'Marketers need to look at personalised communication to generate business for brands'

Pitch CMO Summit 2019: Rajesh Ramakrishnan, MD, Perfetti Van Melle India, gave the valedictory address and explained how personalisation has become an indispensable part of marketing

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Apr 29, 2019 9:39 AM  | 5 min read
Rajesh Ramakrishnan Pitch CMO 2019

Rajesh Ramakrishnan, Managing Director, Perfetti Van Melle India, addressed the valedictory session of PITCH CMO 2019 Summit in Mumbai and gave intrinsic insights on how personalisation has become an indispensable part of today's brand marketing strategies to generate business.

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Before getting straight to the point to talk about mass personalisation, Ramakrishnan took the audience through what has happened in the last 50 years and how the concept of marketing has evolved since then. Referring to the film 'The Godfather' he quoted an iconic line of that era, "It's not personal, it's strictly business."

"Fast forwarding 50 years and drawing inferences in the present scenario for the marketers today, the line has changed now and says, "It is personal and it is business." Thus, mass personalisation or personalised communication is a very typical way of generating business for a brand, that marketers need to look at very seriously," added Ramakrishna.

Giving insights on what, why and how brands are utilising personalised communications, Ramakrishnan explained through many popular brand advertisements, how to bring out important inferences and lessons to be learnt from them.

Going to the genesis of the concept of personalisation in the advertising industry he explained, "It finds its roots in the luxury market which had few people who were rich, famous and had the luxury to spend, and wanted something which was a personal thing for them and that's when the concept of tailoring to your need came into being. It began in London where the elites started getting their suits and shirts tailormade, while the common public shopped from the street markets. Eventually, the scenario changed and became very democratized, as more and more people insisted on having personalised products and experiences and questioning why these products should be limited to the elites."

The processes are evolving to get data for one-on-one seamless communication, where an individual gets a feeling of being talked to and given solutions according to his personal needs. That's what personalisation and mass personalisation is all about; that gets consumers emotionally invested in the offer. As a result, the consumer wants to interact one-on-one with the brand and thus a connect is made with the product he uses. This, in turn, establishes a relationship between the brand and the consumer, building a cohort where the consumer starts talking about the brand to other people and thus become a brand evangelist.

Today, in the time of the Internet and digital space, there is a lot of self-expression that is happening, and personalisation has been a way of self-expression for consumers. This is how personalisation makes a point from a consumer point of view.

Elaborating on how and what is to be used in terms of personalisation, Ramakrishnan touched on three points. Firstly, the cultural insights and how they can be leveraged. All brands today look at insights to build a brand and communication propositions and if the insight is based on the culture and local tradition it makes it more powerful.

Secondly, we empower consumers and give them the power of choice, by going little extra in terms of giving colour variants, shapes and sizes, etc. as per the consumer need, choice and preferences, so that the consumer can in some sense, customise the product.

Thirdly, because of the massive digital equipment that is used, there is a lot of data that keeps floating around which is voluntarily out, while some of it is collected in various forms and can be used to tailor-make products as per the consumer's preferences. Data then becomes a powerful mechanism for personalising and marketing content.

Ramakrishnan highlighted some examples of brands that have used personalisation in a very meaningful manner. Such as the 2011 US campaign for Coca-Cola that emphasised ' 'Coca-Cola brings Happiness'. The brand picked up the top 150 names and put them as labels on one side of the bottles. The campaigns became a massive hit and were expanded to more than 50 countries. So in the case of India, their research found that from a cultural point of view,  relationships in Indian society and the meanings around them are very important. Thus, they planned a campaign around having labels on various relationships and labelled one side of the bottles. They did an entire set of communication around it, elevating the brand to a mass level, yet personalising it to a large extent.

Talking on the concept of 'consumer direct offense' which talks about how a brand can drive business and growth in a systemised and personalised manner, Ramakrishnan shares the example of Nike. The company has backward integrated data to churn personalised content from companies that deal with data analysis on the data collected from the Nike apps and loyalty points. Thus, the brand sets a great example of how a brand with an attitude takes personalisation to the next level.

Concluding his session Ramakrishnan talked about how brands can get insights to understand consumer behaviour online and understand what they are looking for or not looking for, like or dislike and form patterns around it to deliver tailor-made offerings as per their preferences.

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