This week, we have in the spotlight Meera Iyer, Chief Marketing Officer of Medlife International Pvt Ltd, sharing her views on how technology has changed overall consumer behaviour, the increasing significance of digital media in consumer lives and how these have forced brands to revamp their marketing strategies. An alumnus of JBIMS, Bombay, she started her career with Unilever and worked with bigbasket.com before joining Medlife.
Businesses have changed the way they approach marketing. Is it only due to the behavioural pattern of the millennials and GenZ?
Technology has dramatically altered consumer behaviour and it is not limited to millennials and GenZ, but all generations. This has made businesses revamp their marketing mixes. The approach to marketing still remains solidly rooted in understanding consumer insights, marrying your product offering to it and delivering your brand message in a creative and compelling way. Today, the digital medium has very rapidly become mainstay in consumer lives and hence a big part of marketing resources has shifted to adapt itself to delivering messages that work well on the digital medium.
How do you effectively reach out to the millennials and GenZ?
The best way is to catch these people where they are spending time – it is on social media platforms, YouTube and other apps they frequently use. On the other hand, it is also at a fair bit of offline places that these generations frequent – eateries, entertainment areas, experience zones, etc. Take the case of Lululemon that built business by tying up with Yoga instructors.
What are the specific technologies that have driven these changes?
This would chronologically be my top 4 of technologies that influenced changes in consumer behaviour. Internet was first. Google was next, followed by smartphones and finally social media.
Would customer experiences be the biggest differentiator in the future?
Customer experience has always been the differentiator, especially in retail and services companies as it has the power to affect both loyalty and advocacy. There is an explosion of brand choices – both home-grown and imported, across categories. Customer experience will determine the brands that flourish and the brands that die.
What is the biggest challenge in matching customer experiences with their expectations?
The key is in the question itself – set the expectations right. Don’t ever over-promise and under-deliver. You will be slaughtered on digital media before you know it. On the other hand, match experience to the set expectations and you will be fine.
- My top three marketing buzzwords
- AI, omnichannel and SEO
- Three words I believe define a hot brand
- Trustworthy, trendsetter and desirable/lovable
- A powerful ad campaign I liked
- Swiggy did a fantastic job in terms of bringing alive many snippets of life in a humorous, light and touching way.
- What is the one strategic change your brand plans on executing by 2020?
- Revamp our platform for high customer engagement
How do brands stay competitive in today’s dynamic economy and market?
Brands will remain competitive if, one, they always have the pulse of their customers and understand their evolving behaviours; two, they stay paranoid and watch out for trends and competitor brands that could disrupt and knock them out if not acted upon and three, as an organisation, they stay grounded and humble.
What are the three secrets to successful branding?
Know your consumer/customer, have a winning product/service and tell compelling brand stories – a good creative expression!
Do you have any specific approaches for the Southern market both in branding and consumer engagement?
The Southern market offers media isolability and allows for customisation of brand messaging that resonates better with the culture and values of the land. Digitally, especially now, a lot of ads use the local languages to communicate as well as more local protagonists to deliver brand messages. It’s a market that has better literacy, is economically forward and hence a combination of media manages to have a very high reach that covers almost all the prospective target groups.
What is unique about the South Indian market? Do you see any difference in consumer behaviour from the North in your category?
The Southern market has adopted technology faster and also localised it with use of regional languages online. As consumer behaviours go, it is a market that has always responded better to functional messages, natural products and regional movie stars! There is great pride in the local, cultural identity of people and references to those evoke positive responses for brands. On the other hand, anything that is not quite in sync with culture also draws a fair bit of derision and never quite takes off. In our category of online healthcare, we have seen customers approaching it with both caution and enthusiasm. There is far more need to reassure the audiences in the South for genuineness of medicines and far more reluctance to any sales pitch to upsell or cross-sell products. Tunnel shopping is far higher in the healthcare sector, even more so in the South.
This article is part of a brand initiative by The Hindu BusinessLine to profile marketing professionals from across India.