The moment we talk about marketing through a digital platform, the first thing that comes to both marketers and consumers’ mind is ‘engagement’. Digital has changed conventional marketing rules, and today engagement plays a crucial part in disseminating brand stories.
The first session on Day 2 of the 11th India Digital Summit of IAMAI started on this note, underlining the importance of engagement, brand’s agility to evolve and consumer’s perspective to reach the industry’s ambitious plans of becoming $5bn digital ads market by 2020.
Sharing his views about digital marketing, Sanjeev Handa, Marketing Head of Maruti Suzuki said, “Internet penetration and increase in smartphone usage, both in urban and rural areas, have changed conventional marketing ways of connecting with consumers; and, engagement certainly plays a crucial role.”
Corroborating the thought, Sanjay Tripathy, Sr. Executive Vice President- Head Marketing, HDFC Life said,” Until recently, the market was more or less in the distributor’s hand, and it was he who decided what he wants to sell. There was very less brand engagement or marketing going behind the scenes. Even when we started out with marketing, it was not helping us reach out to our target audience, since insurance is a very need-based product. But, digital has bridged this gap between need-based and must-have products, and allows one-on-one conversation with the consumer.”
“There are tons of data, you generate via digital ads and marketing, which lets a brand reach out to its perspective consumer the moment they are trying to make that ‘buying’ decision. In our case, the moment somebody gets married or becomes a parent, they tend to make that decision and that’s the right time to reach out to them. Digital marketing allows us to gauge these data and moments.” he added.
While panelists agree, digital, today has changed conventional marketing norms, they also acknowledged the fact that it’s consumers who decide what medium to communicate through, while brands just have to innovate and react accordingly.
Tushar Vyas, Chief Strategy Officer, GroupM said, “It’s not about digital marketing but it is about marketing in a digital world. It is not about reach but it’s about how you engage and make relation with the consumer. It’s consumers who decide the medium and brand has to follow the guidelines.”
Citing example of this shift in trend and how a brand must react, Handa said, “For Maruti, NEXA is a great example of this power shift. When we thought of coming up with NEXA, the market share of Maruti had fallen to 37 percent from 70 percent. We realised that 63 percent of consumers were not buying Maruti for the simple reason – lack of experience. They were looking for an experience, which we were not giving them. And that’s how we decided to extend that experience not only by that product but also through services provided by our sales executives, relationship managers, et al. And yes, digital played a crucial medium to reach out to our target consumers- millennials in NEXA’s case – right from pre-launch, to launch and after sales.”
While panelists were unanimous in their opinion about how important digital marketing has become today, they restrained from openly saying yes to the goal of $5bn digital ads by 2020. However, they said, there is a lot of optimism.
“Today we have billion plus smartphones in India and 400 million plus internet users, and the numbers are just growing. Things today look dynamic and are changing. But, achieving this target is a trickle-down effect of India becoming third largest GDP economy of the world. Having said that, I believe there is lot of optimism; people are buying phones and inadvertently going digital. It’s just the right time for any brand to go digital,” Handa concluded.