‘Leveraging legacy: Remaining relevant with resonance’ was the theme of a panel discussion at MediaNews4u Straight Talk on 18 November 2022 in Chennai.
Moderated by Bikash Kundu, Head Revenue – Regional Entertainment, Viacom18, the panellists were Ayushman Chiranewala, CMO, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital; Mona Kannan, Director – Marketing, Naga Foods; Sindhu Raghavan, Principal Partner – Investment Planning & Strategy, Mindshare; and RBU Shyam Kumar, CEO, Fantastic Jeyachandran Group.
The panel discussed how brands have leveraged the digital space.
Chiranewala spoke on behalf of the 65 year-old eye hospital chain run by third generation or promoters, all doctors by profession. The brand has 135 hospitals across regions in India led by the South, besides a presence in 11 countries. Physical presence is critical for the category unlike others, explained the CMO.
He explained, “It’s a unique situation for us as it is an eye hospital chain, hence there is no service delivery happening on digital. When Covid hit and people were not stepping out, while we were a necessary service, we were not delivering service through digital. Because in ophthalmology you need to check the patient’s eyes physically before diagnosing them. What we realised is that more and more people are using digital as a decision making tool for a service that is not delivered on digital. We witnessed that shift where significantly more people were discovering us on digital while we were open as a hospital chain. As Covid has receded what we have seen is that from a 10 pc kind of digital influence into the consumer decision (of the people who walk in), it has grown to 30 pc and is growing. Hence our investments have also grown, we have almost increased our digital spends by 6x in the last one year and I am able to show value to the team across the country.”
Kumar, a media veteran who moved to head retailer Jayachandran, cited the case of an event at the hypermarket and how that travelled across channels.
“We recently had a cake mixing ceremony. Imagine that ceremony in a retail shop, a celebration kind of set up for the customers to set the Christmas tone on. We brought in a celebrity guest – an actor from one of the serials on Vijay TV. The entire celebration was shot as a content and went viral across, on the celebrity’s social media pages and through customers who took selfies with her. These are some activations that keep happening. We are sitting on a huge database, that’s the strength of the Indian retail market. We have close to 5 lakh consumers; we filtered them and have celebrated Children’s Day across. We used Whatsapp marketing, we made 15 second-jingles and sent the wishes across. We set up an online radio channel called Radio Jayachandran which is going across all the households. Like any other radio channel, we have our own jingles prepared, we promote it internally, the entire shopping experience now gets into engagement,” explained Kumar.
An O-2-O World
Raghavan underlined the phygital reality of the present while tracing the evolving usage of digital media by consumers and brands.
“When we look at ourselves, we are consuming content and we are making purchase decisions on multiple devices today,” she noted.
The media agency head cited the case of Ford Figo’s launch over 10 years ago, when some advertisers were shocked that 25 to 30 pc of the launch investment was on digital platforms. It was just not about advertising, she pointed out, but customer acquisition.
In the case of an FMCG brand in the edible oil segment, digital in the pre-Covid era was a feel-good platform.
Raghavan explained, “Post Covid they have an active D2C platform now. The consumers may have gone back to the offline channel again, but still, they recognise the need for it. It helps them to reach out to the customer. Thanks to AI & ML, they are able to analyse the product bundling. It is no longer an offline-to-online (shift) which we saw in the Covid days; it is really the phygital world. It is O2O, whether it is offline to online or vice versa, it varies from category to category. There is no ‘one size fits all’.”
On the challenges marketers face in measuring data, she observed, “I would rephrase it this way. The challenge is not about measurement because on each of the individual platforms there are KPIs and performance of the investments behind these platforms are measured against those metrics. The issue is how much do O need of each and at what stage do I play around with the mix? That is a bigger challenge. A large part of it is because (even at the global level) there is no unified currency to measure – that is a recognised challenge that research agencies and media agencies are trying to solve. It is a recognised challenge and there are solutions out there, how effective they are and to what extent they are addressed is to be seen.”
From Television Channels to an Omni-channel Entity
Asked how Naga Foods, a legacy brand founded in 1962, has stayed relevant to the consumer, Kannan said, “There were many factors that helped us stay ahead of the curve, first one being the quality of product which speaks for itself. At every stage of the value chain, we have innovated. The consumer experience comes from all the additions we have done through the value chain. We have also diversified into other categories of FMCG and in the food business itself. We adapted ourselves, recently we got into the food service segment, where we acquired a few brands.”
Kumar was asked about his transition from being a media company CEO to helming a retail brand.
“It is a transition from a television channel to an omni-channel. The fact of the matter is that the learning is the same, the common denominator which is the customer is the same,” he noted.
The brand, started by Jayachandran in 1880, initially in Trivandrum, Kerala, expanded to Chennai and now even has a Hypermarket in Pallikaranai, Chennai.
“More brands are being launched, we are into linen valley, private labels both in terms of grocery brands, food and non-food categories,” noted Kumar.
“The language that we learned in the media, where we talk about reach, rating, response, and revenue, is the same everywhere with a little moderation. Whether it is a physical store or an online store, we need to ensure the availability of the product, displayed at the right place and at affordable pricing,” he surmised.