Sales & Marketing: Marketing to Consumers one at a time

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At the recently concluded eTailing India Expo 2017 – “India’s Flagship Conference & Exhibition on Retail, eCommerce and Mobile” (http://etailingindiaexpo.com), leading thought leaders shared their perspective on “Technology Services for Retail & eCommerce”. This article summarizes the session for Sales & Marketing: Marketing to Consumers one at a time. (The session is not verbatim here)

What are the key trends in sales and marketing?

Consumers have evolved a lot. Business models are following the consumer evolution. Few disruptions that have happened are internet penetration and mobile phones. Most of the users have multi-screen behavior. From browsing products to compare prices, there are more choices available for users. These have led to an impulsive behavior which has given rise to new marketing challenges. Marketing has evolved where digital marketing is working along with traditional media.

How do you see the evolution of marketing organizations and what they are doing to address the challenges?

The ability to customize at an individual level has increased tremendously to everybody. The availability of data is enabling lot of companies to customize and personalize their offerings. The internet companies, fintech and government institutions ability to look through our overall behavior and segment us as an individual is increasing day by day.

The fastest movers in converting data into insights and give personalized experience to consumers have been the new age internet companies. These also possess a challenge and an opportunity for erstwhile old economy or old marketers. The opportunity is to personalize at each level that you get from a pure data analytics point of view.

Personalizing offers in a demanding environment

Consumers have a very short attention span and if you don’t reach it at the right time, you are going to lose the consumer. Measurement as a process is coming into to the team as a whole and it is not easy for the marketing team to carry it out. Historically, marketing teams have been more into a creative world such as designing campaigns. Now, due to abundance of data, engineering is in the play. The way all data science works is that it is very self learning science loop. You do experiment and figure out what works. Some of the companies in the Silicon Valley have done these extremely well.

It starts with data collection and then aggregate data from various channels. Then you make sense from this data collection and make it actionable. The most challenging part is to connect the creative side (ads or everything you create) with the technology side. Companies such as Facebook and Uber are doing it well where they are metrics driven. They start with small user-sets and go forward analyzing the derived results.

How is Google serving its customers in a changing consumer environment?

There has been a big change in the last 5 years in the medium of communication. Now an average Indian consumer spends close to 170 minutes on their phone in a day versus about 110 minutes on a television per day. If you are a marketer, you need to look from the perspective of reach. If you are a marketer, if you want to reach out to consumer, you need to think first where the reach is for example in the case of mobile phone usage. And, if you reach out the consumer at that contextual and relevant point of time, then you achieve that micro-moment (moment of truth). So, the job is to reach out and create an awareness that impacts the minds of consumers.

How to meet the challenge of serving customers in the space of friendly packaging?

Packaging phase is the second and one of the most difficult phases where you need to carry out the expectations. In packaging, when it changes from sizes to dimensions in different boards, there is a continuous need for evolving different kind of packaging. As far as the consumer’s requirement changes, the categories are regularly evolving. Depending on whether it is a marketplace or otherwise, the demand on fulfillment centre for packaging keeps them on the toes. Things like sufficient packaging material is available at the sellers end and reaching out to maximum pin codes in 24 hours demands constant attention.

New things such as awareness about sustainability, security, environment friendly and operating under the government norms are taken into consideration as a packaging player.

How to differentiate yourself from a marketing standpoint?

The distance between a brand marketer and the consumer as the consumption person is getting wider. With the evolution of digital and consumer shifting there, we could notice only premium customers have moved online. We haven’t seen an evolution where 10% of apparel market has moved online, 10% of purchase has moved online.

The strength is in understanding what the consumers need. The need is to marry the changing scenarios in terms of how this data is coming and reacting at least close to real-time.

What should be the ideal marketing spend in various stages of evaluation?

It is about making balances in terms of your gross merchandise sales and top-line earnings.

Leveraging Omni-channel

The first step is to connect the consumer at the right place. The second problem is to seamlessly integrate the historical data of customer across all the channels.

Identify the single identity of the user across different channels. Typically, the mobile number is the most common thing found across the channels. And, the parsed mobile number is the one that could be a potential customer. So, based on the channel that the customer is interacting, customize the experience.

What should be the expectation of a retailer while entering into Omni-channel retail?

If you are not digital, you are not everywhere. Omni-channel can help you to know what and where the customer is doing by going closer to the customer. But, without a robust digital channel, it cannot be a successful model.

In the B2B space, do you choose client/customer to deal with or there are no such pre-notions?

There are challenges as in operational efficiency is in much focus where there is lot of pressure on the margin. But that is taken as a positive challenge and this is where innovation comes. We deliver deliverables in terms of design, material and execution of orders. Company should be open to all the customers. The business in terms of service level remains the same for all the clients.

What should be the split in marketing spend for different marketing channel?

It depends upon the business model. For instance, if somebody is working under MakeMyTrip, it could be 90% digital and 10% offline. The margin is low and the efficiency needed is high. Then if you speak about Amazon, the quest it to acquire maximum customers. So the first part is to build a marketing plan on digital channels such as YouTube. This is where you find the low-hanging fruit. Later to go beyond, one can spend on television ads.

First ensure, your digital marketing is getting the maximum bang for the buck, optimizing campaigns, getting proper CTR (click through rate), CPC (Cost per click), CPA (cost per acquisition). Then you go on to the other offline media channels.

Q&A

What intelligence as a marketplace do you use to know which products are to be marketed and how?

There are various stages to it. You have inbuilt intelligence, stylist designers, analyzing various trends, what people are going to buy and based on it you decide. Beside, product’s conversion rate and demand is taken into consideration. So, it is a strategy of machine learning combined with human intelligence which makes you procure those particular products.

Panelist: ANIL RAJPAL (Head, Retail & Consumer Products, Business Consulting, Emerging Markets: TCS), NITIN BAWANKULE (Industry Director: Google India), AMIYA PATHAK (COO: Stealth Mode Startup), MANISH KALRA (Chief Business Officer: Craftsvilla), UDAY THAKKAR (COO: DynaCorp) and SHIVANANDAN PARE (Head – New Digital Businesses: Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Ltd).

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