Usha International, an established name in sewing machines and fans, has been reinventing itself with a slew of new products that include kitchen appliances, room coolers, water dispensers and heating appliances. Usha also recently appointed Indigo Consulting to handle its digital initiatives, which includes a customised e-commerce solution. In an e-mail conversation with Campaign India, Vineet Trakroo, chief marketing officer, Usha International, talks about the brand’s direct marketing efforts. Usha has also taken to digital media as part of efforts to do away with its perceived ‘traditional’ image and reach out to a younger audience, he reveals. Excerpts:
With media fragmentation, will we see direct marketing gain importance? How will this manifest in marketing spends?
Yes, this will gain importance as a company’s customer database swells and they will need to find new ways of reaching them through social media, email and maybe even mobile – i.e. if TRAI rules permit. How much importance will it gain, is dependent on that particular industry. B2B companies and luxury retail companies are finding it very useful. The automobile industry, consumer electronics, and service oriented industry like: banking, insurance, healthcare will use this well too. Meanwhile, FMCG companies are still testing waters. Over the years, brands might spend 40 to 50 per cent more than what they are spending currently on DM.
What percentage of your marketing spends would be towards direct marketing?
We have never measured it as it is a part of a larger digital spend.
Are direct marketing exercises still heavily skewed towards selling, rather than brand building? What has been your experience?
Primarily yes. However, promotion efforts which exist are also towards increasing the core business.
How much has customer lifecycle management evolved and what has been its impact on DM and CRM, in your industry?
It hasn’t evolved significantly in our current industry. We are mostly still selling to what we source.
Can you cite two direct marketing examples (at least one in India) that show the way for the future of persuasive personal communication with consumers?
Not really, as we haven't been very active on this platform. But, I am aware that paint and adhesive companies have a strong program to enlist and communicate with their users - which include painters and craftsmen. It is also the case for a couple of brands with electricians installing pumps or switches.
Is lack of ability to capture data at key touch points a cause for concern in the Indian context? Explain.
Yes. It is, as customers are seldom interested in sharing data or their contact details.
Is the right use of analytics to interpret data accurately a cause for concern? Explain.
Yes, it is as there are very few people who understand your business and can suggest the use of data accordingly.
How have your digital spends increased over the last few years? How much of it today would be towards direct marketing efforts? How much of it is being directed to the mobile platform?
Though there has been no significant increase in direct marketing spends, there has been a 50 per cent increase on our digital spends over last year. Our mobile spends are virtually non-existent.
Though mobile has been a substantial driver for direct digital consumption, we haven’t seen a lot of activity on the mobile advertising platform. What have been the roadblocks from a marketer’s point of view in adopting the medium?
DND or do not disturb by TRAI, which is actually a boon, as this medium has been misused by many brands.
How has modern retail, and with it shopper marketing efforts, contributed to evolution of direct marketing?
A large part of our sales happen through this medium for us. This includes television channels which sell products like Homeshop18 and Star CJ Alive. Although we have the data from such platforms, we haven’t started using it significantly.
(Vineet Trakroo is on the advisory of DMAi 2013 Convention, scheduled in Mumbai on 4 and 5 June 2013.Visit www.dmai.co for more details.)
Disclosure: Campaign India is a media partner for the event.