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IAMAI Conclave: Connecting marketers, consumers through social media

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MUMBAI: Digital media is the new buzz word. Every sector today is looking at ways to connect with its consumers through the new medium on the block- the social media. There is a huge shift in the way people consume products. With this shift, companies around different sectors have started looking at ways to build a connect between their offline and online consumers.

At the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), 9th Marketing Conclave ’13, held today at The Hyatt Regency, close to 150 professionals from across sectors came together to not only understand this medium, but also devised solutions to address the rising demands of consumers.

Bisleri uses messaging to keep consumers engaged on Facebook; But Bisleri‘s Anjana Ghosh says it is a challenge to continue keeping them engaged

“Data as a service is the next big thing. Digital evolution is happening at such a large pace that it has become mandatory for

everyone to follow suit. It is essential that we work towards convergence of both online and offline technologies for effective

marketing,” announced Netcore solutions chief executive officer Girish Nair.

The forces driving the market have changed. “While 20-30 years ago, brands led the consumers, today the scenario is undergoing a reverse process,” said IBM Global business services partner Rajesh Rao, while setting the stage for the first of the five panel discussions.

While session one of the conclave concentrated on the role digital marketing plays in ‘Consumer Product Goods’ (CPG), the other sessions dealt with the impact of social media on automobile, retail, travel and banking sectors. The sessions focused on the experiences and opinions of various marketers with social media.

“We need to develop a preference for our product. This is possible only if we understand the needs of the consumer. Consumers will buy your product only if it is relevant to them and can influence them,” informed Marico India head media Aditya Save. It is newness in the product that generates interest amongst consumers. “Marketers today strive at engaging consumers and social media is the best tool to achieve this,” he adds.

Marketing is all about psychographic proposition and demographic media. “There is a big tussle which marketers face between the two. Right segmentation and reach is a major problem,” said Save while explaining the challenges he faces while dealing with consumers through digital media.

The changing purchasing trends has forced companies to draw a connect with consumers. “Digital marketing helps us listen to our consumers and respond accordingly,” says Bisleri International director- business development & HR Anjana Ghosh. Though even Bisleri uses social media to engage with consumers, the biggest challenge it faces is to keep them engaged.

Mahindra & Mahindra‘s CMO- auto division Vivek Nayer uses the social media to tell stories that cannot be conveyed in a 20 second TVC

Digital marketing has made the consumer the most powerful. “A consumer will buy your product only if it means anything to him and is relevant. It is important for marketers to create an emotional bond with consumers,” said WatConsult founder and chief executive officer Rajiv Dingra. Digital media creates buzz, engagement and bonding with consumers.

“What is important is that consumers should connect to the product, whether it leads to sale today or later is irrelevant. We are building relationships through our digital endeavour,” informed Mahindra & Mahindra chief marketing officer - auto division Vivek Nayer.

Brands always have had stories to tell; digital media has provided them with the platform to share stories with consumers. “These stories cannot be conveyed in a 20 second TVC. Digital media can give the audience what they could only dream of,” he added.

Mahindra & Mahindra has successfully reached to its audience through its digital campaign. “We reached to close to 700,000 people through social media, as compared to only 100,000 using offline medium. If you have the content, it will travel to your audiences,” he said.

Digital media has the power to provide real life brand experience using virtual platform. It also helps measure trends and emotions.

“Trust, value, service and growth in retail hasn’t changed. What has changed are the channels, scale and technology to reach to consumers,” opined Reliance Industries chief brand and marketing officer Andrew Campbell.

Though several companies have come up with separate campaigns for their offline and online consumers, Allen Solly believes in connecting the two. “We do not differentiate between the two. There is a need for merging of the world. Consumers do not want to be differentiated,” highlighted Madura Garments brand head-Allen Solly Sooraj Bhat.

“We have grown from 200,000 Facebook fans in 2011 to 4.6 million fans today. We have also added several apps to connect with our consumers,” informed Shoppers Stop customer case associate and vice president, marketing and loyalty Vinay Bhatia.

The conclave also concentrated on how the convergence of digital marketing technologies gave a creative boost to the travel industry, leading to formulation of new travel strategies. “We have now started using digital media to inform our consumers of our best services,” revealed Virgin Atlantic general manager-India Stephen King.

Shoppers Stop‘s customer care & VP marketing & loyalty Vinay Bhatia has seen his facebook audience explode; Apps are also being used to connect with consumers

For digital media to work perfectly in favour of companies, personalisation and targeting is the key. “This will take another 3-4

years,” said Cleartrip chief marketing officer Subramanya Sharma. Cleartrip has added meta search engines like Trip Advisor, Google and Kayak to connect to its consumers.

Social media has created a platform wherein consumers can express their happiness and grudges. “We have several feedback forms and forums through which we can hear our consumers and enhance our services accordingly. I make it a point to read to all feedbacks. It helps me understand the psyche of the consumer,” added Sharma.

Digital medium has also changed the outlook of the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector. Every bank today wants to reach out to its customers as easily as possible. “We have had a very successful social media presence. We keep coming out with new ideas to interact with our consumers during events important to them,” said Standard Chartered head digital marketing- India & South Asia Shilpa Desai. Standard Chartered had started several online competitions for Kolkata Knight Rider fans during the IPL season. “We gave our customers a chance to watch the match live at Eden Gardens. This has worked wonderfully as a strategy to connect with customers,” she concluded.

Digital media surely has created a space for itself. But, how successful will be the marketer in turning the screenagers into

consumers? Only time will tell.



Here are the photos from the IAMAI Conclave

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