WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell calls him the data analyst expert. Prasun Basu’s relationship with WPP’s brand, media and communications research company Millward Brown, goes back a couple of years.
In 2013, two years after he joined Millward Brown as managing director of East Africa operations, he was elevated as managing director south Asia region. A frequent presenter and writer for many journals, publications and seminars, he co-authored the article ‘The New Indian Consumer’ published in the Harvard Business Review in 2006, and ‘The Curve-fitting Problem’ in the leading journal Philosophy of Science.
On the debut launch of BrandZ top 50 most valued brands in India, indiantelevision.com’s Meghna Sharma caught up with the man for a quick conversation on how he sees the report helping the Indian market, the future scenario and any favourite brand which he would like to see on the list.
You launched the BrandZ top 100 in China four years ago and two years ago came the top 50 in the Latin American market. Why made you opt for India now and not before?
You need to ask this question to Martin. In the relative order of things, China is a much bigger economy today. There was a time when India and China were almost at par. India had a great story but China had a massive one in the last decade or so. The country has really pulled itself out of the crowd especially amongst the BRIC markets. And after seeing the success in China, it gave us enough confidence that we should go with India. It’s also important to remember that we don’t cover the UK or US. It’s just China, LatAm and India.
In the coming years what changes do you see in the top 50 compilation? Currently, the top five have three from the financial sector.
If you see our global reports, this year Google dislodged Apple and it did so with a huge margin. While last year, Apple had a large gap. So, I’m sure changes will come because India is a dynamic market than any other. India is also a very stable economy. If we look at the past, India was one of the less touched markets during recessions. I expect some changes by next year for sure.
What expectations do you have from the new government and how do you see it impacting the market?
The way the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is implementing his policies, there is a very clear sense that this will start having results, but the size of the economy at the current stage will take a little time to show results. So you might see results in six months, I don’t know. Two years down the line, probably yes. In his term we will see results.
We are talking about FDI in railways, defence; nobody ever thought about FDI in defence. He has already taken up the limits in insurance. It is very clear in which direction he is heading. With ‘Make in India’, the country which has been driven by the service sector is not talking about manufacturing as well. So, while the service sector continues to do well and we manage to build the manufacturing industry then think about the quantum shift we will create.
How do you see the report helping the Indian clients/brands?
Actually it can help in a big way. For some of them, especially the big brands on the list, it can give them a very sound evaluation of the work they are doing, it will give them more confidence and more boldness to do what they are doing better. It will reinforce their talent in either building skill or building brand equity and consumer connect.
The other thing it can do is that it will propel other brands to try to become like the top 50.
Apart from this, the third community that will gain is the financial community within the companies like the CFOs, evaluation people etc.
Globally, technology companies rule the list. Why is that not the case in India?
Look at what is happening in the e-commerce sector in the country. So, who knows maybe we will see them in the list soon if they go public. Some of the best minds in technology are sitting somewhere else and with India being a very clear economy, global technology companies trade freely here. So as a result, building local outfits has not been much while it is quite opposite in China.
How important is advertising when it comes to building of a brand?
ICICI Bank was the first one in the financial sector to advertise years ago with Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign helped it reach the level it is today and since then, many have followed suit. Different brands have different strategies to succeed. Today, one doesn’t have to do just television advertising, social media route can be taken as well since it has become very important today. Some do CSR activities which help them connect with the consumers. Word-of-mouth is an excellent way as well, used by many high-end brands.
Is there any particular brand which you would like to see on the list?
We have followed a very transparent method in India and are very proud of the list we have come out with.
I would like to see Indigo on the list because it has done an amazing work. It doesn’t believe much in TV advertising and concentrates more on outdoor, print etc. But they have built themselves very well and the service experience has been built through word of mouth. Their position is also very clear – arrive on time – and has struck to it over the years.