IBC: Personalization can help scale businesses but where does one draw the line?

At exchange4media’s India Brand Conclave, a panel discussion took place on how marketers can enhance their personalization game

ibc personalisation panel

For marketers, personalization has become the buzzword for better brand content and efficient service, but can we scale it to drive the effectiveness of content and marketing actions? In one of the sessions at exchange4media's India Brand Conclave, held at the Leela Ambience, Gurugram, some eminent names from the industry discussed ‘How can marketing drive the personalization game?'

The panelists included Amit Sethiya, Head Marketing, Syska Group, Ayushman Chiranewala, Head Marketing, Fastrack, B.Krishna Rao, Sr. Category Head, Parle Products, Gulbahar Taurani, Director Marketing & Business Head, Philips India, Srinivas Rao, Sr. VP- Marketing, Lifestyle International. The session was moderated by Avik Chattopadhyay, Co- founder & Partner, Expereal.

Watch the session here and scroll down to read:

Commencing the discussion, Chattopadhyay asked the panel members, what the word personalization means to them and what it really implies in their business.

Srinivas Rao said, “Personalization actually means knowing customer preference and choice. We have 5 million active customers on a daily base, who are shopping with us. So, how do we know about each one of them and what they bought? We use some intelligence to predict what actually they can buy and when they would prefer to buy. We use past data to know about customer behaviour. We are looking at creating models that will help us engage with users on a daily basis, and this is personalization for us."

B Krishna Rao believes in India, personalization has not reached a high level. For us, Personalization is more to do with B2B. He stated an example, saying, “We had always been offering a lot of customized products for various markets like West Bengal and other east markets and the region behaves very differently as far as biscuits consumption is concerned. Most of the country consumes glucose biscuits but West Bengal as a market heavily consumes Marie biscuits. So, we try to offer very differentiated offering for markets like West Bengal, that’s an aspect of making a localised offering."

“In terms of personalization, there are two ways to look at it, one is in terms of B2B. We do lot of personalized offerings for several of our distributors, as all of them don’t want the same product so, we try to personalized their offerings, schemes etc. Another aspect, as far as modern retail is concerned, we have lot of chains operating here. We try to collaborate and give exclusive offerings to a particular chain for a period, say months, and try to execute to other chains, which has given us great results. Relevance is extremely important," he added.

Chattopadhyay asked Taurani, "How do you draw a thin line between personalization and actually infringing on a person's face?" to which he replied, “I think it’s the most difficult thing to do. If you look at it, first we need to decode the meaning of personalization. However, it could be in many forms, the ultimate goal of personalization is to make the recipient feel that this is for me and that's why it is personalization. It could be his name on the product, or making him part of the group, which he believes in or even communicating to him in a way, which makes sense to him. Now if this is the variety, then there’s the data part to it, which tells you a lot about the consumers. So, Technology helps us to dissect the data and to reach out to a conclusion or demographics and who you want to talk to. Once you reach out to the consumer, you actually come to know what he or she wants and that's the space where you need to draw a fine line."

Chiranewala said, “Personalization is very much possible, it depends on the business you are in and the scale you would want to achieve, as long as you know the nuance of what the customer wants. At Fastrack, it’s a completely tech first personalization game that we play."

Srinivas Rao added, “Being responsible marketers, we've got certain targeting principles, we have certain metrics that we can follow. We do not want to harass the customers, but at the same time you communicate the fact that you're able to strike up a chord with the customer, which helps to get better metrics. Personalization does not necessarily mean that I communicate more often to you, but rather that I communicate effectively. Brands have started doing personalization and that too at scale."

“Personalization at scale is not a very difficult task because it's a 'wow factor' that cracks but my bigger concern is, who is taking responsibility of the customer information and how do you ensure that it doesn’t end up irritating the customer?," asked Sethiya.

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