How is building martech roadmap different for D2C and established brands

Guest Column: Arun Neelakantan, VP – Digital Transformation & Growth, Unilever South Asia & Member of MMA Martech & Data Council, shares insights from MMR Report 2022 to be launched on May 10

e4m by Arun Neelakantan
Published: May 5, 2022 8:44 AM  | 4 min read
Arun N

Just a few years ago, Martech was limited to marketing professionals using a basic amount of data and information to support decisions they had already taken. Over the last couple of years, Martech has transformed, to encompass the entirety of tools that a company uses to engage and interact with its consumers and customers. With the lines increasing blurring between marketing, sales, design, and operations, Martech includes the ways and means of reaching the product and product information to the consumer, spanning both measurement and deployment, and hence becoming a strategic thrust for organizations. 

D2C vs Established Brands 

The approach for new age D2C brands vs established brands towards building their Martech capabilities can be seen as complementary parts of the journey. The D2C brands start off with a nascent consumer base and to be successful, they need to deliver a great consumer experience. First, this would entail the ability to identify the right consumers – hence using a combination of first party, second party and third party data becomes critical. Going beyond, the brands also need to be able to segment consumers, identify trends and behaviors of these segments and then curate content relevant to these consumer segments. With the consumer base for D2C being online, data and digital become the core of the operating framework. The limited consumer base is both a boon and a bane. D2C companies need to start creating the consumer CRM and consumer view early on in their lifecycle. This involves personalization of content/ product, taking / giving feedback, personalizing their experience as well as various other CRM levers. With a dedicated (and invested) team, there is no dearth of motivation. The team is able to engage with consumers, monitor real time feedback and complete a CRM journey with rudimentary technological support. However, a comprehensive CRM stack is critical to sustain this consumer experience. Once the consumer base reaches a tipping point, it's no longer feasible to individually monitor the consumer journey and technology needs to do the heavy lifting. The D2C brands also need to build the Martech taking into consideration the production to commerce journey. From commencement of production to the completion of commerce, the Martech needs to be comprehensive to cover the journey end to end ecosystem. 

On the other end, established brands already have an existing consumer base, already have a model to reach consumers (historically through traditional media mediums), as well as complete commerce through trade channels. The journey into Martech for established brands usually begins with a need to generate better returns on marketing investments. As mediums for investments increase, media mix modelling and ROI become a critical decision driver. Historically ability to attribute return on marketing inputs was limited and hence the impact of each rupee spent on marketing was never questioned. With big data, analytics tools and greater transparency, marketing attribution models are increasingly accurate. In addition, established brands often start with the barrier of data democratization within the organization. With various teams in marketing, sales and operations, Martech starts playing a role in removing barriers, presenting transparent information and enhancing cross-team engagement. 

Evolution of Martech in D2C & Established brands 

Our current consumers interact seamlessly between online and offline platforms. Consequently, organizations also need to engage consumers across both platforms while ensuring that they create the right value equation across the ecosystem. As brands grow, there is a need to educate consumers, drive awareness, enhance trial, and convert purchase. Hence while D2C brands start off with the consumer perspective and established brands start off with data & analytics, Martech in both cases needs to encompass the spectrum from consumer engagements, CRM, automation, operations, and leveraging data & analytics to measure and improve ROI from each activity. 

As consumers continue to evolve, the environment catering to consumer needs will also continue to evolve. There would be capabilities spanning production, consumer engagement, physical and mental reach as well as new data and technology systems. One of the means to create a model is to visualize this as a non-linear ecosystem spanning the entire organizational journey. While different brands might enter the MarTech ecosystem at varying points, all of them need to develop the entirety of the stack to provide a seamless consumer experience while generating organizational value. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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