Pitch CMO Summit: ‘Brand purpose can make big difference in the growth of a company'

Harsha V Agarwal, Director, Emami Limited, & Mahesh Shetty, Head-Network Sales, Viacom18, discussed ‘Activating the Power of Purpose’

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 25, 2021 9:25 AM
pitch cmo summit

The exchange4media group hosted its flagship property, Pitch CMO Summit 2021, on Wednesday. At the virtual event, keynote speaker Harsha V Agarwal, Director, Emami Limited, and Mahesh Shetty, Head – Network Sales, Viacom18, joined Dr. Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld and exchange4media, in a fireside chat on the topic: ‘Activating the Power of Purpose’.

Starting off the session, Agarwal remarked, “Honestly, brand purpose is something that can really make a very big difference in the overall performance, growth of the brand and the company. But, my belief is that not too many brands or companies have a very clear brand purpose. In our company, we have a very clear vision or philosophy - the purpose is making people beautiful and healthy naturally. So basically, the word naturally is what is very cool to us. How do we make people beautiful and healthy with the help of nature? Every day, whatever we do, the products we launched, the brands we launched, it's all around nature and how we bring the best of nature to the consumers, be it the beauty or personal care products or the health products.”

“So from that perspective, we are always on the lookout for the best of the ingredients, because there are so many unknown herbs etc which are used in different parts of the countries and might have different benefits but people are not aware of it. There are herbs, which are very efficacious, but still unknown to people. So we spend a lot around R&D as to how we explore them, how we find out about them and bring them to the consumers. Then is the quality of the product. Ultimately, if you have to give consumers the best of the health, how do you remain true to it? How do you give the consumers the best of the products with the help of nature, that is something we are very particular about,” he further added.

Elaborating on the importance of immunity in the Covid-ridden world, Agarwal shared that Emami has launched over 30 products around health and immunity. “Immunity has been something which consumers are looking for and Covid has really increased the need for that. In the last 12 months since Covid, in fact in the first three to four months, we launched more than 15 products around immunity. We were very agile and could launch more than 15 products around that. In six months, we could launch more than 30 products in total and all products are relevant to Covid needs. We launched a whole range of hygiene products under our brand Boroplus, which included sanitizer, hand wash and soaps, etc. Because we believe that our brand Boroplus had the right to win in that segment.”

Explaining about the top three changes that media companies are seeing in brands’ approach, especially in the last 12 months, Shetty shared, “If I just look at the overall 12 months, it's not one story. Actually, if you look at Q1, none of us were sure how things would pan out. And in Q1 of this financial year, most brands actually cut down on their spends, and there was uncertainty, and that led to that kind of a decision. Also, in terms of communicating to consumers and generating brand pull when the consumer cannot go to the store to buy and when there was a situation of lockdown actually did not make sense. So if you see in terms of brands and their spends, Q1 was a very different phase where brands held back their spends.

In Q2, which is around June, the market started opening up. Across the country, stores opened, supply chains were streamlined and that's when brands got back to advertising, and I would say FMCG has been the flagbearer of this entire consumer momentum. Companies like Emami, Prestige or HUL really drove the entire category and the momentum of any media company including us. In Q2, their businesses are coming back and surely showing strong growth and that impacted their entire outlook towards media, and I think media is a reflection of how the economy does and how these categories perform. Overall, I would say that about television because the bread and butter of television advertising is FMCG. Since FMCG, as a category, pulled back, H2, which is the second half of the year, saw very good traction from brands across categories.”

Sharing further about the challenges faced by media companies due to anti-China sentiment and how new categories emerged during the pandemic, he said, “While there were challenges for most media companies when there was an anti-China sentiment as certain categories and brands in the mobile and gaming categories stayed off, certain brands stayed off. Also, certain categories within FMCG too faced headwind. And in some of our regional markets, some of the local retail chain clients also faced a lot of headwinds because of the lockdown and people not moving out. However, that got covered up by some of the new categories that came up like edutech. The entire category saw a huge boom last year. Gaming saw a boost and also D2C companies saw a huge boost.”

“And so, there is an entire sense of optimism and that's also because consumers are going out and opening up their wallets and spending money into specific categories. That has led to brands going back to communicating their brand purpose and marketing campaigns. So overall, we started off Q1 with a sense of uncertainty and we're ending the current financial year with a sense of optimism.”

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