Aishwarya Ramesh
Interviews

“The top ad spenders on GEC content are FMCG, e-commerce and auto industry”: Shashank Srivastava, Maruti Suzuki

Here are the highlights of a one-on-one discussion between Maruti’s executive director, sales and marketing, and Viacom18’s Mahesh Shetty.

As a part of Television Week, the webinar series that afaqs! recently hosted, Shashank Srivastava, executive director, sales and marketing, Maruti Suzuki India, was interviewed by Viacom18’s Mahesh Shetty on the topic: ‘The promises and perils of GEC’.

Srivastava began the discussion on a hopeful note, mentioning that things are improving, with Maruti’s November sales doing better than October, and October faring better than September. Here are some edited excerpts from the conversation:

Shetty: Before the COVID pandemic, the auto industry was in overdrive mode. How do you see it over the next few months?

Srivastava: The situation is a dynamic one, thanks to the involvement of the global supply chain and, hopefully, it will get better soon. Many new launches have translated into increased media spends. This is especially the case with new brands – since the brand custodians are spending more for increased visibility and reach.

Currently, as far as the sales of the passenger vehicles industry go, it is 250,000-300,000 units per month. If that number stays above 300,000, then it means that the industry will be doing close to four billion units in sales. But since the second COVID wave disrupted the supply chain, I would expect the industry to be in the three-and-a-half million range this year.

Shetty: What are the key benefits and challenges you see when it comes to advertising on general entertainment channels (GECs)?

Srivastava: Maruti happens to be an advertiser that is active across categories – including GECs and sports. When it comes to our target groups (TGs) – 24-36 SEC A , B category – GECs play an important role because of the simple reason that advertising on these channels gives us reach.

Maruti owns 15 brands, and we feel like constantly launching products and brands. For all this, we require a build-up of reach, and GECs are best at providing (it). In our TG, we have identified three broad advertising categories – GECs, sports and news. Reach is one part, and the TG has an affinity towards these advertising genres as well. Granted that not many sporting events took place last year because of COVID, but things seem to have picked up again this year.

"Our overall advertising spends are close to Rs 700 crore, out of which 34-35 per cent is dedicated to television advertising."

At that time, fresh content was not available and no events were taking place, but GEC content was still available. Our overall advertising spends are close to Rs 700 crore, out of which 34-35 per cent is dedicated to television advertising.

Shashank Srivastava
Shashank Srivastava

In the GEC space, we spend up to 60 per cent on ads. It helps us gain reach and cut across all target audiences. Quite a lot of the content is family-centric, and its very much centric to the type of product we bring in and the TG we appeal to.

For example, our TG has an affinity towards cricket, but from a gender point of view, women tend to be more drawn towards GECs than cricket.

GECs also provide varied content options. It’s not just news and sports, there are also talent shows, quiz shows, soap operas, and so on. That’s another advantage of a GEC. It also gives you a kind of captive audience, especially if you have a series of engrossing content.

"We have found that rural audiences tend to have a different mindset."

We have found that rural audiences tend to have a different mindset. Region specific content, such as Bangla, Gujarati, etc., are now becoming a big part of GECs.

"The top ad spenders on GEC content are FMCG, e-commerce and the auto industry. Around 27 per cent of the ad spends on GECs come from FMCG, another 20 per cent comes from e-commerce and 10 per cent comes from automobile brands."

The top ad spenders on GEC content are FMCG, e-commerce and the auto industry. Around 27 per cent of the ad spends on GECs come from FMCG, another 20 per cent comes from e-commerce and 10 per cent comes from automobile brands. This is a proof of the importance of the GEC space to advertisers.

One of the challenges in the GEC space is the high cost to advertisers, as well as demand and supply imbalances. During the festive season, when a new brand wants to increase its reach, it spends disproportionately on GECs. This results in demand and supply imbalances.

You can watch the full discussion below:

This interview was recorded on November 17, 2021, during Television Week, an afaqs! conference (November 15-17). Sponsor: Colors Cineplex.

Colors Cineplex, a premium Indian movie destination for great cinematic experiences, is the first-of-its-kind film channel launched by leading media conglomerate Viacom18 Media. Launched in May 2016, the channel provides its viewers with the ultimate movie-watching experience, while delivering Viacom18’s promise of showcasing enriching, engaging and entertaining content to the viewers. Through its tagline of ‘Filmein Must Hain’, Colors Cineplex features multi-genre films, including the latest blockbuster hits from Viacom18’s wide library of choicest films.

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