Pooja Sahgal on the role of AI in marketing and understanding purpose

Pranali Tawte
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Pooja Sahgal

In conversation with Social Samosa, Pooja Sahgal talks about the challenges that women face today in the Indian A&M industry, how marketers can use AI to convert the lead into a sale or drive conversions, and as a Jury Member of Social Samosa Superwomen 2023, shares a message for the participants.

With over 2 decades of experience in building brands, transforming businesses, and creating strategies that deliver growth, Pooja Sahgal, CMO, Raymond, shares that ‘brands need to hold a mirror consistently to themselves and be true to the promise of purpose they want to deliver.’ She also talks about the challenges she faced while pursuing a career in marketing and her experience across different industries.

She further shares some marketing trends that she is expecting to see this year with the first season of WPL coming to an end and new season of IPL being around the corner.

Edited Excerpts:

With AI becoming the talk of the town, how can marketers use AI to their benefit?

It’s all about data, AI helps you to analyze large amounts of data to predict behavior. It can be business/ media viewership/ consumer behavior. This allows you to effectively implement dedicated marketing campaigns to a target audience. This can even help in boosting customer satisfaction and engagement. With help of this, marketers can easily convert the lead into a sale or drive conversions.

AI can devise a more effective marketing strategy (mostly Digital) using AI-driven data analysis. 

Needless to say, Al will help for decision making and also help to create better performing content, this will definitely result into better ROI.

Reports have shown that consumers are more likely to be driven towards brands implementing AI in their marketing strategies.

New AI features are also coming to Google Doc and Gmail. Users will be able to generate text directly on Docs and Gmail.  AI is also enabling to democratize beauty through tools like product finder, skin analyzer and virtual try on.

Also Read: Jeeru to J: The journey from word-of-mouth marketing to the beverage of the youth

You have worked across different industries for Indian as well as International markets and have accumulated an enormous amount of experience having worked for top-tier brands. What did you learn from these roles and how do you apply experiences in your current role at Raymond?

The first lesson was my most enduring, keep consumer understanding at the heart of all you do. Hence I was able to apply consumer and category insights across industries. In fact I worked on All-Bran 5 day challenge campaign and build the foundation on a lot of learnings on a similar campaign I did in Marico. It’s important not to be in box or have barriers, and state you are a food person or a beauty person etc. I learnt that mothers and children are the same everywhere when I worked at Kellogg’s UK and that is why global brands, insights and platforms exist. I have also been able to apply a lot of my learnings of Loreal, in terms of understanding beauty, execution and aesthetic to drive innovation and create aspiration at Raymond.

With the younger generation becoming more vocal, many traditional brands have made cause marketing a key part of their marketing strategy. How important is it for brands of today to have a purpose at their core? 

Purpose is important when it is authentic, consistent and actionable. Indian consumers are very practical and realistic, you need to drive action on the purpose you are driving or it can backfire.  

Overall I do believe in purpose as I believe the overall aim of brands and marketing is to enrich consumer’s life and enable them to enjoy, maximize, aspire and always reach higher. Brands need to hold a mirror consistently to themselves and be true to the promise of purpose they want to deliver.

With IPL around the corner, what are some of the marketing trends that you are expecting to see this year?

Jio has already upped the game with multiple new products such as VR experience, vernacular commentary, multi-cam actions, fun parks etc. to make best consumer experience. Marketers should ride along with virtual reality experiences to enhance the fan experience.

Connected TV is one of the fastest-growing segments. There are about 20-22 million Connected TV homes, which is approx. 10 percent plus of TV homes. WPL has had the highest time spent on average CTV (56 Min). Taking one step further, brands would need to make creative for the CTV ecosystem with far more personalization. 

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women looking to progress into the c-suite in marketing?

I would tell women to be clear on their objective, develop a personal brand and consistently build it across all points of interaction, offline, online and of course do have an elevator speech. Also aim to develop sponsors over mentors who can drive your career vs just giving advice. Finally, I would tell them go for no. Many women are apprehensive in asking for what they want, in terms of fear that they might hear a no. We all should push ourselves and go for these “no“ opportunities as that is the only way we can rise to the levels we deserve.

Can you discuss any female leaders or mentors who have inspired you in your career, and how they have influenced your leadership style?

All my female bosses were in the UK. I really admired the way they were ambitious, focused, and balanced their home and family life. That really taught me women can have it all! Further, they also drove results while being empathic.

I admire Oprah Winfrey for the personal brand she has created and the memory structures she has driven.

I admire women of diverse talent like Rihanna, who created Fenty beauty in spite of already being a successful singer and the purpose and brand identity she has created. I also admire Reese Witherspoon who has created a 1 billion dollar production company on popularizing stories where women are strong leads.

I also really admire strong Indian businesswomen like Falguni Nayar who have again created the No 1 beauty platform, being humble to learn all on the job and continuously evolving to lead the way for women in beauty.

Hence some keywords to drive are innovative, diverse, open, and opportunity-driven while being empathetical is the leadership style I like to drive.    

What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing? Can you share the challenges you faced and how you overcame them?

Marketing is a rare field that is the perfect blend of science and art. Hence it stretches you and enables you to grow in every direction. It is also ever-changing, dynamic and evolving with digital, tech innovation, trends, and innovation. In summation, marketing is ever evolving recipe where you have to continuously fine tune and evolve the ingredients/mix to deliver an outstanding dish to the consumer.

Challenges are how to keep ahead of the trends/needs, and still be relevant to the consumer, to connect while creating aspiration.  And of course, deliver business results while driving brand imagery.

WPL IPL ai Raymond AI trends Purpose Marketing women in marketing