Rohan Mehta talks about the unpredictable nature of the A&M industry, how it has become the norm, Kinnect's merger with FCB, the future of digital, and more in a brief conversation with Social Samosa.
The digital marketing space is an ever-changing industry. With every step, there's a new curve ball in the form of trends and evolution in features. Rohan Mehta, CEO of Kinnect talks about how Influencer Marketing has become a must for many brands and is recognised as a crucial advertising strategy.
In conversation with Social Samosa, the SAMMIE jury member also discusses the potential that Metaverse holds and it's future in India among other insights.
How has digital grown compared to the mid-pandemic times in 2021 and the post-pandemic period in 2022? Are you back to pre-pandemic levels from a business POV?
Digital continues to grow, and we see it becoming the most significant preferred choice for brands across the board in the coming years. For us, a digital agency, the pandemic didn’t leave any big harm keeping aside the first two or three months. In fact, it accelerated the adoption of digital as a medium of advertising, and we, as an agency, witnessed a growth of 100% over the last two years.
Any changing consumer behaviour patterns that you have seen off late?
There is no denying that customer behaviour is evolving more quickly than ever. Consumers' preferences for what they want, where they want it, and when they want to use their goods and services. Retailers and consumer products industries are under strain due to the dramatic ups and downs in demand, the widespread use of digital channels, problems with the global supply chain, and an inflationary environment.
One of the patterns I can point out here is consumers are seeking ‘PERSONALISATION’ more than ever. Marketers have a wide range of possibilities for personalisation since there are so many different ways to contact audiences. It’s just a matter of narrowing down the ones that offer the best ROI.
Kinnect completed its 11th year in September; how do you feel the industry has changed when it comes to accepting digital at its full potential? Can you share any learnings from this journey?
Earlier, digital was an add-on medium to campaign executions. Clients would say let's do social media too. For us, or anyone, there were no significant entry barriers to digital. It's a low-barrier entry platform, and that's what got a lot of people to dabble in it. This is what also got brands to take their first step. While the entry is easy, for clients to build confidence in the medium, you have to show success by keeping the changing consumer behaviour into consideration. We did that and showcased how digital can help in brand building and help get desirable outcomes. This is how we got our clients to invest more time and money in digital.
We are living in a VUCA world, the #nevernormal. Our new working structures are modelled to propel agility within teams and for our brands, more like a structure for work to happen most efficiently within the constructs of our cross-functional team, across geographies, and in integrated teams of Kinnect and FCB. We maintain pace with the new and keep figuring out the most effective ways to navigate this VUCA world, not just in terms of business but also for our people and brands.
This year, we have seen quite a few mergers in the advertising industry. After merging your strengths with FCB, how has your approach changed, and what do you think the future of the agency model should look like?
Our first official year into the integration with the FCB Group, and the saying 'the secret sauce to success includes a valued partner' perfectly describes our partnership. We've had a flourishing one-year run with each other, and the outcome of it is evident with our growth, global learning, integrated offerings to clientele, and a big win at the Cannes Lions. This has equipped both us and FCB Group India to be more future-focused. The partnership enabled us to leverage their proficiency in building brands over decades, our speed and tenacity in digital, and an understanding of the new media landscape.
Together with FCB, we have engineered a more transformative and holistic experience for some brands, including BMW, TVS Motor Company, SOS Children Villages of India, Nokia Phones, Brillon, etc.
Future of Agency Model: The in-house setups from the creator and media standpoint are necessarily moving forward. The sure output of what advertising and marketing have to deliver has grown from traditional to digital models. It’s an aid to reach out to the sheer volume of the requirement.
From where agencies are from a model standpoint, they are not in a state of flux, and many things have to be reimagined. The team structures had to be reimagined due to COVID-19, and it was essential to put cross-functional teams together that could create a solution to a business problem rather than just having a specialist mindset. Watching the trends and ensuring that you are adapting to them, not carrying any baggage of the past, and being open to constructing an agency of the future will make you survive in this state.
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How do you feel influencer marketing has grown, and how does Kinnect approach this area?
In recent years, most brands in India have established social media connections to the creative economy. Brands benefit from increased conversion touchpoints, consumer retention, brand loyalty, and awareness-building for newly launched products. Influencer marketing with nano, micro, and mid-tier influencers is an economical means of reaching and engaging audiences and a valuable tool for creating a sizable content archive that may be used in the future. According to the Influencer Marketing Report, the Indian influencer market is anticipated to develop at a compound annual growth rate of 25% until 2025, when it is predicted to be worth Rs 2,200 crore, according to the Influencer Marketing Report. Once considered a trend, influencer marketing has quickly evolved into an essential tool in a brand's marketing toolbox. Influencer marketing is now recognised as a crucial advertising strategy because it has been used in 93% of marketing efforts.
At Kinnect, our primary focus has been building India’s most future-focused agency. Over the next few years, our core vision is to become a platform-agnostic enabler - we aim to become facilitators for our clients regardless of the channel, platform or medium involved. And to do that, we are simultaneously building out capabilities that will allow us to craft a diverse set of solutions with the ultimate aim to further client growth across all influencer marketing channels. We are heavily investing in adopting tools and technology that ensure better customer interactions for our clients.
What will the Metaverse space look like in India in the near future?
All technology becomes feasible at some point in time. Technology only reduces costs over some time. However, currently, Metaverse is a conversation; it’s not so much in action.
It is a conversation; people want to know about it. Like I told you earlier, in 2011, when we started Kinnect, for the first 3-4 years, we were only educating people on digital and its potential. From here on, with Metaverse also, it would be the same.
What can be expected from Kinnect in the coming year?
Kinnect is constantly evolving with the changing times. So we want to be the most contemporary agency in the market at any point.
In a nutshell, we want to be a great modern partner to our clients. To offer a large portion of what they would require from a marketing and advertising standpoint through our in-house built capabilities. I feel digital, mainline, media, all these terms need to start dissipating and be a great modern agency. That is why we want to be the No. 1 agency. The thought is to be the No. 1 agency in India, irrespective of not being known for a specific discipline but to be known as a great growth partner in the communication industry.
Lastly, what are you expecting from the nominees this year at SAMMIEs?
With the changing social media landscape, we now see an increased focus on quality over quantity of content and utilising platforms' latest platform features more effectively has become a priority. This is the age to stand out amongst the noise, and this will happen only through focused communication efforts. I expect the nominees to create a more long-term brand-building approach on social media platforms.