Campaign India Team
Feb 02, 2018

The business relevance of diversity

What are the challenges for a CMO when targetting a diverse market? A panel at the Marcus Evans CMO Excellence Forum 2018 dwelt upon this topic. Excerpts:

The business relevance of diversity
In a discussion moderated by Rajendra Khare, CMD, Surewaves Mediatech, the panel consisting of Raghuvesh Sarup, CMO, Microsoft, C S Sadasivan, CMO, JK Lakshmi Cement, and Braj Biradar, AVP Dish TV looked at diversity from the lens of the CMO
C S Sadasivan set the ball rolling that diversity in the marketplace had its origins in North America, where typically American marketers assumed that customers are white Anglo Saxon. It was only later that realisation dawned that the value proposition for each community is very different and they started tailoring their solutions for different sections like Afro-Americans, Hispanics and so on.
In markets like India, heterogeneous is given where there is an abudance of cultural diversity, income diversity and so on. Still there are challenges for marketers.
Raghuvesh Sarup, CMO, Microsoft speaks of the early days in his career when he was handling brands at consumer goods giant P&G. At that time, the FMCG major briefly dabbled into the toilet soap category in India  by introducing Camay.
"There was an advertising challenge in addressing diversity," Sarup recalls. As, rival Hindustan Lever (now Hindustan Unilever) had stars like Sridevi and Madhuri for their soap brand Lux, and the concept of beauty was diverse, P&G chose the then newly crowned Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen for Camay. However, the brand would not appeal across the country. "We had to invent the advertising strategy from state up rather than alter main campaign to suit diffferent states," he recalls. 
In another company, Nokia, where Sarup had earlier worked, he describes the use of AI to  translate from English to different for Nokia's mobile functions. "We cannot apply AI blindly without looking at the relevance of the translation in the local context," he says.
Sadasivan of JK Lakshmi looks at the affordable housing as a diversity challenge for marketers. "We need to offer a different proposition", he says. However, he adds that consumers at the lower end can throw up surprises. For instance, when he East of the country is different from the North in cement buying, even as the per capita income is the lowest, the company found that there was a market for premium cement even in the East.
Speaking of the media mix, he added that even as communicating in their language was important, it was important to choose the right channels. "In Haryana people look for ads on Doordarshan. Also, we found that there was a lot to benefot from patronising akhadas for wrestling. We had to reorient our strategy for that market."
He adds that the opportunities thrown up by the government announcements in affordable housing make marketing of cement to the bottom of the market a different game. "There will be a boom in the affordable housing segment. We need to have a different strategy and cannot sell to the segment unless we offer the entire value proposition."
Sadasivan says that instead of just selling cement to the bottom of the pyramid, we should look at providing a complete design of the house within INR 3 lakh as a value proposition. He takes the example of Cemex from Mexico that has been effectively tapping the bottom of the pyramid in its market. 
Biradar adds that the OTT segment is currently a negligent part of the population. "A significant part of India is still a non-DTH audience. The brands are yet to decipher diversity in tapping the bottom of the pyramid," he says, talking about his industry. He says the opportunity in his business in on taking advantage of omni-channel marketing in terms of product and innovation. "When both offline and online comes together it is very advantageous to the entire ecosystem. The packages as per consumer needs evolve with tech integration into the system," he says.
Campaign India

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