"It's important that we don't label every non-urban geography as Tier II, III or IV"

These definitions are anyway more of a convenience & are themselves not very clear. By dividing everything into a broad category, we run the risk of generalising the consumers, says Marico's Aditya Save

e4m by Abhinna Shreshtha
Updated: Jan 2, 2014 8:25 AM
"It's important that we don't label every non-urban geography as Tier II, III or IV"

Aditya Save, Head (Digital Media & Marketing), Marico has more than a decade of experience with companies such as Heinz, GlaxoSmithKline and Mindshare. Currently, he is responsible for vision and strategy for Marico’s digital future. His key focus area is to extend Marico’s market leadership status across brands into the digital domain. He is also on the Board of Advisors for DMTI, a company that is helping build digital capability among existing marketing and media professionals.

In conversation with exchange4media, Save speaks about keeping the audience paramount in the marketing strategy. Excerpts:

How important is the mobile phone as a marketing tool?
The answer to that lies at two levels. The first is that as a medium it has a major role to play in conveying the brand’s message. In that it is similar to traditional media such as print, radio, TV, internet, etc. The second is when you look at the consumer today; the mobile phone plays a very important role in their lives. You have your wallet, house keys and then you have the mobile phone. We are inseparable from our mobile phones. This presents opportunities that go beyond traditional media. When you talk about touching base with the audience, learning more about them etc., the scope is endless.

When you look at the digital marketing space today and especially mobile marketing, which are the most pressing concerns that the ecosystem needs to address?
I think we need to first realise that we are in the very early stage of the industry, so nobody has all the answers. We are evolving as we go along. Also, technology develops much faster than most industries. So, while we are starting to learn something and create a process around it; the technology has already gone in another direction.

The processes that have existed for so many years are still valid, so the incentive to take risk or experiment doesn’t exist. These are larger points that need to be taken into account. Consumers are fairly fickle and they don’t care about technology. If today, a social networking website is giving them what they want, they will love it; if tomorrow it is a chat software, they will move towards it. And the cost of movement (from one platform to another) is zero. The biggest thing we need, as an industry, is patience. Things will settle down as we go along.

A lot has been spoken about the importance of videos in digital advertising. Do you think this is where the new opportunity lies?
The first, last and only thing is people; it’s only the ways of reaching people that change. I don’t think there is anybody who does not meet people or speak with friends. As human beings, we do all of these things. Sometimes, technology makes one particular thing more useful or easier. Audio-video formats are obviously important, but look at Microsoft, which made a huge business out of PowerPoint, but before there was PowerPoint people still used to get their work done, didn’t they?

Tell us something about your own digital marketing strategy.
It’s not very different from traditional marketing. Like I said, it’s only the delivery mechanism that has changed. The biggest factor is that traditional means of communication were unidirectional, which is not the case with digital. This is the only change we have to learn. Apart from this, most of the times, we ignore the technology aspect because, in most cases, we feel it confuses things even more if you get too technical.

You had earlier spoken about the importance of not dividing people into categories, especially in terms of the rural-urban divide. Could you elucidate?
India has a huge population and more and more people are getting affluent. Education is growing, so more and more people are aspiring to better their lives. It is important that we don’t label every non-urban geography as Tier II, Tier III or Tier IV. These definitions are anyway more of a convenience and are themselves not very clear. By dividing everything into a broad category, we run the risk of generalising the consumers. For example, there are a lot of Tier III city students who are exactly the same as any suburban college student in Mumbai. In fact, they might be probably shopping a lot more online than their Tier I counterparts, for the simple reason that they might not be getting things easily on the ground. As long as you don’t start thinking faces and individuals, it is difficult to get your strategies right. Think about your product and the kind of people you are trying to reach out to. The target audience could be in a Tier I or Tier III city.

What are your thoughts on new concepts such as digital and mobile marketing?
Businesses run because we market our products. People buy our products because they like them. In the end, there is only marketing. We call print and TV ‘traditional’ media because they have been around for years. Today, you call something mobile marketing because the others are ‘not mobile’. These are just definitions we have come out with to make it easier to understand these concepts.


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