This edition of Mind
your Marketing features Sunder
Madakshira, Head – Marketing, Adobe India. He has behind him 22 years in leadership roles
in Sales and Marketing positions across B2C, B2B products and services. He has
worked with brands such as SAP, Infosys, WIPRO, Hindustan Unilever and VISA
before joining Adobe. He has received the recognition of being one among ‘India’s
Greatest CMOs’ at the Independence Year of India Awards & Business Summit
by Asia One. He was also recognised as the ‘Most Influential Marketer’ at the
World Marketing Congress in Mumbai.
What are some of the
critical differences that millennials and GenZ have brought about in the way
brands approach marketing?
The first change in
their behaviour is that they want ease of access. They want to be able to
access the product easily and be able to use it like a pro.
The second thing they
want is the brands to be authentic. They want the brand promise and what
they’re getting out of that to be matching one-on-one.
The third thing they
expect is the brand to be more interactive. The days of a brand trying to do a
monologue are over. They want a dialogue. They want more information to be
available to them before they make the decision.
The fourth point is
that buying power in the market has gone up significantly. What they buy and
how they buy has increased because of their ability to pay for it. The
last thing is that today’s millennials and GenZ are living in a subscription
economy. Everything runs on subscription. They will consume the product till
they find value. And they will very easily exit a brand when they don’t see the
value. So that has forced marketers to build a long-term relationship with this
How can you
effectively connect with and sell to these cohorts?
Number one is digital
because they are on mobile phones. They are in the digital medium significantly
more than the previous generation. Actually, there is no comparison. So, one is
being where the customer is, which is on the digital channels.
Second thing is trying
to fine-tune your messages, which are simple and straight, and which help
people make decisions much faster.
The third thing is to
be able to engage with millennials and GenZ over a longer period of time before
you actually get them to buy the product. That engagement is very critical. At
Adobe, this is what we have been trying to do over the last five, six years,
and further amplified in India in the last three or four years.
Have these changes
been brought in by specific technologies?
Clearly, I think the
advent of the mobile. Social media, access to the web, internet in general, being
able to interact on a real time basis and so on sort of converged in the mobile
The second technology,
which accentuated this whole piece, is the fact that companies are using the
digital medium to reach this generation. Every tool that companies like
Adobe offer, which help marketers to be able to run a campaign in a targeted
way, measure the outcome and repurpose the whole marketing campaign, are
technologies which have really helped in this area.
What will enable you
to win the customer minds today – better technology or better ideas?
That is a trick
question, I must say. It can never be one or the other. But, clearly, if I have
to put it as a marketer, I would always say a better idea. That’s a starting
point in understanding who your consumers really are and then coming up with an
insight, which helps you to go to market. And taking it effectively to the end
consumer using the right technology.
But it is difficult to
make a choice between the two. Sometimes you might have a great idea. But if it
is not taken through the right channels to reach your targeted consumers, it
could be a lot of wasted effort. And sometimes it can even boomerang on the
What makes customer
experiences the differentiator of the future?
people are buying experiences and not products.
In a market where
products are getting increasingly complex and where buying decisions are
becoming more complex, what people remember are not your specifications, but
the experience that you have given them when they were with your product, and
with your brand. I think that is what is going to leave a lasting memory. That
also leads to brand advocacy. If people have a good experience, they become
your advocates. But if they have not, then they can also become your brand
My top three
Three concepts that
I would say
A powerful ad
I’m a big fan of
One strategic change
To completely own
What is the biggest
The answer is
because once the customer trusts you, even when you fail, the
What does it take for
brands to stay competitive in today’s dynamic economy and market?
One is about being
innovative. And second, being focused on the consumer. In today’s world where
knowledge is rapidly multiplying and virtually every aspect of the offering is
getting impacted by some new thing which is happening in some part of the
world, it is very important to be focused on what is the next big thing that
the company wants to do.
The second piece is
about truly having your eyes and ears on the ground with respect to the
consumers. Consumers are changing very fast.
Today is not a world
of segmentation. It is a world of hyper segmentation. Every segment is behaving
dramatically different year on year. Keeping your hand on the pulse of the
customer is very critical.
What are the three
secrets to successful branding?
It is a very strong
positioning. The stronger your positioning is on a particular axis and you keep
evolving that is the most important thing for a brand. Second thing is about
being authentic; it is very important to stay true to whatever you’re promising.
The third thing is about the power to tell stories. Stories make a brand and
brands make stories. It is a well-known fact today that virtually every great
brand in the world has been built around stories that has the ability to engage
with its customers.
one-size-fits-all approach work in a differentiated market such as India?
No, it will not work
even within hundred metres of two customer segments. India is extremely heterogeneous,
there are enough and more statistics about how different every state language
and demographic is.
In fact, it is a
debate as to how many sizes and how many variants of products you need to be
going into the market with.
How does your brand approach the Southern market when it comes to
branding and consumer engagement?
We do not segment
based on geography, but we do segment based on the demographics, size of
company or industries.
There is no South
strategy and no specific North strategy, but there are definite strategies that
we are looking for in each segment that emerges from there.
The other interesting
segmentation parameter is the psychographics. For our Creative Cloud products,
we use psychographics a lot to form communities. The expectation of a wedding
photographer when you compare him with a wildlife photographer is extremely
different. And we would much rather segment on that basis. That helps us form a
community and foster a large consumer set.
When you talk about
localisation, especially on the campaign front, it has to be, very local,
because people understand value. It is a very value-driven market.
People want to know
how the product can be used by them, and not by the rest of the world. At the
same time, it is very aspirational for a lot of people in India to be
consuming products which are world-class. So, one has to deal with these
dichotomies and be able to come up with a product which is by India for India,
and something that comes from India.
This article is part
of a brand initiative by The Hindu BusinessLine to profile marketing
professionals from across India.