"Globally, media planners have been killed by media buyers"
Media planners are a tribe that doesn’t exist anymore. They plan, but media buyers look for cheaper options, says BCCL’s Arunabh Das Sharma
The concept of competitive advantage is probably a slightly outmoded concept. Not just in monopolistic competition, but effectively managing a product lifecycle in the age of dramatic and disruptive technology is a challenge as well, according to Arunabh Das Sharma, President, BCCL. He remarked, “Probably the concept of product lifecycle itself is dead, because when you conceive a product or service in today’s age, you conceive it with a certain sell-by date in mind.”
He further noted that most people try and manage the brand lifecycle rather than product lifecycle. Products that constitute the brand will come and go, but brand values continue and garner consumer loyalty over a period of time.
Sharma cited the example of Colgate, which continues to be has managed to be the leader amongst dental creams. “The reason why this brand is so successful is because the company has figured out that there is a core set of consumers and a peripheral set of consumers. In order to retain its consumers, the company has launched variants such as Colgate Total, Colgate Sensitive and others. This is like having a mother ship, which is generating revenues, and smaller ships which protect this mother ship,” he added.
Importance of new age marketing
With the growing importance of new age marketing, marketers have to learn to give up control. Twenty years ago the concept was different wherein the management defined controlling of brand in a different perspective. There are lots of aspects to control – product, price, packaging, distribution and communication. “What all will you control?” asked Sharma.
He noted that today, the control rests with the consumers as digital and social media have given them a voice. Digital media allows one person to broadcast to millions of people and if that one person’s voice is strong and relevant enough, then millions will start echoing that voice. “The digital environment has created a sense of empowerment among people who consume,” Sharma said, adding, “The other thing that it has done is taking away a lot of credibility of traditional means of communication, that is, traditional advertising.”
Speaking about sustainable competitive advantage, Sharma felt that it is all about how flexible one is as a company, in manufacturing, pricing, distribution as well as in terms of media.
He lamented the fact that companies are paying very little heed to one of the most critical factors in a product’s success in today’s times, and that is how one is using media. He stressed that it is important to fine tune what message the company is communicating and how one is handling consumer feedback. “Be flexible right through the value chain,” is his advice to marketers.
Commenting on the role of media planning, Sharma said, “Media planners are a tribe that doesn’t exist anymore, they have been killed by media buyers all over the world. They plan, but media buyers look for options that are cheaper.”
Stressing on the need to harness technology for marketing and communication, Sharma observed, “Technology is not the internet or Facebook or Twitter. So, if you don’t have a Twitter account, it doesn’t mean that you are not tech savvy. The question really is how technology can be your friend.”
Arunabh Das Sharma was expressing his on the topic ‘Age of monopolistic competition – How to extend product life cycle?’ at the World Marketing Congress, which was held in New Delhi on February 14, 2013 and organised by the All India Management Association (AIMA).
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