Constant digital change is keeping CEOs on edge across the APAC region. At the same time, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies and emerging e-commerce brands continue to vie for the attention of the digitally engaged.
India, alone, is expected to add about 100 million people to its working-age population between now and 2025, according to global financial services firm Macquarie. It will also account for 20% of the world’s working population, and a majority of the country will have higher purchasing power.
The marketing department, we know, is tasked with digital reinvention, but how are they faring in the eyes of their CEOs? What trends and patterns do the top bosses predict will emerge?
1. One size doesn’t fit all: It is crucial for marketers to stay ahead of the curve by predicting what consumers expect from a brand. The onslaught of digital technology means brands will need to outsmart each other to be heard. Sachin Goel, the CEO of online home appliances brand Homepunch, which also has an offline presence, pointed to the importance of providing seamless consumer experiences.
“Consumers today use multiple channels through the conversion process,” Goel said. “They might see a TV and social media reference at the same time. They may use the same online media to build connections with others who share their interest, then look for deals and best buys, take recommendations, before finally purchasing, either digitally or physically. To crack this complex world of evolving purchasing habits, it’s imperative for the CMO to find the correct physical/online balance. It’s not one-size-fit-all.”
2. Information commerce comes to the fore: The three Cs–content, context, and commerce–are essential for capitalising on the digital wave.
“Content is becoming the fuel of engagement,” said S Swaminathan, CEO of marketing company Hansa Cequity. “Millennials want brands to have a conversation with them. Earlier marketing was about one big brand idea, but now the context is really important.”
This is where “microideas” to engage with the new consumer come into play. “Commerce is also being redefined in an increasingly digital world,” Swaminathan added. “It’s not just about transactions–it’s about giving consumers the information they need.”
3. Get to really know your customer: In its journey from a legacy brand of South India Dadha & Co. to a digital entity, Netmeds, an online health-care brand, has come to understand the importance of customer-centricity.
“Know your customers well,” advised Pradeep Dadha, founder of the Netmeds Marketplace. “Understand their digital footprints, preferences, and activities to customise interactions that not only make them ‘feel’ you as a company but enhance their experience. Get your information officers to drive innovation riding that ubiquitous disruptor, the cloud.”
4. Think about innovation all the time: Constant innovation is essential in these changing times. As Swaminathan explained, brands need to be able to tangibly differentiate from their competitors. “Value is the new normal, and retailers’ private labels can build it in much the same way as their own global brands,” he said. “So innovation will be key if brands want to leverage the power of digital technology.”
5. Respond quickly: Today’s marketers need to respond quickly. Health-care products company Kent RO Systems has provided advanced technology services since 1999.
“Customers check with each other before making decisions, so we have to be quick to respond to online queries,” said chairman Mahesh Gupta. “Digital technology is dynamic, and we need to target customers through it.”