Digital is still a small proportion of overall marketing budgets, but has moved from single digits to 10-15% at India’s top marketers over the past few years.
HUL’s Marketing Academy is now taking every manager remotely associated with a brand through online social media courses. Recently, HUL organised a blogger’s meet for its personal care brand Dove and coffee brand Bru.
The study conducted among 1,700 CMOs globally, of which 99 are from India and Sri Lanka (ISA), revealed that some of the biggest shifts that marketers are ill-equipped to deal with are in social media and “data explosion”
Consumers today are multi-tasking across mediums and brands need a complete 360-degree plan to get their message across effectively. The biggest challenge for all marketers is not to treat social media just as an opportunity to show the consumer a banner advertisement. This is a medium where brands must continuously interact with consumers.
“While experienced marketers are an important part of our team, grey hair is not the sole asset any more; you need to understand new media to be a good marketer today,” says Anuradha Aggarwal, vice-president for brand communications and insights at Vodafone (vodafone has been a relative high spender in the digital medium, with innovations like the ZooZoo apps).
Traditional marketing spends in India still dominate, but slowly and surely a growing percentage of funds are being sliced out of budgets and being moved towards the digital space.
Maruti Suzuki, for example, claims that 18% of its sales are seeded by digital marketing leads, a nine-fold rise from 2005. Mayank Pareek, managing executive officer (marketing and sales) at Maruti Suzuki India, says the percentage of pre-decided consumers spending more time on the digital medium is growing. “We have learnt to get comfortable using Facebook and Twitter to reach consumers. Digital is an integral part and not an add-on of any campaign,” adds Pareek.
To be sure, more and more chief marketing officers back home have recognised the need to use social media as a key engagement channel. But perhaps they just don’t know how to go about the task.
For instance, the IBM study notes that most chief marketing officers are still fixated on understanding ‘markets’ instead of understanding ‘individuals’ when shaping strategies; that most CMOs are using data to manage transactions, not relationships; and that marketers are grappling with the challenge of integrating technology with marketing.
“Our study showed that Indian marketers were more focused on promotions and events that create the buzz around the brands; but they do not go into understanding consumers …chief marketing officers have to lead by example and should learn to blog, tweet and interact with the Facebook community,” explains Virginia Sharma, Vice President – Marketing and Communication, IBM India / South Asia.
Adds Amit Syngle, vice-president for sales & marketing at Asian Paints: “Any marketer who wants to be relevant to the consumer needs to be updated about new technologies that influence consumer behavior.”
P&G in India has begun hiring young candidates as community managers to handle social media marketing. Kainaz Gazder, P&G India’s marketing director, says the company is leveraging “new-age touch points”. The most recent example of such an initiative is the ‘Olay Regenerist Wait List’, an exclusive trial on Facebook even before the skin care product reached stores.
Adds Neville Taraporewalla, director, Microsoft Advertising: “FMCG companies are looking at digital in a big way because the threshold of Indian customers on the Web is 100 million-plus and will reach 300 million in the next 36 months; this will be the largest population of Internet customers in the world.”
The future clearly belongs to marketers keeping abreast of rapid change.The fundamentals of marketing have not changed. But yes, the advent of technology has made it necessary to adapt to change. There will be a lot of stumbling, but the key is to keep trying new things.