Anupama Sajeet
Nov 30, 2023

The CMO's MO: Nikhil Gupta of Signify India on 'shedding old skin' to embrace the digital era

The head of marketing, integrated communications, and commercial operations, South Asia at Signify India delves into the brand's shift in investment focus in order to adapt to the evolving marketing landscape and also reveals what he admires about the Indian railways

The CMO's MO: Nikhil Gupta of Signify India on 'shedding old skin' to embrace the digital era

The CMO's MO: 9 questions with dynamic marketing leaders, insights and personalities revealed. 

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The CMO’s MO (modus operandi), spotlights some of India’s top CMOs as they share their marketing mantra, trends for the future, and what keeps them up at night while giving us a peek into the person behind the title. Here we chat up with the who’s who of the country’s leading marketers, keep the tone conversational, crisp and throw in questions that allow leaders to shine a light on their personalities, plans, and passions projects for the year ahead. 
In this week's edition of CMO's MO, we have Nikhil Gupta, head of marketing, integrated communications, and commercial operations, South Asia at Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) sharing insights on how the brand plans to leverage its Philips legacy and his admiration for homegrown brands that deliver world-class services 'at a fraction of the cost', and more.
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What are the three biggest marketing challenges for your brand right now?

At Signify, we are acutely aware of the dynamic landscape within which we operate, and the evolving marketing challenges that come with it. Our commitment to staying at the forefront of the lighting industry compels us to address three critical facets of our current marketing challenges.

  • Changing buying needs of customers: The advent of quick commerce and the ubiquitous accessibility of eCommerce have revolutionised the way customers interact with our products. For our LED luminaries, the wholesale market may be experiencing stagnant footfalls, but the online sphere is expanding exponentially. This necessitates our ability to seamlessly adapt our marketing strategies to the ever-evolving online landscape, ensuring that our customers receive an experience like never before.
  • Democratisation of product technology: We believe that our brand's identity is not only in the products we offer but also in our unwavering commitment to staying updated and ensuring that our customers receive products that are not just at the forefront of technology but also more sustainable for the planet.
  • Expansion of choice set: Customers now have infinite access to information, and the choices they make are rapidly changing and diversifying. To address this, we strive to provide our customers with not just a product but a comprehensive solution that caters to their specific as well as diverse needs.

What are the three biggest opportunities for your brand?

Signify is excited about the remarkable opportunities that lie ahead for our brand. Our strategic initiatives and brand strengths position us to seize these opportunities and continue to excel in the lighting industry.

  • Investment in R&D: Our commitment to research and development allows us to continuously innovate and bring cutting-edge products to market. By consistently introducing new, innovative lighting solutions, we are poised to meet the evolving needs and desires of our customers, while staying at the forefront of technological advancements in the industry.
  • Leveraging our Philips legacy: The Philips brand carries universal awareness and appeal. It stands for trust and quality, values that reflect in each of our efforts and products. Leveraging the strength of the Philips brand allows us to further solidify our position in the market.
  • Rapid pace of growth of infrastructure in India: As the country invests in creating world-class roads, highways, sports, facilities, and powers its economy through industry 2.0 expansion, we stand at the forefront of a transformative model. This growth translates into an expanded canvas to illuminate these infrastructural marvels, ensuring that our lighting solutions play a pivotal role in enhancing safety, energy efficiency and aesthetics.

Where are you investing your marketing budgets this year? In what areas are you increasing or cutting spend?

Signify's marketing budget for this year is strategically directed towards adapting to the evolving marketing landscape and ensuring that our brand remains agile and responsive to the needs of our customers. This involves a shift in our investment focus:

  • Digital marketing: A substantial portion of our marketing budget is being allocated to digital channels. The digital realm offers us a dynamic platform to connect with our tech-savvy customer base and engage in real-time conversations. We are enhancing our digital presence to capture the attention of our customers where they are most active.
  • Reducing conventional, traditional media: We are deliberately scaling back our investments in conventional and traditional media, such as print and radio. While these channels have been effective in the past, we recognize the changing consumer behaviour and the shift towards digital platforms.
  • Presence on TV: While we recognize the single-impact value of television advertising, we are utilising TV strategically with a focus on specific campaigns and events that can create a significant impact.

We are committed to ensure that our marketing budget is invested wisely to deliver the greatest value and impact for our brand and, ultimately, for our customers.


At an internal event: Igniting minds

Are you tapping into Gen AI’s awesomeness to future-proof your marketing efforts? Spill the C-suite strategy around Gen AI.

Signify recognises the immense potential of generative AI in shaping the future of our marketing endeavors. Our approach to harnessing this transformative technology is rooted in a comprehensive strategy:

  • Generative AI integration: We are embracing generative AI in various aspects of our marketing strategy. Currently, we are experimenting with generative AI for developing marketing materials, enhancing our customer service experience and in the next stage implementing conversational AI in chatbots and other customer-facing interactions.
  • Content creation: We acknowledge that the demand for creative content is insatiable. By leveraging generative AI, we are streamlining the process of content generation. This empowers us to produce high-quality, personalised content efficiently, whether it's product descriptions, blog posts, or video scripts. This not only saves time but also ensures that our content remains fresh and engaging. Generative AI also allows us to tailor content on a granular level. We can create personalized blogs, product recommendations, and customer interactions, thereby enhancing the customer experience.
  • Cost efficiency through SEO: By using generative AI to enhance SEO capabilities, we can ensure that our content is not only creative but also cost-effective. Improved SEO means our content reaches the right audience organically, reducing the need for expensive advertising campaigns and maximising the value of our marketing budget.

By integrating this technology into our marketing initiatives, we aim to stay at the forefront of marketing trends and deliver an exceptional experience to our customers.

Give us an example to convince our readers that your brand is walking the talk on sustainability.

Signify's dedication to sustainability is exemplified through our holistic approach to being a leader in this domain. Our journey towards sustainability extends to every facet of our operations, including our product packaging. We understand the environmental impact of packaging materials and have taken significant steps to mitigate it. Our product packaging is designed with sustainability in mind and is RoHS complaint. We prioritise the use of recyclable materials, ensuring that our packaging is environmentally friendly and can be reused or repurposed. By adopting sustainable packaging practices, we actively reduce our carbon footprint and minimize waste in the process.

This is just one example of how Signify walks the talk on sustainability. Our sustainability initiatives are deeply ingrained in our corporate DNA, and we are proud to be recognized as a 100% carbon-neutral company, included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the sixth time, and dedicated to ensuring that our products, supply chain, logistics, and offerings reflect our commitment to a more sustainable future.

Complete the sentence: “Today’s CMO must be ….”.

Today's CMO must be a trailblazer, forward-thinking and digital savvy, someone who's willing to shed the old skin of conventional methods and embrace the dynamic digital era. They must be agile and ready to lead their teams into new frontiers, recognising that the marketing landscape is continually evolving. In a world where many CMOs may still be tied to traditional approaches, the successful CMO must be the vanguard of innovation, adapting to the ever-changing demands of the modern consumer and technology-driven marketing.

What kind of a CMO are you? Answer using a maximum of three adjectives.

I am passionately innovative, relentlessly customer-centric, and unwaveringly forward-thinking. My role is to drive the company's marketing strategies with a deep commitment to pioneering creative solutions, focusing on our customers' evolving needs, and consistently envisioning and executing future-oriented initiatives.

With family on a vacation

Name another brand (can’t be yours) with an amazing customer experience that you really admire. Why is it great?

You would expect me to mention global brands like Apple or Mercedes Benz, the renowned ones in the market but one brand that truly stands out for me is Vande Bharat, the Indian Railways' initiative. It provides a travel experience comparable to Western countries, offering punctual and consistent service along with exceptional facilities. Vande Bharat has single-handedly raised the bar for train travel in India, by delivering comfort and efficiency that rivals global standards.

In addition, the UPI (Unified Payments Interface) has been a game-changer in India's digital payment infrastructure. What’s truly outstanding is how even the smallest vendor in the remotest corner of our country can now offer their services seamlessly with such ease and consistency, thanks to UPI. It has revolutionised the way payments are made, making financial transactions accessible and convenient for all.

These examples showcase my appreciation for homegrown brands that excel in different aspects of customer experience, from travel to digital payments, delivering world-class services at a fraction of the cost and that have today become the envy of the world.

What keeps you up at night as a CMO?

As a CMO, what keeps me up at night is the ever-changing and dynamic nature of the world. I'm constantly pondering how we can consistently innovate and adapt to ensure that our brand remains relevant for the next 10 years and beyond. Staying ahead in a rapidly evolving marketplace is a challenge that drives my commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.


Campaign India

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