[Interview] From traditional to social: Archan Banerjee, Dabur India


Archan Banerjee, Head of Digital Marketing, Dabur India Ltd shares with Social Samosa the challenges and opportunities they face as a traditional brand in an evolving social media space.

How do you define the role of Social Media for extending Dabur’s brand lineage to a digitally savvy audience and how important is Social Media to you as a person?

One of the key mandates that Dabur has is to make the brand young, vibrant and socially conscious. Inherently, if we want to be young and vibrant, the easiest way for us is to go online. Influencer program is our focus when it comes to Social Media. One of our successful influencer programme on Twitter was #ILiveNaturally. Today, being natural is a cool thing. The insight we got from social media listening is that people wanted to learn how to lose weight naturally? How to put on packs which make my skin glow? My hair is falling, what should I eat? So, we basically did a promotional activity on social media, it was all organic. So, we asked a question to people: What did they do to live naturally? Do you jog? Do you do yoga? And suddenly all the youth and Twitter influencers started saying that they use Dabur brands. They take Real juice, and have Chyawanprash. They have Dabur honey mixed in hot water to maintain their weight. Somebody said that she uses Amla hair oil as it is great for hair. We got around 26000 brand mentions across different categories on something like this. And this was completely word-of-mouth. Other worth mentioning influencers campaign was #TheRedDare by Dabur Red Toothpaste. To create excitement in the boring and mundane category of Toothpastes we challenged influencers to brush their teeth in the strangest and weirdest places possible.

The campaign went viral, over 140 videos were crowdsourced, the hashtag trended in India at no.4 and over 45,000 tweets were received. Advocacy is extremely important for us and word-of-mouth is the most credible form of advocacy. If your mom says it, if your friend says it, there is absolutely no reason for you not to believe it. I could throw billion dollars’ worth of advertising onto you and you still won’t buy it because it’s not credible. But here on digital, people are basically consuming content, the platform is agnostic, you can consume it on Facebook, Twitter, website, blog, YouTube, among others, and we are just trying to ensure that we are present on all the platforms. We are not overtly throwing our brand on to you, we are trying to help you and that is why our content strategy is so important.

For me Social Media is the best tool to connect with consumers & Industry Leaders. The brand doesn’t really exist online if you’re not represented across all social channels – and regularly interacting with your followers, journalists who cover your industry, thought leaders and tastemakers, etc. It not only improves brand loyalty but also increases brand recognition and conversion rates.

What are the key objectives for Dabur India and the portfolio products on Social Media, please give us a brief on the differential strategy for each brand on social media?

Our objective on social is to get these influencers who are already present online to spread the word to others about our brands and then see how people react to it. We primarily focus on social media listening which helps us get a sense of what is working and what isn’t, and what the entire category conversation is about. That is how you create intelligent messaging.

Our strategy revolves around content dissemination, marketing, influencers program, bloggers engagement and advocacy. The communications need to be crafted in a way so that it can reach out to those segments who are present online. For this, we aligned our entire strategy along with what we already do.

For example, our ‘Brave and Beautiful campaign, was a tribute to women who have battled cancer and have taken steps to live like normal people. Dabur Vatika has, over the years, talked about the beauty attached with hair and hence the commercial is a bold step in the effort to be something “different.” Another was #AmPrettyTough. The idea was to find a brand space for Dabur Gulabari that resonates with young girls today. Conventionally, skin care products while advertising, highlight benefits such as improved skin tone and better dermatological health. But, the advert from Dabur Gulabari has deviated from the regular trend to try to convey to its target group of teenagers, a different definition of beauty.

How is Social Media placed in the marketing mix for Dabur, what is proportion of spends on social media as compared to the overall marketing spends?

Social Media is indeed an integral part of our marketing strategy. As mentioned earlier, focus is primarily on social media listening which helps us to understand what’s working and what isn’t, and what the entire category conversation is about. That is how you create intelligent messaging. Spends is anywhere ranging between 5-10% for digital and this is the approximate industry average also. Now, depending on various factors, like if the rate of adoption is faster than expected, then there could be an increase in the overall percentage.

What is the broad content strategy you follow for each of these brands? Please share some insights which have contributed to the current content strategy for Dabur?

The content strategy is designed to get people organically share a piece of content. It is more like a discoverability process. Content, which is engaging and builds dialogue with consumers, drives any digital brand campaign. With this background, Dabur has invested in creating content warehouse for its brands by developing these interactive websites addressing the three core verticals — oral care, skin and hair care and health care to create a virtual content pool and further taking this content to consumers using digital media like YouTube, Facebook etc.

For example, the beauty care portal called mybeautynaturally.com was designed to provide skin-care and hair-care content related to a consumer’s search query. These category portals give out content which is in conjunction with the How-to feature: How do I fix my hair? How do I get fair? What should I eat?  We are not overtly throwing our brand on to you, we are trying to help you and that is why our content strategy is so important. As you know India is constantly growing its internet user base and is expected to double in next 5 years, hence we want to do more of AV content. People want the content at their own convenience, they could consume the content through mobile phone, tablet, desktop, among others and we just need to be present there, giving you the content you want to read and not the one we consider you should be reading.

Since Dabur is an established brand in India and traditional media had a major role to play in the brand’s journey. Does the campaign ideation process lead by traditional and extended to digital? or vice versa? How do you manage to balance the forces? Please share your favorite campaigns in the past 1 year

At Dabur, we follow an integrated marketing communication approach where all the various touch-points like TV, print, radio, digital and even point of sale communicate the same message. Both traditional and digital media compliments each other.

Although all our campaigns are phenomenal and have created great impact, my personal favorite is #AmPrettyTough which was launched early this year for its Dabur Gulabari range. As mentioned earlier, the aim idea behind such campaign was to motivate girls to break stereotypes based on looks, and achieve what people don’t believe they can achieve.

Most of the new age brands on Social Media believe in leveraging live and topical moments say the launch of iPhone7 or the SMOG situation in Delhi? Has Dabur explored that route yet? If yes, then take us through some examples. If No, is there a specific rationale behind it?

Yes, we did. During the outbreak or dengue and chikungunya we did awareness program on Twitter called #HelpPreventDengue. Another is #ImmunityForYou with Dabur Chyawanprash which we recently ran on Twitter.

How is your experience with Social Media Advertising? When compared with Google Adwords or any other affiliate channels what will be your order of preference?

It’s been effective. My preferences are based on my experience; hence can’t be disclosed as it is used for the benefits of my own brand.

Influencer Marketing has been a buzzword in the space for quite some time? What is Dabur’s approach to Influencer Marketing?

Yes, as mentioned earlier, influencer marketing is a very important component of our strategy. For example, Dengue is very topical and you have no preventive medicine in allopath. Whereas, in Ayurveda, you do have preventive medicines. So, we have used our influencer marketing base to promote these kinds of initiatives.

The reason why we use influencer marketing is that we don’t want to outshout our brand. This is relevant to our consumer’s life and influencers bring a lot of credibility when they support. There are chances that people might pick-up that piece of information and pass it on. This helps us to gain massive brand mention and brand advocacy is also taken care of. Influencers, have driven organic engagement with customers.  Bloggers also contribute to building a buzz around the brand like collaborate with mom bloggers to spread befits of the Ayurveda products for their child.

Your reaction to agency pitches which say we will trend for hours/days/weeks?

Well, that’s quite possible, I will not be surprised given that today we have so many paid routes to trend on Twitter for the time span we want. But we are happy with the kind of traction we have been achieving organically through our unique content.

Please share some tips on the use of Social Media for FMCG brands?

Remain focused on the plan and implement your marketing activities accordingly. Engage with your consumers. Making Social media interfaces communicative. Last but not the least; do not confuse social media with media. Both have a different approach and strategy.