Statistics reveal that the younger generation is more and more involved in the decision-making process and it has become imperative for the marketers to have a strong and engaging presence on the social platform.
TO THE NEW, in association with afaqs!, organised a Round Table Conference in Mumbai recently to discuss the sharing of opinions and engagement of the consumer on the social media platform and how brands are trying to drive business through it.
The panelists included Sudip Ghose, VP, marketing, VIP Industries; Sandeep Tarkas, president (customer strategy) and CEO (Bengal Warriors & T24), Future Group; Anindita Chatterjee, senior brand manager, Ruchi Soya; Anil Jayaraj, CMO, Pidilite Industries; Kunal Shah, founder and CEO, Free Charge; Jayraj Jadhav, e-business and digital marketing strategist, Tata AIG Life Insurance; Ashish Sahni, head, digital marketing (Passenger Vehicle Business Unit), Tata Motors; Sindhuja Rai, VP, Mondelez India Foods and Bedraj Tripathy, senior general manager, Godrej Interio. Atul Hegde, CEO, Ignitee Digital (a TO THE NEW group company) moderated the session.
Hegde initiated the session by communicating the idea behind the round table, which was to have a free flow of information that may act as a knowledge repository for the rest of the industry. Sharing his standpoint, Tarkas, said, "We use social media as an active route to drive business and to control our reputation in the market. One of the key businesses where we actually made a departure and focused a lot on social was when we came up with the concept of Foodhall. It was a very different format catering to a niche category. We had created a Twitter handle called ChefJai and with very little effort we created a strong buzz."
According to Ghose, the power of digital is so strong that someone who is earning Rs 15,000 is ready to shell out Rs 10,000-11,000 to buy a mobile, because he wants to experience the Internet. "He doesn't know how to read and write, and he probably doesn't have any contact with a laptop or computer. But with a smartphone around, today, this has become everyone's field. Whether you're selling a soap, a toothbrush, or you're selling a Mercedes Benz, you better be on social, because that is where the numbers are."
Sharing his experience with the digital platform Tripathy, said, "I really can't say that I drive a loyalty programmes because when you buy furniture, you don't come back the next month and buy again. So the biggest advantage of loyalty is you can go out and recommend. For the past two years, 6 per cent of my business has come from recommendations. It is not a very large percentage, but 6 per cent coming in from just recommendation, purely from social circles is very large."
Adding his perspective, Shah, said, "Our goal was to create an eco-system, where we could marry the rewards and offers with the mobile recharge." He emphasized that being a digital company, they tend to think differently and hence have been driving sales using the digital platform - television came much later in the picture. Furthermore, he said, "Nowadays, 85 per cent of transactions are carried out by using the mobile. We also found out that the youth is driving the behaviour of the transactions for the entire family."
Sharing her thoughts, Rai, said, "The biggest question is how to define return on investments. It makes much more sense if you are able to measure the ROIs of TV campaigns vs digital or any other platforms. The actual challenge that we face is how to merge the results. TV is the primary business builder for us whereas the digital drives engagement and helps us build a relationship with the customers. Globally, for us, digital can be a big enabler and within digital, mobile is the big opportunity."
Talking about the relevance of social Jayraj, said, "Do we really need to provide the link between the ROI on social or traditional media? As content producers, are we not driving ourselves crazy because it is digital? Or, are we okay with the broader objective that a platform might serve?"
Representing the auto industry, Sahni, said, "At Tata Motors, we see digital not from a marketing, but from a platform perspective and for us social plays a key role in driving our sales." Further substantiating his point, he adds that the names of the cars Zest and Bold were not given by us - they were chosen by people present on our Facebook page. "Hence, for an automobiles, social plays a very critical role. Besides social engagement, we have an in-house team, which manages the social listening," adds Sahni.
Chatterji from Ruchi Soya, said, "We have 68,000 fans on Facebook. Our main aim is to drive awareness about the way people can use our brand. So, all our activations are around the versatility of Soya. Also, so many fans on Facebook speaks volumes about the fact that digital is the way to go."
Giving a new perspective to the conversation, Jadhav, pointed out, "When we started our social journey, we looked at social as a technology and how to utilise it to engage our customers." He also added that "the role of a digital media manager has to be dissolved and instead everyone in the marketing team should be aware about this medium so that the results can be seen and appreciated."