2008, the day-long seminar organised by Starcom and Future Works, Neeraj Roy, managing director and chief executive officer, Hungama, listed out the five points that he would touch upon in the panel discussion that was to ensue: the Internet; how customer interaction is changing with the mobile; how the existing media is undergoing a paradigm change; retail as a massive connect to the digital world; and the advent of entertainment. The Economic Times sponsored the event.
Moderated by Partho Sinha, chief strategy officer, South and Southeast Asia, Publicis Worldwide, the panel discussed new media opportunities to build a brand, improve loyalty, and increase market share in the digital world. The participants in the discussion were Karthi Kumar Marshan, head, group marketing, Kotak Mahindra Bank; Vikas Gupta, founder and director, 9.9 Mediaworx; Shailesh Rao, managing director, Google India; and Neeraj Roy.
Rao answered Sinha's question on how Google had always challenged convention in building its brand by saying, "The concept of building a brand is an oxymoron. It confuses cause and effect." He explained, "A brand is the result of product and consumer. The organisation is thus owned by the users and not the brand."
Sinha commented on how the asterix is an integral part of the banking sector and how hidden rules often acted as a dampener. Marshan replied, "The challenge is severe for our industry. But it definitely helps to be transparent." "You cannot underestimate your consumer or consider him to be naïve," added Rao. Gupta stressed on how consumer interaction could be made intimate by extending the purchase of the brand.
Speaking on how democratisation would change the business of marketing, Rao stated, "Digital advertising is going to be the epicentre of economic growth in India." He added, "Both agencies and business need to take a good look at digital advertising. They need to analyse if this medium is just a phase or here to stay. If they think that it's here to stay, they need to put their best man in there and let him learn, fail maybe, and bring back the best skills in digital advertising."
A very important point that Gupta made was that in the space of digital advertising, mobiles hold a different place because "mobile operators have the facility of knowing every consumer individually and can thus target its advertising to each consumer individually". This intimacy also makes the consumer a lot more empowered. "And this power is increasing steadily in India," said Sinha.
Finally commenting on whether brand management could channel this consumer power to its advantage, Rao said, "Companies that experiment will succeed. One definitely needs to be adaptive."