We need to be agile in communicating with the consumer: Ajay Gupte

We speak to Gupte, CEO, Wavemaker South Asia, in part three of our interview series with the big winners of IDMA 2021

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Aug 6, 2021 8:58 AM
ajay Gupte

The 12th edition of e4m Indian Digital Marketing Awards (IDMA) 2021 was marked by some momentous wins. A slew of brands managed to shine through the storm with clutter-breaking work in a rather difficult year.

Despite the odds, brands and agencies displayed resilience and stole the show. Recognizing these champions, our ongoing series will feature chat with the big winners of IDMA 2021.

Today we speak to Ajay Gupte, CEO, Wavemaker South Asia, on bagging the coveted Agency of the Year title, staying on the top of the digital game and more.

Edited excerpts below: 

What do you attribute the brand’s (in this case agency’s) big win at IDMA to? What according to you made the work clutter-breaking as it managed to fetch the accolade contesting and cutting through reams of entries?

We have been very fortunate to have a wonderful base of clients and an extremely talented team. I would first attribute our big win to our clients who have trusted us and backed the ideas that the team has come up with.

I would then attribute it to our wonderfully talented team and lastly to the infrastructure and processes we have invested in. Over the years, we have consistently invested in data, technology, content and commerce.

These investments came to bear for our clients as we together tackled the challenges brought about by the pandemic. There have been changes in the consumer purchase journey and their media consumption behaviour. Online discovery and e-commerce have seen growth like never before and media consumption patterns have seen dramatic shifts in the last year with various forms of digital getting accelerated traction. 

Consumers are seeking value and convenience while also leaning more on brands that they trust. In light of this, brands needed to have a strong understanding of the consumer purchase journey through access to relevant data and the ability to connect with the consumer across the various fast-growing touchpoints.

Through our Wavemaker Operating System (WM OS) we have built the capability to guide our clients in understanding the consumer purchase journey and prioritising touchpoints. Our investments in the content and creative teams means that we are swift in developing and executing the ideas we would like to execute.

Add to this is our culture of ‘Positive Provocation’ which means that we are always pushing ourselves, our clients and our partners to look for better ways of doing things. All these factors came together to define the kind of work we have been able to do that has helped us win big. 

What according to you are the elements that make award-winning, clutter-breaking digital campaigns and what is the right approach to reach out to consumers during these trying times? 

The customer is at the centre of everything we do. A deep understanding of the consumer journey using data and the ability to look for simple and powerful insights is the core fundamental that leads to great work. Consumer behaviour is evolving right from how they engage with brands to how they purchase and digital is right up front and central in this evolution.

It is important to have the right skill sets and tech and data capabilities to convert these insights into the right interventions that drive favourable outcomes for the brand. Brand resource prioritisation, personalisation at scale and efforts towards driving sales are the bedrock of great campaigns. 

 In such uncertain and turbulent times, how has the brand ensured that it stays ahead of the game when it comes to the digital marketing space?

It has been a coming together of several factors that have kept us ahead. Firstly, it is the high-quality team that we have been able to attract and grow in the agency. This team has been supported with consistent training to remain ahead of the game. Wavemaker and GroupM have made massive investments in data and technology in India and at a global level that has given our teams an unbeatable advantage in understanding the consumer journey. Lastly and most importantly is our large base of clients across several categories has given us the experience and understanding of the digital marketing space from various perspectives. 

What are the trends in the digital marketing space that you see gaining momentum as we go forward?

The pandemic has further accelerated an already fast-growing space. Consumers have leaned on digital while looking for more sources of information and entertainment.

From a communication opportunity perspective, there are several new areas that have opened up and grown in scale to reach out to consumers.

Digital is already the second-most consumed medium and this pattern is going to continue. In their quest for convenience, consumers are now searching and buying online. This is only going to grow as infrastructure begins to support better and consumer confidence grows. Rapid digitisation on the back of a supportive infrastructure and digital penetration coupled with consumers’ growing willingness to purchase online is going to ensure the momentum will continue.

As the competition in the digital space heats up for brands, what would be your advice to brands and agencies when approaching the digital space?

Brands need to invest in data and a better understanding of their consumers’ path to purchase. It is important to make a beginning as more data will only result in better consumer understanding resulting in a virtuous cycle. The changes in the path to purchase with discovery and purchase moving online means that brands need to better segment their consumer to create meaningful engagements driving greater trust and connection with the consumers. The consumer today is exposed to so much more, we, therefore, need to be agile in our ways of communicating with the consumer, especially in areas like advocacy, content creation, eCommerce market places, OTT, etc.

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