect of reaching media-dark areas where the Jio phone has earned high penetration excites Shamsuddin Jasani, Group MD, South Asia, Isobar. As of mid-2018, 25 million Jio phones had been sold. The wide market that does not use English as its first language through voice is the holy grail of every brand, publisher, and platform. “It’s part of the Next Billion plan. Voice will break a lot of barriers in these media-dark regions,” says Jasani. He truly believes that every brand must take voice seriously because “it will change the way humans interact with the things around them.” And as consumers spend less time looking into their screens, brands should be present off-screen and in the consumer’s ears. 

Thiagarajan says that brands have a lot of scope in how they use smart speakers and voice assistants. “Imagine using Amitabh Bachchan’s voice to create the Alexa skill for your company or brand if he was the brand ambassador for that product or service.” He, however, is quick to caution that interruptive advertising like we have seen with digital video should not be replicated in voice. “Using voice to do what the radio jingle does would be a heinous crime,” he says. 

Chakravarthy also says that voice is not a media product just yet. “The implications from a media perspective is limited to search.” He says that while voice search volumes are growing, we are yet to arrive at a solution for making media choices for voice searches. “We need to find ways to bid for voice search keywords as voice search will be very different from how we type.”

The journey towards voice is going to be like the one from websites to app. “Just like brands have mobile apps, they need to build a voice presence for voice,” explains Jasani. This is why digital agencies that want to prepare for future where they help in business transformation of clients are already training their teams in voice. “In 2019, we are focussing a good chunk of our employee training on voice,” says Rajesh Ghatge, CEO, Indigo Consulting. 

Once Indian consumers hit critical mass with how they use voice, more brands and media agencies will start using voice. And experts believe that 2019 will be an inflection point for voice. 

Susmita is a digital marketing reporter at exchange4media. She writes on latest developments in the ever-changing world of digital media and in-depth stories on all things advertising.

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Bauua Singh goes digital to promote Zero

Shah Rukh Khan starrer Zero has become the first Bollywood film to utilise Amazon Alexa, develop a Snapchat filter, and even create a Whatsapp sticker pack.

Venkata Susmita Biswas 4 hours ago


Unlike the promotion of typical Bollywood blockbusters, Shah Rukh Khan’s dimpled face first appeared on a hoarding alongside AR Rahman promoting the launch of YouTube’s first Original show in India, ARRived. 

It was just the beginning of the digital promotional initiatives for the movie starring Shahrukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, and Katrina Kaif. Since the launch of the trailer of the movie on November 2, the makers of the film have been innovating on every major digital platform to promote this blockbuster. 

Zero has become the first Bollywood film to utilise Amazon Alexa, develop a Snapchat filter, and even create a Whatsapp sticker pack. Red Chillies Entertainment seems to have pulled all stops for the digital promotions for Zero. The partnership with YouTube Originals’ ARRived to hunt for the voice of Zero was another ace move from Red Chillies. The show kicked off on November 7 and the live finale will stream on December 19. Aided by outdoor and digital promotions it ARRived was hard to ignore and created widespread awareness about the show and the movie Zero.  

The reason the production house has expanded its digital promotions and innovated on the various formats is to “build conversations and engagement,” says  Binda Dey, Head Marketing, Red Chillies Entertainment. She further says, “for entertainment content push advertising typically does not work, since there's an inherent pull for the content. Therefore, we use content and engaging experiences to make the marketing more effective.” While the promotions do seem digital heavy, in the last leg of the campaign Red Chillies will do an 18-city tour in addition to television appearances. 

Dey says of the digital platforms, she uses “Twitter and Instagram to build a conversation around the movie and engage with fan clubs while the long format content like the trailers and songs reside on YouTube and Facebook.” 

She further says that the spend on digital is growing in the entertainment category. But the buzz on social media is disproportionate to the spend. “We benefit greatly from organic social media buzz because people are naturally more inclined to consume the content,” she adds. According to industry estimates, Red Chillies could be spending around Rs 3 crore on the digital marketing of the movie with a total budget of Rs 30-40 crore. 

Dey believes that digital promotions must go beyond the banner ads. “We must use digital to engage with people effectively and make them more inquisitive about the content of the movie than just building awareness about the movie through banner advertising.” 

This is why Red Chillies has leveraged the different capabilities of platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Amazon Alexa in specific ways to achieve the right KPIs for the campaign. 
On Twitter Shah Rukh’s character in the movie, Bauua Singh has a handle of his own. Through this handle, Bauua has been striking conversations with celebrities, fans, and Shah Rukh himself in his inimitable style. Fans can also send their photos to Bauua and receive a customised digital artwork of them with Bauua on Twitter. The tweets from Bauua which are all conceptualised by the writer of the movie Himanshu Sharma are a hit with the fans. “People have loved the Bauua Twitter handle and have requested us to continue with his handle even after the release of the movie,” reveals Dey. 


As voice gains popularity among users presence on Voice Assistants and Smart Speakers is becoming a norm among brands. Similarly, Zero too has experimented with voice. With Amazon’s Alexa users can request Bauua to deliver shayris or movie dialogues using the Bauua from Zero Alexa Skill. This is a first-of-its-kind interactive skill developed for a Bollywood movie. Explaining why the movie makers chose to use a smart speaker to engage with users Dey said, “Bauua’s character has a very interesting tone of voice. We decided to use his quirk and wit because it’s an unique quality of his character.”

With every innovation, Red Chillies has found the apt combination of content and technology to engage with consumers. On Snapchat people can become the main character and interact with the plot line of the movie. Incidentally, Shah Rukh Khan made his Snapchat debut as an Official Story on November 2. 

Red Chillies has also introduced gamification through an engagement program, called Bauua Ki Toli. To take part in the contest fans need to create a profile on the website Bauua Ki Toli, connect their Facebook and/or Twitter profiles, and interact on the Red Chillies Entertainment pages daily to earn more points. With each activity that they complete, fans get closer to Bauua Singh and stand a chance to meet the star cast of ZERO.

Zero also brand tie-ups with PVR Cinemas and INOX Leisure for customised food and beverage packs. With Carnival Cinemas the filmmakers have created Artificial Reality booths. The other brand partners include matchmaking website, food brand Bikaji, and fashion brand Doodlers. 

Shah Rukh Khan is a trendsetter. It would hardly be a surprise if Zero’s varied marketing innovations now become hygiene practices in the A-list Bollywood movie promotions. 

Susmita is a digital marketing reporter at exchange4media. She writes on latest developments in the ever-changing world of digital media and in-depth stories on all things advertising.

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Brands unable to prioritise great mobile experiences risk poor conversions: Google study

Google India released a Google-commissioned study from Accenture Interactive benchmarking over 110 Indian mobile websites across three verticals - financial services, retail and commerce, and travel

exchange4media Staff 19 hours ago


With the rising influence of mobile, the consumer experience is playing a critical role in mobile-commerce. Mobile sites have become important storefronts for brands, and customers’ buying decisions are determined by seamless search and purchase journeys on their devices. However, are Indian mobile websites equipped to handle consumer need? Do they offer coherent search and purchase paths? Do they match international standards and apply global best practices?

Google India released a Google-commissioned study from Accenture Interactive benchmarking over 110 Indian mobile websites across three verticals - financial services, retail and commerce, and travel. The study aimed to rate them against specific attributes, viz. Findability, Product Page Design, Registration and Conversion, Mobile Design and Speed. The study found that on average, Indian mobile websites score very well on Product and Mobile Page design (80%), Findability (69%), and Registration and Conversion (73%). However, they fell behind when it comes to Speed, scoring only 55% compared with other Asia-Pacific mobile sites. The study further found that average mobile site performance for the retail sector is highest at 70%, whereas, the travel and finance sectors stood at 65% and 63% respectively.

According to the study, brands that are unable to prioritise great mobile experiences, run the risk of poor conversions. The study states that 86% of Indian consumers are likely to make purchases on mobile sites that have made search and purchase processes seamless. If not, brands face 20% drop in conversions for every second of delay in mobile page load-time and 53% consumers leave a mobile site that takes longer than three seconds to load.

Sharing insights on how brands can improve their mobile webpage speed, Vikas Agnihotri, Country Director - Sales, Google India said, “Smartphones are a catalyst for consumers to research and carry out commerce online today. It’s up to marketers to prioritise a seamless mobile web experience to retain consumers with content and speed. Brands must counter the top three barriers of slow speed, slow server times and lack of caching policy, to build a strong connection with their consumers, improve conversions and build stickiness.”

The Google-commissioned study from Accenture Interactive also cited top recommendations that can help significantly improve the mobile experience for customers. For example, 74% of the retail and e-commerce sites can improve the registration and conversion rate by creating an account. Similarly, 59% of the retail and e-commerce sites can improve registration and conversion by allowing users to purchase products as guests. In the travel space, by providing search steps or guidance when there are no matching search results, 78% of the sites surveyed can improve findability for brands. And, by avoiding displaying desktop pages on the mobile browser, 36% of the finance players surveyed can improve their mobile design.

The study also shared tips from the most visited mobile sites to help brands match their mobile performance:

  • Identify where customers typically drop off on their user journey using quantitative analyses, like web analytics reports, and qualitative analyses.
  • Engage in user testing to understand common customer pain points in the five user experience categories.
  • Get help: The Web Fundamentals site is a great place for usability, inspiration, the latest tools and technologies, and guidance that can be leveraged to solve customer pain points.
  • Test and iterate: Commit to continuous testing and improvements to the mobile website, as delighting users with great user experience is never a one-off process!
  • Monitor the mobile site’s speed regularly with Webpagetest or through analytics reports.

The Google-commissioned study from Accenture Interactive study reviewed over 720 most visited mobile sites across 15 countries in Asia-Pacific. Websites were rated based on 80 user experience best practice guidelines, as well as their speed. Individualising how brands can increase site speed, the study proposes to lighten the website by compressing textual and image assets; identify and remove backend performance bottlenecks, and Cache static objects like images to avoid repetitive browser requests.

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Google Maps app now supports auto-rickshaws in Delhi

Android device users can select auto-rickshaw as their mode of transport on the app and view suggested routes, estimated time and fares based on the data shared by the Delhi Traffic Police

exchange4media Staff 22 hours ago

Google Maps

In most parts of India, an auto-rickshaw is commonly used for daily commute. While Mumbai commuters enjoy the advantages of a strict metered fare, other cities have not followed suit. Thus, commuters often have to deal with fare negotiation and steering the drivers towards the best route. 

Google Maps has decided to end all your woes by adding support for auto-rickshaws in Delhi on the Android version of the app. The app will now see a new public transport mode called auto-rickshaw.

Google Maps users who select auto-rickshaw as their mode of transport will be able to view suggested routes, estimated time and fares for the auto ride based on the expected trip route and the official fare model shared by the Delhi Traffic Police. This will make it easier for people to plan their trips by giving an estimate but it is a known fact that in most cities auto-rickshaws rarely go on fixed fares.

The feature will be available on Android devices and can be found within the ‘public transport’ and ‘cab’ modes in Google Maps. Users will have to update their app to the latest version of Google Maps (v.10.6) in order get the feature. There’s no word on when iOS will get the feature.

Google has not commented on when it intends to start the feature to other cities like Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bengaluru, etc, where auto rickshaws are popular.

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Retailers moved from AI hype to reality in 2018 but yet to seize opportunities: Report

New Capgemini study looks at 400 global retailers who are implementing AI use cases

exchange4media Staff 1 day ago


A new study from Capgemini Research Institute has cleared some of the mystery around AI’s value-to-retail businesses and opened up a path to tangible growth opportunities. 

Capgemini calculates a $300 billion-plus opportunity for retail companies that are able to scale and expand the scope of existing deployments. However, it is not straightforward – the report also found that just 1% of use cases by retailers have achieved this level of deployment today.

The study “Retail superstars: How unleashing AI across functions offers a multi-billion dollar opportunity” looked at 400 global retailers who are implementing AI use cases at different stages of maturity. This group represents 23% of the global retail market by revenue. The study further included an extensive analysis of public data from the world’s largest 250 retailers, by revenue. 

Comparing this data to 2017 equivalents, it delivers a series of reality checks that not only show how far AI has come in terms of concrete returns, but how much value it can deliver if retailers begin to prioritize less complex deployments and diversify their focus.

The main insights from the report include:

  • Over a quarter (28%) of retailers are deploying AI today: The research finds a significant increase of AI deployments from 2017 (17%) and a seven-fold increase from 2016 (4%). 
  • AI fuels some job creation, negligible losses so far: 71% of retailers say AI is creating jobs today with over two-thirds (68%) of the jobs being at a senior level (coordinator level or above) . Meanwhile, 75% declared that AI has not replaced any jobs in their organization so far. Those who did say jobs have been cut put the number at 25 or lower.
  • AI’s impact: Lower customer complaints, higher sales: Retailers are now remarkably aligned on the impact AI is likely to have on customer relations and sales. While expectations have declined from 2017, nevertheless, the report finds that 98% of respondents using AI in customer-facing functions expect the number of customer complaints to reduce by up to 15%, while 99% expect AI to increase sales by up to 15%. This marks a significant change from 2017, where respondents gave widely contrasting expectations from zero, to more than 15%, to “don’t know”. In both business cases, zero respondents reported that they could not quantify AI’s benefit.

In order to calculate the clear opportunities for future growth, such as the benefits expected and the feasibility of implementation, the Capgemini Research Institute analyzed 43 working use cases for AI, finding:

  • Multi-billion dollars of future savings are currently available to just a minority of retail companies: According to the report, retailers can save as much as $300 billion-plus in the future by scaling AI deployments across the entire value chain. However, when reviewing all active AI deployments, just 1% were shown to be working on either at multi-site or full-scale implementation. 
  • Lack of focus on simple, customer-centric deployments: This lack of scalability is likely caused by retailers focusing on more complex, higher-return projects. Retailers deploying AI were 8 times more likely to be working on high-complexity projects than ‘quick win’ projects that are easier to scale. Deployments to date have also lacked a focus on customer usability: the driving forces behind current AI implementations are cost (62%) and ROI (59%), while customer experience (10%) and known customer pain points (7%) are significantly lower priorities.  
  • Enormous potential for AI in operations: Only 26% of AI use cases today are focused on operations, but these were among the most profitable in terms of cost returns. Standout examples included using AI for procurement tasks (averaging 7.9% ROI), applying image detection-led algorithms for detecting in-store pilferage (7.9%) and optimizing supply chain route plans (7.6%). A transformed and super-charged supply chain, for example, offers a significant operational opportunity as it is one area where AI can bring greater efficiency. 

Retailers are more realistic about their level of AI preparedness 

As the realities of AI have revealed themselves, companies in 2018 have adopted more realistic expectations regarding their preparedness for it. Those claiming that they have the skills needed to implement AI have now dropped from 78% in 2017 to 53% today. More than eight out of ten retailers in 2017 were confident that their data ecosystem for implementing AI was prepared, and today this figure has dropped to 55%. Finally, those organizations claiming to have a roadmap for AI deployment have dropped from 81% in 2017 to just 36% today.

Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Global Consumer Products and Retail Sector at Capgemini said, “For global retailers, it appears reality has kicked in regarding AI, both in terms of what the technology can achieve and what they need to do to get there. Of course, deploying and scaling will be the next big objective, but retailers should be wary not to chase ROI figures without also considering the customer experience. Our research shows a clear imbalance of organizations prioritizing cost, data and ROI when deploying AI, with only a small minority considering the customer pain points also. These two factors need to be given equal weighting if long-term AI growth, with all of the benefits it brings, is to be achieved.”

Research Methodology

The Capgemini Research Institute surveyed 400 executives from retailers across the US, the UK, France, Germany, China, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands in August 2018. All respondents reported that they were implementing AI use cases at different stages of maturity across a range of retail sub-sectors and countries. Capgemini then conducted an extensive secondary research in October 2018, focused on the top 250 retailers by revenues. The revenue figures have been sourced from the declared revenues of 2017 from Bloomberg and the sample represents a mix of retailers active across multiple retail sub-sectors and geographies.

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We are committed to growing digital payments in India: Manasi Narasimhan, Mastercard

VP, Marketing & Communications, South Asia, Mastercard, explains how they are getting Indians to make the behaviour change from cash to digital by educating the merchant too

Simran Sabherwal 1 day ago

Manasi Narsimhan

In a bid to build awareness, accelerate digital payments and build a less-cash India, global payments & technology company Mastercard roped in Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the ambassador for its recent cash-to-digital campaign. The campaign was aimed to educate consumers and merchants about the convenience, wide acceptance, and safety & security features of debit cards and focus on driving debit card usage in Tier II and III cities. Commenting on Mastercard’s association with Dhoni, Manasi Narasimhan, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, South Asia, Mastercard says, “Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the epitome of what Mastercard as a brand stands for. Dhoni is somebody people look up to and there is no better person to deliver the message of cash to digital conversion than Dhoni.”

Dhoni partners the firm’s existing ambassador Irrfan Khan. Speaking on how Mastercard selects a brand ambassador, Narasimhan says, “Our policy and principle as Mastercard while signing on brand ambassador is that we look at people’s passion points. If you look at passions in India, there's no greater passion other than cricket and bollywood. We signed on actor Irrfan Khan and ran a very successful campaign with him that led to an increase in transactions  in Tier II and Tier III towns and also had a significant brand impact. We continue our association with Irrfan; we then layered it by bringing on MS Dhoni who typifies the other passion point which is cricket. So, we have both working together."

From Cash to Digital

Digital payments in India received a boost post-demonetisation. India still remains a cash-based economy as 95 per cent of retail payments in India are still in cash. However, consumer and merchant education efforts, and government policies have seen digital transaction grow significantly, and Narasimhan reiterates that for digital payments, the long-term trend is positive but consumers still have some concerns, particularly when it comes to storing card details online or using the card overseas. "A way to bust the concerns is continuous education from credible brands, such as ours, using very credible storytellers Dhoni. We have to keep at it because behavioural changes take time and we at Mastercard are totally committed to driving this behaviour change from cash to digital,” she says. Mastercard also works with the government and has partnered with leading e-commerce companies to drive digital payments. It recently partnered with Flipkart to drive payment, education and transaction for the e-commerce company. 

Educating the Merchant Class 

Another challenge is that many small businesses still do not accept payments for a small amount by debit or credit card, or charge a surcharge for these payments. This despite the fact that the government recently announced that for all debit transactions under Rs 2,000  - the bulk of what most consumers spend on a day-to-day basis - there is no merchant discount rate (MDR), which means that merchant actually have no cost in accepting a debit card payment. On its part, Mastercard has focused significantly on merchant education. "We have run a fairly successful merchant education campaign using Whatsapp. We had Irrfan Khan explain ‘2,000 se kam apka bhi fyada hota hain’. We created short animated and snackable videos where we explained the benefits of digital payments: that there was no cost, it is more convenient as you don’t have to keep change nor do you have to keep consumers waiting. However, the task is far from done and we continue to work with the government to educate merchants."

The Media Mix

Talking about Mastercard's media mix, Narasimhan says that as the objective of the debit card campaign is to first create mass awareness, then comprehension and then behavioural change. And for this, television is heavily used as she says, "it has proven to have the best track record of behaviour change of salience and brand recall”. On digital, she adds, "Digital is an increasing part of our media mix. When I say digital, it is actually vernacular content, partnering with vernacular content creators and this will continue to grow. We also use digital influencers to drive cross-border travel because that is a very different audience segment that we are talking to. We also use ambience media. The media mix really depends on the objective. We use traditional, digital, new-age channels like WhatsApp for merchant communication. We are open to anything as along as it works for the audience, works for our message and delivers us return on investment. Those are the only three criteria that one would have." She adds that another focal point for Mastercard worldwide is ‘passion-based marketing’, where it taps into consumer’s passion points to provide the best experiences, be it sporting events, music festivals and so on.  

On a final note, Narasimhan says,” As an organisation, Mastercard is committed to India. We are committed to growing digital payments, including over and beyond marketing, educating consumers and merchants, in terms of developing acceptance, developing the digital infrastructure. The huge opportunity of converting from cash to digital payments is something we will continue to be at the forefront of.”



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Top tech startup trends to look out for in 2019: Eric Jiang, CEO & Founder of Yeelight

Guest Column: CEO & Founder, Yeelight, speaks about changes in business models of tech startups

Eric Jiang 1 day ago


The tech startup industry in India is growing leaps and bounds every year. The evolving technology, changing lifestyle and buying patterns of the consumers has brought significant changes to the business models of these startups over the past few years. With 2019 drawing closer, let’s take a look at the trends that will further reshape the tech startup scenario in the coming years.

Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) is often related to the gaming world, but it will start serving a more significant purpose in the coming years. AR will revamp the business operations of the technology startups by enabling them to showcase the features of their offering in a better way and hence providing a superior experience to their customers. A lot of companies have already started leveraging this technology to scale their business. For instance, a few companies have adopted AR technology to give a three-dimensional view of their product to the customers.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is constantly pushing the limits of science and technology and helping us achieve the unimaginable things. The pace at which this technology is evolving, it is poised to transform businesses like never before. According to a research by Accenture, AI could double annual economic growth rates by 2035 by changing the nature of work and creating a new relationship between man and machine. 2019 will witness a lot of startups utilising AI to develop revolutionary solutions for their complex business issues. For instance: AI-powered chatbots are gradually decreasing companies’ dependency on human resources for redundant tasks.

IoT Analytics
IoT Analytics helps to collect, clean and analyse IoT data. It empowers enterprises and device manufacturers to quickly and easily gain operational insights. IoT analytics can be useful for engineering automation startups, mobile apps creators, cloud results and hardware growth, etc. IOT analytics in the future will allow the startups to gain an awareness about buyer’s preferences and picks, thus improving incomes, providing competitive gain, and enhancing buyer’s engagement.

Gig Economy
Gig Economy is changing the way startups are hiring their employees. Tech startups are increasingly turning towards gig economy for short-term help, and this trend will continue to rise in the coming years. By embracing gig economy, entrepreneurs can explore and test new areas of business with relatively less financial risk.


The author is the CEO & Founder of Yeelight

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

CEO & Founder of Yeelight

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The Caravan launches Hindi online version

The Caravan is an English long-form narrative journalism magazine from Delhi Press

exchange4media Staff 1 day ago


The Caravan, English long-form narrative journalism magazine from Delhi Press, is now available online in Hindi.

The announcement was made by Vinod K Jose, Executive Editor of The Carvan India, in a tweet.


The Caravan was originally launched by Vishwa Nath, the group’s founder, in 1940. The magazine ceased the publication in 1988 and was re-launched in 2010 as a journal of politics and culture dedicated to meticulous reporting and the art of narrative. To present more of their journalism on the internet, they launched Vantage, a section of online exclusives in April 2014. 
Many of The Carvan’s stories have received prestigious journalism awards.

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Langoor and The Younion enter into strategic partnership

Langoor and The Younion have invested to create a focussed offering for organizations who are trying to win in India - by means of traditional and digital marketing, using data

exchange4media Staff 2 days ago


Langoor, a full-service digital-first agency made up of creative technologists and The Younion, India’s leading concept-driven, experiential marketing company, have announced a strategic partnership to help blue chip brands consolidate and strengthen their positions in India.

With this partnership, Langoor and The Younion have invested to create a focussed offering for organizations who are trying to win in India - by means of traditional and digital marketing, using data.

Speaking on this partnership, Venugopal Ganganna, CEO, Langoor, said, “This partnership comes as a breakthrough in the industry when so much is being spoken about the amalgamation of traditional and digital marketing. Over the last decade, the team at The Younion has been rightly using data to create direct marketing experiences for products/services of blue-chip companies. This union aims to enhance those experiences by the consolidation of digital marketing with traditional.”

Shajesh Menon, Founder-CEO, The Younion, while speaking on the announcement, said, “The world of marketing, especially the B2B landscape is going through a paradigm shift in attitude and approach. Engagements have moved from mere tactics to a more integrated, purposeful and comprehensive framework. This announcement comes at a juncture when brands are seeking partnerships not just for delivery, but for strategic and objective goals. Langoor’s stellar track record and their proven service capabilities tie in perfectly with the core fabric of The Younion. It was a matter of time for two like-minded and customer-centric organizations to come together, and lend a holistic marketing edge to brands. This exciting arrangement will feed over respective sensibilities and differentiators. Importantly, this partnership is designed to bring the amalgamated best of all platforms to the centre."

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