Data-driven marketing strategies will certainly take center stage: Anita Kotwani, Carat India

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Anita Kotwani Carat India

Garnering insights from the media professional with the extensive experience of over two decades, Social Samosa converses with Anita Kotwani, of Carat India, and delves into the current hot topics such as the post-pandemic economy, lasting consumer trends, purchase patterns of the Gen-Z, and more.

Anita Kotwani, CEO, Carat India, shares her understanding of the current state of the advertising and marketing industry, tips on creating an efficient media blueprint, and driving full-funnel objectives, in Social Samosa X Quora’s knowledge-sharing property, Advertising and Marketing Thought Leaders.

Edited Experts:

As the economy begins to open post the pandemic – what are some of the key media & marketing trends seen in the Indian context?

The period between 2020 to 2022 has been that of great flux. It has forced marketers to relook at the way they engage with the consumers, changing the optics of the way they approach data or media.

As consumers become more dynamic, fragmented, and complex, marketing will have to centre its existence consistently improving data quality. Data-driven marketing strategies will certainly take centre stage.

Closely tied to the growing richness of data is the rise of Artificial Intelligence. AI is enabling brands in a whole new way in marketing and reaching the right potential consumers or clients. It allows marketers to understand consumer behaviour granularly and thereby, customize personalised products, services, and communication. This is touted to grow in the coming quarters.

From a media standpoint, it will be exciting to see Web 3.0 unravel including Metaverse and NFTs. While it does not sit well with the typical ‘reach-centric’ consumer outreach, it must be seen as a commitment to a virtual-first future and a playground for some industry-first, exciting work.

As consumers grow more comfortable with integrating tech into their lives, the rise of connected TVs and their inclusion in mainstream plans to efficiently target the audience will be something to watch out for.

Parallelly, the spurt of the creator economy is slowly snowballing into one of the biggest trends of the decade perhaps. Subscription and advertising revenue models will grow hand in hand enabling creators to scale up influence as well as their ability to produce more sophisticated content. Of course, this will not just be an urban phenomenon but a pan-India one as platforms support budding creators from the depths of the country.

Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically in the last two years. What are some of the consumer consumption trends that have emerged in the last two years?

Consumer behaviour has indeed been through waves of transformation in the last 2 years. Considering that the external agents were unprecedented, a lot of habits have broken, and new ones have been made. But lately, we have seen a plateau. As we are in a situation which has a close resemblance with normalcy, a lot of those behaviours have proven to be transient.

For example, the interest in health, wellness and fitness which peaked during the first wave, did not come around with the same fervour the second time over.

Some of the behaviours have proven to stand the test of time and have become a part of the consumer’s fabric for good. For e.g., the sensitivity towards sustainability, whether that is the consumption of sustainable products, or consciously choosing to engage with a brand that has a sustainable pedigree.

Digital transformation was hinged on the pandemic circumstances, but it is here to stay for the long haul, whether it is the usage of e-commerce apps, swapping the physical wallet with digital counterparts, discovering content and the comfort to pay for it on OTT.

As more members of the GenZ enter the working group segment with disposable income at hand, what kind of purchase patterns are seen among the youth?

In India, the 375 million-strong segment accounts for 27 per cent of our total population. They have been one of the most sensitive generations to have gone through the COVID phenomenon. There was a lot of disruption in their lives, from college to work to dating. It has also made them more resolute in the process.

They are flexible with their brand choices but value a brand’s authenticity. They care about a brand’s personality.

Gen Z is also quick and impulsive when it comes to making purchase decisions as compared to millennials, who typically spend more time in the consideration stage. Gen Z is digital-first and therefore e-commerce and social commerce come very naturally to them.

However, their purchasing power is still relatively low as they are still rising in the ranks of spending propensity. This makes them want to look at brands which give more value-added services like free delivery, discount coupons, etc.

Also Read: Sanjeev Jasani, Cheil India on digital ad spends, the cookie-less future & more…

With the changing consumption trends, how do brands need to realign their approach towards media spends? Any tips on what brands & agencies need to keep in mind before creating a media blueprint?

An agile and adaptable approach is what will determine the way forward. If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that a watertight understanding of the consumer will not work. Brands and agencies will collectively have to work on creating a means to plan for tectonic shifts and leverage the current trends quickly before they lose steam.

This means that we will have to make room for formal marketing experiments, especially on social media. This learn-rework-adapt approach will enable us to keep an ongoing feedback loop with the consumer.

An additional point of difference would perhaps be how seriously we take sustainability. Making media sustainable will be going the extra mile. At dentsu we are taking this very seriously, enabling brands to not just serve tokenism but really embody the ethos of sustainability. This is helping them have an edge in the market as they are also being viewed favourably by the consumers.

In terms of social media marketing, what kind of success have you seen on platforms such as Quora?

Quora is a great platform to gain more trust and credibility in the minds of the consumers. For e.g., in the electric vehicle category, where there is substantial information darkness, if a brand creates a solid profile that disseminates useful information of value to the consumer, the brand will end up building thought leadership. This will in turn help in creating a strong reputation for the brand.

What are some of the AdSpends trends seen in this year? Which categories will be the biggest spenders?

India is the fastest-growing market among the top 10 global markets with respect to Ad spends with Television and Digital showing consistent upward growth. Digital media has emerged as the white knight of the overall advertising industry and spends have grown by 18.6% over 2020. While traditional media spends has been growing by 12.6%, digital media has been leading the growth rally for the Indian advertising industry, growing at almost twice the rate of the overall industry.

Among the total digital media spends the highest proportion of spends has been claimed by social media accounts for 29% closely followed by Online Video accounts for 28%. While paid search accounts for 23%, display banners claim 16% of the spends. Overall Digital media is expected to have a growth rate of 30% to reach a market size of Rs 27,759 crore by the end of 2022. Mediums like Print and OOH that were heavily impacted due to the pandemic are slowly recovering in 2022. Across the categories, FMCG continues to be the largest spender contributing 34% of the total advertising spend in India, followed by E-commerce contributing 14% and automotive contributing 7%.

In the digital media, the biggest contributors are again FMCG contributing 42%, Ecommerce at 17%, consumer durables at 6% and pharmaceuticals at 5%.

Ecommerce is emerging as the digital backbone of the retail sector, many small and big players, especially from small metros and towns, have realized the immense potential that advertising on e-commerce platforms holds and is expected to grow at a rate of 36% in 2022.

A lot of new-age brands in the FinTech, FoodTech & EdTech categories have been actively advertising – any tips on how they can leverage digital marketing in a way that they stand out.

For Tech-based brands, the customer journey is often longer and nonlinear. The decision-making involves back and forth. Media can influence the buyers across their purchase journey. Once the path to purchase for the brand is cracked, through different tactics in Digital marketing we can ensure that the brand is present at every step of the customer’s path to the purchase journey, right from research to discovery of the product leading to the final purchase. Omnichannel strategies, Remarketing, SEO, use of BOTs, etc. are some of the key digital tactics that can be leveraged by the new age of Tech-based brands to influence the buyer purchase decision.

As consumers get more aware & digital-savvy, the power of intent plays an even bigger role. As a marketing veteran, what is your opinion on the power of intent & how can it be used to drive full-funnel objectives?

Intent marketing is all about giving what your consumer wants. As marketers, it is high time we focus on intent-based consumer targeting rather than just demographic-based targeting. With multiple data signals, real-time as well as historic data sometimes, it can be challenging to get the right intent of the consumers.

The key is to spend more time understanding the right consumer intent and strategizing the right content to cater to their need.

Seeding the right content that can meet the prospective buyer’s intent in their initial research phase which is the top funnel to bottom-funnel sales messaging that includes context around specific product needs is equally important and crucial.

The closer we are to cracking the intent of our target audience and the relevant content messaging, the stronger we are in reducing wastage in advertising investment targeting irrelevant consumers.

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