Self evaluation is best way to move forward while building a brand: Utsav Malhotra

In a special address at the Pitch CMO summit 2022, Malhotra, COO of Noise, stressed on the importance of consumer data in building a brand

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jul 4, 2022 6:11 PM  | 5 min read
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In a special address at the Pitch CMO Summit held in Delhi on June 29, Utsav Malhotra, COO of Noise, delved into the topic ‘Leveraging data to make noise’. He started the session by discussing what data actually is and what it comprises. In this respect, he went on to say that the problem with data is that “we keep confusing ourselves with numbers being data and that’s not the reality.” While referring to the graph on the screen,  he further added, “The moment you start contextualizing timelines, trends, relative to how data is moving, they will start throwing directional insights at us.” 

Utsav Malhotra said, “Invariably what we think is data, is nothing more than anecdotal evidence; what we keep turning as gut feeling, intuition is quite frankly nothing but opinions. We keep using data to substantiate what we think our hypothesis should yield.” 

In the context of how and why data is used to run a business efficiently, Malhotra said, “This is what happens with all data, that we make it suit what we think works for us in businesses. Because constantly what we are grappling with are the brain and the gut. There is the constant dilemma of intuition and reason. This is something that we all go through. And I’m not saying that one is right and therefore there is the purest way of running a business. You need all of it. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs start out with maverick ideas and great gut. They are blessed with instincts- why they do well.” 

Malhotra said that the risk of making a wrong decision while building a business is quite common, hence it is important “to rely on data that can potentially reduce the risk of those decisions.” He added, “For me, that is enough reason to believe in following data”. 

During the session, Utsav Malhotra further elaborated on the importance of being data aware. He said that self evaluation is the best way to move forward while building a brand. He said, “Sometimes asking yourselves these hard questions are really important: are we really data-centric? Is there a cultural emphasis on collecting data, to start with? Are we an organisation that believes we should collect data? Are we an organisation that actually makes investments in hiring or upskilling people for data manipulation, calculation and analysis etc.? Are we an organisation that is willing to commit across verticals that decision-making will be centred on what the data tells us? Are we willing to let go of decisions that are contrary to what the data says? And I’m saying this out of having gone through the labour pains when we were building Noise up. Because there are times when data will tell you that is X likelihood of success of a product and you can choose to go ahead with it or not. And sometimes it is the passion, belief or opinion that takes precedence. And if we do that, we are making two mistakes- we’re making the mistake of letting go of a viable idea and the opportunity to make this one successful. Therefore, building a culture or DNA of data in the system is imperative.” 

Talking about Noise, Utsav Malhotra said, “In our business DNA, we basically said that the business model is geared towards data which means we are one of those rare brands that started out by our website. We had our own brand store before we even dreamt of going to marketplaces. Contrary to popular belief that’s how you start understanding and connecting with your consumers, you own consumer insights and you build the brand on the basis of those insights.” He stressed the importance of using such information to build a brand. While sharing insights about building Noise as a brand, he also talked about how information and data help brands to understand their customer better. 

“We went old school. We said we will speak to our customer every week,” said the COO. From the very beginning, they started valuing customer insights which allowed them to build and co create their brand with their customers. In that way, they came up with solutions for every customer feedback. He termed this as an “insight driving design, product development- the core of a business”. He further said that these data are much more than mere numbers and statistics. 

Talking about the downsides of data, Utsav Malhotra said, “Be open to failure. Data can throw you off.” Sometimes data can lose its relevance but there is no point in chasing an insight. Hence, it is important to know how to pivot from that. “If a data insight is contrary to what you’ve been doing, it’s directionally telling you that you might hit a roadblock. Be prepared to look at what it might entail.”

Malhotra further added, “When it comes to making decisions, we’ve been listening to that consumer noise.” He went on to share the success story of Noise and concluded the session by saying, “Data got us here.” 

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