Expert speak: Traditional brands taking the unconventional, new-age route

Expert speak: Traditional brands taking the unconventional, new-age route

Veterans talk about how legacy brands are resorting to modern techniques in advertising.

Expert speak

Mumbai: Technology and its advancement have been put to effective use across various domains. Much to everyone’s surprise, legacy and traditional brands are not lagging behind either in the optimal usage of new-age technology to communicate and engage with their cohort. From AR, VR to metaverse, chatbots, NFTs – brands have taken a sip of these and many more to make their presence felt and lure their target audience, and continue to do so. Considering that, there is no looking back ever since technological advancements have made inroads into the hearts of traditional brands; there is only one way to move with it – upwards. spoke to some legacy brands that have made their mark in the country with their communication strategy and also illustrated their boldness in experimenting largely with new-age technology while putting together their advertising and marketing plans.

The transition for legacy brands: From traditional to new-age technology-based innovative solutions

When it comes to communication plans, the obvious question is how have legacy brands transformed from simply using traditional media to using cutting-edge new-age technology-based solutions which are innovative?

One of the largest advertisers in the snacks and food category and also one of the first to experiment with technology-based innovations, was Mondelez, for its much-loved brand Cadbury. Mondelez India vice president – marketing Nitin Saini points out, “Traditional brands have historically relied heavily on TV advertising and the approach has also been to create a TVC first. However, the changing consumer landscape means that you can no longer rely on reach from TV alone. Today there are 700mn + internet users in the country and 350 Mn+ online shoppers. This shows that consumers not only have a choice to purchase off online platforms, but they can also research and learn about brands online. In fact, Digital has overtaken TV in terms of Ad Expenditure as more and more advertisers are coming on the digital platforms with an omni-channel approach. Large and evolved advertisers are putting more than 50 per cent of their media dollars on digital which is growing at a much more rapid pace. The other point to note is that consumer journeys are not linear and hence presence offline and online becomes imperative.”

“Brands are embracing social media to connect better with their consumers through evolved targeted and personalized communication. Content marketing and influencer partnerships are moving brands into the creator economy which involves creating valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and engage their target audience. New age practices like Generative AI are helping brands create more frictionless communication that resonates with the consumer,” he adds.

Maruti Suzuki executive director - marketing Shashank Srivastava understands that legacy and traditional brands have seen a major transition in terms of communication in recent years. “They have reduced the dependence on traditional media, such as print and television, and have embraced new-age technology-based innovative solutions like digital media (social, OTT, mobile & DTH), and cinema. This is due to the changing demographics of consumers and increasing demand for personalized experiences.”

According to him, some of the ways in which new-age technology has been adopted in communication in recent years are:

a.    Use of Customer Data Platforms (CDP) for personalized experiences: To cater to increasing demand for personalized content and experiences, CDP platforms help create unified customer view (SVOC), improved customer experience providing relevant and customized information and offers and helps improve marketing ROI by identifying and optimizing the media channels most effective for generating brand KPIs and sales.

b.    Tailored media channels to reach new age consumers (Gen Z): Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are now essential tools for brands to connect with new age Gen Z consumers. Video on demand (VOD) has sprung up in a big way and consumers today are increasingly watching content on OTT platforms. Brands are now creating media campaigns not only planning on TV but starting with TV+OTT as a base for media plans. This helps cater to incremental reach of OTT over TV.

c.    Email, Mobile & WhatsApp marketing: Tools like WhatsApp and email are being leveraged to engage with consumers in more personalized and cost-effective way targeting consumers for both upper and lower funnel marketing activities like newsletters, promotional offers, DIY guides and other such updates.

d.    Use of Innovative Cinema & OOH: Today brands leverage tools like 3D projection in cinema halls and Anamorphic displays in Outdoor campaigns to create mesmerizing experiences for their consumers.  

MG Motor India head of marketing Udit Malhotra states that in the ever-evolving landscape of consumer behaviour, organisations are recognizing imperative ways to keep up pace with shifting consumer preferences in order to secure a competitive edge within their respective industries. “As businesses have transformed from traditional to technologically advanced platforms, AI stands out at the pivot of key marketing communication. MG Motor India Celebrates 100 Years of Innovation and Customer-Centricity and our latest ad campaign has reincarnated Cecil Kimber, who is talking about MG’s vision for India. These advanced tools like MG’s Mobile App, NFT and Metaverse are enabling customers to understand a brand with refreshed outlook. Through the digital, authentic, and relatable content MG tries to meet customer needs and drive traction to the brand. The momentum behind adopting such solutions is rapidly increasing and is poised to become the standard practice in the foreseeable future.”

Opening the door to modern technology and tech-based innovations in communication

What has made traditional brands such as these, open their hearts and minds to modern technology and tech-based innovations in their communication strategy?

Srivastava says, “In today’s world, tech-based innovations are helping marketeers like us tailor made our communication, making it more relevant and useful for our TG.”

He feels that these innovations are being mandated due to the following reasons:

a.    Increasing media proliferation and consumption of different mediums

b.    Need for contextual and personalized targeting.

c.    Changing consumer demographics (rise of Gen Z consumers) where appointment viewership is on the rise.

d.    Increasing Media ROI: Brands like us are increasingly being conscious and choosing to optimize our media mix thus staying both relevant and competitive in today’s business scenario.

e.    Better creative optimisation: Now one creative for all the mediums does not work and both creative optimization and placements basis the media tools are required.

Malhotra fathoms that in today’s world, modern technology enables brands to get unmatched global reach, facilitating heightened engagement. “This engagement, in turn, empowers brands to craft content of immense value, delivering education, entertainment, and solutions tailored precisely to their target audience's needs. MG paves the way for personalized communication, enabling it to swiftly respond to customer inquiries and issues through MG Mobile Apps and chatbots. With the dynamic customer behaviour and a surge in connected car technologies, brands have the incredible opportunity to connect with consumers no matter where they are. This connection is further strengthened by real-time interactions through social media, instant messaging, and chatbots.”

He goes on, “Moreover, the proliferation of smartphone users and the seamless integration of cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, have prompted MG to introduce state-of-the-art innovations like MG AViRA and MG Metaverse. These advancements signify MG's commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation and meeting the evolving needs of our customers. Ultimately, this contributes to the development of stronger and more meaningful customer relationships. KYC (Know your customer) is the center piece of our communication strategy, any initiative that supports us in this endeavour is always welcome. With the help of these innovations our latest campaign of “EVing is Living” is centred around the idea behind the overarching thought is manifested into “EVing is Exploring/Thrilling/Saving/Easy charging,” focusing on the myths about EVs, reassuring those who are indecisive about transitioning to EVs, while also alleviating any uncertainties they may hold regarding EV cars.”

Saini reveals, “At Mondelez, we believe very strongly in being where the consumer is. The changing consumer behavior and landscape has made us also evolve our strategies to be more open to modern technology and tech-based innovation. As legacy brands we face competition not only from other traditional players but also from agile, digitally native startups, thus embracing technology allows us to level the playing field, differentiate ourselves, and stay competitive. Technology allows for better understanding of customer preferences and behaviors through data analytics. This, in turn, enables brands to deliver personalized experiences, products, and content, fostering stronger customer relationships. Today most of our campaigns are tech-enabled to create delightful consumer experience. We have increased using own understanding of consumers from our data capital and arrive at consumer insights that can further fuel our brands’ strong equity with consumers.”

Enthusiastic about experimenting with modern technology

As a traditional brand, when it comes to modern technology and tech-based innovations, what are they most enthusiastic about experimenting with, in their advertising and marketing strategy? And why?

Malhotra emphasises that as an auto-Tech brand, innovation has always been a driving force for MG. “These innovations open more avenues to reach out to our customers in a focused manner, it is a source of competitive edge for us. We are always looking for the next big thing, new possibilities keep us excited. MG's tech-first spirit is evident in its industry-leading initiatives, such as MG Xpert, Epay, MG VPhy NFT, and MGVerse and now our recent AI led 100 year of innovation and Customer-Centricity campaign as well as ZSEV ‘Eving is Living’ has made a profound impact on our marketing outcomes and our customers. It helps us personalize content for individuals and improves creativity to captivate customer mindspace. With this, we hope to embark on a new benchmark and keep up with the dynamic marketing activations, in the automotive realm.”

“Today the avenues in technology are manifold. There is AR/VR that is becoming a very interesting space and allows consumers to have an immersive experience with brands. There are AI powered chatbots that are answering consumer queries and solving problems in real time and then there is Gen AI which is enabling personalized content creation at scale. All these are very exciting spaces to explore in the near future,” elucidates Saini.

Srivastava tells,”Big data and analytics are no more a catch phrase but a reality. Augmenting its impact by further using AI is something we are very enthusiastic about. AI is still a relatively new technology, but it is rapidly becoming an essential tool for businesses of all sizes.”

He concludes by pointing out that as AI continues to evolve, it is likely to have an even greater impact on the future of advertising and marketing. It can be helpful in:

a.    Personalisation : Basis single view of customer, their past driving and purchase habits , we can personalize advertising campaigns based on interests, demographics, and past purchase history. This may be very helpful for repeat buyers as well as First Time Buyers based on their interests.

b.    Community Creation : Very impactful in creating a sense of community around our brands, by sharing interesting content, responding to comments and questions, and running contests and giveaways.

c.    Using AI and VR helps us in creating immersive and interactive experience for our customers. We are already working towards it with launch of ARENAVERSE and NEXAVERSE and use of oculus/ other tools in our dealerships.

d.    Chatbots powered by AI: We are already progressing in this field with use of our MS Chatbots to help provide customer service, answer questions, and quell queries. Hence, its potential is immense ranging from precise targeting, experiential marketing, and moment marketing to self-serving ads and that makes us very enthusiastic about it.