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CONTENTS

OMNIPRESENT CUSTOMERS 3 THE CHANGING FACE OF THE AD AGENCY 28 BRANDING THE PM IN
OMNIPRESENT CUSTOMERS
3
THE CHANGING FACE OF THE AD AGENCY
28
BRANDING THE PM IN AN ELECTION YEAR
4
ETHNIC FASHION BRANDS TRIP OVER GI
29
CONSUMERS ASK BRANDS TO GET CLOSE, NOT PERSONAL
5
BRANDED BY ORIGIN
30
ME-TOO TILTS THE EQUATION
6
VIVO MAKES THE RIGHT CONNECTION
31
CELEBRITY POWER
7
SMART PERSONALISATION DRIVING
INSIDE THE AVENGERS MARKETING JUGGERNAUT
8
CONSUMERS TO TRADE UP
32
BRAND JET’S FINAL NOSEDIVE
9
DEFINING JAPAN IN JUST ONE WORD
33
DELL, JEEP, LIC TOP THE TRUST CHARTS
10
LATE MOVER ADVANTAGE
34
FACEBOOK STEPS UP THE BRAND PITCH
1
1
BRAND KPMG PRESENTS A TEAM STORY AT 25
36
THE ONLINE FOOTPRINT OF THE FESTIVAL SHOPPER
12
BYJU’S STEPS OUT OF COMFORT ZONE
37
YOUTUBE ROLLS OUT THE PITCH FOR ADVERTISERS
13
SMALL BRANDS POWER INSTAGRAM’S
LOCAL BRANDS SURGE, GLOBAL BRANDS EXPAND THE NET 14
MARKETPLACE RUN IN INDIA
38
REPACKAGING BRAND SACHIN
15
LENSKART’S VISION FOR GROWTH
40
BRANDS LOST IN TRANSLATION
16
PERSONALISATION DRIVES THE TREND
BRANDS TAKE UP THE TIKTOK CHALLENGE
17
FOR SUBSCRIPTION-LED CONSUMPTION
41
BRANDS SCRAMBLE TO PLAY THE GAME OF GOT
18
SPREADING OUT A BIGGER BASKET
42
BRANDS PROMISE PROTECTION IN AN AGE OF ANXIETY
19
DHONI CRACKS THE BAT ON THE ENDORSEMENT PITCH
43
THE RISE OF THE AVATAR-INFLUENCER
20
TOP GEAR
45
BRANDING FOR AN EMI NATION
21
LEADING EDGE, ENGAGING AND TRUSTWORTHY
47
DIGITAL AD FRAUD STIRS UP A $1.63-BN SCAM
22
WORK-LIFE 2.0
48
KEEPING TROLLS AT BAY, THE HUL WAY
23
GCMMF JUICES UP, LOOKS TO LEVERAGE
BRANDS JOIN THE FRENZY,
THE AMUL BRAND IN A NEW MARKET
49
STEP GINGERLY AROUND POLL POLITICS
24
RAISING AWARENESS AND MONEY
50
BACK TO THE BASICS FOR BRANDS AND CONSUMERS
25
WE WILL FOCUS ON SUPPORTING ENTERPRISES
51
THE MARKETING CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST
26
CALL TO ACTION
52
BRANDS PITCH EXPERIENCES,
A LONG-LASTING TWINKLE
53
HOPE FOR MILLENNIAL BUY-IN
27
TRANSFORMING PERFORMANCE
54
1

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CONTENTS

HOTSTAR EXTENDS THE SUPERHERO

RAYMOND REORGANISES SUPPLY CHAIN

84

NARRATIVE TO THE ICC WORLD CUP

56

WHEN FASHION GOES ECO-FRIENDLY

85

SAINT-GOBAIN GETS CLOSER TO THE CUSTOMER

57

BRANDS LOOK FOR BALANCE ON THE GENDER TRACK

87

COCA-COLA RAPS TO A BOLLYWOOD TUNE

58

DATA CAN GET YOU ONLY TO A CERTAIN POINT

88

SHUTTL STEPS ON THE GAS

59

TVS SHIFTS UP A GEAR

89

FABINDIA BATTLES FOR LOYALTY AMIDST CLUTTER

60

HUMBLE YET INDOMITABLE

90

EMOTIONAL TREAT

61

WE ARE MOVING FROM ‘FACILITATION’ TO ‘FLOW’

91

A LONG ROAD AHEAD

62

ALWAYS READY

92

CUSTOMERS WANT INTUITIVE SOLUTIONS

64

PHONEPE, PAYTM LOOK TO

THE LAST LAUGH IN THE LONG-RUN

65

65

KNOCK DOWN THE AGE BARRIER

94

FROM ‘FOR SALE’ TO ‘FOR ALL’

66

SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYS A ROLE IN

MCDONALD’S COMEBACK CHALLENGE

67

SUSTENANCE OF LINEAR TV

95

GOOGLE, YOUTUBE LEAN IN ON THE LEARNING CULTURE

69

PLAYING IN THE BIG LEAGUE BRANDS USE HUMOUR, PLY CAUSES TO

96

DATA ENABLES RELEVANCE & CONTEXT

70

HYUNDAI ELECTRONICS LOOKS FOR GAPS

71

KEEP POLITICS OUT OF ELECTION PITCH

97

SOCIAL MEDIA REVERBERATES WITH

SMALL IS BIG FOR DHL

98

THE ROAR OF GREASEPAINT MARKETERS

72

BRANDS GO BACK TO THE BASICS IN STORES

99

PIAGGIO ENTERS EXPANSION PHASE

73

DISCOUNTING IS NOT EQUAL TO LOYALTY

100

POLICING THE CROWDS WITH A SOCIAL FACE

74

UPSETTING THE APPLECART

101

THE MAN WITH THREE SIMULTANEOUS CAREERS

75

BRAND BIC CELLO REWRITES INDIA STORY

102

MAKING THE MOST OF A CRISIS

76

MONDELEZ TAKES ON BISCUIT RIVALS

103

ZOOMING AHEAD ON SCOOTERS

78

WHY SIMPLE IDEAS ARE GREAT

104

FOR A WORLD-CLASS AMBIENCE

80

DIGITAL MEDIA GAME WILL CHANGE

THE LESS COMPLICATED ARE THE MORE AGILE

81

COMPLETELY IN FIVE YEARS

105

105

LIFE BEYOND MOVIES

82

IN TOP GEAR

106

BRANDS PLOT A DIGITAL FOOTPRINT

A POTENTIAL GAME CHANGER

108

AROUND THE ICC WORLD CUP

83

AUDIT CONTINUES TO BE CONSIDERED A TABOO

109

A POTENTIAL GAME CHANGER 108 AROUND THE ICC WORLD CUP 83 AUDIT CONTINUES TO BE CONSIDERED

2

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Omnipresent customers

Brands must step out of the bubble to cater to the everything everywhere customer writes Ashish Mishra

MUMBAI, 31 DECEMBER

I t has been a year of shocks and surprises, but one of the big cards that 2018 has dealt brands is that of perpetual restless- ness. Nothing is permanent, no brand is

infallible and no category secure. In an age of

anxious and demanding consumerism, brands have to create a new role for them- selves in the coming year. Here’s a look at the crystal ball for 2019.

Consolidate and aggregate From Idea Vodafone to Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank to the change of guard for Horlicks and Complan to the under-dis- cussion Jet-Vistara deal, the trend has been mostly to create fewer and bigger businesses and brands. Like most mature markets, we are also see- ing the emergence of 2-3 players leading their sectors. And this has led to deeper and wider engagement across categories. If there is any company that epitomises that, it is Amazon. Think of its subscription service Amazon Prime, the convenience store concept Amazon Go, its ‘try before you buy’ online shopping service Amazon Wardrobe, or even its latest version of the Echo, called Look, that can deliver fashion advice. Jio has also been exemplary. How does one define the category it operates in? What was intended as a telecom business has subsumed many other businesses ranging from enter- tainment to commerce. The big have also got bigger. Take a look at aggregated market shares of the top three brands in key sectors like telecom, e-com- merce on one hand; and cars, tooth pastes and shampoos on the other. Over the years, their combined shares have risen, with many cross- ing the 70 per cent mark. This is clearly a way of customers finding safety in the trust of lead- ing brands. And big labels investing to navi- gate new and taxing supply side dynamics.

Utility, relevance and storytelling While there was a tremendous surge in the creative use of digital media by brands, the emergent trend by the end of the year was that consumers want the stories, but they also want brands that add value to their lifestyles. In a way, it is a return of the value proposition in a new avatar. Leading brands are driven by their desire to be useful, to create products, tools, and services that actually solve customer prob- lems, and to use their marketing to serve and not just sell. L’Oréal has shown that traditional compa- nies can also lead with experience, and has

compa- nies can also lead with experience, and has developed a number of service offers that

developed a number of service offers that use digital technologies to transform customer relationships. ModiFace, a beauty tech com-

pany acquired by L’Oréal, allows customers to experience a live, tutorial and coaching with

a makeup advisor, try personalised makeup

looks, and even shop online. Brands also trained their sights on analyt- ics and subscription models more intensely, 29 per cent of the total value of the top 100 brands was accounted by subscription-based businesses, versus 18 per cent in 2009. This is because traditional notions of loyalty are erod- ing. We live in a service-driven economy where access is more important than owner- ship. Brands are winning by offering friction- less ways to leverage their products and serv- ices based on the personalised needs of customers. Successful brands are born with a subscription business model, or have signifi- cantly adjusted their business models to offer subscription services. Netflix’s brand value grew 45 per cent this year, the second fastest- growing brand, after entering the annual rank- ing table in 2017.

Customer centricity Anticipating emerging customer needs and

being able to evolve the business and brand

is no mean feat. Leading brands are co-creat-

ing solutions with their customers, bringing the voice of the customer into every aspect of their business, and investing in future-for- ward customer exploration. According to our Best Indian Brands data, the brands generating the most stable growth over the past five years are those with the highest overall scores on ‘Relevance’ and ‘Responsiveness’. What’s more, the fastest- growing brands over the last five years are those where the two factors present the top– performing dimensions. Brands like Maruti Suzuki and Kotak Mahindra Bank, two of the fastest growing Indian Brands of the recent years have constantly innovated in keeping with the changing customer aspirations. So what will really be the big theme for 2019? Maturity, consolidation, positive utility, higher role of brands, hyper customer centric- ity, customisable subscription models will dominate. Profligacy, aggressive and specula- tive growth will give way to realism and bal- ance. The future will be more human and per- sonal. Indian brands however will have to catch up on sustainability, good governance. Ethics, policies and governance will rule.

The author is managing director of Interbrand India yourmoney@bsmail.in

STRATEGY www.business-standard.com Branding the PM in an election year From selfies with celebrities, a biopic,
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Branding the PM
in an election year
From selfies with celebrities, a biopic, game
shows and propaganda films, image makers are
pulling out all the stops to build a perfect leader
URVI MALVANIA
THE BRAND TOOLKIT
J anuary has been a busy month at the
office of Brand Narendra Modi. First
there was the selfie with Bollywood
stars. Next was a five part series on the
SelfieswithBollywoodcelebrities,fromRanbir
Kapoor and Ayushmann Khurrana to Deepika
Padukone and Alia Bhatt, everyone lined up to
be in the frame with the PM
AbiopicwithVivekOberoiplayingthelead,
expected to launch before the elections
An animated character in a game promoting
SwachhBharatandfeaturingthepopular
children’ssuperheroChhotaBheem
A 5-part rags to riches story on the Humans of
Bombaypagethathas912,000followers,his
lastepisodewasshared11,000times
Uri the film starring Vicky Kaushal on surgical
strikesagainstPakistanhasbeenscreenedfor
multiple audiences and used to demonstrate
thePM’smilitaryprowess WiththeBCCItaking
the IPL fan parks to newer cities, Vivo believes it
has a better opportunity to build a better
connect with the allied activities it does for
brandbuildingthere

hugely popular Humans of Bombay page on Facebook where the prime minister’s rags to riches story is being told. A biopic with Vivek Oberoi playing the PM was announced and two propaganda movies, The Accidental PM and Uri were released. Most recently the prime minister debuted as an animated char- acter with the popular children’s superhero Chota Bheem in digital game promoting Swachh Bharat. With elections scheduled a few months from now, the PM’s team is wasting no time at all. Popular culture and social media are being used to present the prime minister as the best man for the job, yet another time and wash off the dark spots that demonetisation and high unemployment numbers have left on his image. That was only to be expected from a sea- soned marketer say brand experts while warn- ing that the highly volatile digital world is a double edged sword and those harnessing it power must also know how to keep their dis- tance. “Without doubt, if social has had a suc- cessful case study in India, it is Modi,” says Ashish Mishra, CEO of Interbrand India. And now as the opposition has wisened up to the game, it is even more important that the PM’s team step up their game, he adds. The PM, says Ambi Parameswaran, founder Brand-Building.com, has masterfully created his own media to communicate with key audiences and walks both digital and non-digital worlds with ease. “He tweets often and has ‘Mann Ki Baat’ (a radio show where he broadcasts to the people via the govern- ment-owned AIR). This has given him access to the vast non-Twitter generation too. In a sense he is straddling two very different audi- ences with tailored messages,” he adds. The Humans of Bombay page was but a natural extension of the Twitter experiment say experts. Moulded on the Humans of New York initiative and originally started as a Facebook page for street photographs and sto- ries about its people, the page has phenome-

From top: The PM on the Humans of Bombay page, in a digital game and Vicky Kaushal in the movie Uri

nal engagement numbers. On its website it claims to garner 40,000 likes on an average for its posts. However there have been as many brickbats as likes for the PM’s inspira- tional life story on the platform with many even vowing to stay off the page for having diluted its original intent. “Not always does social media noise con- vert into commensurate votes on the ballot. But it has been smartly used by Modi. He has managed also to ‘youngify’ his personal brand this way,” says Sandeep Goyal, founder, Mogae Media. He has also been astute enough to use films to further his image. In January, the Vicky Kaushal starrer Uri, a big hit at the box office and The Accidental Prime Minister that has not met with as much success were both used by the PM’s team to showcase his mili-

tary might and show the opposition in poor light. Such films and the earlier ones like Toilet and Padman have meant that cinema is now an active medium in political canvass- ing. What this signifies is much larger scale and budgets. Also the belief that overt cam- paigning is no longer as impactful as perhaps good storytelling,” Goyal says. All of this will go hand in hand with tradi- tional campaigning. Goyal says that while ral- lies and marches will still be relevant, in 2019 wars may be fought over Twitter using not just speeches, but memes. And Mishra points out that Modi is a great brand consultant who mastered the game in 2014. To do it again, he would need to tweak some of the old rules and keep up the energy. “The medium has become the message. All the debate and dialogue is happening on social media irrespective of vote conversion, everyone in the political domain has no choice but to be seen on the social media bat- tlefield,” Goyal adds. And therein lies the dan- ger.

04
04

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Consumers ask brands to get close, not personal

Consumers tutor brands on socialmediaetiquette,ask them to respect the line betweenprivacyand personalisation:Adobe BrandContentsurvey

AMRITHA PILLAY

‘D on’t get creepy’, is what consumers are telling brands, withdrawing their loyalties if they find them crossing

the line on privacy, according to the Adobe India Brand Content report. While the major- ity of the consumers surveyed said this, those most irked by insensitive personalisation belonged to the 35-49 age band. If 2018 was all about getting to know the consumer to give her what she wants, the year 2019 is likely to be about walking the line between proximity and intrusiveness. The digital audience knows the difference between healthy suggestions, which are welcome, and

a downright breach of privacy, which is

abhorred. And brands that get the balance right, will win their trust. The study found that two-thirds of con- sumers in India are more likely to make an unplanned purchase from a brand, if the dig-

ital content is personalised. Personalisation

is welcome, but not when it gets offensive. “A winning customer experience can take

many forms, but the most common element

in every brand’s success story is personalisa-

tion. Brands that can strike the right level of personalisation will forge stronger connec-

tions, resulting in brand loyalty and growth,” said Sunder Madakshira, head of Marketing, Adobe India. Millennial and Gen X consumers are also engaging with brands across multiple devices. Device usage peaks for the millennial at an average of 11 hours daily and minimum two devices are used by all age groups, with Indians accessing multiple screens up to 70

per cent of times. If the content is contextually relevant and the experience is pain-free, brands will find repeat consumers across devices, the report said. Consumer reaction to personalisation depends on the stage of the purchase cycle that he or she is in, said Shrenik Gandhi, co- founder and CEO of White Rivers Media, a dig- ital marketing firm. “While some amount of personalised advertising is important to ensure that one doesn't waste money in show- ing ads meant for consumers in Delhi to those

in Bengaluru, it is important not to shock a

consumer in a way that will impact their pur-

ALL EYES ONLINE Age group Use multiple devices (Constantly/frequently) (%) Total device usage per day
ALL EYES ONLINE
Age
group
Use multiple devices
(Constantly/frequently) (%)
Total device
usage per day
Indian
70
10.8hours
18
to 22
61
10.8hours
23
to 34
77
11.3hours
35
to 49
68
10.4hours
50
and older
48
9.0hours
Source: Adobe India Brand Content report
PHOTO:ISTOCK

chase decision,” he added. Both Indian users and advertisers are about a year away from fully understanding the issues as currently the entire ecosystem is trying to work out con- sumer habits, Gandhi added. Social media platforms continue to be a major source of data for brands in India. Majority of consumers share social media con- tent on a weekly basis, with over 50 per cent of millennial users sharing daily. Most Indians surveyed are also comfortable sharing their behavioural, geographic, demographic and personal information with brands, as they feel this helps them enjoy a better customer expe- rience, noted the report. The survey noted that 95 per cent of con- sumers express confidence in at least one social media channel, with YouTube and Facebook emerging as the most trusted medi- ums overall. Younger consumers (18 to 34 years) trust YouTube the most, while middle- aged and elderly consumers (34+ years) rely more on Facebook. “Interestingly, YouTube celebrities are one of the most trustworthy influencers for con- sumers between 18 and 34 years, with their

word being preferred over that of family and friends. In contrast, elderly consumers (50+ years of age) value and trust content from a family member or a friend,” added Madakshira. Online news sources are the second-best method for consumers to source and share information. Given the huge reach and access that these news aggregator apps now have in the country, the segment has seen a surge of new entrants with the Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Jio with JioNews being the most recent debutant. “Five years ago, a digital ad strategy would have been primarily about social media, but now brands need to understand that while users still spend time on social media, the con- sumption pattern has changed. So there is a need to factor in how much time across dif- ferent times of the day do users spend on con- tent, social media, news etc for brands to chart out a complete personalised ad experience for the users,” said Gandhi.

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Me-too tilts the equation

Gender relations took centre-stage as advertising and media businesses came under scrutiny over issues of workplace harassment, writes Srija Chatterjee

M e-too. They are two very normal and small words. Yet, when they com- bine,
M e-too. They are two very normal and
small words. Yet, when they com-
bine, they have come to evoke power.

2018 in many respects was a watershed year for the movement in India and for the adver- tising industry, in particular. Many allegations were made and many were proven too. The movement saw a few heads, including some prominent ones, roll as a result. Sexual harassment has never been an easy topic to either discuss or dissect, leave aside tackle with sensitivity. In hindsight what me- too has done is liberate women to speak up about sexual harassment at the workplace, forcing stakeholders to take stock of the situ- ation. It has quite simply given a voice, help- ing people in an organisation understand the issues from the perspective of the women grappling with the problem. What I find interesting is that me-too has forced many to assess their own actions and ensure they are not, advertently or inadver- tently, supporting workplace harassment. Employers can no longer look the other way when an individual is subjected to behaviour that makes her uncomfortable and she com- plains about it. This is a big shift in my view and one that has tilted the equation in favour of women. They are now in a position to decide what behaviour is acceptable, or not. It is a liberat- ing feeling. But for organisations it is even more imperative now to take into account all perspectives before deciding what is right or wrong. It is therefore critical that every workplace

has a committee and a redressal mechanism that is fair and just. Employees also need to be told clearly what they need to do in such cases so that there is no ambiguity in the process whatsoever. While the movement has kept a lot of agen- cies busy with setting up processes and fram- ing a gender-sensitive policy, it also brings to the fore the importance of having women leaders at the top. This is a subject that is close to my heart and something that has me think- ing all the time. It is a fact that there are fewer women CEOs at ad agencies and something that we need to address urgently. Ironically, it is not an issue restricted to Indian agencies alone. International agencies too have been no dif- ferent when it comes to women leaders at the top. There are not too many of them up there. To put it bluntly: The agency world still remains largely a male preserve with mostly men calling the shots. Me-too in a sense has forced agencies to re-think their hiring policies when it comes to gender equality at the workplace. Are we doing enough to keep women going? Are workplaces safe? To me this debate is inter- twined. I've also noted that me-too has been a bind- ing factor in the agency business, bringing women from across networks onto one table.

TRACKING THE RAGE

The term me-too was first coined in 2006 by Tarana Burke, an African-American civil rights activist. It was used to unite people who had suffered sexual assault and violence

The term resurfaced in October 2017 soon after several women went public with their allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein

Actress Alyssa Milano opened up the floodgates when she posted on her Twitter timeline after the Weinstein affair: "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet"

The movement took more than a year to come into India, beginning with an accusation against actor Nana Patekar by one of his former co-stars, Tanushree Dutta

Soon the accusations engulfed several big names from the worlds of advertising, media, movies and the corporate world

Over the past few months, the allegations have slowed down, but across agencies, there is

How many times does this ever happen? Given the seriousness of the issue, at one level, I am not surprised. But the effort of coming togeth- er on one platform is laudable indeed. Even clients are on one page with their agency part- ners on this, not a common sight in the indus- try.

I am hopeful that with proactive measures,

a renewed framework and policy, agencies are in a better position to deal with workplace harassment. Many have taken the right steps to make the workplace a safe environment for women.

I remain optimistic that 2019 will bear tes-

timony to this effort and that we get to see more women at the forefront, confident and comfortable. (The author is managing director of Publicis Worldwide, India) Next: Partho Dasgupta, CEO BARC India looks at the big shifts in television viewership that are redefining content and brand behav- iour

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From top): Virat Kohli (24), Ranveer Singh (25 brands), and Akshay Kumar (22) endorsed the maximum brands in 2018

Will it be the same for Anushka Sharma, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra? On the flip side, marriage will also create a new opportunity with the emergence of ‘pow- er couples’. Virushka, DeepVeer and even Akshay-Twinkle are likely to be seen together more often. Virushka are already the brand ambassadors for ethnic apparel brand Manyavar while the Kumars have quite a few. Ranbir-Alia were featured together just this week by Flipkart, in what may be a sign of things to come. The strong will get stronger in 2019. Virat Kohli will in all probability be the most sought-after endorser. More so because of all the cricket slated for the coming year. Ranveer has a slew of new releases coming up, so his currency is likely to remain strong. Akshay Kumar too should continue to enjoy a dream run and has been marked out by many as the most likely to replace an ageing Big B as India’s ‘most trusted’ endorser. Deepika will continue to do well, Alia is likely to take the top spot among women and the year may also offer opportunities to the

women and the year may also offer opportunities to the likes of Ishaan Khattar, Vicky Kaushal,

likes of Ishaan Khattar, Vicky Kaushal, Kiara Advani especially with more and more brands seeking younger faces. There is an emerging market for micro- influencers too going forward. The likes of Bhuvan Bam (BB ki Vines), Gabbar Singh, Zakir Khan, Suresh Menon, Abish Mathew, Gaurav Gera, among others represent a new generation of celebrities on the internet who can also push brands. The stars will continue to shine and sparkle through 2019. But will we just see more of the same? Brands flocking to known faces to break the clutter, but doing the opposite by hiring the same known faces on the block. Or will there finally be a more nuanced understand- ing of endorsement strategy?

Celebrity power

The power of stars as endorsers is all set to rise, contrary to the dire warnings of their decline and irrelevance a year back,writesSandeepGoyal

AMRITHA PILLAY

T his was the year when star power dis- tilled itself into a concentrated and potent mix, with a few top celebrities

setting the records in their favour even as the arena expanded to include some uncapped players. The surprising winner was Ranveer Singh (25 endorsements) who incidentally had just one movie release, the controversial Padmaavat, that too at the beginning of the year! Ranveer pipped the Indian cricket cap- tain Virat Kohli (24 endorsements), Amitabh Bachchan (24), Akshay Kumar (22), Deepika Padukone (22) and Alia Bhatt (20) to top the charts in terms of the number of brands for celebrities in 2018. For the first time, none of the Khans made top grades, signaling perhaps the end of an era. Shahrukh had 13 endorsement contracts in 2018 (down from 20 in 2017) and Salman was the face of just 10 brands. Aamir and Saif were both in single digits. Ranbir Kapoor, despite a superhit Sanju, and all his metro swag remained a laggard. Bollywood continued to dominate the endorsement business. Even Hrithik Roshan who had no release in 2018, had as many as 16 brands while rising star Varun Dhawan flaunt- ed 14. Ayushmann Khurrana who delivered two 100-crore hits late in the year, did pocket the prestigious Coca-Cola deal but did not have enough time in 2018 to fully encash his box-office success. M S Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar started to lose steam with each of their portfolios dropping below double digits; the same being the case with PV Sindhu who started to taper off after a great 2017. Within cricket, no new stars really emerged except a couple of cam- paigns for Hardik Pandya and the MRF bat deal for Prithvi Shaw. Despite early promise, both Shikhar Dhawan and K L Rahul failed to get any significant brands. Women cricketers too drew a blank. But there was no escaping celebrity power for brands. Millward Brown estimated that 24 per cent of all ads aired on television had celebrities as endorsers. The percentage may actually be much higher if one were to factor in videos on social media. In terms of media devoted to a single celebrity, as per the Indian Institute of Human Brands, Virat Kohli had the highest share of visibility, followed by Amitabh Bachchan, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Akshay Kumar. What does this imply for 2019? One big fac- tor that is likely to disrupt the charts is mar- riage. The year could take a toll on star women endorsers. Going by past records, marriage does dampen the prospects of women as brand ambassadors. This has been seen to be true for Aishwarya Rai and Kareena Kapoor.

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Inside the Avengers marketing juggernaut

Howasuperherofranchisepackageditselfandspreaditscultfarfromhome

URVI MALVANIA

Mumbai, 1 May

G lobalisation may no longer wear a super-

hero cape in the hallowed circles of econ-

omists and policy makers, but for

America’s entertainment business, its powers are shining brighter than ever. Check out the phenomenal showing of the final movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) Avengers saga, Avengers: Endgame in countries far from home and among people far removed from its contextual framework. Endgame is the fastest Hollywood release to cross the ~200 crore mark in India and its marketing journey, as plotted by the Disney cavalcade, is a lesson in how to build a global legion of fans who are willing to brave price, weather and all other odds to turn up at the theatres. While there was huge hype around the film’s release, given the fan base it has already amassed since the MCU started its journey in 2008 with Ironman, the Disney team worked out a local context for the story and its characters. Not only has the movie been released in several lan- guages, the marketing efforts have been multi- lingual and an anthem, meant to herald the com- ing of the movie, was sung by A R Rahman to further strengthen local appeal. “The Marvel movies have a distinct advan- tage in that they have rich and complex story- telling, but it is relatable because of the univer- sal nature of the themes — good versus evil, friendship etc. That is one of the reasons the franchise has been able to form an emotional connect,” said Bikram Duggal, head of Studio Entertainment, Disney India. Endgame released in three Indian languages — Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, along with English in 2,800 screens across formats with 13,000 shows a day on an average. Disney India has learnt its localisation lessons well, especially after 2016, when Jungle Book became the first Hollywood film to breach the ~150 crore mark at the box office. Since then, Indian language dubs have been meticulously planned and mar- keted as has been the tie-ups with local mer- chandise and brand partners. Currently Indian language versions con- tribute to 50 per cent of Marvel movie collections for Disney India. This is a significant jump from 30 per cent share that the studio saw when the MCU launched a decade back. More recently, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) breached the ~200 crore mark in the country. Apart from releases in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, Disney also engaged regional influencers to create further hype for the film. “The core strategy has been to deepen the emotional connect that the fans have with the brand Marvel and the characters. When fans

have with the brand Marvel and the characters. When fans have an emotional connect with movies

have an emotional connect with movies and their characters, the franchise thrives. India is a diverse country with so many different lan- guages, and we know that fans want to enjoy these movies in their language,” Duggal explains about the company’s strategy for localising Hollywood content in the country. With Avengers: Infinity War, the Disney team said the challenge was that there was not just one character that had to be promoted and localised. There was the entire motley group of superheroes that needed to build up. In India, this was done through figurine tours, retail acti- vations, and marketing through popular plat- forms like the Indian Premier League. Disney collaborated with music director AR Rahman to launch the Marvel Anthem for Avengers fans in the country. The anthem was released in three languages — Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Additionally, the studio worked with A R Murugadoss to transliterate the movie in Tamil. Duggal says that by paying close attention to details and understanding what sells locally, the team has been able to bring fans to the theatres many times

over, no matter the language they speak. Localisation has also come in the form of brand partnerships. For example, handset mak- er OPPO has collaborated with Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame to launch a brand new F11 Pro Marvel’s Avengers Limited Edition smart- phone in support of the film, while Myntra as part of its loyalty program ‘Myntra Insider’ has developed a unique collaboration amongst Myntra design- ers and Marvel Fans. Other brands to have part- nered with the movie include toymaker Hasbro and retailer Max. Amar Nagaram, head of Myntra Jabong said, “Our brand Kook N Keech, popular for its char- acter based licensed merchandise is offering over 400 different styles as part of the ‘Avengers:

i’ collection which has witnessed a significant increase in sales over the past few weeks. We also launched a special co-creation activity where we had customers team up with our designers to design T-shirts with the winning design to be made available on Myntra in the coming weeks.”

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Brand Jet’s final nosedive

Price wars, rising costs, and an inability to meet its brand promise have led Jet to the crowded pile of dumped airline brands, say experts

to the crowded pile of dumped airline brands, say experts ANEESH PHADNIS I t is flashback

ANEESH PHADNIS

I t is flashback time for many. Protesting

employees, irate customers, devastated fam-

ilies clamouring for compensation and justice

–the scenes playing out in the aftermath of the Jet Airways debacle evoke a sense of déjà vu, drawing instant comparisons with the long list of airline brands that have found their way to graveyard. Why are Indian airlines so vulnerable? And why did Brand Jet collapse, within twelve months of celebrating its silver jubilee? A mix of financial and strategic mistakes com- bined with poor expectations management are the reasons for downfall, say marketing and branding experts. For Jet, the deathly potion was even more toxic on account of the bitter squab- bles between promoter Naresh Goyal and strate- gic partner Etihad Airways. Airlines have no control over cost, especially fuel (which accounts for 30-40 per cent of all expenses) and taxes. What it does control is the product and service. “Jet Airways never compro- mised on products and services. From its incep- tion the service philosophy was clear, the cus- tomer at the back of the plane should not feel inferior to those in the business class seat in the front. For many years the airline offered services like choice of North and South Indian meal options, pillows and blankets for passengers. The airline's brand and brand experience was suc- cessful but in business management it was a fail- ure,” said K V Sridhar, founder and chief creative officer, Hyper Collective. Sridhar was a part of the team at Lintas which designed Jet’s ‘flying sun’ logo and its first campaign.

CRASH LANDED

a premium,” he said. Like Sridhar many blame the debacle on Naresh Goyal, the man whose story reads like a fairy tale. He sold seats and cargo loads for other airlines as a general sales agent and then went on to launch Jet Airways in 1993.

It was not the first private domestic airline

of that era, but the only one to survive till date. East West Airlines began in 1992 but shut down four years later. Goyal attracted the best talent for his airline, giving it an edge

over the rest in terms of the service it offered. Aviation consultant Vishok Mansingh says over 30 scheduled, non-scheduled and cargo airlines in India have shut down in last three decades largely due to mismanagement, inade- quate funding and absence of long term plan- ning. “Margins are thin and there is no room for inefficiencies,” he said. Shashank Nigam, CEO of aviation brand strat- egy firm SimpliFlying says airlines like Jet Airways and Kingfisher perished in their attempt to please everyone. Both got into the low cost space in addition to a full service offering, leading to brand confusion. Eventually Jet adopted a single brand strategy but it was too late. “Costs were too high and profits were deter- mined primarily by the competition and exter- nalities like fuel prices. The most consistently profitable have kept their brand promise very simple. It may not resonate with everyone, but those who fly these airlines are die-hard fans. The key to be a successful airline in India lies in building a strong brand promise and then staying true to it,” Nigam said.

Airline

Launch

Year it was sold or suspended/ shut operations

year

EAST WEST AIRLINES

1992

1996

DAMANIA AIRWAYS

1993

Sold to NEPC Airlines in 1995

NEPCAIRLINES

1993

1997

MODILUFT

1993

1996

AIR SAHARA

1993

Sold to Jet Airways in 2007

AIR DECCAN

2003

Sold to Kingfisher in 2007

KINGFISHER

2005

2012

For Ambi Parameswaran, founder of Brand- Building.com, price wars and an inability to charge a premium caused Jet's downfall. Low cost airlines drove down the price threshold to the point that it was untenable for Jet. The airline management could have relied more on data to price its products differently from peers, he said. “A good brand image cannot save a poor balance sheet. In the last ten years Jet made profits only twice and has been surviving on borrowed funds. Kingfisher Airlines had the same problem as it tried to offer better services but could not com- mand a premium,” he said. Sridhar does not see price wars as critical and blames the crisis on strategic mistakes and an entrepreneur's ego. The problem was the pur- chase of Air Sahara in 2007. “Jet's wage and debt and maintenance costs have always been high. I do not think the inability to charge a premium was a big issue. When the inventory is high and airlines are adding capacity it is difficult to seek

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Dell, Jeep, LIC top the trust charts

The Tata group drops off the list of top 20 most trusted brands, while group-owned Tanishq makes the cut at 14; SBI debuts at 10: Brand Trust Report 2019

ative officer for Hyper Collective. For con- sulting firms, getting the advertising pitch right is tricky, given the intangible nature of the brand and the mixed group of clients they want to address. Given this, using employees

to stand up for the brand’s values has worked

for many in the past. “It is a declaration of what we are capable of, driven by the inner fire to win, to make a

difference. It is a statement that establishes the firm as the #ClearChoice for businesses and professionals who want to succeed,” said

a spokesperson for KPMG. In addition, the

campaign involves a weekly exercise of employees across practices sharing stories with the firm around the same theme. “We believe that our culture and our people are our differentiating point. Hence the idea was to make them central to this campaign,” the spokesperson added.

Harish Bijoor, founder, Harish Bijoor Consults believes that using employees as brand ambassadors is a great idea. “In the case of KPMG, as it celebrates 25 years in

India, it has decided to use its employees. Good thing. When you use an employee there

is a greater degree of internal connect with

the creative execution,” he said. Bijoor, however, has a word of caution.”It is very important for the creatives to be

packed with integrity and every creative must speak the language of high quality,” Bijoor says. Miss that and one could turn into

a point of ridicule or fodder for memes and

more, he warns. It is also important to establish consulting firms as egalitarian workspaces, different from the image of being fiefdoms that oper- ate in secrecy, given the backlash against some members of the profession for their roles in corporate scams. To that end, asking employees across the hierarchical matrix to share their stories does make for an interest- ing branding opportunity. However as Sridhar points out, it would have worked better if the campaign had been crafted with greater thought. He recalled a campaign for Sapient in 2016 where the ad asked for troublemakers to sign up for a job. “It conveyed we do not want people who are yes men, but troublemakers who ask uncom- fortable questions,” he said. KPMG’s campaign has also raised several eyebrows over its timing. Given the regula- tory spotlight that audit firms in India are under. But that may just be reading too much into a campaign, said Bijoor. “The timing may give one that impression but this looks like a KPMG 25 years in India campaign,” he added.

looks like a KPMG 25 years in India campaign,” he added. AMRITHA PILLAY O ne employee

AMRITHA PILLAY

O ne employee talks about her love for

football, another of his passion for the

shooting range. Both work in KPMG

and both are speaking up for their employer as part of a campaign to celebrate the con- sulting firm’s twenty-fifth year in India. KPMG is looking to establish itself as a place that nurtures interesting talent and as a con- sulting firm of choice for its clients, turning to its employees for a glowing testimonial. While this makes for sound strategy, experts say that the firm may have slipped up on exe- cution and ended up with a rather weak endorsement of its prowess. The campaign, KPMGjOSH, launched ear- lier this year and expected to run through to the end of 2019 has been released on digital and print. It has employees sharing stories about their passions and about how they go beyond office hours to serve their company’s

TOP 10 MOST TRUSTED BRANDS

Rank

2018

2019

 

1 Samsung

Dell

2 Sony

Jeep

3 LG

 

LIC

4 Tata

 

Amazon

5 Apple

Apple iPhone

6 Dell

 

Samsung

7 Honda

LG

8 Nike

Aviva Life Insurance

9 Hewlett-Packard

Maruti Suzuki

10 Maruti Suzuki

State Bank of India

clients. Laudable attributes all but, brand experts say, the narrative lacks integrity. “The intent is not bad, it is the idea and execution that could be better. It is a missed opportunity both for the agency and compa- ny,” said KV Sridhar, founder and chief cre-

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STRATEGY www.business-standard.com Facebook steps up the brand pitch The platform has taken up an industry-wide

Facebook steps up the brand pitch

The platform has taken up an industry-wide exercise to familiarise brands with their consumers

ROMITA MAJUMDAR

W hat do brands want from their social media engagement? How can they get the maximum out of customer inter-

actions? And what happens when digital does not deliver its promised set of customers? Ask Facebook; that is what the social media giant wants advertisers and marketers to do as it sets down the rules of engagement for brands

and consumers on its platform. Using a series of reports that it commissioned through 2018, the team in India is reaching out to brands and advertisers to help them sharpen their pitch and maximise their returns from the platform. Today consumers demand utmost speed and simplicity when they decide to buy a prod- uct or a service and brands have to ensure that they act within seconds of a consumer request.

They also must work harder on their user inter- faces. Indian consumers are notoriously fickle and abandon their purchase journeys at the slight- est discomfort. Long queues, incomplete infor- mation, long forms, anything can be a turn off. Consumers dropping off the purchase journey is referred to as 'friction' and it is here that brands are losing out on millions of dollars worth of sales opportunities. Facebook says it can help brands avoid friction by enabling a better understanding of consumer and plat- form behaviour. The need to dig deeper into consumer jour- neys on social media is even more urgent today, given the growing number of brands accessing the platform and engaging with consumers who speak languages other than English or Hindi.

OPPORTUNITY MAP

Smartphones:Brandscantapintoapotential sales opportunity of about $3.1 billion at a reduced cost per action (CPA*) by almost 13% Automobiles: For four-wheelers, there is a potential sales opportunity of about a million units at a reduced CPA by nearly 4.7%; for two- wheelers, the opportunity is about 2.6 million units at a reduced CPA by almost 7.8% Fashion:Forapparel,thepotentialsales opportunity of about $5 billion at a reduced CPA by about 5% is on the table; for accessories, it is about $9 billion at a reduced CPA by almost 5% Travel:Airlinescantapintoapotentialsales opportunity of about $9 billion at a reduced CPA by 30%; and for hotels, about $2 billion at a reduced CPA of 15%

*Cost Per Action (CPA) is the amount it costs in advertising dollarsperdesiredaction Source:Facebook

“Digital is absolutely mainstream today,” said Sandeep Bhushan, director and head of GMS, Facebook India and South Asia. He adds that people with the smallest level of discre- tionary income in the country have a smart- phone and are online today which makes it imperative for businesses to also be present on the platform. “Platforms like ours which use real identity login reach every Indian in the broad segmentation possible,” he emphasised. Note that while both Facebook and Google have been locked in a battle for advertising rev- enues across the globe, one of their key differ- entiators is the login mechanism. While users can at least use Google search without logging in through individual accounts, none of the Facebook apps can be used without logging in, which at the basic level does provide more user insight, according to analysts. However, given the huge spread of apps across both tech con- glomerates, it is by itself not a big differentiator. hence the need for targeted outreach. Last year Facebook launched the “Zero fric- tion future” programme, in partnership with KPMG and Nielsen India, releasing a series of industry focussed white papers to help brands understand media friction in consumer pur- chase journeys and how mobile can help open future avenues for growth. As per the research findings and analysis by Nielsen and KPMG, mobile plays a signifi- cant role in eliminating friction across multiple touch-points. It was also observed, across the industries covered, that Facebook’s influence at every stage of the marketing funnel is also significant. “Digital tools have been evolving over the last few years with everyone going for different product offerings. But the marketer still doesn’t have clarity about what it means to business,” said Bhushan. Hence Facebook saw the need for an understanding of the basic query: Where are businesses losing their consumer? Of course, consumer challenges that lead to friction can occur across different stages of their purchase journey, starting from aware- ness, consideration, intent to finally making the purchase. And Facebook is keen that brands plug the holes. For that is the only way it can keep the business buzzing on its plat- form.

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The online footprint of the festival shopper

Consumers don’t search by brands, begin the hunt for deals just a few weeks before Diwali. In 2018, the bulk of new consumerswerefromsmalltowns

Diwali. In 2018, the bulk of new consumerswerefromsmalltowns T E NARASIMHAN B reaking down the digital

T E NARASIMHAN

B reaking down the digital behaviour of Indian consumers has been an uphill task. Despite the vast reserve of customer data,

brands and e-commerce players find it difficult to understand what buyers look for, struggle to win their trust or keep them from dropping out of the online purchase journey. Recent insights into search and purchase behaviour, still trickling in from the big festival sales, could shine a light on such tricky issues. Take a look at what the insights team at Google found, using search trends to reveal how shop- pers shop during the lucrative holiday sales sea- son. The team says that Q4 is the busiest shopping season of the year in India and; shopping search- es peak about 2-3 weeks before Diwali. “Online shopping searches in this period grew 15 per cent faster,” noted a recent newsletter from Think with Google. Brands benefit if they are able to grab consumer attention early in the search journey. A number of people coming online during the festive season are doing so for the first time, many from small towns and non-English speak- ing communities, the e-commerce brands said. “This year, we saw customers from over 600 new cities shop during the festive season. While 35 per cent of our customers shopped from metro cities, nearly 40 per cent of our customers shopped from Tier-3 towns. With increasing data and internet penetration, we see almost 95

SHOP TALK

Shoppingsearchespeakabout2-3weeks beforeDiwali Almost 95 per cent growth in the number of customers on Flipkart for the big festival sales are

fromTier-3towns

Amazon has seen 60 per cent growth in new customer growth this season, with more than 82 per cent from lower tier cities

per cent growth in the number of customers who shopped from Tier-3 towns,” said a Flipkart spokesperson. Brands gain stickiness and loy- alty by turning multilingual and offering prod- ucts that customers look for the most. What sold the most this year? Beauty, toys and baby care, sports and fitness, television and large appliances, followed by fashion. Ananth Narayanan, CEO, Myntra-Jabong said, “The fes- tive season usually brings high volume sales, where we have so far recorded a 200 per cent growth over last year in women’s ethnic category from our private brands and double from the category overall.” Apart from smartphones and fashion, con- sumables that include daily essentials and beau- ty, large appliances, televisions and home and kitchen have emerged popular during the Amazon Great Indian Festival this year, said the Amazon India Spokesperson. “The first 36 hours of the first wave, nearly surpassed the entire wave one of last year! We have already received

at least one order from 99 per cent of India’s pin-codes and have witnessed a 3X surge in Prime member signups,” said the spokesperson. This festive season so far has recorded over 60 per cent new customer growth with more than 82 per cent from lower tier cities. The real test for e-commerce players how- ever will be to keep these customers coming back for more. This has proved difficult in the past. A recent report by Facebook, KPMG and Nielsen showed consumers dropping out of dig- ital purchase pathways in increasing numbers. Apparel and accessories brands, the fastest mov- ing segment online, are losing out potentially on $5-$9 billion worth of sales because con- sumers are not going down the entire length of the purchase pathway. And that is a worry. There are invisible barriers keeping them from pushing their shopping carts to the final counter. Brands can bring them down by reach- ing out to the consumer early in the shopping journey. And the festive season is a good place to start for many. According to Google Insights team, cus- tomers behave differently for different product categories. For instance, more than 75 per cent of apparel and accessory searchers are generic in nature. Almost 70 per cent of men's clothing searches and 90 per cent of women's clothing searches are generic in nature. The story is different for footwear and mobile phones. Google data says that search for shoes grew 1.3X during this festival season so far as compared to last year, with around 40 per cent containing brand names. Almost 85 per cent of the searches for mobile phones are brand driv- en, while 70 per cent of price-related searches are for smartphones between ~5,000-~15,000. What the data also shows is that there is no single way to market to the online customer. If customers are searching by brand name, brands must use the digital channels to provide product reviews and detailed information on product features. For this is how brand-conscious mobile phone buyers behave before honing in on a brand and making the final purchase. Another insight is that brands must approach the holiday season as a sum of its parts instead of just one entire sales season. Going by the trends demonstrated in 2017, holiday sales surge twice; once pre-Diwali and then again in the weeks running up to Christmas. The winter holiday sales season is nearly as big as the October-November festive season in the coun- try.

E-commerce companies could also benefit if they use the data on product styles or cate- gories selling more, early in the season, to curate their online stores more efficiently. In jewellery shopping, online jewellery major Caratlane said that it has seen a higher demand for earrings, light weight bangles and necklaces, this season. This insight can help if the company provides consumers with wider choices in these seg- ments. However branded jewellers are still focused largely on urban consumers. “While we have seen a 20 per cent growth in our brand searches on Google over last year, our focus still remains largely on women in urban India,” said Atul Sinha, senior vice president, Marketing & Retail sales, Caratlane. To truly leverage the expanding digital footprint in the country, brands such as Caratlane will need to look for life beyond the metros.

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YouTube rolls out the pitch for advertisers

The Google-owned platform promises personalised engagement, diverse viewership, and a captive audience of 265-plus million monthly active users

ROMITA MAJUMDAR

S reenath, a young railway porter from Kerala always dreamt of a city paved with streets of gold and a life that meant some-

thing. His story that maps a phenomenal jour- ney, from the railway station to the State Public Service examinations and to his present day life as a student administrator, was part of YouTube’s pitch to advertisers at its annual flag- ship event held in Mumbai on April 9. The diver- sity of its storytellers and the millions of viewers that they draw to the platform every month is what YouTube wants marketers to bite into as it kick-started a massive drive for a bigger share of the advertisers’ wallet in the country. As would be evident to anyone at the event, if stories could be used as currency, YouTube would be sitting on an inexhaustible treasure chest. The storytellers on its platform come from a wide range of locations and cut across all age groups, as do its viewers, that was the thrust of the message at the event. YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki announced that the plat- form has more than 265 million monthly active users in India (as per ComScore). She said, “India is now both our biggest audience and one of our fastest growing audiences in the world.” YouTube says that today it has become the first stop for users to consume content, whether they’re looking for entertainment or information. And the creative flourish of its diverse band of creators drives personalised engagement on the platform. Wojcicki said, “In the last one year, YouTube’s consumption on mobile has increased to 85 per cent, with 60 per cent of the watch time coming from outside of the six largest metros in India. Today, YouTube creators have become effective storytellers, with more than 1,200 Indian creators crossing the one mil- lion subscriber-milestone, just five years ago, there were only two creators with a million sub- scribers.” Advertisers have benefited from the explo- sion of content and also from a bouquet of tools that YouTube offers that helps create targeted advertisements and tracks the nature of view- ership as well as the numbers. Mark Patterson, CEO, GroupM Asia Pacific said, “User behavior has shifted massively to mobile video and there- in lies the opportunity for marketers today.” GroupM is the largest buyer of YouTube in this

today.” GroupM is the largest buyer of YouTube in this ( Top ) Hyundai’s ad where
today.” GroupM is the largest buyer of YouTube in this ( Top ) Hyundai’s ad where

(Top) Hyundai’s ad where a civilian helps an army recruit reach his camp and (below) Samsung’s voice assistance services ad were among the top ads for creative excellence, viewer attention, and brand-fit, among other metrics

market, he said. For a long time the platform has battled advertiser outrage over its approach towards ad placement. This led the Google-owned platform to overhaul its approach and offer marketers a sharper set of tools to craft better narratives and manage them more efficiently. To keep advertisers interested and coming back for more, the team at YouTube used the numbers at its disposal to identify what works best with audiences. Ben Jones, global head- Unskippable Labs, Google, said, “Over 70 per cent of a campaign’s success is influenced by creative. At Google, we have been working over the years to enable the advertising ecosystem to make more engaging brand messages.” He added that the problem is not of shrinking atten- tion spans but that of higher intolerance towards

unwanted content. Advertisers, the team at Google and YouTube was keen to emphasise, err when they assume that the young today are looking for short forms of content. People are willing to con- sume long form content as long as the story- telling grips their attention. Noticeably, the BrandCast this year spoke less about the creators themselves and more about the advertisers, advertising and reach. Globally, YouTube has faced criticism from their organically grown creators due to their increasing focus on conventional entertainers and celebrities. Note that, Facebook as a brand has lately been shifting their narrative to a more creator centric approach as they push their video content and related advertising tools.

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Local brands surge, global brands expand the net

Home-grown labels in biscuits and dairy top the charts, but global giants find their way into more categories and regions: Kantar

TOP 10 BRANDS Rank Brand 1 PARLE 2 AMUL 3 CLINIC PLUS 4 BRITANNIA 5
TOP 10 BRANDS
Rank
Brand
1 PARLE
2 AMUL
3 CLINIC PLUS
4 BRITANNIA
5 AAVIN
6 GHADI
7 NANDINI
8 TATA
9 COLGATE
10 WHEEL
*Brands ranked by Consumer Reach
Point (CRP), which is arrived at after
taking into account penetration
and frequency of the brand
Source: Kantar Brand Footprint 2018

VIVEAT SUSAN PINTO

P arle and Amul were the most frequently bought labels across Indian households, chosen 5.3 and 3.9 billion times respec-

tively in calendar year 2018. But while Indian consumers are sticking to local brands when it comes to food and dairy overall, as branded pur- chases become more common, global labels have a wider spread, according to the latest Brand Footprint report by Kantar. The report, which measures the number of households buying a brand and the frequency with which they are doing so, says that branded buys are increasing in more categories and global names are making their presence felt. The top 16 list for 2018 shows a wider spread of categories from soaps to shampoos, tooth- pastes, detergents, creams, tea and instant noo- dles, besides biscuits and dairy. And the prefer- ence for names from the house of multinationals was high in most cases. So, Clinic Plus (sham- poos), Colgate (toothpaste), Wheel (detergent), Lifebuoy (soap), Maggi (instant noodle), Surf Excel (detergent) and Fair & Lovely (cream) were chosen between one and three billion times by Indian households in 2018. All these brands are manufactured and marketed by companies such

as Hindustan Unilever (HUL), Colgate-Palmolive and Nestle India. The only exception here is Tata, chosen 1.9 billion times in 2018, thanks to the recall it induces in tea especially in the south, where it has regional names such as Chakra Gold and Kanan Devan driving it, said Kantar. In deter- gents, on the other hand, price warrior Ghadi stuck out amid MNC rivals in the top 16. The big loser in 2018 was Patanjali (Rank 20), as growth momentum slowed. It was not among the top-growing brands in terms of penetration, for the first time in three years according to the report. “At a broader level,” says K Ramakrishnan, GM and country head, S Asia at Kantar World Panel, “The top 50 list (for 2018) has brands such as Sunrise coffee and Lay’s chips from Nestle India and PepsiCo, which have marked their presence for the first time in the report. This has happened due to better distribution and mar- keting by these brands, pushing up frequency of purchase among households.” While Lays debuted the list at Rank 44 on the back of strong reach and penetration, Sunrise came in at 47 as more households opted for the product off store shelves. As the menace of counterfeit products has hit home, experts say, trust in brands from estab-

lished companies has been increasing. In 2018, for instance, there were fewer “global” brands or labels from multinational companies that dropped their rankings versus the figure in 2017. It stood at four versus seven in 2017, pointing to the increased confidence in these names, Kantar said. The number of global brands losing pene- tration in 2018 was also lower than in 2017 (three versus five), indicating that these companies were also putting their money and might behind improving reach. In the last few quarters, most companies including multinational players in FMCG have been working hard to grow direct distribution, both in urban and rural areas. This has come as they seek to reduce dependence on the whole- sale channel, considered unorganised and lag- ging behind most other trade channels in terms of its application of best practices. HUL, for instance, has a direct reach of over three million outlets, say analysts, which is nearly 38 per cent of its total retail reach of 8 million outlets. Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and Nestle have also been pushing direct reach aggressively in addi- tion to home-grown players such as ITC, Dabur, Marico and Godrej Consumer. ITC’s direct reach is estimated to be over two million outlets, while Dabur’s is around 1.2 million outlets.

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Repackaging Brand Sachin Five years into retirement, the little master is the third highest paid
Repackaging
Brand Sachin
Five years into retirement, the little master is the
third highest paid sports endorser. How did he
script his return to relevance?
URVI MALVANIA
years back, he set up a company to
manage his brand and investments
called SRT Sports Management. He
launched his app through SRT and
Mrinmoy Mukherjee, director and
CEO, SRT Sports Management says
that they spent a lot of time under-
standing what Sachin the brand
stands for.
“We went back to the fundamen-
tals of brand planning. This meant
talking to his fans and followers and
understanding what Sachin stands for
BRAND STATS
Number of brands: 17
W hen Sachin Tendulkar retired from
cricket in 2013, none expected him to
Brand value: ~ 40 crore
fade away into the twilight. Still, few
Rank:3
would have anticipated that he would be rocking
the endorsement charts well into his retirement
years. Valued at ~40 crore (GroupM ESP
Properties’ Sporting Nation in the Making–VI),
Tendulkar has knocked badminton ace P V
Sindhu off the third spot in the highest paid
Fee per day per year
increased4times
in 5 years
endorsers’ list in 2018. And after Virat Kohli and
Source: SRT Sports Management,
GroupM ESP Properties
ing nation, rather than a sports
watching one, Mukherjee said.
The brand is more than the
endorsements in the bag. Hence
the team has been working with
Central and State ministries to
include sports in the curriculum,
tying up with brands on special
initiatives and CSR activities
around sport. Many times, these
also include brand partnerships,
which may have an endorsement
element, or a deeper business
M S Dhoni at first and second spot, he is the high-
est paid sports endorser in the country today.
How did the cricketer play his way back into
reckoning?
According to the report, Tendulkar was the
face of 10 brands last year. UNICEF, BMW,
Luminous, Smartron, GM Pens, Aster Pharmacy,
DBS Bank, Sony Ten, Smash and Quaker. Overall
he is associated with 17 brands (he had 24 prior
to retirement). According to his team,
Tendulkar’s fee per day per year has seen a
growth of 4x over the past five years, while the
aggregate value of his brand associations has
gone up 1.8 times in the same time period, despite
the decline in the absolute number of brands
endorsed.
Vinit Karnik, business head, ESP Properties
says, “Sachin is a cricketing legend, moreover,
he is also an inspiration to the masses for his off-
field conduct and gestures. This role model
image of Sachin is what attracts advertising dol-
lars.”
True, but like all things Tendulkar, his return
too has taken meticulous planning. Around three
(in their minds) now that he is off the
playing field. We did the same with brand part-
ners to understand how they relate to the per-
sonality,” said Mukherjee.
Talking to fans and brand partners was just
the start. The team then sat with Sachin to under-
stand his passions and the big ideas that he want-
ed to pursue, post retirement. As a result, the
brand is now positioned on “not just the fact that
he is one of the greatest players of the game, but
what went into becoming one of the greats of the
game,” Mukherjee explains.
“There are two brands that are really huge,
Sachin Tendulkar and Amitabh Bachchan. They
will never go away. Yes, there was a bit of slump
after retirement (for Tendulkar), but that is nat-
ural,” says Indranil das Blah, co-CEO at KWAN, a
sports management agency.
Brand Tendulkar said Mukherjee is not just
about the game of cricket but about health and
fitness as a whole, not only because it is a vital
part of any athlete’s career, but because the for-
mer team India captain is passionate about it.
He believes it is time India becomes a sports play-
partnership.
As a result, the associations between the
brands and Tendulkar are more than pure
endorsement deals, they include business part-
nerships and other long-term associations.
“Before retirement, it was about the cricketer
Tendulkar. Now it is more about the statesman
Tendulkar,” das Blah adds.
Mukherjee concurs, adding that brands are
looking beyond just his on-field performance.
“The focus is on how he played the game. That is
where brands derive trust in him, from how he
has conducted himself. This is what makes him
endearing to brands, and to the audiences.”
This has also meant a change in the profile of
brands. For example, any brand with unhealthy
implications, is not an option. So while a cola
brand may have been a choice in the past, it is no
longer on the list. “While some may look at it as
a narrowing of choices, I would say it has sharp-
ened our focus and that’s why there’s been an
increase in the value of the brand,” Mukherjee
says. Like on the field, off the field too, numbers
matter for the master batsman.

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Brands lost in translation

Content creation is big in the digital world, but advertisers have a small pool to select from and fare which is not exclusive to platforms

to select from and fare which is not exclusive to platforms ROMITA MAJUMDAR W hat do
ROMITA MAJUMDAR W hat do digital content cre- ators like Shreya Jain, Technical Guruji, Bhuvan
ROMITA MAJUMDAR
W hat do digital content cre-
ators like Shreya Jain,
Technical Guruji, Bhuvan

Bham, Mallika Dua, TVF, Sandeep Maheshwari and Pocket Aces have in common? Answer: They have mil- lions of followers, advertisers and tech giants desperate to have them on their platforms. As internet access spreads through cheaper data and smarter phones, digital con- tent creators are in greater demand. But the irony is that advertisers have a small bunch of creators to choose from. Look up YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook, three of the biggest names when it comes to video content in India, and it is not surprising to find Technical Guruji, Bhuvan Bham or Mallika Dua offering the same fare. The same goes for the other popular con- tent creators around. It is a small world and content is hardly exclusive to platforms. In oth- er words, it is a zero-sum game for advertisers. They barely gain, said experts. While digital companies are doing the best to get creators to provide differentiated content, this is not easy, experts said. Content creation, they say, have limitations and pushing them beyond a point is unreasonable. The net result for the platform is the lack of stickiness, some- thing they dislike.

A day out in the sun At Facebook’s flagship ‘Creator’s Day’ event in Mumbai last month, the social media giant talked about their top video stars and how it was introducing a number of content moneti- sation tools for this group. “The biggest trend that the Indian digital industry has witnessed in consumer behaviour

(From top to down) : Shreya Jain , Technical Guruji, Sandeep Maheshwari (left) and TVF are popular content creators on most digital platforms, including Facebook and YouTube

is rapid growth in adoption of video over the last few years. We’re seeing consumer videos exploding on our platform and today, video has become one of the biggest drivers of engage- ment growth on Facebook. Besides community content, where people share their experiences, we are a platform where professional content creators come to find an audience and also earn money,” said Paresh Rajwat, Facebook's head of products for video. The Menlo-Park-headquartered company has also introduced ad breaks in five languages, namely, English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Bengali for eligible partners. Ad breaks are applicable to those videos that have attracted over 30,000 one-minute views for two months and have over 10,000 followers. Creators will be eligible to 55 per cent ad revenue share, com- pany officials said. The chief incentive for creators on Facebook is to graduate to Facebook Watch (their recently launched long-form video segment), which will give them more viewership and advertisers alike. But the question is: Are content creators

game for it? And are they ready to offer more to one platform versus the other. There are no clear answers yet. But Facebook, said experts, hasn’t given up too. It has simplified how cre- ators can keep track of their online presence, viewership and fan engagement through different tools on the platform. This gives them the impetus to stick on with Facebook and do their best to keep engaging their audience with differentiated content. Brands obviously gain from this exer- cise, experts said.

Rivals follow suit In November, Snap, makers of Snapchat, the popular social camera app, announced the launch of a localised tool called Discover. This is a content discovery segment of the app. The launch was meant for the growing community of Indian snapchatters as well as aimed at monetising their local user base through advertising part- nerships with brands. Unlike Facebook or Youtube, Snapchat contin- ues to differentiate itself with “curated” content so not everyone can become a star overnight. Experts say it is Snapchat's in-house team that decides whether content cre- ators have made the cut based on various parameters including the kind of content created and their follower base. Also, Snapchat has only Hindi content and ads apart from English for their Indian user base. Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder and chief exec- utive officer, White Rivers Media, a Mumbai- based digital media company, says that since digital content creation is fairly new to Indians, the ecosystem will develop over time. “Eventually we might see platforms incentivis- ing these creators to share exclusive content with them. The digital platforms themselves will have to invest in increasing viewer sticki- ness with new and interesting features and tools,” he says. Digital platforms have made a start. Some of the initiatives introduced include Youtube’s premium programming service with shows such as ‘ARRived’, featuring music composer AR Rahman, aimed at driving up traffic. Snapchat has original content globally and is in talks with Indian creators for the same. Facebook may follow with an exclusive service in the future. But the current strategy is to make content creators comfortable with a host of tools to help them adopt Facebook as their plat- form of choice.

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STRATEGY www.business-standard.com Actor Tiger Shroff sets up Brand Pepsi’s hook step challenge for TikTok users

Actor Tiger Shroff sets up Brand Pepsi’s hook step challenge for TikTok users

Brands take up the TikTok challenge

From cola brand Pepsi, fashion retailer Myntra to recent Bollywood release Kalank, the mobile video platform is the cynosure of all eyes

T E NARASIMHAN

video platform is the cynosure of all eyes T E NARASIMHAN T E NARASIMHANTikTok is the

T E NARASIMHANTikTok is the most downloaded social media app globally and in India

than anywhere else. TikTok, owned by Chinese start-up company Bytedance, says that the average user is 13-14 years old and that it is the most downloaded app in the country at present. Brands are drawn to its band of teen users and the many opportuni- ties for engagement. TikTok has Hashtag Challenge, Brand Takeover and In-feed Native Video, all tools that facilitate direct interactions between brands and users. The Hashtag Challenge allows brands to create a video and challenge users to get creative with their adaptations, Brand Takeover allows full screen vertical display of ads when the user is browsing and the In-feed Native Video aims for in-depth interactions. Some brands that have already tapped into this opportunity include Pepsi, online retailer

C ontroversy has dogged its heels since its launch, but that has not stopped close to 200 million people or a long list of brands

from flocking to TikTok. In less than six months since its India launch, TikTok has signed up a slew of brands that are creating special promo- tions and activations exclusively for the plat- form. Pepsi’s latest summer splash was crafted for TikTok, for instance. As part of the campaign, PepsiCo has launched a brand anthem with a special challenge for TikTok users. Users are asked to post videos of a ‘hook step’ to take part in the #HarGhoontMeinSwag (Swag in every sip) challenge. Launched in the first week of May, the Pepsi challenge has notched up four billion views already, making it the biggest ever brand activation on the platform. For PepsiCo India, these numbers are a vin- dication of sorts, having taken a gamble with what is an increasingly popular, but still untested platform for brand promotions. “We need an engagement platform with younger generation, which is where TikTok came in. All platforms offer engagement, but TikTok offers active engagement. It is a good multiplier for mar- keters,” said Tarun Bhagat, director-Marketing, Hydration and Cola, PepsiCo India. He sees TikTok as a way to reach the young because the average age on the platform is much younger

Voonik, Myntra, ShopClues, Snapdeal, edtech startups like Cuemath, Masterclass, video-on- demand companies Voot and Viu, delivery app Dunzo, dating app TanTan, social commerce platform Meesho and short-video social network app Vigo to name a few. Recently Dharma Production also used TikTok to promote its movie Kalank. Brands say they are attracted to the cache of language users on the platform, giving TikTok an enviable geographical and demographic spread. Sachin Sharma, head of Ad Sales and Customer Support, ByteDance India that owns TikTok says that it has users from the most remote towns in the country. They are active participants and are big contributors to the viral- ity of brand promotions. In May, last year, smartphone maker Huawei launched Honor 10 with a 22-day #1MillionAudition campaign in India. Over 73,000 users took part with 40,000 pieces of User Generated Content (UGC) that garnered 640 mil- lion views, and 321 million impressions. The team at ByteDance believes that UGC is

a popular point of entry for first time-internet users in India and TikTok, which is easy to use has been able to leverage this. It is available in 10 major Indian languages including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, and Punjabi among others. “India is a key market for digital brands and with a continued growth in mobile internet penetration in the country, we hope to offer a platform to those who are looking for an outlet to showcase their creativ- ity,” said Sharma. Harish Bijoor, brand consultant and founder of Bijoor Consults said, “Brands which want to reach out to the heart of India, find this to be an excellent digital medium. It has the element

of fun, content in it. In terms of leveraging con- tent, it has music, it has got visuals and there is

a certain degree of voyeurism,” he said. Such is

the power of the platform that brands are will- ing to risk the sanctity of their content, allowing users to play around with it, he says. “All play is good, all publicity is good and all virality is good,” he added.

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Brands scramble to play the game of GoT

With more than 20 licencees and deals close to ~70 crore in retail value, HBO is leveraging the huge buzz around its latest season of the fantasy epic

the huge buzz around its latest season of the fantasy epic URVI MALVANIA T he latest

URVI MALVANIA

T he latest season of the fantasy epic Game of Thrones (GoT) debuted earlier this week with five million tweets on micro blogging

platform Twitter. For an English television show aimed at a niche urban audience this is remark- able, as is the ~70-odd-crore merchandise deals at retail value that it has struck with some of the big brands in the country. And as more and more brands and audiences flock the show, GoT could well turn out to be the most merchandised enter- tainment property of the year in India. Brands such as Fastrak (Titan), Myntra, Johnnie Walker Whisky, fashion designer Masaba Gupta’s premium label are among the 20 plus licensees that have signed on with GoT. Bhavik Vora’s firm Black White Orange (BWO) has been involved with merchandising the show and Vora said that interest has soared in recent years. Such is the desire to be a GoT partner that Vora said, “Usually, companies within a category do not like sharing rights for a property. In this case, we have multiple apparel companies that have readily shared the rights. As a result, nearly 10 different apparel brands covering all distribu- tion channels have launched themed lines of clothing around the premiere.” Estimates peg that the show would have mer- chandise deals worth ~60-70 crore in retail value in the country this year. The products include the regular run of merchandised lines—mugs, T-shirts, bags and such others with prices starting

COURTING THE THRONE

Masaba'sDesignerLimitedEditionCol (premium fashion) Fastrack(watches)

Status Quo Clothing(apparel)

Bioworld(apparel) VoxPop(apparel) Myntra(apparel and accessories) Teestory(t-shirts)

Redwolf(t-shirts)

Bewakoof(apparel)

My Baby Excels(bags and backpack)

SouledStore(apparel and accessories)

Johnnie Walker(whisky)

at around ~300 and going up to ~15,000 with one line (from Masaba’s luxe designer collection) going as high as ~40,000. One of the more inno- vative Thrones themed products available to Indian fans this year is the GoT edition of the board game Monopoly. Ayushman Chiranewala, brand head, Fastrack, said, “GoT is perhaps the most popular show among the youth globally, and the association of Fastrack strengthens the brands’ connect with the millennial buyers and Gen Z.” As a result of heightened interest in the show, there are more than 500 designs around GoT themed merchandise from India alone. Masaba Gupta, who has a premium line around the show, said, “The collection paints a canvas of Winterfell

lection

(a mythical kingdom in the show) through a fusion of medieval aesthetics with our design sensibilities. Innovation lies in the silhouettes and materials, while the clothing line comprises of sharp power suits, and gown sarees, long trenches for both men and women along with accessories that explore leather and studs.” Brands like Fastrack have focused on partic- ular characters from the show. They have launched products in three categories—watches, sunglasses and bags and identified characters like Arya Stark, Jon Snow, and the Night King to base the merchandise on. “We have designed our products around them by incorporating the Sigils (magical symbols) of the houses they represent as well as elements from the outfits that the characters wear in colour schemes that are close to the individual charac- ters. The elements of the show were married with the brand’s design aesthetics,” Chiranewala said. Internationally, the show has associations with a number of categories, including cookies and make-up. The popular cream cookie brand Oreo released a limited edition Game of Thrones themed collection with special packaging using the elements of the show. Sneaker brand Adidas has launched six pairs of limited edition shoes to commemorate its association with the latest season, while make-up brand Urban Decay has launched a limited edition range of products including eye-shadows, lipsticks, and high- lighters.

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Brands promise protection in an age of anxiety

From soaps to air conditioners, advertisers position brands around an assurance of safety, hygiene, and wellness

T E NARASIMHAN

A nxious consumers want their fears

allayed, or so believe advertisers and the

brands they speak for. From Savlon,

Godrej Protekt, Blue Star, Lifebuoy, Aquaguard and a long list of health and fitness gear and sup- plements brands, the positioning lines are being drawn clearly and sharply around the core value of consumer protection—be it the promise of the product or that of the brand in its engage-

ment with stakeholders. While experts see this as a sign of the times, market research company Kantar IMRB predicts that the still undefined, but growing category of ‘protector brands’ will be a money spinner in 2019. In a recent survey that looked at consumer behaviour in the year of elections (Seeking sta- bility: Predictions for 2019, Kantar IMRB), pro- tector products are loosely grouped as consumer goods that protect the customer from various health hazards and prevent illness by keeping hygiene and immunity at high levels. Such prod- ucts have been steadily gaining ground as the levels of stress and worry have risen in the coun- try.

The report says that 47 per cent of Indians say that they feel stressed these days (2018), up from 39 per cent in 2017; and more women feel this way. Nearly 2.2 million people bought health, dietary and fitness brands online in 2018, the numbers tripling over the levels in 2017. The phenomenon has been discernible since

a couple of years and is one of the reasons (as per consumer surveys) why hand sanitizers, for example, have grown by a massive 59 per cent in 2017-18 (Kantar WorldPanel). Similarly too Chyawanprash (all brands), by 26 per cent and air purifiers (40 per cent). The industry does not define a protector seg-

ment. It is a combination of all categories/ brands that have a positioning around protection, say experts. “It is a combination of categories with different units of volume. In value terms, this would amount to ~9000 crore in personal care and homecare alone. If we include food cate- gories such as milk food drinks, ayurvedic tea etc., the value could exceed ~12,000 crore,” said

K Ramakrishnan, general manager and country

head, South Asia, Kantar Worldpanel. “Consumers look for products that provide benefits that reduce the risk of disease and pro- mote good health,” said a spokesperson for Hindustan Unilever (HUL). Hand wash brands have gained the most from such concerns and the growing market for hygiene-led products has

concerns and the growing market for hygiene-led products has Ads from Lifebuoy (top), Savlon (right), Godrej
concerns and the growing market for hygiene-led products has Ads from Lifebuoy (top), Savlon (right), Godrej

Ads from Lifebuoy (top), Savlon (right), Godrej Protekt (below) have sharpened the pitch over hygiene and health

spurred all such brands to expand into the hand sanitiser market. A spokesperson for ITC said, “ITC has recently launched the Savlon liquid hand sanitiser as part of its hand hygiene port- folio. The product has received a positive response.” Among the protector product segments, hand sanitiser, sun protection and sanitary prod- ucts have grown at 59.2 per cent, 37.4 per cent and 15.9 per cent respectively, in terms of vol- ume. Harish Bijoor, CEO Bijoor Consults calls this a sign of prosperous times. India has traditionally been a curative market and hence brands have addressed a problem by promising a cure, not a way to prevent the issue altogether. For example, dandruff removal sham- poos, points out Bijoor. Now society is getting into a state of “preventive paranioa” says Bijoor. “I would really call it prosperous preventive para- noia and it is growing,” he added. The phenomenon has also seen brands look- ing for ways to differentiate their promise around the common ‘protection’ positioning platform. One way has been to say that the brand promises

platform. One way has been to say that the brand promises safety and wellness because it

safety and wellness because it is made from nat- ural-organic ingredients. Sunil Kataria, CEO (India & SAARC), Godrej Consumer Products said, “Mothers are not just happy with chemi-

cal-based germ protection; they look for ‘natural ingredients based, safer’ products. It was based on this insight that we launched Godrej Protekt

– a health and wellness brand.” However to assume tht such consumers are only from the higher income group would be a fallacy, Kataria added. Stressed consumers are also extremely focused on affordability. According to Kataria, many are constrained by the prohibitive pricing of liquid hand washes and this led the company to launch a powdered concentrate of the liquid hand wash that sells at just ~15 for a 200ml pack. The Kantar-IMRB report believes that brands

will soon need to expand their protective ring to social concerns too. “Brands will have to create

a stable, positive environment and enable sup-

port groups to change the discourse of negativi- ty,” it said.

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The rise of the avatar-influencer

The influencers aren’t flesh and blood, yet millions follow them, raising concerns about authenticity & trust

follow them, raising concerns about authenticity & trust Bella Hadid ( left), an influencer on social

Bella Hadid (left), an influencer on social media, and her digital counterpart Miquela Sousa in a Calvin Klein commercial

TIFFANY HSU

T he kiss between Bella Hadid and Miquela Sousa, part of a Calvin Klein commercial last month, struck many

viewers as unrealistic, even offensive. Hadid, a supermodel, identifies as heterosexual, and the ad sparked complaints that Calvin Klein was deceiving customers with a sham lesbian encounter. The fashion company apologized for “queerbaiting” after the 30-second spot appeared online. But Hadid, at least, is human. Everything about Sousa, better known as Lil Miquela, is manufactured: the straight-cut bangs, the Brazilian-Spanish heritage, the bevy of beau- tiful friends. Lil Miquela, who has 1.6 million Instagram followers, is a computer-generated character. Introduced in 2016 by a Los Angeles company backed by Silicon Valley money, she belongs to a growing cadre of social media marketers known as virtual influencers. Each month, more than 80,000 people stream Lil Miquela’s songs on Spotify. She has worked with the Italian fashion label Prada, given interviews from Coachella and flaunted a tattoo designed by an artist who inked Miley Cyrus.

Until last year, when her creators orches- trated a publicity stunt to reveal her prove- nance, many of her fans assumed she was a flesh-and-blood 19-year-old. But Lil Miquela

is made of pixels, and she was designed to

attract follows and likes. Her success has raised a question for com- panies hoping to connect with consumers who increasingly spend their leisure time online: Why hire a celebrity, a supermodel or even a social media influencer to market your product when you can create the ideal brand ambassador from scratch?

That’s what the fashion label Balmain did last year when it commissioned the British artist Cameron-James Wilson to design a ‘diverse mix’ of digital models, including a white woman, a black woman and an Asian woman. Other companies have followed Balmain’s lead.

Fable Studio, which bills itself as ‘the vir- tual beings company,’ created Lucy, a car- toonish character able to read and respond to viewers’ reactions in real time. The com- pany says it makes digital creations “with whom you can build a two-way emotional relationship.” Xinhua, the Chinese government’s media outlet, introduced a virtual news anchor last year, saying it “can work 24 hours a day.” Coca-Cola and Louis Vuitton have used video game characters in their ads. Soul Machines,

a company founded by the Oscar-winning

digital animator Mark Sagar, produced com- puter-generated teachers that respond to human students. Last month, YouPorn got in on the trend with Jedy Vales, an avatar

who promotes the site and interacts with its users. Edward Saatchi, who started Fable, pre- dicted that virtual beings would someday supplant digital home assistants and com- puter operating systems from companies like Amazon and Google. “Eventually, it will be clear that the line between a Miquela and an Alexa is actually very slim,” he said. Virtual influencers come with an advan- tage for the companies that use them: They are less regulated than their human counter- parts. And the people controlling them aren’t required to disclose their presence. Many of the characters advance stereo- types and impossible body-image standards. Shudu, a “digital fabrication” that Wilson modeled on the Princess of South Africa Barbie, was called “a white man’s digital pro- jection of real-life black womanhood” by The New Yorker. The Federal Trade Commission acknowl- edged in a statement that it “hasn’t yet specif- ically addressed the use of virtual influ- encers” but said companies using the characters for advertising should ensure that “any claims communicated about the prod- uct are truthful, not misleading and substan- tiated.” In a way, virtual influencers are not so far removed from their real-life predecessors. It’s no secret that the humans who promote brands on social media often project a ver- sion of daily life that is shinier and happier than the real thing. But when a brand ambas- sador’s very existence is questionable—espe- cially in an environment studded with decep- tive deepfakes, bots and fraud—what happens to the old virtue of truth in adver- tising? Bryan Gold, the chief executive of #Paid, which connects influencers to companies, said virtual influencers could lead companies into “a dangerous area,” adding, “How can consumers trust the message being put out there?” But the concerns faced by human influ- encers—maintaining a camera-ready appear- ance and dealing with online trolls while keeping sponsors happy—do not apply to beings who never have an off day. “That’s why brands like working with avatars—they don’t have to do 100 takes,” said Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit and the self- described grandfather of the virtual influ- encer Qai Qai. “Social media, to date, has largely been the domain of real humans being fake,” Ohanian added. “But avatars are the future of storytelling.”

©2019 The New York Times News Service

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Branding

for an ASPIRATION WITH A PRICE TAG Be it smartphones, cars, handbags,clothes,watches, premium brands are
for an
ASPIRATION WITH A
PRICE TAG
Be it smartphones, cars,
handbags,clothes,watches,
premium brands are no
longer pitching their wares to
aselectaudience
Millennialconsumersare
more likely to bite the EMI
bait,slakingtheirdesirefor
luxurygoodswithout
burning a hole in their
wallets,saymarket
researchers
E-commercehashelped
pushed the luxury in
installments story as Amazon
andFlipkartruntheirown
financingschemesforlarge
purchases

Democratising luxury Such moves, point out marketers and experts, are being driven by the need to democratise luxury. “There’s one thing that all the luxury brands are looking at, democ- ratisation of luxury. The fact that one can buy premium, luxury segment on EMI reflects that,” points out Balasubramaniam. Global consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) defines democratisation of lux- ury as middle-market consumers selectively trading up to higher levels of quality, taste, and aspiration. The unabashed adoption of EMI in advertising narratives and as a core value by luxury brands has brought many more consumers into the fold say market researchers. To a great extent, democratisation is being driven by the diversified nature of luxury, said Balasubramaniam. “People born into the lux- ury segment are a small percentage of total. Now the neo-rich are joining the luxury fold, that is why there is so much action in the so- called affordable segment,” she said adding that the new shoppers are first generation lux- ury consumers who have made it big. But she points out. even though they have graduated to the luxury segment, their mindset is still the same and they tend to be value seekers.

Digital push, consumer pull The e-commerce boom is playing a crucial role in bridging the gap between those that can afford luxury items and those aspiring for it, says Ritesh Srivastava, chief executive at Elitify.com, an e-commerce website that

retails everything from a Calvin Klein, DKNY and Biagiotti to an Emporio Armani and Burberry to a Jimmy Choo through a dis- counted price and EMI. Close to 40 per cent of his firm’s sales are coming from tier two and three towns. “While there was always latent demand, inaccessibility to malls and good brands was always a challenge. With e-commerce we are leveraging that opportunity in a big way,” Srivastava said. For aspirant markets such as India, con- sumers are quick to lap up an EMI option, which according to Srivastava, is reflective of the nature of the consumer in the country. People want affordable luxury he believes and pegs the overall retail market for fashion at around $14 billion, within that share of luxury segment is 15 per cent. So what needs do luxury goods meet? Researchers point to snob value, a sense of inward and outward gratification as being crit- ical factors driving demand for premium and luxury goods and services. Kantar’s Balasubramaniam said that lux- ury brands have been able to master the art of offering affordability via an EMI package. “They are looking for ways to get buyers (who value price and want luxury brands) in, the only way they can do this is to offer their prod- ucts and services as small value packs so that consumers can sample the experience, and when they find value they will spend,” she said.

EMI nation

Premium brands pitch easy finance and instalments over superior features and quality, expand their appeal across income groups

SHALLY SETH MOHILE

B e it cars, mobile phones, accessories and

clothes, whether it is Apple, BMW or

Steve Madden; across the universe of

luxury products in India, equated monthly instalments or EMI has become the universal and ubiquitous brand attribute. Makers of lux- ury goods are taking the EMI route as a sure shot way to consumer’s wallet in a market where value seeking buyers are not uncom- mon even in the premium segment. Confronted with consumers who simulta- neously inhabit antithetical worlds—where premium features and bragging rights are important and so is the price tag, luxury brands in India have found this the best way to draw buyers in without dropping prices and compromising their premium positioning. From luxury cars and exquisite fragrances to high-end phones, the trend is feeding into var- ious product categories and over the past few years, the trend has been further accentuated by the growing influence of e-commerce. “It is the mindset that differentiates an Indian consumer from a global one,” Sushmita Balasubramaniam, South Asia Domain Lead, Commerce at market research firm TNS Kantar said. Take the case of the super-premium iPhone, which has had to go up against intense competition from Chinese smart phone makers in India. In September, Apple launched the high end iPhoneX with a price tag of ~91,900. In the run-up to the launch, besides highlighting the fea- tures of the phone, the fact that it was available on “no cost EMI” got significant dis- play on banners and ads. As a matter of fact, it even became a talking point on social media with rivals taking a dig at the brand. “Choose wisely between MI or EMI,” wrote Manu Kumar Jain, country head, Xiaomi in response to a tweet. (MI is the Xiaomi smart- phone brand) Auto makers have long embraced the easy

finance route. But a dull festive season has also prompted luxury car makers to get more aggressive about EMIs, besides doling out steep cash discounts and hefty exchange bonuses. BMW for instance, is offering its 3 Series for an EMI of ~25,333. Mercedes and Audi have similar offers on some of their select models.

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Digital ad fraud stirs up a $1.63-bn scam

ROMITA MAJUMDAR

A t nearly nine per cent of the global bad

ads business, India’s digital ad fraud

ecosystem is thriving. It is a scam worth

$1.63 billion at present and the numbers are like-

ly to go up by 23 per cent in 2019 according to

techARC Research, a firm that tracks digital advertising in the country. According to the company’s ‘India digital ad- fraud market report’ the problem is particularly rampant in the domains of banking and fintech, entertainment and gaming (especially video

based) and healthcare and pharmaceuticals where the focus is on acquiring new customers. Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst, techARC noted that digital ad-fraud is getting increased attention from the C-level leadership of evolved organisations, where it is no longer an agenda of a CDO or CMO alone. “The impact

of digital ad-fraud now goes beyond diminishing

the returns on marketing spends and can jeop- ardise the entire digital transformation journey hampering brand equity, relevance and posi- tioning among other ramifications,” he added. Online deception comes in many forms; apart from the now-familiar track of generating fake likes and comments on advertising, pub- lishers and websites have an array of tools at their disposal (see box). The misguided leads originate from publishers or websites who are keen on gaining ad spends but do not have the viewership to justify the same. Kawoosa noted that digital commerce or online shopping com-

panies are more likely offenders as they are in a mature phase and want to focus more on user engagement, rather than acquisition, which has sharper quantitative indicators. However experts said that blame must also be equally apportioned to marketing professionals in ad agencies and companies that turn a blind eye towards patently false metrics, in their rush to meet targets and justify high digital spends. The rise of the dark side of digital has also spawned a wide set of tools to monitor the same. Nishad Ramachandran, chief digital officer, Hansa Cequity, a digital marketing company said, “We are seeing a lot of ad-tech companies and technology players come up with tools to help deliver high quality ad impressions. Stopping ad fraud is a cat and mouse game. The moment a new technology comes in to prevent

a type of fraud, the fraudsters start finding

workarounds around these toolsets to continue

to gain their share from online ad spends.”

Bad ads are a global problem. Google took down 2.3 billion ads that violated its advertising policies, banning six million bad ads every day,

in 2018. Speaking soon after the release of the Bad Ads Report 2018, Director of Sustainable Ads

at

Google, Scott Spencer said, “Our ads are meant

to

connect users with relevant businesses, prod-

ucts and services; but bad ads ruin the experi- ence. We have been working towards protecting the users, advertisers and publishers by investing

THE MANY FACES OF DIGITAL FRAUD

Click farmingwhere low paid workers click

on banner ads, create larger fan and follower communities in social media

Bots used to create false ad impressions on cost per impression campaigns, carry out domain spoofing, copy reputed websites and create ad inventory on these spoofy sites to gain advertisers’ attention

Bad keyword targetingmedia companies can ask clients to bid for low value keywords to get cheaper clicks when in reality they are actually getting irrelevant, or fraudulent clicks

Hidden ads. Placing more than one ad in a

designated, high value slot so that every click or impression gets counted twice

Ad injection. This happens on the media side where a bot or a program is fraudulently placing ads on a site without permission

Source: Hansa Cequity

significant technological resources.” In 2018, Google said it identified and termi- nated almost one million bad advertiser accounts, nearly double the amount that were terminated in 2017. Nearly 734,000 publishers and app developers were terminated from the Google ad network and it also took off of nearly 28 million pages that violated the publisher poli- cies. Advertisers must be alert and Ramachandran said they could seek help from Google’s ad traffic quality program that uses technology and human moderators or Oracle’s Grapeshot and Adobe adopting WhiteOps to save valuable ad dollars.

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STRATEGY www.business-standard.com ( From left ) HUL was trolled for its Surf Excel ad where a
STRATEGY www.business-standard.com ( From left ) HUL was trolled for its Surf Excel ad where a

(From left) HUL was trolled for its Surf Excel ad where a young girl helps a Muslim boy avoid being splashed with colour on Holi and the Brooke Bond ad where a son abandons his father at the Kumbh Mela before having a change of heart and going back to bring him home

Keeping trolls at bay, the HUL way

The largest advertiser stumbled onto a social media minefield over its recent campaigns. What can brands learn from its missteps?

VIVEAT SUSAN PINTO

same-sex relationships and inter-faith marriage. While some brand experts caution that in a country heading towards general elections, the strategy of picking up controversial issues is a double-edged sword, some say that a brand has every right to speak its mind. "I don't see any- thing wrong with the issues selected by the advertiser," says N Chandramouli, chief execu- tive officer, TRA Research, which brings out the annual Brand Trust Report. “HUL is well within its right to do so. However, the issue has to stick to its core. If it doesn’t, the cracks will show up as it did with Brooke Bond’s ad, where linking elderly abandonment with a religious gathering didn’t cut ice with certain sections of society. It is a case of poor execution. But at an overall level, there is nothing wrong with a brand taking a stand.” In an age of purpose-led advertising, brands, say experts, are increasingly turning their attention to burning issues around them. HUL’s portfolio of brands espouse some virtue or the other. In the case of Brooke Bond, for instance, it is about brotherhood. Lifebuoy speaks about health and hygiene, Close-up is all about togetherness and Dove about inner beauty. Not only HUL, even its closest rival Proctor

A little girl pedals her way down the road,

calling out to her friends to play Holi.

Water balloons fly thick and fast and she's

soaked in colour. The kids however soon run out of stock. It is the moment she's been waiting for. She gives the green signal to a boy standing around the corner. He hops on to her bicycle as they make their way to the nearest mosque. There's not a stain on his clothes. He’s happy and so is she. Hindustan Unilever's latest commercial for detergent brand Surf Excel has evoked sharp reactions on social media—some have liked it, some have not and some see it as a case of love jihad. The debate continues to roil the social media timelines, making this the third instance in three months where the country's largest advertiser has found itself at the receiving end on Twitter. Its previous two outings, for Brooke Bond (Kumbh Mela ad, released in early March) and Close-up (#Freelove campaign, released in December), have also polarised opinion. The for- mer for suggesting that the Kumbh Mela is a place where the elderly are abandoned and the latter for touching upon sensitive issues such as

& Gamble (P&G) has joined the cause-wagon. It has raised its voice about gender inequality (Ariel’s #Sharetheload), menstrual taboos (Whisper), and more recently, toxic masculinity (Gillette). The latter’s campaign in January, which flipped the brand’s popular tagline— ‘The best a man can get’ to ‘The best men can be’ saw mixed reactions on Twitter. The ad, released in the US, showed how men could stand up against bullying, sexism and harass- ment. While some hailed P&G’s courage, others found the ad preachy and insulting. P&G stuck to its guns, saying that it was promoting “posi- tive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man”. Just as HUL did with the Holi campaign saying that the cam- paign embodied its ‘Daag Acche Hain’ or ‘Dirt is good’ philosophy. Santosh Desai, managing director and CEO of Future Brands, says that brands need to be honest with their communication, not over- reach. “If risk on social media can be avoided, then a brand should consider it. If not, then at least be honest and admit to the mistake and course correct with simple and effective com- munication,” he says. Ashish Mishra, managing director, Interbrand India, says that brands could navigate social media by telling “interesting stories”. “If real stories are told by customers, employees or even allied stakeholders or the brand has a powerful message, this could work,” he says. In 2018, for instance, Airbnb, responded to the travel ban imposed in the US by the Trump administration with a campaign titled ‘Let’s keep travelling forward’. The video highlighted the importance of movement in building nations and the cam- paign was hugely popular. Sometimes, just being straightforward clicks.

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Brands join the frenzy, step gingerly around poll politics

Ad rates soar on television, Indian elections top the trend lists on social media, even as brands step in with celebratory messages

media, even as brands step in with celebratory messages Top L to R: Amul and SpiceJet
Top L to R: Amul and SpiceJet congratulated the PM; (Bottom L to R) Kingfisher
Top L to R: Amul and SpiceJet congratulated the PM; (Bottom L to R)
Kingfisher and IndiGo used humour to convey an inclusive message

TOP 5 NEWS CHANNELS

Channels

Impressions

(000s) sum

HINDI

Aaj Tak

141,950

India TV

119,927

Republic Bharat

113,526

News18 India

110,785

ABP News

1002,11

ENGLISH

Republic TV

613

DD India

540

Times Now

452

India Today TV

323

CNN News18

316

Hindi : HSM (U+R) : NCCS All : 15+ Individuals

News18 316 Hindi : HSM (U+R) : NCCS All : 15+ Individuals English : All India

English : All India (U+R) : NCCS AB : Males 22+

Individuals Week: May 11-17

flashing band on the channels was going for around one lakh rupees, said industry sources. On television, brands took a fairly routine

form of messaging, keeping it simple and straightforward with just a name being flashed or running an old commercial. However on social media, many brands took a humorous swipe at the results. The airline IndiGo tweeted a photo in its trademark blue background and the copy read, “We have seats for everyone”. SpiceJet didn’t couch its message, congratu- lating the Prime Minister and declaring that it was time for ‘Saffron on the ground, red in the sky’. Uboweja says that brands ought to be cau- tious at such times, more than what they were when Article 377 was struck down or the World Cup final is played. “When it comes to a politi- cal event, especially the general assembly elec- tions, brands have to be very careful. They could end up alienating a part of the consumer base, employees or commercial partners oth- erwise,” he adds.

URVI MALVANIA

Mumbai, 23 May

O n a day that had nearly every Indian glued to a screen, advertisers made hay. Brands stepped in for a slice of the

action with cheeky celebratory messages, care- ful to compliment the voter without raising a toast for the victor while television channels, digital news portals and social media timeli- ness boiled over in cacophonous frenzy. Experts said that this is the event to beat all events in the country and no advertiser wants to be left behind. At the same time, they want to step carefully around party alignments, without antagonising a single consumer. “Big brands with national presence and deep pockets will look at events like elections and the counting day with keen interest. The general elections result in the nation engaging in one conversation, which then they try and leverage for their advertising goals,” says Saurabh Uboweja, CEO Brands of Desire. Over the past month-and-a-half through the nine phases of the election, a large number of brands such as KFC, Zomato, McDonald’s, Samsonite, Benetton have waded into the elec- toral arena using humour to get their messages across. As the D-day drew closer, more and more citizens were drawn deeper into conver- sations around politics, providing what experts say, the best opportunity for brands to strike. On social media it led to trending Twitter hashtags and on television, increased viewers. In April for example, the viewership on news channels saw a 60 per cent growth year on year, a trend which continued into the month of May. And on counting day, news channels were estimated to have clocked in numbers surpass- ing that of the Indian Premier League finals. According to one media planner, the average rates (throughout the day) on a typical Thursday would be in the rate of ~3000 to ~7000. However on May 23, rates were in the range of ~2.5-3 lakh, he said. Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network says, “Channels are selling just one third of the inventory on election day since the focus is on providing as much in-depth coverage as pos- sible. Moreover, with a fairly decisive result, viewership is expected to trickle over into the weekend since there may be some communi- cation from PM Modi.” With the time available for ads going down, brands sought out innovative ways to make their presence felt. On ticker boards flashing at the bottom of the screen, labels on state- wise breakdowns of electoral results and of course via ads on social media. The rates for a

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Back to the basics for brands and consumers

The search for simplicity is growing as people battle fatigue. Companies need to respond quickly, say experts

VIVEAT SUSAN PINTO

A t a recently held food show in Greater

Noida, near Delhi, almost 25 startups

specialising in organic food, set up

stalls to inform delegates about their fare. This was the first time, the organisers, an arm of the Department of Commerce, Government of India, said they had seen interest coming from so many brands within the category. They were surprised. But experts say the interest shown by organic food players to pitch their ware to a captive audience is part of a larger consumer trend. People are going back to the basics, say research agencies Euromonitor International and Kantar IMRB, as many increasingly turn to a lifestyle that is simple, devoid of the trap- pings of materialism. The trend is also linked to the fatigue experienced by consumers to the surfeit of information, technology and social media around them. “Digital detox is emerging as a big business, starting at the very top of the heap,” says Preeti Reddy, CEO, South Asia, Kantar Insights Division, in a report that maps the key trends defining consumers in 2019. “As people embrace physical activity from the new-age Zumba to traditional yoga, long-distance run- ning and cycling, the athleisure market is growing. There are over 1000 marathons organised in big and small cities across India. Book reading clubs, litfests are all growing as people explore their roots,” she says. Ina Dawer, research manager, India, Euromonitor International, says the need for ethically-positioned authentic products and experiences is also growing in the country, which is showing up in the increased adoption of herbal and ayurvedic products. Market research agency Nielsen had said earlier that the naturals segment accounted for 41 per cent of the overall personal care market in India and could touch 50 per cent in the next few years. “Companies now have to embrace higher welfare products if they wish to tap into this trend for authentic experiences,” says Dawer. Some companies such as the country's largest consumer goods player Hindustan Unilever (HUL) have already understood these changes and have strategies in place to address it. Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and MD, HUL, says, “Brands with a purpose are selling more today. Consumers are increasingly growing conscious of the company behind the brand;

growing conscious of the company behind the brand; wanting to know the values it espouses. Firms

wanting to know the values it espouses. Firms therefore can no longer alienate their brand and corporate identities. The lines are blur- ring.” HUL itself has pushed the concept of brands with a purpose aggressively over the last few years. If Surf Excel spoke of how dirt was good (‘Daag Acche Hain’) earlier, it is now addressing the need for handling failure with courage through ‘Haar ko Harao’. Brooke Bond Red Label, on the other hand, has endeavoured to bring people together over a cup of tea, while Lifebuoy has focused on hand hygiene and cleanliness among chil- dren. Rivals such as Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Tata Global Beverages (TGB) have also gone down the road of purpose-led marketing,

pushing campaigns such as ‘Share the Load’ (for P&G’s Ariel) and ‘Jaago Re’ (for TGB’s Tata Tea) recently. P&G’s Ariel and Whisper brands, in particular, have attempted to address gen- der inequality and the awkwardness around

a woman’s menstrual cycle, both pressing

issues in India, with sensitivity. Gillette, which

is P&G’s male grooming brand, on the other

hand, has just touched upon the issue of toxic masculinity globally, asking men to reject sex- ual harassment and bullying. While some have welcomed Gillette's move, some have criticised it for stereotyping the male gender. Gillette itself has clarified that the cam-

paign, which was released on digital and social media last week, was intended to start con- versations and spark change. There were no plans, it said, to pull down the ad or change its tone following negative feedback. Euromonitor International says social con- sciousness will only grow — which Mehta describes as “righteous anger” — as tolerance for what is wrong reduces. While millennials have been driving this change over the last few years, experts say that older men and women are now joining the bandwagon. This trend is expected to grow this year, putting pressure on firms to react appropriately to sit- uations. When the #Metoo movement began last year, for instance, women from all walks of life and all age groups came forward to share their experiences, empathising with those who were victims of sexual harassment, said experts. Kantar IMRB says that #Metoo has spurred women to find ways to defend themselves. Smart jewellry brand Leaf Wearables, based in Delhi, embeds a device called Safer Pro, which sends out an alarm signal and the user's location to predetermined contacts, the agency said. Titan has launched smart watch- es for women that allow them to alert their folks.

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The marketing chickens come home to roost

The year saw some big disruptions in the branding and marketing landscape writes Bharat Bambawale

SHALLY SETH MOHILE

W e’ve had an exceptionally busy year from a brand and marketing perspec- tive. But what sets 2018 apart from

previous years is the magnitude of the shocks that hit our brand ecosystem. Shocks that would rank high on a marketing Richter scale, the aftershocks of which will be felt for quite some time to come, as many an action and event from previous years completed its inglo- rious cycle and had to be reckoned with. The year we finally broke trust with social media India’s enchantment with the smartphone, heralded for its potential to change lives for the better, started to turn dark some years ago when we plunged into a hyper-addiction to social media. Fuelled by cheap smartphones, low data prices and free apps, India took to social media with the speed of a Formula 1 car. For a while our proclivity for a billion good morning messages every day amused and enthused the tech world, but soon sinister forces started to see the opportunity in our addiction. Our personal data became available to the highest bidder, or was hacked by open system apps, and we found ourselves being manipulated, whether for the marketing of a political idea or to push identification with a particular community. Brands were prey too, as self-styled influencers took crores of rupees off unsuspecting businesses before the smarter ones twigged on to the marketing impotence and low return from online influ- ence brokers. Whether fake news or fake influ- encers, our social media addiction and dependence on digital pundits came home with an unsavoury bang. The year we ceded control Not long ago, India’s policy makers permit- ted FDI and 100 per cent foreign ownership in e-retail (and a range of other sectors). Amazon and Flipkart went head to head for about three years before Flipkart, brave but bloodied and running low on resources, threw in the towel and sold to Walmart. Less than 12 months later, Flipkart’s founders are out of the business they built, as is their leadership team. Like the epic heroes, Kauravas and the Pandavas at Kurukshetra, Amazon and Walmart will fight on battle-field India. Unlike the Kauravas and Pandavas, neither adversary is of this soil. The Koreans battle the Chinese for smartphone spoils and the Japanese for the automobile sector. In both sectors, Indian

Japanese for the automobile sector. In both sectors, Indian brands tread lightly to avoid being crushed

brands tread lightly to avoid being crushed by the battling elephants. GSK sold Horlicks to Unilever in a move that isn’t without a colonial echo. With both MNCs headquartered in the UK (and Unilever additionally in the Netherlands), the sale is reminiscent of the islands of Bombay being gifted as dowry to Britain’s King Charles II on his marriage to Portugal’s Princess Catherine of Braganza in 1662. While the asset exchanged hands in India, the deal was struck many thousands of miles away. But more than policy, Indian busi- ness discovered to its chagrin that the brands they thought they had built were relatively powerless and had to face the consequences of years of low differentiation and under-sup- port. The year of owning up to bad behaviour America’s #metoo movement gave courage to many Indian victims of workplace abuse, of both genders but overwhelmingly women, to voice their experiences and name their aggressors. Corporate and personal reputa- tions took a beating. The marketing industry was revealed as a largescale offender. As with many issues in the deafening Indian media bazaar, #metoo quickly degenerated into a babble of accusations and counteraccusa- tions. Away from the hubbub, professionals of both sexes privately reviewed their personal histories whether their actions in a less sensi- tized past might have been on the wrong side

of

the harassment line. There are now reports

of

the pendulum swinging the other way with

men refusing to mentor women, avoiding one-

on-one meetings behind closed doors and declining post-work dinners unless in groups. Whichever side of the issue people weighed

in

on, one point became clear: India’s market-

ing industry had work to do to make the office wholesome and secure. The year the agency began its final death throes For years, advertising agencies’ impending collapse has been the worst kept secret. With the morbid fascination of Earthmen watching an asteroid heading straight at them in a dis- aster film, we have been waiting for the final cataclysmic strike. But in actual fact it has been a far less dramatic meltdown and an internal one, like that from a leaking reactor core. Years of haemorrhaging revenues, non-

value producing mergers, loss of talent, client flight to smaller shops, shifting of spends to digital and loss of access to the C-suite have eroded agencies from within. Will we soon see

a

post-Chernobyl Pripyat-like ghost town

where once stood agencies with a proud her- itage in the names on their doors? It truly has

been a year of reckoning. Next: Umesh Shrikhande, CEO of Taproot Dentsu, on the complete overhaul of the advertising agency

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Brands pitch experiences, hope for millennial buy-in

From furniture and mobile phones to fashion and lifestyle, experience stores are opening up new paths to customer engagement and retention

opening up new paths to customer engagement and retention Royal Enfield looks to build a biking

Royal Enfield looks to build a biking community around its brand, while Fabindia has a café and a children’s entertainment zone inside its new experience centres

T E NARASIMHAN

W hat does it take to sell clothes, mobile phones, furniture, bikes, cars and all else to millennial customers?

Engaging them with the right experience say brand custodians at Fab India, Royal Enfield, Pepperfry, One Plus, RedMi and many others. Over the past year and more, several brands have experimented with their retail outlets or opened up new ones to serve up a range of experiences—café, wellness centres, chil- dren’s playrooms, reading corners and what have you—apart from their core offering. The brand promise, they say, is increasingly about values and emotional connections as much as it is about a product or a service to meet a need. Ajay Kapoor, president-Retail at Fabindia that has opened 11 centres over the past year or so said that experience centres mark a shift from transactional exchanges to a more expe- riential and interactive retail experience. FabIndia plans to go for 30 more centres in the coming months. “As per the industry norm, re-developing a store leads to 6-7 per cent sales growth whereas with experience centres we are experiencing a jump of up to 30 per cent,” said Kapoor. Brands are interpreting the millennial rush for experience in different ways. Some see it as a need to entertain the customer, others look to align the brand to specific tastes and expectations. Royal Enfield stores for instance are built to push the feeling of camaraderie among bikers, to create an ambience where enthusiasts can share their passion about rid- ing, said its spokesperson. The centres offer a glimpse into the brand’s history and its posi-

tion within the shared heritage of the world of biking and adventure. The Royal Enfield Garage Cafe in Goa, for instance, hosts a motorcycle museum, customisation area, a café and a retail store. Brands such as Pepperfry, born and bred in the digital universe, look at experience cen- tres as physical outposts that help bring cus- tomers into the fold. Customers want to touch, feel and interact with furniture, said its spokesperson. Pepperfry Studios help the con- sumer choose the right type of furniture and have a conversion (customers to footfalls) ratio of over 50 per cent. “The average ticket size of a studio order is three times that of an online order. Studios contribute 30 per cent to our topline and we have seen catchment sales go up by 90-100 per cent in areas where we have launched a Studio,” the spokesperson added. The company has ramped up its offline strategy significantly, going from 29 Studios at the end of FY2018 to 52, end of FY2019. The company said that it was targeting an increase in their contribution to the topline from 30 per cent to 45 per cent. One Plus that started with an online-only presence and set up its first experience store in Bengaluru has now expanded to Chennai and Delhi. Vikas Agarwal, general manager, One Plus India says Indian consumers prefer to touch and feel the product before making their purchase. Besides premium buyers look for a value-added experience woven around their core purchase. Hence Agarwal added, One Plus serves gourmet coffee and creates an ambience of exclusivity in its centres. Rival brand Xiaomi has five ‘Mi Home’ stores across Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai. The centres are a way for the brand

to reach out to customers directly thereby

removing multiple operational costs and inef- ficiencies said the company’s spokesperson.

For home décor and lifestyle brands expe-

rience centres are a longstanding tradition. K

E Ranganathan, managing director, Roca

Bathroom Products said that they help pro-

vide a seamless retail experience. For some it

is a way to showcase the diverse set of prod-

ucts in its fold and establish an umbrella

brand. Vasanth Kumar, managing director, Lifestyle International said they are setting up large (50,000 square feet) centres where

its products will be retailed.

However experience centres are much more than retail showrooms. They are not about products or pricing, but a place where one can relax and enjoy the entire shopping experience say the brands that are working on creating such centres. For bike brand Jawa, experience stores create a warm brand expe- rience, said Ashish Joshi, chief executive, Classic Legends. Here buyers can walk in, read

about the bike’s Czechoslovakian origins, dig into motorcycle folklore or buy T-shirts and accessories or browse around the small library

of books located in the space. The art of retail

it would appear is all about the art of master- ing the subtle sales pitch.

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The changing face of the ad agency

The very shape and nature of the advertising agency is changing, writes Umesh Shrikhande

the advertising agency is changing, writes Umesh Shrikhande A strategic inflection point is upon us. Legacy

A strategic inflection point is upon us. Legacy structures aren’t working. New capability creation is critical.

Storytelling needs a makeover; while televi- sion commercials are not irrelevant, the dig- ital footprint is growing rapidly and demand- ing that we think new, fresh and radical. Profits are at an all time low, fundamentals are at stake. For agencies, the rapidly evolving business could either reveal new opportunities or open the door to a downward spiral. What must ad agencies do and how must they change, is a question that occupies most in the business today. The good news is that new agencies have begun exploring models that are lean, agile, capable, responsive and hopefully more prof- itable. What has emerged are a bunch of com- pact, integrated structures framed by an expanding web of collaborative relationships. One also hears of a new agency that is built on the lines of a private equity fund focused on start-up companies. All these are exciting developments. Legacy agencies have also begun integrat- ing acquired digital and CRM agencies with their main agencies. Clearly all these devel- opments hinge on the objective of exploring new-age models of working to deliver superi- or counsel and value. The tectonic shifts and real threats notwithstanding, the centrality of ideas in value-creation hasn’t diminished.

In fact more than ever before, clients are seek- ing ideas that will help them grow in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambi- guity) world. So what must inform the new age agency business model?

Diversity of talent: The ‘Hollywood model’ seems to be the way to go. A strong core team with capabilities like strategic planning (including data and digital), ideation and cre- ativity, business development and production co-ordination complemented by special pur- pose teams. There may be an advisory board of subject matter experts and production services can be outsourced. Such models are highly adaptable, allowing us to reassess investment decisions more often. High engagement means motivation is strong and skills are evident allowing agencies to com- mand a premium. However it needs high lev- els of collaborative and negotiation skills, enabling cultures, fluid structures and inno- vative training and development plans.

Non-standard deliveries: The output is going to get increasingly non-standard, forc- ing agencies to look beyond tried and tested ways of delivering what clients want. An inte- grated agency’s mandate will be to create strategic-communication interventions any- where on the value-chain.

Building leaders: For the longest time, this industry has operated on the belief that lead- ers create themselves. The year 2018, more

than ever before, has highlighted the fact that we couldn’t have been more wrong. There is

a serious paucity of talent and it is time to

tap new sources. Art schools, business schools and competing organisations need not be the only focus. We need to go wider and find, cre-

ate, nurture and groom leaders with a supe- rior state of new-age-readiness across cre- ative, strategy and business.

The profit imperative: Agency remunera- tion needs a review. Generating good quality ideas and having the tenacity to produce them well, is a tough business. Technology may have made it more efficient but it can never make it easy. The fee system (arguably brought in as a fairer way of remuneration over the commission system) has in many cases, degenerated into a cost-saving meas- ure. A tighter model with senior level engage- ment and sharper accountabilities will help reduce costs while making a stronger case for higher remuneration. However, we do need to move towards a fairer model, well-aligned with the eclectic talent and capabilities being sought, so that agencies could keep investing in new capabilities with an R&D mindset that the new age demands.

Transmedia brand engagement: It is an

exciting world today with a zillion possibili- ties (including but also beyond traditional media) of conversations, messaging and transactions done through a careful seeding or sharing or gaming and what have you. Layer this further with fascinating data dis- coveries made through the AI lens, and there

is a rich territory to play in. Moreover, as the

human condition evolves, storytelling gets richer too. In the days and years to come, nav- igating this staggering array of touchpoints for creating a clear role for the brand in the lives of people will be a huge challenge. Optimising budgets while finding the conver- sation plus media sweet spot will not be easy. For new models to work therefore, we will need new talent structures led by classical brand champions and strategic planners for uncovering basic consumer motivations as well as writers, art directors, UX designers, data scientists, customer experience special- ists, business strategists who know how to monetise and extract growth from personali- sation and media-channel planners to help optimise the touchpoints. Over the past few years and months, some moves towards a new model have been set

into motion. But these are early days still and

it will take some time for new models to settle

down and hum like well-oiled machines. The list of things to be done or added or removed will keep growing and it will be a while before the emerging models settle down into lasting structures. Meanwhile it will hold us in good stead to reflect on some of the imperatives that have emerged, as businesses and the way we do business keeps changing. The author is CEO of Taproot Dentsu Next: Srija Chatterjee managing director of Publicis Worldwide (India), writes on the impact of 2018 on gender equations for the ad and media industry

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Ethnic fashion brands trip over GI

As a small community from TN battles Reliance Trends, Tjori over GI violations, it signals trouble for many more

before Flipkart, brave but bloodied and running low on resources, threw in the towel and sold to Walmart. Less than 12 months later, Flipkart’s founders are out of the business they built, as is their leadership team. Like the epic heroes, Kauravas and the Pandavas at Kurukshetra, Amazon and Walmart will fight on battle-field India. Unlike the Kauravas and Pandavas, nei- ther adversary is of this soil. The Koreans battle the Chinese for smartphone spoils and the Japanese for the automobile sector. In both sec- tors, Indian brands tread lightly to avoid being crushed by the battling elephants. GSK sold Horlicks to Unilever in a move that isn’t without a colonial echo. With both MNCs headquartered in the UK (and Unilever additionally in the Netherlands), the sale is reminiscent of the islands of Bombay being gifted as dowry to Britain’s King Charles II on his marriage to Portugal’s Princess Catherine of Braganza in 1662. While the asset exchanged hands in India, the deal was struck many thousands of miles away. But more than policy, Indian business dis- covered to its chagrin that the brands they thought they had built were relatively powerless and had to face the consequences of years of low differentiation and under-support. The year of owning up to bad behaviour America’s #metoo movement gave courage to many Indian victims of workplace abuse, of both genders but overwhelmingly women, to voice their experiences and name their aggres- sors. Corporate and personal reputations took a beating. The marketing industry was revealed as a largescale offender. As with many issues in the deafening Indian media bazaar, #metoo quickly degenerated into a babble of accusations and counteraccusations. Away from the hub- bub, professionals of both sexes privately reviewed their personal histories whether their actions in a less sensitized past might have been on the wrong side of the harassment line. There are now reports of the pendulum swinging the other way with men refusing to mentor women, avoiding one-on-one meet- ings behind closed doors and declin- ing post-work dinners unless in groups. Whichever side of the issue people weighed in on, one point became clear: India’s marketing indus- try had work to do to make the office wholesome and secure. The year the agency began its final death throes For years, advertising agencies’ impending collapse has been the worst kept secret. With the morbid fascination of Earthmen watching an asteroid heading straight at them in a disaster film, we have been waiting for the final cata- clysmic strike. But in actual fact it has been a far less dramatic meltdown and an internal one, like that from a leaking reactor core. Years of haem- orrhaging revenues, non-value producing merg- ers, loss of talent, client flight to smaller shops, shifting of spends to digital and loss of access to the C-suite have eroded agencies from within. Will we soon see a post-Chernobyl Pripyat-like ghost town where once stood agencies with a proud heritage in the names on their doors? It truly has been a year of reckoning. Next: Umesh Shrikhande, CEO of Taproot Dentsu, on the complete overhaul of the adver- tising agency

(Left) A pouch embroidered in the Toda community’s trademark black-and-red embroidery that is at the
(Left) A pouch embroidered in the Toda community’s trademark
black-and-red embroidery that is at the centre of the dispute

SHALLY SETH MOHILE

W e’ve had an exceptionally busy year

from a brand and marketing perspec-

tive. But what sets 2018 apart from pre-

vious years is the magnitude of the shocks that hit our brand ecosystem. Shocks that would rank high on a marketing Richter scale, the after- shocks of which will be felt for quite some time to come, as many an action and event from pre- vious years completed its inglorious cycle and had to be reckoned with. The year we finally broke trust with social media India’s enchantment with the smartphone, heralded for its potential to change lives for the better, started to turn dark some years ago when we plunged into a hyper-addiction to social media. Fuelled by cheap smartphones, low data prices and free apps, India took to social media with the speed of a Formula 1 car. For a while

our proclivity for a billion good morning mes- sages every day amused and enthused the tech world, but soon sinister forces started to see the opportunity in our addiction. Our personal data became available to the highest bidder, or was hacked by open system apps, and we found our- selves being manipulated, whether for the mar- keting of a political idea or to push identification with a particular community. Brands were prey too, as self-styled influencers took crores of rupees off unsuspecting businesses before the smarter ones twigged on to the marketing impo- tence and low return from online influence bro- kers. Whether fake news or fake influencers, our social media addiction and dependence on dig- ital pundits came home with an unsavoury bang. The year we ceded control Not long ago, India’s policy makers permitted FDI and 100 per cent foreign ownership in e- retail (and a range of other sectors). Amazon and Flipkart went head to head for about three years

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STRATEGY www.business-standard.com Branded by origin With an exclusive store for GI tagged products at the Goa

Branded by origin

With an exclusive store for GI tagged products at the Goa airport, the government looks to build a premium label for indigenous ware

TE NARASIMHAN

to prevent trademark infringement. In the past, the Indian government has had a hard time claiming geographical identities for home grownproducts and crafts and even when it has, protecting the tag has been expensive. The stores present an organised face to the GI initiative and may prevent such misuse or such is the hope. The store has its own tagline, Atulya Bharat ki amulya nidhi (Invaluable treasures of incred- ible India). It will bolster the government’s efforts to create awareness about geographical origin and trademark. Among the recent entrants into the GI club are the Puneri pagri (turban), Alphonso mangoes from Ratnagiri, dhokra ware from Bastar and several others. The GI Store will display and sell original and authentic products recognised under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, says Sushil Satpute, director, DIPP, ministry of Commerce & Industry. It is expected to preserve traditions and leverage growing consumer inter- est in ethnic fare. But given the globalisation of tradition, large- ly driven by small home grown outlets that have built their brands via digital platforms, does GI tagging help? To an extent say experts, it helps differentiate such products from the rest and stamps authenticity on the purchase. Given the

D arjeeling tea, Alphonso mangoes, Makrana marbles or dhokra horses, take your pick the next time you travel in or

out

of an airport in India. For now an assorted

mix

of GI (geographical indication) tagged prod-

ucts

will be available at exclusive government-

owned GI stores. The first store opened at the

departure terminal of the Goa airport earlier this week and there will be more, promised Suresh Prabhu, minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, speaking at the launch. Geography, history and the promise of authen- ticity are what the government hopes to leverage, while offering a window into the diverse range of products that originate in the country. The venture, which is an initiative of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), will use the 330 products registered with the country’s GI registrar. This includes 14 prod- ucts of foreign origin that have been listed for

sale

at such outlets. S Kannan, executive director

and

secretary, The Cashew Export Promotion

Council of India (CEPCI), part of the Goa team

says the stores aim to enhance marketability of

GI products. The push to gather all GI tagged products under an exclusive retail platform is also a way

involvement of the state in the venture, it also helps build trust in the brand. While these are the advantages, the downside is that state-run emporia have not always proven to be the best custodians of traditional arts and craft. “The government has undertaken several steps for promotion of Indian products. These include promotion through social media and so on,” says Satpute implying that the department is keen to make it work. He is also hopeful that the stores will create a distinct identity for the products and long lasting associations about their country of origin. Ambi Parameswaran, brand strategist and founder of Brand-Building.com says the idea is great, but perhaps the government could use a familiar brand to headline the stores, he says. Calling it a GI store does not immediately create the required association, the stores could be named after a product or a uniquely Indian weave or colour, he suggests. According to officials associated with the ven- ture, the GI tag is an important tool as it gives the rightful share of intellectual property to the artisan and the place of origin of the product. For consumers GIs act as a signalling device, helping identify genuine quality. Apart from the thrust into modern retail, the department is also promoting its GI initiatives online and organis- ing promotional activities. Potential GI tourism circuits will also be identified to create special trails for those interested in the craft traditions and the history of such products. The products are also being offered online through an e-com- merce venture registered with DIPP. Born and made in India, GI products are also a smart and perhaps, less controversial, way to showcase the country’s traditions.

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Vivo makes the right connection

The phone maker is hoping IPLwillhelpimprove penetration of its smartphones—thedevices on which the cricket matchesstream

SHUBHOMOY SIKDAR

T he title sponsorship of the hot prop- erty that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is gives you enough bragging rights this time of the year and

leverage for the rest of it, one would believe. Into its fourth IPL season and shelling out a whopping ~440 crore annually for the asso- ciation, the Chinese smartphone manufac- turer feels it is on course with its branding goals and has enhanced its engagement with the larger audience. To answer if the juice is worth the squeeze for that kind of an investment leads to some questions. The key among them is the branding translating into sales. The company says that not every gain can be tangible and cautions that life beyond the carnival is just as important. Some experts, however, raise a doubt on whether IPL as a platform has given it a distinct brand identity. Nipun Marya, director, brand strategy, Vivo India, says while there is an uptick (doesn’t share numbers) in the sales during the 40-odd days the IPL matches are played, its newer initiatives around the gala event have helped the brand immensely and can strengthen it further. He finds the results of the brand metrics analysis — done in the beginning and at the end of the IPL season and including factors such as aware- ness, considerations, performance, current posi- tions and purchase intent — encouraging. Even as he goes on to add that “sales is a function of many things and absolutely attributing everything to IPL might not be cor- rect”, Marya says the response to the company’s latest offerings, V15 and V15 Pro, the launch of which have almost coincided with the IPL or the weeks running up to it, have been good, even dubbing V15 as the most “successful prod- uct of the V series”. “Our retailers and distributors are geared to gain from the brand recall that we get during these 45-50 days and we also launch some of our premium products using this window,” he explains how it works for Vivo. Among the ini- tiatives, he talks about the Vivo Perfect Fan con- test (see box) as a major brand building exercise. “Anyone sitting in any part of the country can take part in our contest and it is not confined to only the urban centres where the stadiums are. Similarly fanparks take us deep into the country with newer centres like Madurai and Gangtok being added this year and enhance the brand presence aided by the promotional activities.” The company is also tapping the newer social media forums. For instance, on TikTok, which has garnered a massive following across the

NEW TOUCH POINTS
NEW TOUCH POINTS

Earlieronlypartnerswere eligiblefortheVivoBoxwhich offersaluxuriouscricketviewing experience in the stadium. This yearanyonecancontestand winaseat For better imagery, the latest model V15 has been placed in

the trophy itself — a deviation from the packaged box given till last year The Vivo Concourse was like a dug out which was only used by spectators as a selfie-clicking point earlier, this year it is bigger and

includes many interactive exercises WiththeBCCItakingtheIPLfan parks to newer cities, Vivo believes it has a better opportunity to build a better connectwiththealliedactivities it does for brand building there

HIGH STAKES

~60,908 cr*

The total advertising market in India

~3,450 cr*

Contribution of

the telecom

category in

advertising across TV, print and radio

~550 -650*

Vivo Mobile’s

annual

expenditure on

advertising

~440 cr**

The average annual sponsorship money Vivo pumps into IPL as a part of its five-year-

deal (2018-22)

9*

Vivo’s rank among advertisers in India across categories in 2018, it ranked

12 in 2017

10%*

The sports genre’s contribution to TV advertising in 2018, up from 3 per cent in 2009

urban-rural divide, the company recently ran a campaign which earned 30 million impressions. It is also natural that the IPL window is a huge opportunity to advertise its products with premium slots reserved for it. For a com- pany which plays across price points — rang- ing between ~8,000 and ~29,000 — isn’t Vivo undoing some potential gains by airing com- mercials only for the flagship products V15 and V15 Pro, featuring brand ambassador and actor Aamir Khan? While he acknowledges the importance of range advertising, Marya says it also depends on what is the company’s strat- egy at that point. “For us it is important that the consumers look forward to the new prod- ucts because those are the new offerings to the market and also because the flagship prod- ucts carry with them a lot of innovation into the market. Also when that product, equipped with the latest features, draws one to the store,

people have the option of enquiring about and experiencing other products too. The halo effect gets transferred to the other products as well.” Digital marketer Shubho Sengupta feels that as a consumer brand Vivo does have certain advantages over other companies that held the title sponsorship in the past. “There is a better connect with Vivo than with DLF. DLF just want- ed to get noticed and there is a far better con- sumer connect in the inexpensive, first-time phone lot, especially in regional for Vivo; DLF was primarily urban,” he says. For Marya, the convenience that OTT plat- form provides and the steady growth it has reg- istered has left Vivo upbeat on both brand engagement and bullish on the prospects of the penetration for smartphones — the very devices on which the cricket matches stream and it looks to sell.

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Smart personalisation driving consumers to trade up

Beauty, personal care brands see a rise in the share of premium purchases, as consumer lifestylesandthewaytheyshopchange

purchases, as consumer lifestylesandthewaytheyshopchange SNEHA BHATTACHARJEE A sk anyone who treks down a purchase

SNEHA BHATTACHARJEE

A sk anyone who treks down a purchase path that starts with Instagram and ends up at an online shopping cart and

she will vouch for this: It takes barely minutes for one single purchase to multiply into many; and for what was meant to be a bargain buy, to end up burning a big hole in the wallet. Digital commerce has been a big game chang- er for consumer behaviour, say analysts. And, as Euromonitor reports, in India, brands are tracking it closely to drive bigger volumes for their premium labels. A recent report “Megatrends: What is shap-

ing the future opportunities in India?” points out that consumer expenditure grew 13 per cent in 2017-2018. It identifies the megatrends as — premiumisation, connected consumers and shopping reinvented (innovative pur- chase pathways that adapt to changing con- sumer behaviour)— shaping the Indian mar- ket. One example of the move towards premiumisation is in the beauty and personal care industry, wherein premium beauty and personal care brands’ sales to the overall cat- egory sales grew from 4.4 per cent (2015) to 4.8 per cent in 2016 and 5.1 per cent in 2017 according to the report. “In 2018, India had 560 million internet users and we expect 99 per cent of mobile sub-

Premium beauty and personal care brands’ sales to the overall category sales grew from 4.4 per cent (2015) to 4.8 per cent in 2016 and 5.1 per cent in 2017 (Euromonitor)

scribers will have access to inter- net on their mobiles by 2030,” says Amulya Pandit, senior research analyst, Euromonitor International. As per the report’s

lifestyles survey of 2018, there is more reliance in recent years on independent consumer reviews and recommendations from family and friends influencing their pur- chase decisions. Beauty brands have been able to success- fully map this trend by working with influ- encers and through online tutorials. Plus increased personalisation, which pushes pre- mium products based on past behaviour, has helped. However says K V Sridhar, founder- chief creative officer of HyperCollective, per- sonalisation is nothing new, nor is it a digital phenomenon alone. “Indian consumers were always aware of personalisation. For them, it meant looking at convenience and aspirations that matched their expectations. It was their emotional equity with a brand that influenced their loyalty. Personalisation was once asso- ciated with the service economy however, now it is more about experience economy,” he adds. The demand for a personalised experience, according to many, is what is fuelling the omnichannel shopping ecosystem and an ‘everything-everywhere’ mindset among con-

sumers. N Chandramouli, founder, Trust Research Advisory says as there is higher disposable income, even smaller cities now have access to pre- mium brands. However, what is miss-

ing is the brand’s adaptability to these trends. “They (brands) are looking into a mirror but not willing to look outside the window where their consumers live. As a result, the strategies are singular,” he says. The big

change he says most brands are still blind to,

is the sharp difference in consumer behaviour

among people living within a few kilometres of each other. Gone are the times, when you could approach a state with a single strategy of posi- tioning your brands. “Neighbouring cities are no longer same. What may work in Coimbatore might not in Chennai. Brands need to be consumer centric and not tier I/II/III centric,” he adds. Hence companies will have to look at the emerging megatrends as part of their brand strategy, feels Pandit. “Brands need to know consumer’s priority. There has to be curation

and personalisation. The more experiences you offer, the more you will touch the heart

of a consumer. Further, anything that will save

a consumer’s time, and be readily available is going to be a winner,” he adds.

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GUEST COLUMN

Defining Japan in just one word

Today Japan will announce the name of its new “era”, a historical event and a precursor to the royal succession

a historical event and a precursor to the royal succession for a year now. Expert panels

for a year now. Expert panels have discussed, deliberated and debated many options and suggestions. Japan’s cabinet on Monday morning will most likely endorse the final recommended name. To guard against leaks, even cabinet members will reportedly hand over their

phones and smart-watches before the meeting, and must stay in the

decision-making room until the official proclamation is made. On Monday morning in Tokyo, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga will enter a room, pause, bow, gather his thoughts and then hold up a work of handwritten calligraphy — written in traditional sumi ink on decorated shikishi paper. Millions of people across Japan will pause too and digest the meaning of the two kanji characters, and history would have been made. Heiwa (peace) and Ankyu (peaceful and permanent) are potential candidates for the era name, but no one really knows. Well, Monday morning will witness the historic revelation: The new era’s name will be a veritable “reset”. Japan will surely hope it will be a reset for new “hope”.

Akihito abdicates in favour of his son Crown Prince Naruhito on May 1

I magine coining the phrase “The Victorian era” or “The Mughal period” or “The Stone Age”. And then imagine how millions and

millions of people on Planet Earth will use that phrase for years and years, and for generations after generations. Well, we are today in that unique cusp of history : On Monday, April 1, Japan will announce the era name that will be used for the new Emperor’s reign that begins on May 1 as the current Emperor Akihito abdi- cates in favour of his son Crown Prince Naruhito. When in 1989, Emperor Akihito took the throne, the name given for the era under his reign was Heisei which is now in its 31 st year. Before that, the Emperor's father, the war-time Emperor Hirohito held the throne for 62 years — an era that was named Showa. Every emperor's reign, or gengo, has a name, which is used alongside the Western calendar to count the years. The naming of an era is somewhat similar to the naming of a newborn child. It will carry hopes and expectations. Dreams for the future of Japan. The gengo name appears on coins, newspapers, driving licences and all official paperwork as a way of marking time. Under the system, which spans several centuries, 2019 is known as Heisei 31, or the 31 st year of

Akihito’s reign. Eras, their names and their happenings,

each have a distinct flavour. At the beginning of the Meiji era in the late 19th century, Japan began to adopt a capitalist system and opened up to the world. The Meiji (enlightened rule) era of 1868-1912 is therefore remembered as a period of western- inspired modernisation. The Showa

(enlightened harmony) era, which began in 1926, is closely associated with Japan’s economic rise, but also

with its role in the Second World War. So there are always mixed feelings when Showa is mentioned. The Heisei era too has its own set of imagery. Foremost of course what comes to mind is the end of the bubble economy. Also the loss of economic supremacy in Asia to China. And of course, there are memories of the 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway and the disastrous earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accidents of March 2011. The Era Name Act stipulates that a name must be written with two Chinese characters, it must have a positive meaning, and it must be easy to read and write, and not be a phrase that is commonly used. It is also unlikely to start with the first character of any of the last four eras: Heisei, Showa, Taisho and Meiji. Beyond that, the selection process is highly confidential. The process has been in progress

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Late mover advantage

Recent entrant Aditya Birla Health Insurance hopes to make headway by incentivising healthy living

SHUBHOMOY SIKDAR

The company is providing virtual and physical care assistants to help with claim settlement and
The company is providing
virtual and physical care
assistants to help with claim
settlement and hospitalisation

activity with their consent. So if you are doing something positive about your health — from running to gymming or yoga — we give 2.5 per cent of premium back every month through a fund account. The option is with

the customer to pay off her health bills or to wait till the end of the year to pay a part of the next year’s premium.” But then how does one monitor “physical activity” or believe the claims made by a consumer? ABHI gets a period- ic health assessment or fitness assessment done for the con- sumer which consists of five to seven tests at a location which is convenient for the consumer. “We get it done at our cost. It's not that we make the insured run on treadmills or make them undergo a set of scans because people tend to get scared. These are some basic tests such as

I n a country where exposure to health insurance is low — only 29 per cent of the families had at least one member cov- ered by health insurance, according to

the fourth National Family Health Survey — and lifestyle diseases are getting increasingly common, often a chronic condition or a sud- den ailment can mean a lifetime of savings wiped off. This low base provides ample opportunity to and has translated into robust growth for standalone health insurers (SHIs) in recent years. Sensing an opportunity, Aditya Birla Health Insurance (ABHI) has waded into the market and is well aware of the challenges ahead if it wants to break into the top three SHIs by the year 2023, a target it has set for itself recently. ABHI claims to be at No. 5 among the seven SHIs players currently. Those vying to sell health policies also include heavyweight general insurance companies such as New India Assurance, Bajaj Allianz, ICICI Lombard and Oriental. According to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, the total premium collection by the SHIs in 2017-18 was ~8314.28 crore, of which ABHI accounted for nearly three per cent, that is, ~243.17 crore while the table topper Star Health accounted for ~4,161 crore, or 50 per cent of the pie. Star Health was followed by Apollo Munich and Religare with premium collections of ~1,717.51 crore and ~1091.61 crore respectively. This ~8,314.28 crore collect- ed by SHIs, again, is barely a fifth of the total ~41,981 crore premium collected in the health segment last year. ABHI is banking on retail sales with the focal point being a diverse young population. It aims to beat competition by incentivising healthy lifestyle, expanding the domain beyond hospitalisation costs, leverag- ing the power of digital through swift issuance of poli- cies and making claim settle- ment hassle-free. Since aware- ness of health insurance remains low, the company is also banking on the tie-ups with 10 banks and the foot- print of its parent group to boost both reach and aware- ness, says Mayank Bathwal, chief executive, ABHI. Bathwal says, “We have products which are rewarding you for staying healthy and give you up to 30 per cent back on your premium besides the cover. There is a whole matrix of tracking the consumer's health and physical

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CATCHING UP Giving up to 30 per cent discount on premium based on the holder's
CATCHING UP
Giving up to 30 per cent discount on
premium based on the holder's health
and fitness status
Tying up with gyms, employing mobile
apps to track fitness regimens
Providing health coaches to advise on
lifestyle changes for chronic conditions
Leveraging the tie-up with maximum
banks among all SHIs to improve reach
and awareness
With the banks — ranging from HDFC to a
small finance bank — ABHI is targeting Tier
III and IV cities

blood sugar, blood pressure, body mass index and based on the results, we categorise them as 'green', 'yellow' or 'red' on the health sta- tus.” The company also offers a chronic care management programme for its flagship prod- uct. “If someone enters as a healthy customer and owing to one or various factors such as sedentary lifestyle, genetics etc, gets diabetes, the programme will kick in. We have four con- ditions covered under the chronic care man- agement programme called ABCD (asthma, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes). For any of these conditions or a combination of them, the programme will offer two benefits — the regular non-hospitalisation medical costs will start getting covered up to a certain amount and second a health coach will be appointed for the person.” This health coach will not replace a doctor but will suggest healthy lifestyle choices after understanding the body needs and help some- one manage diabetes or blood pressure well. The company has a team of 10 doctors cur- rently working as health coaches and plan to add more as they go along. Similarly, ABHI has a feature called virtual care manager where people on the phone are available. “So, the moment you lodge a cashless claim, the virtual care manager will be appointed for you, they will help you navigate through the hospital system, making sure you have a has- sle free experience. In two locations, Delhi and Chennai, we even send a physical care man- ager. Typically, these are nurses who ensure that the process of hospital admissions and claim settlement is without any trouble.” The company has a tie up with 6,000 hos- pitals, which Bathwal feels is sufficient. ABHI now wants to increase its footprint in terms of diagnostic centres, pharmacies and doctors

because of the out-patient benefits it is offer- ing for chronic care. But that or the gym tie ups or hiring the care managers mean extra cost for the company. How feasible is that? Avinash Singh, analyst at SBICAP Securities, says ABHI is chasing growth and is ready to burn cash. “As a late comer, they have to show that they are a meaningful player and they are ready to burn capital for that. The risk, however, is that if a new competitor comes along and increases the competitive intensity, it can make life more challenging,” says Singh. He says that while the 20-25 per cent growth for the SHI category over the past few years is likely to hold, for someone like Aditya Birla, it may have to look around 40 per cent to hit the ~2,000 crore premium col- lection target by 2023.

More on www.business-standard.com

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Brand KPMG presents a team story at 25

With employees as brand ambassadors, the firm looks to craft an inspirational tale; but misses an opportunity to spin a memorable campaign say experts

The campaign has employees sharing stories about their passion, be it biking or sports, and
The campaign has employees sharing stories about their passion, be it biking or sports, and their work ethic
AMRITHA PILLAY
is tricky, given the intangible nature of the
brand and the mixed group of clients they
want to address. Given this, using employees

O ne employee talks about her love for

football, another of his passion for the

shooting range. Both work in KPMG

and both are speaking up for their employer as part of a campaign to celebrate the consult- ing firm’s twenty-fifth year in India. KPMG is looking to establish itself as a place that nur- tures interesting talent and as a consulting firm of choice for its clients, turning to its employees for a glowing testimonial. While this makes for sound strategy, experts say that the firm may have slipped up on execution and ended up with a rather weak endorsement of its prowess. The campaign, KPMGjOSH, launched ear- lier this year and expected to run through to the end of 2019 has been released on digital and print. It has employees sharing stories about their passions and about how they go beyond office hours to serve their company’s clients. Laudable attributes all but, brand experts say, the narrative lacks integrity. “The intent is not bad, it is the idea and execution that could be better. It is a missed opportunity both for the agency and compa- ny,” said KV Sridhar, founder and chief cre- ative officer for Hyper Collective. For consult- ing firms, getting the advertising pitch right

to stand up for the brand’s values has worked

for many in the past. “It is a declaration of what we are capable

of, driven by the inner fire to win, to make a difference. It is a statement that establishes the firm as the #ClearChoice for businesses and professionals who want to succeed,” said

a spokesperson for KPMG. In addition, the

campaign involves a weekly exercise of employees across practices sharing stories with the firm around the same theme. “We believe that our culture and our people are our differentiating point. Hence the idea was to make them central to this campaign,” the spokesperson added. Harish Bijoor, founder, Harish Bijoor Consults believes that using employees as brand ambassadors is a great idea. “In the case of KPMG, as it celebrates 25 years in India, it has decided to use its employees. Good thing. When you use an employee there is a greater degree of internal connect with the creative execution,” he said. Bijoor, however, has a word of caution.”It is very important for the creatives to be packed with integrity and every creative must speak the language of high quality,” Bijoor

says. Miss that and one could turn into a point of ridicule or fodder for memes and more, he warns. It is also important to establish consulting firms as egalitarian workspaces, different from the image of being fiefdoms that operate in secrecy, given the backlash against some members of the profession for their roles in corporate scams. To that end, asking employ- ees across the hierarchical matrix to share their stories does make for an interesting branding opportunity. However as Sridhar points out, it would have worked better if the campaign had been crafted with greater thought. He recalled a campaign for Sapient in 2016 where the ad asked for troublemakers to sign up for a job. “It conveyed we do not want people who are yes men, but troublemakers who ask uncom- fortable questions,” he said. KPMG’s campaign has also raised several eyebrows over its timing. Given the regulatory spotlight that audit firms in India are under. But that may just be reading too much into a campaign, said Bijoor. “The timing may give one that impression but this looks like a KPMG 25 years in India campaign,” he added.

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Byju’s steps out of comfort zone

The homegrown education technology firm hopes to replicate its successful India model in the US, UK and Australia

SANGEETA TANWAR

A fter disrupting the market for online education in India, Byju’s is getting ready to set foot in select global markets. The education technology firm is

keen on rolling out operations in English- speaking markets and some Commonwealth countries. Byju’s is actively looking at oppor- tunities in the United States (US), the United Kingdom and Australia. The company is looking at acquisitions as a model of growth and is hoping to beef up its offering with orig- inal video content that will resonate with its target audience. Currently valued at $3.6 billion, Byju’s started the year by acquiring US-based Osmo for $120 million. The acquisition gives it a foothold among a new demographic — kids in the three-eight age group. Supporting the concept of play-based learning for children, Osmo produces augmented reality games for mobile devices. Mrinal Mohit, chief operat- ing officer, Byju’s, says, “We are building a product for the international markets. At present, our focus is getting the K-3 (lower grades first, then second and third grades) product ready for launch in the next few months.” Stepping out of its comfort zone, Byju’s will have to compete with a lot of non-for-profit organisations and established universities. With popular names such as Khan Academy, there is no dearth of competition in the field of technology-led education. What this also means is that the education market overseas is lucrative. “Byju’s should be able to charge better pricing in international markets. Tuition fees are high in developed markets. With its promise of making education affordable, the company should be able to achieve better unit realisation through subscriptions in select mar- kets,” says Rakhi Thakur, associate professor, SPJIMR. The going won’t be easy for Byju’s nonetheless. Building local teams and fight- ing local competition is easier said than done. The education market is currently valued at $5 trillion globally. According to some esti- mates, education technology investment alone will reach $252 billion by the year 2020. With digital content being the par for the course, technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and internet of things are com- monly employed by edutech companies worldwide to design curriculum and make things interactive for students. Some of the fastest growing companies in the field — such as School OS which is regarded as one of the best education startups in the world, and Gro

as one of the best education startups in the world, and Gro Like in India, in

Like in India, in markets abroad, Byju’s will work with the philosophy that standardised tests are not a mark of a child’s learning potential. Its goal is to make children active learners who focus on conceptual learning over rote-learning

Play — have designed products that claim to offer a unique learn- ing experience to the students. Experts in the industry are optimistic that the home-grown edu-tech firm is in a strong posi- tion to succeed in the overseas markets as well. To begin with, the company has done well to pick up English-speaking countries as its first overseas stop. Thakur says, “Byju’s choice of English-speaking countries for its international debut will give it a relatively easy entry into these markets. Countries such as the US, the UK and Australia are global education hubs. Classroom experience in some of these countries is becom- ing expensive by the day. There

will be many takers for quality education that is affordable.” For the record, Byju’s closed a $540 million Series F funding round led by Naspers in September 2018. So it has the required resources to expand operations. It is learnt that Byju’s is busy setting up its own office in the US and that country would possibly be its first overseas stop. Byju’s is planning to work with popular global YouTube teachers who are experts in their own domains. In India, Byju’s has been highly successful in leveraging technology to provide quality, yet affordable education to a large sec- tion of students. It is hoping to replicate the same model in international markets as well. With smartphone adoption and technology becoming ubiquitous the world over, the focus

will be on integrating technology into its prod- ucts in a way that it makes learning more

“At present, our focus is getting the K-3 (lower grades first, then second and third

“At present, our focus is getting the K-3 (lower grades first, then second and third grades) product ready for launch in the next few months”

MRINAL MOHIT

Chief operating officer, Byju’s

enjoyable for students. The company is confident that as long as it succeeds in addressing the needs of local students, and make learning seamless and affordable, reten- tion will happen on its own. “We are trying to address the need for access to quality edu- cation. And this need remains the same irrespective of geog- raphy. While the education standards and schooling could differ across the world, they are all designed to prepare the stu- dents for examinations only,” explains Mohit. Like in India, in markets abroad, Byju’s will work with the philosophy that standardised tests are not a mark of a child’s

learning potential. The goal is to make children active learners — to focus on conceptual learning over rote-learning. In a nutshell, Byju’s is of the view that its challenge from the beginning, irrespective of geography, has been changing the perception about how children should learn. The company’s success in its own backyard has been staggering. The company boasts of 30 million registered students and two million annual paid subscribers in India already. Byju’s reported revenues of ~490 crore for the financial year 2017-18, a 97 per cent jump over the corresponding period last year. It is look- ing to clock revenues to the tune of ~1,400

crore this financial year. It is not only creating content in English and Hindi but putting together learning programmes in vernacular languages as well.

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Small brands power Instagram’s marketplace run in India

As the photo sharing platform gets ready to open for business in the country, small
As the photo sharing platform gets ready to open for business in the country, small
businesses and regional labels are hoping to cash in

(From left)Swiggy, Chumbak, Sabyasachi are among the most aggressive brands on Instagram where 64 per cent of the users are in the 18-34 age band

NIKHAT HETAVKAR

T he power of smartly composed photo- graphs has never been more potent. Check out the Instagram stories for

Swiggy, the online food ordering and delivery platform, or Chumbak, an accessory design agency or fashion designer Sabyasachi, whose eponymous premium label is every celebrity’s calling card. Among the most active brands on the platform, they have seen their app down- loads increase and recorded big marketing wins at a fraction of the cost of traditional media ini- tiatives. Now as Instagram gets set to roll out its ‘shop’ button in the country, both the platform and its band of small brands are hoping to cash in on their engagement. Sabyasachi (fashion) with 3.3 million follow-

ers across seven accounts, Netflix with 710,000, Chumbak with 256,000 and Zomato with 118,000 are among the big users of Instagram stories, a format that allows easy display and access to products and services. And over the past year, they have cashed in as Instagram has

introduced a host of features that help browsers shop online as a prelude to opening itself up as

a marketplace. “Shopping on Instagram is cur-

rently available in 46 countries, and we are grad-

ually expanding to additional partners in coun- tries around the globe, including India,” said an Instagram spokesperson. India is an important market as small brands have been eager users and promoters of the plat- form in the country. They have benefited too as engagement with brands is 10 times higher on Instagram than Facebook says a 2018 report by Vidooly, an online video analytics and marketing company. According to the report, 60 per cent

of the app’s users login daily and it is the second

most engaged platform after Facebook. “In India, Instagram has high-value cus-

tomers. Even though the number of active users

is less than 65 million. This makes it a powerful

platform, especially for fashion, beauty, hospi-

tality and food brands,” said Vikas Chawla, co- founder of digital marketing agency Social Beat. According to data provided by research firm YouGov, 78 per cent of active Instagram users prefer shopping online. And while nearly every brand is using the platform today, digital native brands are likely to benefit the most when Instagram turns itself into a shopping platform, say experts. They could take a leaf out of Swiggy’s book.

It achieved a 17 per cent increase in installs with

a 30 per cent drop in cost per install due to an

Instagram campaign that ran from January to March 2018. Premium clothing brand Little West Street finds the platform extremely convenient. “Instagram is growing and customers love the visual aspect and the ease of purchase,” said

Samridhi Ganeriwala, founder, Little West Street,

a fashion brand. Fashion is among the biggest

category of brands using Instagram. Another draw according to experts is Instagram Analytics, a free tool. It encourages small brands to be bolder and more experimen- tal with the medium. Ganeriwala said that the detailed insights are helpful for the company to understand what resonates well with customers. “The breakdown of demographics, age, time of purchase etc. are very useful,” she said. And as shopping becomes even easier, brands like hers will be tracking these numbers even more eager- ly, hoping to turn their social accounts into com- mercial goldmines.

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MY BEST CAMPAIGN

Mixing goodness with fun

Mixing goodness with fun MY TAKE We managed to strike a balance between well-being and excitement

MY TAKE

We managed to strike a balance between well-being and excitement as well as accessibility and premiumness

BRAND: Britannia YEAR OF LAUNCH: 2018 AGENCY: INTERBRAND INDIA

BRAND: Britannia YEAR OF LAUNCH: 2018 AGENCY: INTERBRAND INDIA ASHISH MISHRA, Managing director Interbrand India

ASHISH MISHRA,

Managing director

Interbrand India

SANGEETA TANWAR

Which is your best campaign and why have you chosen it?

The campaign “exciting goodness” — as a part of Britannia’s brand-led transformation which was ushered in in 2018 — is my favourite work. This campaign is special because the project repositioned and re- imagined an old and well-established brand.

What was the key idea behind the brand makeover?

In the second half of 2016, Britannia’s board of directors tasked Interbrand with the responsibility of making the brand more contemporary. The brief was to rejuvenate the century-old brand to draw new consumers and explore new market opportunities in a manner that it reflected the company’s future plans and portfolio expansion. The brand’s new positioning of exciting goodness espoused the increasingly relevant idea of balance. The new logo celebrates this beautiful balance between the two fundamental choice drivers — well-being and excitement — and also between accessibility and being recognised as premium. Britannia is uniquely placed to champion this growing philosophy of consumption as well as lifestyle. When goodness and fun combine, new possibilities arise. The idea was to dispel the belief that these are mutually exclusive. Exciting goodness not only provides a unique positioning for Britannia portfolio but also

a unique positioning for Britannia portfolio but also informs its pur pose and its future innovations

informs its purpose and its future innovations framework.

How do you think the campaign helped redefine brand Britannia?

Although the world around had changed, merely refreshing the design would not have helped. The most compelling reason for the rebranding was strategic. It was to bring the future business strategy to life through the new-look brand. For the future, Britannia’s business ambition warranted a stronger connect with the youth and needed a broad- basing of the portfolio beyond biscuits while retaining its premium positioning.

Did you conduct a consumer research before creating the campaign?

The campaign followed a two-year brand engagement involving analysts, strategists and design experts from across Interbrand’s India, Madrid and London offices, who drew upon the wisdom of Britannia’s leadership, varied consumer cohorts, chefs and nutritionists. Insights drawn from these formed the basis of the refreshed new positioning for the brand. At the core of the strategic uplift was a larger narrative. It was about how the long-

standing master brands should be treated. The heritage mother brands in our market, as also in many other parts of the world, have had an existential challenge. There seems to be a pattern that they follow as they evolve. They all begin with being primary brands dealing in certain product(s) and gain substantial equity over time. That equity then provides the strength for extensions and expansions into newer categories through corresponding product brands. Over time, the product brands become big and get managed by dedicated teams at business unit levels. Simultaneously, the mother brand, devoid of a structural custodianship or governance, keeps getting weaker. This creates a downward spiral as the product brands, especially the premium and special ones, begin to distance themselves from it. Eventually, the powerful mother brands get relegated to being a mere endorser for the portfolio brands. The objective was to restore the prominence and respect for the mother brand Britannia. We did that by establishing the larger role of Britannia vis-a- vis the product brands.

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Lenskart’s vision for growth

Why the numero uno brand in the eyewear segment is bullish about non-metros

SHUBHOMOY SIKDAR