'Branding leads to building unique identity for the brand, placing it in consumer's mind'

Mohit Kumar, Head of Media & Digital Marketing, McCain Foods, talks about branding as an exercise and how it helps drive reach and eventually leads to better results for performance campaigns

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Nov 2, 2021 9:23 AM  | 6 min read
Mohit kumar

McCain Foods Head of Media & Digital Marketing Mohit Kumar talks about how branding is an exercise whose fruit can be reaped in the medium to long term, how it helps drive reach and eventually leads to better results for performance campaigns. He also added how the combination of branding and performance helps drive both objectives – creating awareness and conversion.

McCain is a two decade old brand in India, what are your key brand objectives right now?

Since the beginning, McCain Foods has been a market leader by a fair margin in the frozen food category with 16 products in the entire portfolio. The idea is to increase our penetration across certain markets. Wherever the penetrations are high, we want to increase consumption as much as possible, to push up sales. 

What is your marketing approach, is it performance led or branding led?

No marketer today could look at them in isolation, both work in tandem. Even at McCain we are always looking at a full funnel approach. We indulge in brand building efforts and engage the users in their journey, even if they know the brand McCain. We need to keep driving engagement as we have various categories within this portfolio of frozen food. Performance on the other hand helps you drive a purchase intent, which eventually leads to a sale on certain platforms, like ecommerce. The combination of branding and performance helps us drive both objectives – creating awareness and conversion. But a large chunk of the spend goes on branding. If you've got a level of awareness working for you, your performance campaigns also tend to be more efficient.

In an ROAS era, how do you measure the impact of your brand building efforts?

One still continues to figure out if there are direct answers to this question. However, I must say that branding efforts are always measured by the business one generates. That business possibly may not be generated immediately but in a medium term, because eventually branding leads to building a unique identity for the brand, placing it in the mind of the consumer. That’s how we do it at McCain too. We’ve got very strong analytics models for it internally, where we also look at what mediums were firing at a point in time if there were any promotions that were taking place, other factors like seasonality, etc. 

Can you throw light on how you narrow down the media mix for your brand building efforts and choose platforms?

We focus on moving the consumer from awareness to purchase stage. We create awareness, get our consumers to engage with relevant information and content, which helps drive consideration. Since the pandemic the consumption of digital video, OTT and connected TV both paid or free, has gained a lot of importance. To drive penetration and push the message through high reach platforms, digital video and OTT in particular start playing a prime role. And if I have to talk about a typical digital video mix, the onset of intelligent DSPs, where you are able to control frequency and drive unique reach via channels like OTT, YouTube and connected TV, results in lesser spillage and more efficiency in reaching the consumer.

Why do OTTs have an edge over others as far as branding on digital medium is concerned?

OTT has now become an integral part of any marketer’s media mix and the reason it is effective is because the user is extremely engaged. The intention is to consume content, so they don’t leave their devices even when the ad is playing.  The retention will be higher. 

What Disney+ Hotstar does best is help advertisers contextualize their message across TGs, especially via cricket which continues to gain traction  year on year. It gives us high reach on a highly engaged platform because there are a lot of big moments in the match. We advertised during the IPL too. McCain is all about consuming various snacks and food at home with family, friends, etc and cricket is also enjoyed in groups. So we had a very classical, contextualized message via videos at the beginning of the match, which just said that cricket and McCain go hand in hand. You can just double up your excitement, enthusiasm and entertainment during the match if you are consuming McCain, because food, cricket and family are a winning combination. So we were able to capitalize on this property very well. 

How would you evaluate the success of your campaign in association with Disney+ Hotstar? 

When you get into any kind of media plan, there are certain agreed KPIs in terms of reach and video views. But because the reach of the medium is so high, it tends to over-deliver. We also try and understand how the key brand metrics move, for example awareness, concentration; and other softer metrics too. 

Is it an audience led strategy for you or a content led strategy?

It is an audience led strategy underlined with relevant content. McCain has a clear TG which is female, and then we try to reach out to them with a very contextualized message. 

What would your advice be to brands who’re evaluating branding as their next step?

Branding is not a short term exercise. Many times we are able to pump in some money on a new launch or an existing brand, for that matter, and we want to see results immediately. Branding is an exercise, whose fruits you shall reap in the medium to long term, based on your brand objectives of course. It will take time for the consumer to register because today on digital there are a plethora of brands that are talking to the consumer. 

Secondly, this will differ from brand to brand, have your media principles in place- reach, frequency etc. Thirdly, have the right mix of branding and performance. Branding will lead to a more efficient performance exercise because you will definitely have better quality clicks, and your cost per click will definitely go down. And lastly, while all your media KPIs and principles are in place, have the right message for the consumers and choose the right platforms. OTTs are very important as part of the mix, and they definitely are a key platform when it comes to a branding or performance exercise. 

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