What according to you makes a brand `hot’?

Brands need to have a deep connection with their customers and remain on top of changing customer preferences to remain ‘hot’. Brands in the pre-digital age did this differently compared to brands in the post digital age, but the essential set of brand management principles remains unchanged. Today brands that don’t delve into online reviews and the social media chatter on them are losing a big part of capturing their customers’ pulse. Without a doubt new technology affects brands as well as impacts the customer’s experience with the brand and today’s brand managers need to stay on top of these changes. Having said that there are various ways a brand can keep itself current and iconic. For example, with its sharp, witty and insightful comments on the current affairs of the country, Amul has ensured top of mind recall and stayed connected with its customers for decades now.

Brands also need to be agile and on their toes at all times – they cannot afford to ignore technology advancement that helps them serve their customers better. We’ve seen it happen in many instances with the brick and mortar superstars of yesteryear crumbling to the brilliance of the new age digital brigade. But it’s not merely the rapid pace of technology that demands agility. Sometimes brands need to quickly respond to the on ground market situation and reimagine themselves. A good example is the Dunkin Donuts India story. Once the company realized that the average Indian consumer was not going to come knocking for a donut or two every morning; it rechristened itself to Dunkin Donuts and More… and started to offer a range of savory options led by their burgers. Extending their menu thus was a first for them – something they had never undertaken anywhere else in the world. But today that strategy has guaranteed them success in the Indian market.

I think another key imperative for brands to stay hot today is to run simple – especially at a juncture when there is so much noise translating to so much choice, those brands that are able to provide a low effort experience to their customers will win in the long run. According to a new book, ‘The Effortless Experience – The New Battleground for Customer Loyalty’, customers won’t be wowed by the number of options you give them; they simply want the option that best meets their needs or resolves their problem. In effect cut away the clutter and the excess information and always look to keep the customer experience simple and straight forward. Here is a prominent example highlighting the success of this principle – the no frills search results that Google delivered completely upstaged the then market leaders Yahoo and Altavista. And since then, there’s been no looking back – simplicity is really one of the key reasons Google has been able to remain the de facto search engine on the Internet today.

Ways in which you connect with the new age customers?

Earlier it was the company/brand that chose the way it connected to the customer. Today it’s the other way around and what with the all-pervasiveness of the customer, it’s not an easy task either. How does a brand weave across the different interfaces/social media avatars to arrive at the true face of the customer? Given the multiple, complex layers that exist and the need to mesh internal and external data, the role of real time analytics cannot be stressed enough. Leveraging Big Data to allow a brand to contextualize its conversations with the many faces of the new age customer is the need of the hour today.

Another very important trend of the new age customer is her omnichannel behavior. She wants one world where the offline and online realms blend to create one unified existence. According to a study by Vantiv, a US based payment processing and technology provider, more than a third of consumers today see an item in-store, compare prices on a mobile app and then go online to complete the purchase. Another half are researching and purchasing online and simply picking up the product in-store. Such a consumer demands a consistent experience across all channels. But according to a study by SAP on the DNA of a Growth CMO, while 22% CMOs understand the customer journey, only 9% are delivering consistent online and offline experiences indicating a long road ahead in execution.

At SAP we are trying to unify (read simplify) the customer’s digital and offline journey at all times. Our SAP HANA platform is at the core of drastically simplified User Interface to help meet customer needs better- The result is an integrated, easy to use and intuitive experience that at the click of a button delivers to service diverse range of needs.

Has the Indian consumer changed the way they consume and how?

India’s consumer market is one of the top consumer markets worldwide today. Most recent studies seem to indicate a very high confidence in this market given our favorable population composition (more than 50% of our population lies below the age group 25 years comprising a huge component of population that actually drives consumption). What’s more, increased disposable incomes suggest that consumer spending in India will touch US $3.6 trillion by 2020 (according to a report from BCG and CII).

But the trend that really grabs me is that the Indian consumer has really come of age. According to a report on Recent Consumer Behavior 2015 brought out by Credit Suisse, Indians are spending more on luxury items such as apparels, leather goods, perfumes, watches, etc. More people bought these in 2014 and still more expressed their willingness to buy them in the future. For many of these items, consumers’ wishing to buy unbranded products remained low, indicating that the Indian consumer has become more brand conscious. We are witnessing a similar trend across high value goods too. Most people today are buying smartphones and fewer people are buying entry level cars thus indicating a willingness and the ability to spend money.

What makes Delhi NCR a unique brand?

Delhi NCR is India’s largest and also one of the world’s largest urban agglomerations with a population of over 47,000,000 (as per the 2011 census). It encompasses the capital city of New Delhi as well as the urban areas of surrounding states Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The region benefits from a focused government approach that extends to real estate development, soft loans for infrastructure projects, greater investment activity etc.

Till about a decade ago Mumbai was the de facto commercial capital of the country while Delhi the political powerhouse. I believe the Delhi NCR region defied this status quo –successfully emerging into a hub of economic activity as well as a substantial marketplace. Hardly surprising then that the region contributes towards a sizeable portion of the country’s overall GDP and also enjoys the highest per capita income in the country.

Rajesh Kumar is the Head of Marketing for SAP in India, SriLanka and Bangladesh. He has championed the role of marketing at SAP as an accountable business function aligning closely with the sales teams and developing a strong ecosystem of channel partners. Prior to joining SAP, Rajesh was associated with Microsoft, Perfetti Van Melle, Pernod Ricard (earlier Seagram) and HCL in various leadership positions. His areas of expertise include Startups, Digital and building high-performance teams.
Rajesh is speaker at Delhi Brand Summit 2015.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.