Speaking at the Industry Conclave on day one of Goafest 2016, Samar Singh Sheikhawat offered three pieces of advice to agencies: getting to know clients in detail; understanding the consumer; and coming up with a creative solution.
Before getting into his presentation, the Goafest debutante brought up the decision of Bihar being turned into a dry State, underlining the need for rapid response from brands. He said, "Yesterday Bihar got total prohibition. It'll be a dry State but it will allow production of beer. It was a bolt from the blue because just around 72 hours before that, 600 licenses were given to retailers. A few of those retailers even started off. In the last 24 hours we've got plans to produce beer in Bihar and distribute it to the other States."
Getting to know the business
Sheikhawat urged the agencies to get to know the client's business and asked them to invest more in the same. He said, "Clients don't know the business either. In fact clients are full of self-centred people. When I joined Cadbury in 1989, I was sent to O&M for a month. I've asked other agency people to go our breweries etc. and learn about it. We (the liquor industry) are a media dark industry. A lot of laws are deliberately kept vague. We have Kingfisher drinking water which is number four in the industry. I've been with United Breweries for around six and a half years. It's like a FMCG brand now. Kingfisher faces the same issue a lot of the brands out there face. The youth don't want to drink what their fathers drink, or what the driver also drinks in some cases."
The UB marketing head then raised another issue marketers in the country face - the size and diversity of people. He said, "Sometimes even though you're born and brought up here (in India), you find yourself to be a stranger. There are multiple realities in the country. You could find a Ferrari and bullock cart parked side by side on the same street. There are multiple realities in India. Consumers are totally different to each other. We don't understand this. English may not be the first option for many. Marketers need to understand this. It can be achieved only if clients and agencies get into the market place. At stores, there is sometimes zero interaction between the buyer and the seller. Ninety per cent of the people buy alcohol from the same place, and the shopkeeper knows his choice."
He then spoke about Delhi's lack of retail outlets. This causes massive queues outside, causing people to sometimes get an incorrect brand of liquor, he noted.
Changing Consumers, Creative Solutions
The marketer pointed to changes in the ecosystem and their impact on consumers.
"The medium of delivering messages is changing as the second or even third screen is emerging. People are watching television and are on social media simultaneously. It's as complicated as it can be and things are changing very quickly. I was talking to Anand Mahindra, who claimed that youth don't want to buy cars. The cause for this phenomenon is the emergence of technology like Uber and Ola to go with road tax and the like increasing. They're also not looking to buy something that depreciates by 40 per cent the moment it comes out of the showroom," said Sheikhawat.
He spoke about the emergence of drones and how technology is changing, contending that the consumer is always ahead of marketers and agencies. "Very few of us are like Steve Jobs and Apple," he added.
Sheikhawat cited the case of a creative agency coming up with a product innovation that helped overcome a problem. He explained, "99 per cent of all beer consumption in the country is by males. Women don't like it because of the taste, they feel it causes gas and thirdly they mistakenly think that it makes them put on weight. So our problem was that our product doesn't attract almost half of the population. Our agency told us to launch a beer that doesn't look like one. A 24-year-old girl at the agency came up with this solution. And that's why we launched Kingfisher Buzz, a beer that doesn't look like one."