On 11th February 2018, a panel discussion on the topic “Lean and Digital”, conducted as part of M-Power, the annual Marketing Conclave of TAPMI, shed light on lean and digital, conventional and unconventional marketing. The focus is on FMCG with all the guests being from that sector and the factors affecting the expenditure on digital media in their respective organizations. Prof. Surya Mahadevan moderated the discussion.
Mr. Pawan Pandey (Category Head – Beverages, Dabur India Ltd)
Mr. Pawan Pandey opened the discussion by drawing attention to the increasing digital viewership and the need to leverage the same for consumer marketing. Online advertising is valued by advertisers for its flexibility and targetability. However, he cautioned, these mediums are to be used with clearly defined objectives in mind. The relevant brand equity parameters are to be defined for the target audience and the message is to be communicated in line with the same. In addition to being specific, marketing objectives must also be measurable. Only then can you gauge advertising success in a quantifiable way. In the absence of measurability, he continued, digital advertising will eventually undermine itself. Thus, it is important to define KPIs at the very outset to measure the success of the campaign. While the marketing medium changes, what hasn’t changed is the need for marketers to connect to people, he underlined. He stated that FMCG companies spend over 10-12% on digital advertising, which is imperative in these times. Companies cannot afford to lose out on online visibility in the face of increasing competition, he concluded.
Mr. Mahesh Kanchan (Vice President Marketing – Carlsberg India Pvt Ltd)
Mr. Mahesh Kanchan set the context of the discussion, talking about digital media penetration and the trends in the digital space. He quoted the Digital Desh reports, providing insights on internet usage in India. Over half a billion people use the internet in India, with mobile communication being the major driver. Falling data prices are further fuelling the rise in time spent on digital devices. In this context, he stated, traditional media such as television is facing stiff competition from the digital space.
He then spoke about the pitfalls of depending on TV advertising, with over 40 – 50% of advertising in this space not meeting the objectives. With digital media, on the other hand, models such as pay per click advertising minimize wastage. He held the view that, in case of budgetary constraints, it would be advisable to spend money on digital ads rather than on national TV. Mr. Kanchan also felt that marketers often take a myopic view on ads, sticking to the same narrow approach used for a 30 second TV spot, for a digital advertisement as well. While digital advertising has its advantages, it is not without its pitfalls, he continued. For instance, ad safety is a concern on Youtube, because companies have no control over where the ads are placed.
He then drew attention to a few examples of successful digital media campaigns, such as HUL Kan Khajura Tesan, Adidas Odds, Whisper’s #TouchThePickle campaign, Quaker Oats’ #BringYourTastiestBowl etc. Refuting the popular notion that brand linkage should be judged by the placement of the logo and number of times it appears, Mr. Kanchan underlined that it is all about the consistency of the messaging.
Mr. Govind Raju (Godrej Consumer Products, Area Sales Manager)
Mr. Govind Raju, an alumnus of TAPMI agreed to the point made by the other panelists that digital marketing is growing but he can’t say whether it is impacting sales or not. The fact will help in building a brand awareness is indisputable but will it result in sales of the products? That’s a question which is still up for debate. A case in point is how in rural areas the awareness of ecommerce is still very low.
He notes that the digital expenditure among organizations is going to come up in coming years. While he is skeptical on digital marketing yet he is ready to invest in it only in future keeping in mind the sensibilities of the Rural India which still relies on traditional media as a source of information.
Mr. Vikas Gupta (Liberty Oil Mills Ltd – Lead of Foods Division)
Mr. Vikas agreed on the points made by Mr. Pawan Pandey. He then elaborated on how his organization incorporated digital marketing. He said that he preferred using digital media for customer engagement as their customer base is housewives and the products their company sells are cooking oils. He uses Facebook for recipe contests to generate interest among customers otherwise his company doesn’t need any digital thrust. Digital marketing is not affecting company’s performance that much.
He used the example of Atta to prove the lack of impact of digital marketing in Rural India. Only 6% of Atta consumed in India is packed. Rest of it is consumed from non-branded non-packed Atta sold in small kirana shops. It takes considerable effort to do digital marketing in Rural India. He thus reemphasized on the importance of traditional media for marketing his products as they are for the masses. But he is not ruling out going digital when the need arrives.
Ms. Ritika Rajpal- Assistant General Manager, L’Oreal India Pvt Ltd
Ms. Ritika opened the discussion by stating how digital media has helped her company in lead acquisition. She said that targeting can now be done on various parameters of psychographics and is not just based on geography. Talking about the challenges she mentioned that conversion rate of people clicking on the ads and people buying the product is close to 3%, which is very less. The digital media is helping in brand building, but the actual customer acquisition is still very less. Also, a lot of customer data goes to third party e-retailers. “Today consumer data is gold”, she remarked. Companies spend a lot in acquiring this data.
Another challenge about which Ms. Ritika spoke about was the gap between traditional and modern-day ads. The senior management at most of the companies are used product plugged TV ads, where the product is very directly highlighted. On the contrary digital media uses a laddered approach of advertising, she remarked.