Pitch CMO Summit: To stay relevant, brands should challenge the status quo: Experts

An expert panel comprising Rohit Raj, Anupam Bokey, Saurabh Garg, Vignesh Vellore, Sai Narayan & Siddhartha Butalia discussed the definition of a 'challenger brand'

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 3, 2020 5:59 PM
Pitch CMO

By definition, a challenger brand is one with a challenger mindset and who has the intent to change the industry. A provocative new breed of challenger brand has exploded on to the Indian market in recent years.

Taking this thought forward, the 12th edition of Pitch CMO Summit- Mumbai witnessed a panel discussion with the topic, 'Making Of A Challenger Brand'. The Session Chair for the panel was Rohit Raj, Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer, The Glitch and the panellists are Anupam Bokey, CMO, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group FMCG; Saurabh Garg, Co-founder & CBO, Nobroker.com; Vignesh Vellore, Co-founder & CEO, The News Minute; Sai Narayan, CMO, Paisabazaar.com and Siddhartha Butalia, CMO, Air Asia India.

 The panel deliberated on what defines a challenger brand, what it is to have one and how they have been challenging everything from status quo, product categories and customer experiences.

“Any brand that challenges conventions is called a challenger brand. Paytm, PayPal are challenger brands,” Bokey kicked off the session with this thought, naming Paytm, PayPal and Too Yumm as examples of challenger brands. 

Garg explained that Nobroker.com is a challenger brand on account of the disruption it brought about.  He also citing the example of US-based Craigslist, an online classified service for jobs, housing, sales, services and events. "Craigslist started disrupting the newspaper back in 1999. It has 50 employees and it makes  $1 billion in revenue every year. I think they understood the customer’s pain point, which is critical when you are thinking of a challenger brand. Also, resilience is very important,” Saurabh emphasised.

Focusing on the news perspective, Vellore said, “Lot of the national publishers are not focusing on southern markets and that is News Minute's strength. It is important to understand the competitor's weakness.”

Narayan told the audience how Paisa bazaar as a brand challenged the customer on the way they are buying products, moving the status quo of the consumers. “ I think even the market leaders can be a challenger brand.”

Agreeing with Narayan opinion, Butalia said, “Google and Apple were challengers; Currently, Airbnb is the challenger brand.”

Later in the discussion, Raj asked the panellists about the attributes that a brand cannot miss. "When you are a challenger brand, it is important to define your target audience. The idea is to experiment fast, do it to on a smaller scale and if you fail the damage is not that much. Secondly, having a nimble and agile way of operating are the two main attributes for me,” said Bokey.

Differing from Bokey’s thoughts, Garg said that understanding customer’s pain point is critical when you are thinking of a challenger brand. 

 Sai, on the other hand, made an interesting point by saying, “Challenger brand should keep making Leader brand uncomfortable.”

 “It is a questioning attitude that one needs to take to establish norms. Brands needs to start questioning the status quo, to begin with, agility also plays a critical role,” Butalia added.

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