e4m Webinar: Marketers explore how brands can thrive in the new normal with digital

e4m Webinar powered by Adobe & IBM had Sunder Madakshira, Sir Martin Sorrell, Shalini Rao, Vivek Sharma, & Vaibhav Kumar discuss the transformation that digital space has seen in recent times

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 10, 2020 8:50 AM

e4m Webinar powered by Adobe & IBM on Thursday saw industry leaders Sunder Madakshira, Head of Marketing, Adobe Systems; Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman, S4Capital & Founder, WPP; Shalini Rao, CMO, Bangalore International Airport Ltd; Vivek Sharma, CMO, Pidilite Industries; and Vaibhav Kumar, Vice President & Head, eCommerce & Digital Marketing, Max Life Insurance Company Limited; discuss the happenings and transformation taking place in the digital domain in India during the coronavirus pandemic. The discussion was moderated by Deepali Naair, CMO, IBM India & South Asia.  

The phrase 'attitude will determine your altitude' spearheaded the conversation for Sunder Madakshira, who spoke about the scenario in the digital domain in India in the current situation. "It's great to see how people from the same industry are acting very differently to challenges. The first type are the ones who want to seize the moment, look at it as an opportunity and accelerate. The second are the ones hearing and listening to their customers. The third category is re-imagining the world, while the fourth is the pillar of empathy, which comes from a genuine concern and is growing more," said Madakshira. Speaking about data, he said even the past data, although not as useful now, can still have a very important prognosis. He emphasized that people have been collecting more data than before and charting their way. 

Adding to it, Naair said, "Even at IBM, we speak to a lot of CIOs and there is an acceleration of transformation happening at scale and also at very large enterprises." 

Although airports have not gone back into full action, the Bangalore International airport still continues to communicate with its audience through flyers. "When the whole crisis hit us pretty hard, we realised that people were worried about how and when they were going to travel and there was a desperate need for information. From the excess of questions we were getting, we knew that it was the best time for us to engage with people, since they are going to come back and travel, but with a very different set of expectations. Reassurance and information were two things we picked up and it's been about 30 days since we've restarted domestic operations," said Shalini Rao, CMO, Bangalore International Airport Ltd. The messaging of the BLR airport was around reassuring people that it's okay to come out and travel since all necessary precautions were being taken. 

"To inform consumers, we created something called 'Voice of BLR' and gave out FAQs, and also tied up with the government. Nostalgia became our third angle by chance and UGC became a big deal, and the digital space took over completely. We've grown our followers by 20 per cent at a time we were not even flying, and we found that really interesting." Rao added. 

Speaking about how he engages with the stakeholders digitally at a time like this, Vivek Sharma, CMO, Pidilite Industries, shared, "IT enablement is different from digital transformation, especially in this situation. The middle men and contractors in our business are not all educated, but they all own a smartphone. COVID-19 has converted naysayers into believers. Waterproofers and carpenters were trained and given safety training online." Pidilite also certified the middlemen in the business and gave them safety kits that helped them to continue with their business. "

"Consumer behaviour is more value conscious. And though India is not a DIY country, consumers have now started to do everything on their own. We have promoted our art & craft to teachers on full scale. Digital acceleration has really helped us engage, connect, educate and support the waterproofers, carpenters, masons and all the other middlemen in our business," added Sharma. 

Transformation, although absolutely necessary, does not happen in a jiffy. Insurance companies have always been reliant on people meeting people and picking up cheques and converting prospective consumers into customers. Now, they specifically have seen an uptick in sales and have had to move at a pace otherwise unknown. "Transformation was not a need, but survival for us. The fear of dying has caused an unprecedented growth in insurance and there is 84 per cent surge in the search of the term 'life insurance'. We are a unique country and respond differently, and (we) were suddenly bombarded with demand which we were not even ready for," said Vaibhav Kumar, Vice President & Head, eCommerce & Digital Marketing, Max Life Insurance Company Limited.  

Marketers have had to adapt to the changing consumers needs, but the big question is whether companies are ready for the changing needs of the CMO. Addressing the issue, Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman, S4Capital & Founder, WPP said, "All our panelists are indicating very similar things. The companies might be shifting money from sporting events into purpose campaigns that are informational. The intentions were the right ones. What we're seeing is iconic; the shift to one-to-one communication, personalization at scale and the creativity. The insurance industry has a huge first-party data and works through huge sales and financial counselors. The first thing you see and hear is the budget cutting, but traditional has lost out to digital. The sales, marketing and IT come together."

Speaking of the future of digital transformation, Sharma of Pidilite said CMOs are not only investing in digital advertising, but in the ecosystem around the whole value chain. Pidilite is also investing a lot in IOT and analytics.

"Analytics and pricing will be used very wisely for B2B consumers. The CMOs will connect with the sales chief and will focus on performance marketing, which is data, content and programmatic. We are going to intensify our efforts in performance marketing, going forward and we are going to use metadata far more through web scraping. Last but not the least is that we will be investing most in D2C (direct to consumer) channels, since consumers are becoming far more aware of their health and are maintaining distance," Sharma added. 

"For the insurance-specific category, the volume of data being generated and its security is a big concern. My systems and MLA engines have to be really smart to detect any sort of frauds and we have been investing really heavily in the last one month to up the game of our existing algorithms," said Kumar of Max Life Insurance.

The ecosystem is all about staying afloat, and collaborations happen to be a big part of this effort. "We've had to move to a completely different model of flying and roll out the buzz word 'contactless' in the span of three weeks. I saw collaborations come together in a very different way, including everyone in the ecosystem and also the government. And what we were driving was reassurance and a safe customer experience," Rao of BLR International Airport explained.

Madakshira shared that fulfillment is a very important part of digitization, even when you imagine the world in a very different way. 

"The old agency model is outdated, if you think you can do this in-house, do it. In-house, embedded and outsourced are the three models. In a 24/7 world, the agency briefing process does not work. This is like the Brexit. Take back control," Sir Martin Sorell added. 

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