InMobi in association with e4m kicks off a new series--‘Masters of Marketing 2022’

The first edition of Masters of Marketing focused on “Building Resilient Brands - Thriving in the Era of Mobile,” featuring marketing leaders from iconic brands

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Dec 9, 2021 12:38 PM  | 9 min read

The events of the past two years have dramatically reshaped life as we know it and has permanently moved the consumer landscape. Naturally, this has also been an unusual time for marketers across India, but true innovation is born from adversity.

This could not be truer than in a country like ours, where we saw the heralding of a new era in Digital India. According to a stat by TRAI, India became home to over 825.3 million internet subscribers in 2021, a majority of whom have been powered by smartphones, proving that we are truly living in a mobile-first age. And, in this new age, resilient brands are the ones that have pioneered innovations to pivot, strategize and execute. As they build multi-moment mobile marketing strategies, some brands have set the bar higher not just for themselves, but for the industry.

To help understand these shifts, InMobi in association with exchange4media, hosted the first edition of Masters of Marketing focused on “Building Resilient Brands - Thriving in the Era of Mobile,” featuring marketing leaders from iconic brands that stood out like Ravi Santhanam--CMO, Head Corporate Communications and Head Liability Products & Managed Programs at HDFC Bank, Sandeep Anand – EVP and CMO at Jubilant Foodworks Ltd (Domino’s), Anuja Mishra – VP and Head Marketing - Personal care and hygiene at Godrej Consumer Products Limited,  Ishwindar Singh – GM, Marketing, Pernod Ricard and Anjali Krishnan – Consumer Experience Lead, India & Bangladesh, Mondelez International. The session was chaired by Vasuta Agarwal – Managing Director, Asia Pacific at InMobi.

Sharing his thoughts on the fundamental changes in the consumer behavior over the last 20 months and how Jubilant Foods pivoted to address it, Sandeep Anand said, “We observed that during the crisis consumers gravitated towards more trusted brands. Having been in India for over 25 years, we were a natural choice. The second big change was the adoption of mobile as a way of living life and happened across categories. Every category gravitated towards mobile app-based business. Domino’s was a sweet spot there because we had a significant infrastructure and presence with our own mobile app and at the same time, we enjoyed a good consumer confidence in terms of trust and safety.

“On our part we enhanced and broadened the safety procedures and in the first five to six months our communication was solely focused on the safety aspect. A culmination of all these things paid a dividend to us and we were among few brands that braved the first wave relatively better,” he added.

Speaking on how HDFC stood out of the clutter during the pandemic, Ravi Santhanam of HDFC Bank said, “More than 95 percent of our transactions were on digital prior to covid. What really happened was a change in the way people accepted digital for doing things differently. So, for a transaction that was in the mobile and the internet-banking world, we also had the origination shift to digital.”

He added, “That was one of the biggest pivotal shifts for us as people earlier believed that to take a loan or credit card, they wanted someone to meet and sit across the table. This was true not just from the customer viewpoint but also from our employees’ perspective. There were many regulatory hindrances from a KYC and multiple factors where physical presence is needed for verification. What the pandemic did to this regulatory outlook towards this physical presence changed drastically. So, we had a digital customer verification space enabled and a digital KYC, and the regulators came forward and gave us a lot of leeway to do things. So, the biggest impact for a brand like HDFC Bank and for the entire financial ecosystem is that the salespeople have started using digital for selling.”

 Anuja Mishra of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd while sharing her viewpoint on the brands strategy of a differentiated offering during the pandemic spoke about how the first and second lockdown demanded a different response and how the brand took this challenge head on.

“We were focused on relevant product innovations and that included categories that we felt could handle the chaos. These categories would become sustained going forward. There are some hygienic behaviors’ that we have now adopted which seem like they are here to stay. The second important part was to build a distinct identity and communicate it with consumers in an authentic manner. What we did is trebled our rate of interaction with consumers and technology helped us do that. What we learned is that consumers were leaning on brands for direction and trust, because they were feeling very vulnerable.

“At GCPL, we have got a great range of trusted brands and for some of the newer brands that we introduced, we ensured that we continue that spirit. We were clear on staying anchored on consumer listening and being very sharp in our proposition and very soft in our tonality”, shared Mishra.

When asked about the differentiated marketing strategy adopted by Pernod Ricard during the peak of the covid 19, Ishwindar Singh spoke about the constraints in the category they are operating in as it is one of the most regulated categories.

“We thrive at addressing a consumer through innovation and through targeted communication. During the lockdown, the average time spent on a mobile device increased drastically because there was hardly any fresh content coming on TV. In fact consumer engagement in the last three feet had changed drastically during the lockdown. To address the changed consumer behavior, we changed our marketing mix in favour of digital. We had to be agile with our narrative and with our content mix. Historically physical engagement has been a very important piece of our consumer reach out strategy and we moved to a completely digital outreach during the pandemic.”

“We innovated very strongly by creating seamless consumer phygital experiences. In fact, influencers started playing an important role for us. They started communicating our brand narrative to consumers and helped us reach a larger set of consumers as compared to before, “ added Singh.

Anjali Krishnan of Modelez spoke about the marriage between brand purpose and technology and how Mondelz continued to excel at it during the pandemic.

“The consumer landscape has dramatically changed and that has led to a lot of focus on our side towards the digital platforms. We have had some successful campaigns in the recent few years including the recent Diwali ad. We realised that many local businesses were also significantly impacted by the pandemic, and we wanted to do something for them as well. So we mapped 1800 pin codes and directed people towards those stores where they could shop and thus truly make it localized.”

 “We wanted to take it further and through the AI and Facial Recognition and create deep engagement with tech, so we created something where you could mimic Shahrukh Khan with his entire facial expressions, his voice and his emotions and create an ad for your store. In our own little way, we have tried to give back to some of our partners. We also have a campaign called ‘Madbury’, which we run every year, and it has a very deep consumer engagement. So, we have been constantly doing new things in the digital space and ensuring consumer experiences that are richer, and technology enables a lot of that”, explained Krishnan.

When asked how HDFC has leveraged the power of technology to amplify brand purpose, Ravi Santhanam said, “I would say it’s about engaging with the consumers in the right context. Today marketers have access to data to understand the context of consumer interaction and if you are not leveraging that context then your messaging is not necessarily going to appeal to that consumer.”

“Consumers now want some personalized experience, and they are no longer okay with a broad brushstroke. It’s now very important to understand consumers and put them into cohorts and tailor make your offering. When you have an engaged consumer, they tend to transact more”, shared Sandeep Anand when asked about his insights on making the best use of data.


Ishwindar Singh also spoke on the changing marketing mix that their brand has witnessed as their mainstay of sports and Bollywood witnessed a dip in fresh content during the lockdown period.

“It was not a drop in the consumer interest, there was a supply side issue in terms of fresh content. We went back to some of our iconic asset banks which have rich content, and we played that content on digital. The way consumers engaged with the content gave us insights into creating new assets for example ‘Showcase’ which is about emerging talent,” he shared.

Speaking about the ways in which Mondelez did the consumer pulse check, Anjali Krishnan said, “We do regular pulse checks of our customers and one of the ways we do that is that we run campaigns where we collect a lot of data through those campaigns. Some of that is third party data and some first party data and that influences our decision making. It is definitely a different world than before where there was more face-to-face interaction with the consumers.”

“At GCPL we were very quick to realize that we had jumped into the virtual world to continue our businesses and we ensured that we tightened our association with consumers and ensured that learnings and insights kept coming”, shared Anuja Mishra.

To wrap up the conversation, Vasuta Agarwal noted that, “The whole notion of how the pandemic disrupted BAU, but caused a lot of innovation in its wake is true, be it about moment marketing, or how regulatory and consumer changes influenced banking marketing strategy, or how consumer insights is being gathered, and the doubling down on phygital experiences to bridge gaps. But at the end what builds resilient brands or anti-fragile brands is authenticity, consistency, being purposeful, and empathy, and these will stand the test of time, no matter what the situation may be.”


To watch the full discussion, click on the link below:

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