Resurgence of demand for decorative painting is seen in Tier II & III cities: Mark Titus, Nippon Paint

Mark Titus Nippon India

Mark Titus, Nippon Paint sheds light on the decorative painting industry, the brand’s marketing strategy with a focus on digital media, and the relevance of regional markets in their plan

We speak with Mark Titus, Director Marketing, Nippon Paint India (Decorative Division) to understand the industry’s current situation, as the second wave compels consumers to redefine priorities

Edited Excerpts:

A lot has been said about the pandemic changing consumer behaviour, how is this applicable to the decorative Paint Industry? Which are the top consumption patterns observed during this time?

A majority of the workforce continues to work from home, consumers have been upgrading their homes and workspaces to make them more aesthetic. This ‘home improvement’ consumption pattern has a direct effect on the decorative paint industry as well. Previously, demand was primarily generated from the metros. However, since many people have returned to their hometowns and are currently working from home, we have seen a demand surge for our products in Tier-II and Tier-III cities as well. Organizations may need to realign priorities to match this trend.

In terms of media consumption, digital media platforms are now getting a significantly larger piece of the viewership pie and this is a behavioural change that is here to stay.

Some consumer insights reports have indicated that more than 90% of consumers have tried out a new shopping/purchase behavior during the pandemic. E-commerce has exploded over the last 12 months

Organizations need to build capabilities in this area to be able to take advantage of this behavioral shift as well.

Over the years Nippon has partnered with various big ticket events such as IPL & Bigg Boss. What will be your advice for brands planning to invest in the same?

  • Firstly, one has to evaluate the event and ensure that it is a brand fit else, the investment would not yield desired results.
  • Secondly, if the brand has a specific regional focus, then such partnerships (for instance, IPL) work very well to enhance brand salience in that specific market.
  • Thirdly, getting into a partnership is not enough, the brand has to do more activities around it to amplify the same in order to leverage the partnership in a wholesome manner for the brand.
  • A complete 360-degree multi-platform campaign around the partnership to engage with all stakeholders will help in significantly building strong brand salience and high recall.

How did digital experiences and social media help you keep people hooked and hopeful? What does Nippon Paint’s social media marketing look like, at the moment?

For sponsorships like Bigg Boss, we found social media very useful to amplify and reach our target audience. Similarly, for IPL, our social media contests, consumer promotions have engaged our audience effectively.

During the first wave of the pandemic when the paint industry was facing a lull, we were still active on our social media handles. We shared positive messages, precautionary measures, public service messages, etc. For instance, we did a campaign around the Colors of positivity which resonated well with our audience.

Since the second wave hit, we plan on resuming the same as it is very important for us to connect in a meaningful way with our consumers and other stakeholders. Most recently, we are inviting volunteers to contribute their time in the Ethos I Arcause initiative by Ethos + Nippon Paint. We will continue to showcase Nippon’s upcoming Corporate, Brand, and CSR initiatives on our social media handles.

Nippon Paint also launched Tamil Nadu’s Exclusive Style Guide. Which are the prime regions that you intend to target? Define your key target audience

On Tamil New Year, we launched the Nippon Paint Tamil Nadu Style Guide. We aim to share this colorful journey of Tamil Nadu’s culture and traditions with this style guide. We are certain that our stakeholders including consumers, architects, and interior designers will get some inspiration for their homes and projects from this style guide. Some of the special shades include Harvest Dance, Ripe tomatoes, Yellow pendant, and Sunshine Tea.

As a brand, we are focusing on very specific territories, for now, i.e. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.  Many of our key activities including partnerships with IPL teams, launching the Tamil Nadu style guide, the recently held painting skill contest is done very region-specific. We have also carefully curated color cards for the temples of Tamil Nadu, as the temples here are very colorful.

Content and Influencer marketing have found a prominent presence in every marketer’s guide. How has Nippon Paint leveraged the same?

At Nippon, we use content marketing to showcase our hi-tech products and unique features. Our preferred formats are video and text. We leverage a mix of owned media, shared media, paid media, and earned media. We like to experiment with out-of-the-box content ideas and in the past, have also partnered with popular stand-up comedians to create quirky content which connects well with our TG.

Influencer marketing is an important component in Nippon Paint’s digital marketing mix. We have partnered with celebrities and bloggers to promote various products and initiatives. These are very region-specific and we focus on local celebrities and micro-influencers to reach our relevant TG

Also read: Brands need to think of celebrity & influencer strategies as complementary to each other: Vineet Sharma

A lot has been said about Tier II & Tier III consumers being the focal point of economic revival. What is your opinion on the same?

As mentioned previously, due to work from home many people have moved back to their hometowns, so the resurgence of the demand for home painting has been spurred in Tier II and Tier III cities. We use a multi-platform approach to connect with these consumers including mass advertising, we are also running specific BTL programs, which reach out to several of our key stakeholders including consumers, painters, and dealers.

We are also using geo-targeting on the digital front to ensure that we reach out to consumers in specific geographic areas. 

What are the tools and criteria put in place to gauge the ROI from digital marketing?

There are also many tools that are currently available using which we can find the direct impact of any activity that we are doing in the digital space. Activities are done with a particular objective, which could be driving awareness, generating leads, and is campaign specific. Five years ago, if we did a digital campaign, we could not conclusively talk about the reach, but right now the tools are very reliable and help us in knowing how many leads were generated, how many were converted, now it is no more a black hole.

Along with ROI tracking Online Reputation Management and Social Listening is also extremely important in today’s fast-paced digital ecosystem and there are plenty of tools available to track the same as well.

On a broader scale, we have a regular track as to how the brand is performing on various KPI parameters like recall, top of mind, preference, consideration, etc. this, however, is a cumulative measure of all marketing investments not only digital marketing.

What does the marketing mix for 2021 look like for the brand and the budget allocated to each of the channels?

In terms of the marketing mix, we are investing in traditional advertising on Television, print, radio, POS for retail activation, and BTL initiatives. Very recently, we conducted a Painting skill contest exclusively for the painters who reside in Chennai. The contest adopted the World skills/ India skills framework of a decorative painter.

We can safely say that the component of spend specifically on digital platforms has been exponentially increasing.

Please take us through the distribution strategy for the brand in recent times. With the rise in e-commerce during the pandemic, is Nippon too dabbling in this direction?

Accessories like brushes, rollers, aerosol sprays, etc are e-commerce friendly and are already being sold online. Our core business though is not very e-commerce friendly due to the nature of the product and value addition that needs to be done at the dealer point. Having said that, we did create an e-commerce platform to roll out the Momento Interior Textures range for consumers can now choose their desired wall paints and DIY painting tools online, within the comfort of their homes. Their delivery is available in Chennai and Bengaluru.

E-commerce continues to gain significance as a channel and we need to work on more effective solutions to cater to this growing channel.

How would you define the ‘Marketer of Today’? Your Mantra for success

I would define the “Marketer of Today” as not only a specialist in any specific marketing vertical but a person who has a good grasp of all the marketing levers (ATL Media & Media  Planning, Trade Marketing & BTL, Campaign Management, Digital Marketing, PR, CSR, Market Research, Product Marketing & PLC Management, Loyalty Program Management, etc). He also has to have a deep understanding of the business of the organization and has to take P&L ownership as well.

Over the last few years, I have honed my financial acumen as well as core sales planning skill set while working on enhancing my knowledge in the digital marketing domain and stay abreast of all new developments in this space.

Mantra for Success would be the willingness to take calculated risks, empower and encourage the team to try out-of-the-box solutions, and foster an innovation culture within the team and the organization.

As pandemic continues to rage, wave after wave, do you have any tips for marketers helping them keep up?

  • Be agile in terms of plans and investments
  • Stay connected to consumers, be sensitive and plan communication appropriately
  • Keep your ear to the ground and lookout for new emerging opportunities