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Marketing Continuum

Transforming Marketing : new Dimensions in Business landscape

The importance of marketing has never been more critical. We find ourselves competing in an “age of sameness” where products and services, regardless of the sector or geography, are basically the same. They work in the same way. They do the same things. As such, the market and its customers have been commoditizing category offerings. As a result, customers are reducing their selection criteria in virtually every category predominantly to cost. This phenomenon is underscored by frequent and deep discounting, the rising use of tenders, rapid growth of promotional sales as a percentage of total sales and so forth. Organizations cannot win by price discounting in a marketplace that is willing to settle for GAQ (Generally Accepted Quality), particularly given developing countries, and emerging new companies, willingness to deliver it at bargain basement prices.

Marketing can and should matter. In order for it to matter marketers and their organizations need to embrace Brand Animated Marketing, which is concerned with creating brand loyalty. To “create” means to bring the customer into existence for your offering. “Brand” is much more than the physical features and attributes of a product or service. It is the special relationship and bond that is engendered with the customer built upon positive experiences. “Loyalty” is about creating unswerving devotion to the brand that can insulate it from attempts by competitors to make inroads into your business regardless of whether it is through discount or promotional pricing, product improvements, new entries, etc..


1.     Prakash Dadlani – Vice President Customer centricity, Aditya Birla Group

Subtopic- Mapping the customer journey

As a part of the Marketing Continuum 2017, a talk was delivered by Mr. Prakash Dadlani, Vice President, Customer Centricity, Aditya Birla Group. Mr. Dadlani introduced the concept of Customer Journey Map to the audience. He emphasized the importance of customer behaviour and explained that customer behaviour changes faster than any evolving business model. Mr. Dadlani cited examples of companies like Amazon which has empowered each of its customer executives to take decisions and companies like Kodak which failed to recognise the rapid changes in the preferences of the customer.

Mr. Dadlani explained that customer journey map, unlike a linear method, is an iterative process and highlighted the fact that when a company or a brand establishes an emotional connection with the customer, it becomes difficult for the consumer to break off. Looking at it from a business perspective, this can be a key strategy to tackle competition from other players.

Mr. Dadlani then explained the process of mapping a customer’s journey. First, one should be clear about whose journey should we be mapping? He added that understanding the customer and defining the ‘moments of truth’ are important. The thoughts, feelings and actions, that takes you towards the company or a brand, form such moments of truth. After that, we are required to identify positive and negative experiences for each of the moments of truth. And finally, it’s the solution to enhance the customer’s experience, which matters the most. Nothing is constant today, not even the objectives.

The customer journey stages start from the inspiration point which leads to research about the product, then comparison, validation, buying, usage, and then finally promotion of the product. Further, into the topic, Mr. Dadlani specified that using Net Promoter Score can be very helpful to go deeper provided valid questions are asked to the customer. Customer journey maps are organized in stages, it's a dynamic process.

Mr. Dadlani concluded with the idea that capturing the persona of a customer is the essence. A customer journey map can be used for both B2B and B2C channels. Statistics can be used to refine observations but ultimately customer experience involves one to one transactions, and that needs human intervention. It can be an individual, a group whose persona can be captured. This data can be used to find similarities in understanding group behaviours.

2.     Anirban Roy – Senior Vice President, Ogilvy One

Subtopic- Visual Storytelling to create engagement across digital channels

Mr. Anirban Roy began the session by introducing in brief about how visuals can influence a large audience.  Visuals can be emotional, witty or technologically driven or out of the box. He elaborated that these days people want all ads to go anur“viral” but it is not the ad that goes viral but the content. He depicted the ads in four broad segments namely emotions, technology, social media and unlikely stories.

The first segment of advertisements started with how they can emotionally connect with the audience. He showed some advertisements on this genre which displayed how people connect to these visuals as their story engages the user.  He stressed on the point that the audience will not care about your story unless you give them a reason to be engaged in it.

The second segment of the advertisements saw how technology and story can be inter-related. The first video focused on Honda ‘The Other Side’ and then moved towards an ad of Lockheed Martin depicting how technology was used to have a visual excursion to Mars through a school bus; The point was to emphasize on the idea and not the technology. Creativity and ideas are the bed rock of story-telling and technology can change these ideas to experiences. An experience or relevant idea drives participation from the viewers and engages them by leaving an ever-lasting impression on their mind.

The third segment of advertisements focused on social media and services. He explained, how an innovative way of creating an ad makes a lot of impact on people in social media. He further explained how even a dialogue from a scene can be used as an effective ingredient in an ad.

The last of the four was using unlikely stories.  The first ad in this genre was a first look poster of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. It was made to look like a maze where one must find a way to reach the egg. The next one that followed was of lean cuisine #WeighThis, where people were asked weigh what matters. They made it an online success because of its uniqueness. At the end, Mr. Roy answered some questions from the students.

3.     Salil Murthy – Head, India Market, General Mills

Subtopic- The new age of brand building

As a part of the Marketing Continuum 2017, a talk was delivered by Mr. Salil Murthy, the head, Indian markets for General Mills – an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer food on the topic "The new age of Brand Building”. He informed the audience about the shifting consumer perceptions of the brands and how important it is as a brand to look authentic.

He showed us the linear traditional model where key focus was to sell the products. However, this model worked earlier and in this new age "A new consumer centric ecosystem" was required for a successful strategy where a consumer is at the center.  The company cannot just make a product and expect the consumers to accept, it needs to have an understanding of the consumers' needs and wants. He told us that with the advent of digital marketing the way companies can reach out to the consumers has changed dramatically. More data can be collected however with so much data it becomes difficult to comprehend the right insight. Then he informed us about the marketer's dilemma where a huge number of channels are present to attract the consumer but choosing the right channel is a tough challenge.The first point he said that the brand should focus on, is being authentic.  Many companies portray a false image in the minds of the consumer. He gave the example of United airlines where they have a tagline "We fly friendly" and yet the recent incident was a contradiction to it. The thing he wanted to stress is that consumers want their brands to be honest about what they mention.  They should be authentic about their products and services. This goes a long way in establishing trust in the minds of the consumer.

The brands that connect with the consumers on an emotional level are the ones that leave an impact. The next point he stressed is that consumers like hearing stories. He finished his presentation saying that it’s okay to be imperfect and communicate the same to the consumers. Consumers believe in brands that take responsibility for their shortcomings and work towards improving it.

4.     Anuradha Bose- Head Marketing, Shoppers Stop

Subtopic- Digital commerce and marketing outlook 2017

Ms. Anuradha started with an introduction to the last fifteen years of intense transformation that has taken place in the world of business, specifically retail.

Mrs. Bose swiftly moved to the concept of “Age of connected consumers. She spoke about how life has been different before and after the cell phones got popular in this country. With the advent and large scale penetration of mobiles, it made the consumers ready for the next age to come- the Social Era. Today India is one of the largest users of social media. Internet connectivity has made life and eventually business a lot easier.  In relation to consumer expectations, she gave a few pointers like "know me", "to speak in one voice“, "make technology transparent for me" and the most important one- "respect me" from the consumer perspective.

Mrs. Bose then enlightened the students about the omni channel world that exists today.

Talking about Shoppers Stop imperatives she shared, to an enthusiastic audience, that providing a seamless shopping everywhere, every time and for everything sums up their organizational principles. "Customer is the heart of Shoppers Stop", said Mrs. Bose while discussing the strategy and rationale of business at her organization.  Mrs. Bose shared her experience about development and launch of the First Citizen Program at Shoppers Stop. The consumers who have joined this program receive premium benefits. Shoppers Stop has the largest loyalty base via the First Citizen program. It contributes to more than 75% of Shoppers Stop's annual turnover and has large sales contribution. She further told that in the year 2008, Shoppers Stop continued to do good business in spite of the ongoing recession. The First Citizen program had rendered Shoppers Stop recession free.On a concluding note, Mrs. Bose highlighted the use of data everywhere, starting from its application in data science social business and in cloud architecture. "Data is the new oil" in words of Mrs. Bose taught us the disruptive advantage that is offered to our generation. Shoppers Stop has always believed in staying ahead of the curve via experiments. It has been actively trying motion sensing trial room – virtual mirror. She ended her talk in a grand gesture of sharing Shoppers Stop's aim of "bringing back the romance in retail"

5.     Madhubanti Banerjee- Associate Director, Analytic Consulting, Nielson

Subtopic- Digital Marketing Outlook and ROI

Ms. Madhubanti Banerjee pitched in to explain about the third R- ‘Reaction' in continuation to Vishal's session. She started off her session by explaining the usage of ROI measurement. She explained how the affinity towards an advertisement decreases if consumers are bombarded with it. She also emphasized the importance of right media mix selection to achieve better efficiency in terms of brand positioning. She then posed the questions which a marketer should ask himself:

• How to keep achieving KPI goals despite changes in the budget?

•         What is the long term impact of marketing on brand health?

•         How do competitor’s media engagements impact me?

•         What is the optimal flighting pattern for my brand?

•         What is the return I am getting by posting these advertisements?

She went on to explain the importance of each of these questions and why budget allocations for different marketing platforms can be done after careful measurement of the ROI.  She also informed the audience that marketing spending should be optimized by scenario planning to achieve growth.

She wrapped up the session by opening up the floor for questions.

The Q&A section provided a lot of insight and clarity into the recent trends of the market research industry as the students tried to understand the technological innovations that drive this industry.


6.     Prasant Mohanty- Vice President Sales and Marketing, Cipla

Subtopic- Innovations that will change the future of Marketing

Mr. Mohanty started the talk by explaining what is business strategy and operations and how one needs to excel at both in order to achieve success. He went on to define strategy as creating a sustainable competitive advantage. He then defined the three objectives that should be kept in the mind while devising any kind of business strategies – Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Value.He quoted business writer- Peter F. Drucker. "A change leader sees change as an opportunity. A change leader looks for change, knows how to find the right changes, and knows how to make them effective both outside the organization and inside it. This requires policies to make the future; systematic methods to look for and to anticipate change; the right way to introduce change, both within and outside the organization and policies to balance change and continuity."

Mr. Mohanty then talked about how the companies that make it big are able to do so by focussing on their core competencies. He made a reference to Jim Collin’s management book- “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't according to which, "Greatness" is defined as financial performance several multiples better than the market average over a sustained period. Mr. Mohanty introduced us to the guidelines related to Organizational Innovation in the OSLO Manual - the Measurement of Scientific and Technological Activities, Proposed Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Technological Innovation Data. According to Oslo model, the innovation can be introduced in either the Product, Process, Marketing, and Organization.

Innovation in marketing can be attained by-

•         Monitoring of current market trends

•         Evaluation of market competition position

•         Customer orientation

•         Monitor consumer’s attitude towards company’s products

•         Market information flow inside the companyMr. Mohanty then explained each of these points in detail. Lastly, Mr. Mohanty discussed the possibility of disruptive innovations that may change marketing forever and answered a few question from the audience.  

7.     Priyanka Bhargav- Associate director, head at Consumer Research , Insights and Corporate Communications, Myntra

Subtopic- Innovations that will change the future of Marketing

Ms. Priyanka Bhargav began the session by describing what Myntra does and how it fulfills high fashion demand. She explained that consumers in today’s world are quick, want to look smart and shop smart and that the rules of fashion have changed with stores going to customers than customers looking for stores. Brand experience, engagement, entertainment and constant innovation in terms of technology, data and insights were identified as the key pillars to stay competitive. In order to emphasize the importance of innovation, she quoted Peter Ducker – "If an established organization in this age is unable to innovate it will face decline and extinction".  She then explained how important it is to understand the evolution from past to present before talking about the future.  Contrasting the Nirma advertisement with Ariel’s #sharetheload advertisement she depicted the change in the mindset of the people from just rational benefit to the emotional connection with the brand. She emphasized that for marketing entrepreneurs both market content and the medium have become more challenging as the earlier marketers did not have the power of Data, but now marketers have access to a lot of content and insights. She stressed on dynamic conversations- the ability of promotions to create a conversation that provokes dialog with the consumer. She then brought to light the factors that determine the success of digital brands – Engaging Content, Consumer Insight and Leveraging Technology. She then played #GTFO Myntra advertisements that highlighted the success of Myntra in creating digital first brands. She defined t digital first brand as the one that delivers unified communication without creating a diversion in the minds of the customers. She quoted "Data data everywhere not a drop to drink" to highlight the importance of Artificial intelligence and human intervention in creating sense out of data. She then moved on to describe the importance of Customer segmentation. The necessary questions to be asked by any brand are – who are buying retail, who are buying from the competitors, who do not shop online and thus focus on their acquisition through the liquid and linked content, loyalty programs and other rational and emotional strategies. In the end, she pointed out an interesting fact that if you fight on price then everybody loses and then she opened the floor for Q&A.

8.  Suraja Kishore – Executive VP & GM-McCann Mumbai; National Head – Planning, Truth Central McCann Worldgroup, McCann

Subtopic- Business, Relevance and Authenticity

Mr. Suraja Kishore revolved his discussions around 5 thought-provoking questions: What business are you in? What relevance are you building? What is authentic about your offering and story? What is the cultural anchor of your story? How are you bringing people together? He stressed upon these points that these questions should be asked and reflected upon regularly. For answering the first question what business are you in, he gave many examples and explained the concept of marketing myopia. He then defined marketing as the creative destruction and gave the example of Toyota Qualis car which snatched the competition overnight. He stressed upon that consumers never settle down and consumer loyalty is a myth He gave a new term "prosumer" which is made up of producer and consumer and explained that today consumer is not passive but the consumption is now a ritual of self-esteem and an active act.  Then he introduced the concept of relevance and said that relevance is more important than need. Today marketing is not about 4P or 5C, it is so much more vis-à-vis recycling, a better planet for kids, a hazard of capitalism, earth hour, economic and ecological aspects. He then talked authenticity of the offering/story in which he mentioned that authenticity is the new currency of trust and credibility, it is the new reason to believe, he stressed upon that clear is the new clever. Then he discussed the cultural anchor of one's story. He talked about that how global brands when they try to expand their footprints in different countries, they just see a large number of customers base but they don't understand the cultural intricacies, linguistic capabilities, and other barriers. He emphasized that how the brands need be customer-centric but not product-centric.  Then he talked about bringing people together. He gave the example of many organizations/start-ups such a landshare, dogvacancy, piggybee, task rabbit.  He also discussed the collaborative consumption in which he stressed upon that we don't want to live and eat alone, we need each other. 

9.     Vineet Thakar- Vice President, Shell

Sub topic- B2B marketing Transformation

As a part of Marketing Continuum 2017, a talk was delivered by Mr. Vineet Thakar, Vice President of Sales – Shell on B2B marketing transformation. He started the discussion with describing how adults learn through engagement and then gave a case study about the B2B industry. The case study was based on how Ragha- head of Marketing of the largest B2B Lubricants MNC in India was facing issues due to recent developments like GST, floods, and shutdown of few of his customers. Ragha wanted to explore new opportunities in the market and decided to look into JSW steel for a contract. The questions to be answered were –  1. What more information Ragha needs to formulate an offer for JSW? 2. What could be an entry strategy? 3. Who are the key stakeholders? 4. What kind of investments/capabilities will be needed?

The audience stepped into the shoes of Ragha and brainstormed ideas. Mr. Thakar created a marketing mix strategy for Critical and Non-Critical applications. Factors such as Product, Price, People, Promotion, and Stakeholders were considered. Non – critical application was proposed to be set at entry level with a price lower than the competitors. Distribution channel was proposed to be direct and promotion via emails and events. Critical applications were proposed at premium levels. Warranty on products, trials were few promotion ideas discussed.   After listening, he went on to explain how the approach could have been changed to solve the case keeping the customer in mind. Identifying customer needs is the crucial step in designing any strategy. In Ragha’s case, the customer was JSW steel company. Mr. Thakar then went on to explain the flow of decision and power with two players being Ragha’s company and JSW steel. He explained how JSW should make decisions in terms of choosing, buying, and maintenance while Ragha’s company should look into shareholders and maintenance. He then created a marketing mix based on customer needs. The product was suggested to be an e2e complete bundle of services, with the pricing strategy to be adopted as Rs/ton steel produced as the need of the JSW is the uninterpreted supply of steel. Shareholders would be JSW's management with the direct distribution system.  

10. Vishal Kamath- Director, Digital Marketing Effectiveness, Nielson

Subtopic-Digital Marketing Outlook and ROI

Mr. Kamath started the session by explaining the importance of ROI measurement, in terms of a brand or marketer.  He emphasized on the usage of digital marketing and how it can be leveraged to capture the consumer's minds. The discussion flowed towards a guessing game on the number of internet users and how the number of users has increased by 100 million in a span of just 9 months. He then delved deep into how the rise in internet penetration and the pace at which consumers are adopting technology is disrupting the marketing space. He then explained how India is a "mobile-first" market. He provided statistical findings of how much the reach of smart phones has increased over a year. He also compared the market share of digital Vs print advertising and explained how the share of digital advertising would reach around 26 % in 2020. He further went on to explain why brands should invest more in this channel and try to decode "Path to Purchase."  He delved into the fundamentals of measurements of M-Commerce. He differentiated between app measurements, in-app measurements and Ask modules. Using examples, he explained how app measurement is a passive measurement technique which is        used to track app performance on panel representation of connected Android phones. He further explained that in-app measurements are used to understand shopper’s journey and purchase behavior. He then moved on to steer the discussion towards decoding the path to purchase. Using the 3 R framework for advertising, he emphasized on the reachability of advertisements to target users.’ He started with ‘Reach' and explained why the advertisers should question if the ad has reached the target audience. He went on to explain that in the measurement of digital advertising, ROI has moved beyond clicks. It is now mainly focused on audience reach percentage and the average frequency. He then moved on to the second R-‘Resonance'. He emphasized on campaign effectiveness and how it outweighs primary marketing. He said that the objective should be to optimize the advertisements. He then explained the difference between traditional research and testing through neuroscience.  He paused the session and answered a few questions from the students and handed over the stage to Ms. Banerjee to explain further.