e4m Conclave South: The need to build emotional connect with customers: Panel discussion

Industry experts deliberate on the topic-- Objects of Desire: Creating the emotional connect

Panel e4m South Conclave

In today’s time, when consumers have almost unlimited choices and distractions, brands require more than just marketing campaigns and communications to attract buyers. With all the noise out there, marketers need to adopt a different approach to stand out and make a mark for themselves in the consumer’s mind. And one such way to do so could be by establishing an emotional connect with the consumer. So how does a brand do it? Does it always work? What are the challenges that companies face in forging an emotional connect with customers?

All these and many more such questions were answered on Friday as industry experts came together at exchange4media Conclave-South in Bangalore to deliberate on the topic - Objects of Desire: Creating the emotional connect. The esteemed panel comprised Ritu Gupta, Director Marketing – India & ANZ, Consumer & Small Business, Dell; Sanjeev Shukla, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Muthoot Pappachan Group; Mayuri Saika, Head Marketing, Roca Bathroom Products; Anand Pathak, CMO, Netmeds;  Mark Titus, GM – Marketing, Nippon Paints;  Pradeep Hejmadi, Group CEO, Aidem Ventures and Shridhar Mishra, Vice President- Digital Sales, Asianet News Network. The discussion was moderated by Kishankumar Shyamalan, Managing Partner, Wavemaker India.

Watch the discussion here and scroll down to read:

 

Shyamalan started the debate asking the panellists if the “whole hue and cry around creating emotional connect with consumers is underrated or overrated?”

Hejmadi replied saying that the discussion is overrated. According to him, the emotional connect factor has always been there, and it is too late in the day for anyone to sit and wonder if it is needed. “Anything that has gone beyond a product has the consumer attaching some level of emotion to it. Also, from a marketing standpoint, we all know that when you get a consumer to invest an emotion with you, the pay-off or the ROI of that emotional investment in your brand is very powerful.”

Gupta believes that the whole emotional connect debate is neither overrated nor underrated. “It is what it is. It exists. We may deny it. I don’t think it happens at a very rational level because the moment we say it’s an emotional connect, there are a things that are subliminal and at a subconscious level. Brands need to do what they need to do. Obviously, they need to do something to stay relevant, and then somewhere along that journey, either a relationship forms or it doesn’t,” said Gupta.

Shukla too agreed with Hejmadi, saying that the question whether emotional connect with customers is needed is quite overrated as it has always been around. “What is required is a discussion on its nuances and not whether it is needed,” he said.

On being asked whether celebrities or real people work better for an emotional connect, Shukla said, “It is contextual. It depends on what one wants to achieve. Everything revolves around the purpose.”

Saika, however, believes that it is not necessarily emotional connect with consumers that works. According to her, it is the newness of a marketing message that really connects with consumers. “But for marketers, it’s not just the emotional connect. For them it is the ROI. ROI can be in terms of awareness or sales number. A consumer may remember a brand, but whether he will go for that brand will depend on different factors such as the product, services, price,” said Saika.

According to Titus, the emotional connect factor would depend on a lot of factors. “Today’s customers are millenials. They are functional and transactional. They are not really emotional,” he said. “But at the same time, it also depends on the lifecycle of the brand. For a very mature kind of an industry, probably this (emotional connect) is required because it becomes a differentiating factor. For a new entrant, you need to be first telling people that you are around,” he explained.

Talking about emotional connect in the digital space, Mishra said emotional angle works and it is extremely critical. “Emotional content is the shortcut to virality,” he said.

Pathak talked about the use of emotional content by different companies. “If you see the current industry trend, most of the established brands are getting into emotional content. So emotional works. But then there is also the ROI factor. For start-ups or growing companies, there is very little room to go there because it costs fortunes to take that communication out. At the end, you have to report back as to what did it generate in terms of revenue?”

After discussing how important it is for brands to establish an emotional connect with brands, the debate then steered to the challenges in doing it and an understanding of how brands are overcoming these challenges.

Talking about the problems that Netmeds faces, Pathak said that as of now, all online pharmacy players put together comprise only one per cent of the $16 billion medicine market in India. “The traditional method of consumers walking to a store and buying medicines is still happening. This migration from offline to online will take time.”

For Mishra, the biggest challenge that his company as a digital player faces is the distracted consumer. “An average user flips the screen 2,500 times a day,” he said highlighting the problem.

According to Titus, Nippon Paints has been using “pester power” and “passion factor” to drive sales and establish an emotional connect.

Saika said that developing emotional connect in the category of sanitary ware is a challenge. She said they have tried to do it at the retail level by making customers visualise how the products will look in their bathroom with the help of Virtual Reality.

Shukla said that their business of gold loan runs on trust which is an emotional value. At Muthoot Pappachan Group, he said, they are trying to tell their staff to understand their customer and get involved with them to increase the emotional connect.

On ways of establishing emotional connect, Gupta said that it is not just the task of advertisement and communication. “Trust can actually be created from every single touchpoint that you have,” she said.

“In the end, it’s all about attracting customers. If don’t attract them, we will feel they are distracted,” Hejmadi said.

“First, for the initiation of the bond, you need to surprise and delight. The second one is relevance. Making your product relevant moves the customer emotionally closer to you. And the last is giving consumer a little bit more than what they want,” he concluded.

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