This will disrupt everything for marketers: A Report on Marketing Disruption – A Way forward from Brand Summit 2010

Whenever we hear a word ‘Disruption’ – somehow it leads to a negative feeling. After all, as humans we are averse to change and disruption by nature disturbs the normal rhythm of life and forces you the change the course. Now, let’s look at this word from a marketer’s perspective and it becomes even more dreaded! Who wants some tiny David to come and disturb Goliath’s party? But, the CII Brand Summit 2010 was a great success with views from thought leaders around the globe made this word a favorite amongst the participants.

While the summit chairman Mr. Srinivasan K Swamy set a stage for the days to come, he demonstrated how the disruption is affecting our lives using some humorous cartoons and hard hitting facts from Indian and global perspective. Mr. Adi Godrej, Chairman of the Godrej Group in his key note stressed on the need for marketers to look beyond the traditional media mindset and spoke about how his company is trying to connect with a consumer in new world order. Dave Evans, founder of digital voodoo has some interesting facts about how people are using newer technology and newer media to bring in the change. He shared his rich experience and enthralled the participation with come cool antics from his slides.

The discussion on ‘Disruption by the rise of new media’ saw two interesting panelists debating about whether the new media has really impacted the consumers as much as we are thinking or it’s just a myth. Talking about the subject, session chairman and Executive Director & CEO of TV Today Network, Mr. G. Krishnan said that, “Disruption is a pluralistic approach and everyone has different views about it, but the end objective is to understand and deal with the new age customers.” He stressed the need of a quality of a service or a product and development on emotional connect with consumers to become winner in the disrupted economy. He stressed that with a technology at hand, every consumer today is not only a media consumer but a media creator as well.

Another panelist, Rahul Welde, VP, Media Services, Asia AMET Unilelver, Singapore clearly stated that no media is dead and going to be dead. He believed that the media evolves with a time and no form of media will ever die. Customers will always look for creativity and quality content and whoever will provide them both of these, they will go for that media channel – traditional or social. His one line mantra was ‘Media is important, the type is irrelevant’ and marketers should go to places where they can find consumers and not the other way round.

The next session looked at a topic, “Disruption by Technological Advances” and the panelists shared their views on how the technology is becoming a centerstage of every process or every discussion we have. Mr. Deepak Srinivasan, VP of Corporate & Business Development, Ankeena Networks Inc. USA ephasised the role of technology in distributing the content and need for improving the infrastructure to sustain the ongoing growth. He believed that better technology can help is increasing scale and reach of any media and gather required intelligence for the marketer to customise the offering.

Mr. Ivan Pollard, Partner of Naked Communications Limited, UK emphasised on the role of technology in building today’s brands. He gave some rules of thumbs to marketers to follow for using the technology for marketing – a) Add to experience b) Work together c) Play to learn and d) Be useful.

While the consumers are evolving much faster with technology, he mentioned that the brands must follow the consumers with insights and integration in the new technology driven superior world.

The interesting debate on ‘End of Television & Advertising as we know them’ seen Dr. Saul J Berman, Partner, Global & Americas Business Strategy Leader, IBM Business Consulting Services, USA giving insights about his studies he conducted on consumers across the globe and shared some interesting facts through videos and words. He believed that consumers have now evolved and looking for digital videos with a full control on where to watch them and when to watch them. He believed that the game has just begun and soon there will be either integration of TV in the internet or the other way round. Only Innovation will survive and rest everything will end.

Saw an exciting start on Day II of the CII Brand Summit 2010 with some very interesting people on dais sharing their experience about ‘Co-creation of Products, Commercial Content and Enhanced Consumer Experience”

Ms. Punta All, Executive Director, Marketing, PepsiCo India demonstrated a case where how the young generation can be involved with the brand without using TV as a prime medium and involving them in becoming partner or a co-creator of the product. If you give them right environment and right opportunity they will not only engage with your brand but also help you grow at a much reasonable cost. She emphasized that the brand is not about logo any more –but it’s about consumer and what she thinks of your brand. The role of a marketer has changed from a brand manager to the consumer manager.

Another insightful presentation by Rohit Bhargava, SVP, Strategy & Marketing, Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence, USA demonstrated seven principles of enhancing consumer experience through his crisp presentation – 1) Have a brand personality 2) offer the context 3) Find your accidental spokespeople (consumers, fans) 4) Always answer the unanswered questions 5) Support co-creation, 6) Share controls, but don’t give it up and last but not the least 7) Create more utility for the consumers.

He also demonstrated couple of examples of how it can be done based on his experience working with clients in the USA and other markets.

An interesting televised session of “Engaging with Customers through Celebrities” saw highly interactive session with lot of participation not only from panelists but from the audience as well. The main attraction of the panel was Vive Oberon, a noted Hollywood actor, who gave some witty answers to panelists who were not in favor of having celebrities as brand endorsers. However, the panel unanimously agreed that while celebrities play some role in engaging with customers if he or she matches with the brand values with the brand he or she is associated with, it is important that creativity has to come first, even before celebrity. Celebrities are also having brand values and they have to select the brand carefully in order to maintain their profile amongst their own audiences.  If a brand can have a complete immersive and interactive experience with customers using celebrities, they should focus on those aspects of branding too, rather than just TV commercials.  The panel debated, discussed and finally reached some kind of conclusion that use of celebrity depends upon the product, the values brand and celebrities both share and not at the cost of creativity. Creativity comes first - celebrities come second.

Mobile has become part of our life and in India almost every Indian has access to mobile telephone today. How can today’s marketers engage with customers using mobile services was very interesting topic and full justice was done by Rahul Signal, Chief Marketing Officer of Aircel.   He spoke about how Internet on mobile has changed the marketing game and how companies are using it very effectively. It’s always on and on demand model suits customers as well as marketers alike. He also emphasized that with mobile telephones the cost of reaching out to customers reduces and time taken is reduced dramatically.

Many a times, we marketers forget that we just don’t have to market out products or services but we also have to enhance the overall value of our company so the shareholders also remain happy. Swaminathan, Managing Director of Customer Equity Solutions Pvt. Ltd. mentioned that brands are becoming a very important business assets these days and customers’ first interaction with your organization is your brand and brand helps you enable those interaction with customers, which results in improving companies bottom lines and making shareholders happy. He demonstrated the power of information by way of having and using the right kind of database to reach out to customers, in order to know him better and serve him better using technology and various consumer metrics simultaneously.

Concluding the summit, Mr. Srinivasan K. Swamy, Chairman, CII Brand Summit 2010 and & CMD of R K SWAMY BBDO Pvt. Ltd. aptly mentioned that the summit was an attempt to get under the skin of challenges faced by marketers in this era of continuous change and provided some direction to the gathering on how to be relevant and continue building brands.

The theme was potent and aptly timed at CII Brand Summit 2010 and it was a successful attempt to provide many unanswered questions about marketing in the rapidly changing world. Everyday, there is a new challenge and everyday there is a new medium to deal with – where does the marketer go? In which direction he/she looks? CII Brand Summit 2010, was a step on that direction and must acknowledge that it was one giant successful leap.

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