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Pitch Exclusive: Is marketing today easier than in the ’80s?

01-July-2011
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Pitch Exclusive: Is marketing today easier than in the ’80s?

“Marketing is more competitive today”
Peshwa Acharya, Senior VP-Marketing, Reliance Communications
Marketing is much more competitive today. I started in early ’90s. Marketing in those days, essentially meant for FMCG. Marketers hardly took anything beyond that seriously. In the ’90s other categories like banking, telecom, durables and telecom and other service categories surfaced in a big way. Also, as globalisation made headway in the ’90s, more international brands entered the Indian market and competition became hyper intensive.

In the last 15 years, media has also become fragmented where marketers have to puzzle a lot to reach their target group through a combination of channels. Today, marketers have not only traditional channels of communication, but they try to connect with consumers through events, activities and social media platforms etc. So, the overall marketing environment is much more competitive today amidst emerging categories, and new marketing concepts. Nature of market is highly localised today, and marketers have customers who have different choices in the same product category. For example, in electronics, you have desktop, laptop, smartphones, tablets, iPad, etc.

However, on a physical level, ’80s were more challenging and tough for marketers. They had no mobiles, no internet and it was difficult for them to reach the consumers and gather feedback.

Today, marketers as well as consumers are more informed. If a product is launched in US today, consumers expect it in the Indian market and they are no longer ready to wait. That makes marketers’ task a little more difficult today. They have to keep themselves updated every hour and every second on what is happening in their domain and also in other domains.

Earlier, marketers used to take time to formulate marketing strategies and then approach customers. But today, they can’t afford to take much time in changing, shifting, or renewing their marketing strategy.

Earlier, even information was difficult to reach. Today, it is not only about getting information from different available sources, a marketer needs to look differently at the information and analyse it to best of his requirements.

“Technology has helped connect better”
Rajesh Mehta, Director, Marketing, Western Union
Earlier, a marketer didn’t have lots of facilities that today’s marketers have. The technology was not as evolved. You had to rely on limited media to reach out to the people.

Today, with better technology, a marketer has the option to create a much more impactful communication. This helps in connecting better with the consumers. So, in a sense, a marketer is benefited.

On the other side, with media proliferation and fragmentation, the cost of reaching to a consumer has risen exponentially. This puts high pressure on the marketer to manage the marketing budget and ensure optimum message delivery. Life has become tougher in that sense.

“The ‘new’ factor lured the consumers”
Shashank Srivastava, Chief GM (Marketing), Maruti Suzuki
During that time there were many underlying demands which were easy to tap because there was no alternative available. Everything was new. If you had a product like a colour TV or designer or branded apparels, it was a new product. This ‘new’ factor was enough to lure the consumers.

Also, in all categories, there were very few brands, so there was no real clutter in the market. So, if there is no clutter than whatever noise you make regarding your brand, was registered easily by the consumers. Also, there wasn’t media clutter in those times. Lastly, in the ’80s there was hardly any segmentation, so for a marketer there wasn’t a need to have a very sharp and detailed media plan. Life was a lot easier in those days.

“New marketing tools make it easy”
Vivek Nayar, Senior VP, Marketing (Auto Division), Mahindra & Mahindra
With the new marketing tools life for a smart marketer is easier now. A smart and savvy marketer will make an intelligent combination of both traditional media and new media in order to woo the ever-evolving consumers. While traditional media (TV, print, radio) is a one way interaction, new media (digital) ensures two way interaction, thus making it easier for a smart marketer.
 

“It is cyclical & linked to performance”
Milind Bade, GM, Marketing, Bajaj Auto
I guess it is cyclical and linked to the performance of the brand. Also he needs patience and perseverance as actions and results have a considerable time lag before they impact the customers mind.

Our Take
The decade of ’80s had very few brands to compete in the Indian market. Products were expected to be functionally strong and everlasting and tough looking. Case in point: Lifebuoy and OK bathing soaps; Godrej almirahs. Thus the bigger P was product, communication was simple and so was consumption. Indigenous consumer durables and FMCG brands ruled the market and advertising revolved around them. Marketers found it easier to connect with consumers by offering them the simplest of brand messages in which the latter took pride. For instance, ‘Hamara Bajaj’ and ‘Shaan se bolo chal meri Luna’ instilled a sense of pride in the buyer. However, despite its simplicity the era lacked adequate analytical data on the changing needs of consumers and proper tools of communication.

Marketing was not as exciting as it is now, the period of more and more consumption where consumers are spoiled for choice with the growing influx of brands. All 4 Ps have become extremely important and one cannot survive without the right balance with others. As technology has advanced marketers find it easier to engage consumers through new media tools such as digital and mobile media. Marketers can easily track changing consumer needs with well organised R&D facilities in place. However, marketing is extremely challenging now in terms of maintaining brand loyalty among consumers, which existed for heritage brands earlier.
Our final take is that marketing is more complicated today.

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