As a child when I would go to watch a movie in a theatre, I would always be curious to see how others in the audience were reacting to the movie. Many years later I realised that these are essential traits of a marketer, and I will explain why.
As brand managers we are told to spend lot of time meeting our consumers and we realised the importance when we actually went there. The lives of many consumers are so different from ours and unless we experience that we would never understand that world. It’s more important for a marketer that whether the market or the consumers like an idea more than whether the marketer likes it. As brand managers we leant that every decision should be validated by consumers – big decision by a big research and small one by a smaller set of consumer would do. These decisions would be about the new products we are looking at launching and new communication we are developing. At the end of it the brand manager should be convinced that the decision is made in the best interest of the consumers.
One of the most memorable and learning experience was while working for a mass shampoo brand many years back which was a market leader in rural India. It was a learning to see that most of the consumers would wash their hair with well water and would buy a sachet a time – which was very unlike urban consumer behaviour. These learnings would go in developing a strong product brief for the research & development team which would appeal to the target consumers.
The second task would be to develop a strong communication for the consumers. Have the most effective way to communicate and reach these consumers. We would invest a lot in development of the communication reaching the consumers, where we would invest a lot in the production values. But when we would have the final TV commercial ready we would see it on a black and white small TV and not on a HD Colour TV as that was how our consumers see the commercial.
Another interesting learning was while we had always looked at communicating through TV as data would show the rural household had TV and while in those days viewership data would be only urban, we would assume that rural consumers watch TV and that would be the main medium of the marketing strategy. But on visiting those households in rural area we realised that in day time most of the rural markets in those times had no electricity and hence were media dark and would have electricity in the night. This gave good inputs in the media strategy where we look at advertising only in the evening slots and day time started investing in van promotions and other activations. I had realised that the strength of any brand manager would be how well he understood his or her consumers and a marketer has to always see the brand from the eyes of the consumers.
There is another area where this trait is useful. A marketing person also makes many presentations in the company as well as to external customers. And the person who makes the best presentation is the one who has understood his or her audience the best – the one who sees the issues from the eyes of others and off course market their point but considering the audience in mind to connect with them better.
(The author is the chief marketing officer at Kokuyo Camlin)