Today we are in conversation with Zameer Kochar, VP – Marketing & Member Engagement, InterMiles(Jet Privilege Pvt. Ltd.). He has beeninstrumental in driving new member acquisition, deepening existing memberengagement to build businesses through creation of strong brand equity andreputation resulting in sustained top and bottomline performances. He has alsobeen responsible for delivering a customer-centric, lifecycle management-drivenapproach to develop, grow, market InterMiles as an everyday, lifestyle loyaltyand rewards programme. One of his key areas of expertise is leveragingoptimised 360-degree media mix of mass, direct and digital to build sustainablebrands with purpose and drive market leadership.


1. How significant are millennials and GenZ for businesses today?

In a dynamic, changing business environment, every generationcomes with its own set of individual characteristics and unique behaviouraltraits, presenting brand new challenges as well as interesting opportunitiesfor marketers to connect more effectively with them. 


Millennials are the generation of today and Generation Z are thefuture. As we move forward, they collectively grow and so does the importanceof businesses being relevant to them. A 2018 report by Deloitte India and Retailers Association of India (RAI)has revealed that millennials constitute for 27% of the world’s 7.4 billionpopulation and are 34% (at 440 million) of India’s total population. Accordingto a Bloomberg analysis in August 2018, India’sGenZ population is expecting to rise to 472 million in 2019, doubling that of China’s. 


Constituting a significantly large chunk of the population andbeing largely influential and empowered, has made these generations someonethat businesses cannot afford to ignore. The distinct traits have leftorganisations with no choice but to adapt, thus leading to a completetransformation in the way companies are now approaching their business models. 


2.How do you stay relevant to these generations?

The millennial and GenZ generation consumers are well connected,better informed and are seeking experiences more than just buying products andservices. Keeping their distinctive personalities in mind, businesses need tofocus on constant innovation and reinvention to stay relevant and drive theright engagement with them. Leveraging the power of data and technology hasenabled this process, making it more effective. Additionally, brands today needto tap into advanced technology platforms to become digital listeners andunderstand their needs in a better manner. This transition into becomingdigital listeners from being digital speakers will enable marketers tounderstand the customer needs better, driving higher brand relevancy andadvocacy in the long run.  


Also, establishing a purpose for the brand will help in developinga strong personal bond with these consumers, who today are willing to spendhigher on brands that are purpose-driven. Keeping in mind the commoncharacteristic of lower attention spans these generations display, businesseswhich follow an omnichannel approach reap more benefits than those who stick toan offline-only or online-only model. 


Modern day marketers do realise that in order to stand out fromthe clutter, individualisation is something they will need to embrace. Today,basic field-based or segment rule-based personalisation has become a norm. Itis time that organisations look at behavioural-led insights and through the useof machine learning and data science start predicting the intent to elevate theoverall consumer experience in a real-to-near-real-time basis.   


3. With the access to internet and smartphones becoming easier, how do you see the future of marketing evolving?

With the digital revolution, consumers now are always on the go.Accessibility to cheap data, availability of smartphones at a cost of less than10K has ensured a rise in data consumption and increase in internetpenetration. Keeping this digital transformation in mind, organisations are nowlooking to build a data-led ecosystem and are focusing on Big Data technology adoptionat an enterprise-wide level. Companies which are harnessing the power of datawill win big in the marketplace and will create disruptive business models.Constant change in consumer behaviour is driving the evolution of technologyand through use of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Science,marketers today can interpret consumer behaviour, target prospects and openopportunities in new markets and geographies. Another interesting area thatmarketers need to look out for is the potential and impact of voice search andwith mobile being the primary device, there is a significant increase in voicesearch forcing organisations to re-visit their SEO strategies, curate contentwhich will be more relevant and contextual for consumers when they search onthe mobile.


Furthermore, social media has made the world a smaller place.Sharing of opinions and impacting millions across the world has never beeneasier. While we have witnessed some perils that this social media influencehas, there are tons of benefits too. Brand engagement that was restricted toconventional advertisement methods has now shifted towards influencermarketing. 



4. Is the thrust on enhancing customer experiences going to define the future of businesses?  

Customer Experience (CX) has become a matter of great interest inrecent years. A lot of brands like Airbnb and Netflix have been successful inraising the bar for CX through their unique business models. Technology isenabling businesses to make the shift towards being more personal and relevant.At InterMiles, our constant endeavor is to build data-led customer engagementplatforms. Each member is different to us and our efforts towards engaging withhim/her is also unique. This has been a strong factor driving our growthnumbers. 


Going forward, Brand Experience (BX) and Customer Experience (CX),that are two sides of the same coin, need to go hand in hand. The future of CXwill be more about creating a seamless, frictionless ecosystem for yourcustomers when they are engaging with your brand across multiple touch points.It will require delivering a consistent omnichannel experience for existing andpotential consumer’s end-to-end journey. Today, consumers are willing to sharetheir personal data till the time they get value out of that exchange. It isimportant that organisations work towards building a robust data ecosystem anddrive customer data integration to develop a single view of the customer andcontinuously drive relevant customer engagement.  


These developments fueled further by the disruption of technologyis expected to lead to a major transformation in overall user experience in thedays to come. 


5. How brand loyal are customers today?

The ever-evolving consumer of today is not only conversant andempowered but is also not afraid of experimenting to perfect his/her overallexperience. While a brand may be of deep interest to him/her at one point, thevery next day his/her inclination may switch to another brand that offerssomething different. Many-a-times switching brands may just be a matter ofcuriosity. 


6. How do you ensure that the customers remain loyal to your brand?

In the brand world today, where consumer loyalty is a privilege,reinvention is the key. The need for ‘knowing your customer’s needs’ hasshifted to ‘knowing your customer needs right now’ referring to the real-timeunderstanding that goes beyond demographics and psychographics. Identifying theconsumer need, at the relevant time, on the platform of his choice and usingcontextual advertising as a mechanics to reach out to them will be crucial. Theincreased competition continues to migrate the power from companies toconsumers. Advanced technology and Artificial Intelligence has made it possibleto track the consumer’s behaviour and hence provide more individual andpersonalised experiences. A marketer needs to be upbeat in technology andharness its benefits. 


7. What are the three things one must follow to build a strong brand or to remain a strong brand?

The first is to be unique and distinctive in personality. A brandcannot expect to stand out from the rest when there are several clonesnarrating the same story in the market. The reason why iconic brands havesurvived in the market over the years and over generations are because theystand out by offering more value than their competitors and offer consumers amore compelling reason to choose them over their competitors.  


Second is to have a strong understanding of your customers’ needs.We all know that the customer expectations have changed. They are increasinglydemanding more personalised services and memorable experiences. In such anenvironment, it is extremely important that brands develop mechanisms tocontinuously refine the data that they collect about their customers – usehistoric data to develop patterns, look at behavioural attributes to know thembetter beyond demographics and psychographics and accordingly deliverpersonalised and relevant offers and promotions.  


The third is to walk the talk. The most important ingredient thatsignificantly elevates the trust and reliability factor of a brand is itsauthenticity. Today with so many brands in the market, consumers areexperiencing a crisis of faith. In the case of millennials, brand authenticityis second most important after discounts, according to a recent BCG study. Inorder to be considered a brand one can trust, the brand needs to reflect itsculture in everything that they do.


8. Can a one-size-fits-all approach work in a country like India where the demography is vast and diverse?

In an era, where personalisation too is considered a norm, onesize certainly cannot fit all. Where a blanket of services worked impressivelywell for a larger set of consumers earlier, today more personalisation andtailor-made solutions are the key to ensuring consumer loyalty. In a countrylike India,which is characterised by extreme diversities, be it geographically ordemographically, each region displaying uniqueness in behaviour, marketers needto bifurcate their marketing approach in order to be relevant. 


9. The same campaign would run in different markets with just the voice being dubbed earlier. Why is that changing these days?

Language is not the only differentiator between countries orregions. Different markets across the world showcase uniqueness in theircultures, political scenarios and values. For an effective engagement, amarketer needs to tailor the communication perfectly to suit the needs of themarket being targeted. A marketer can only do this if he or she has an in-depthunderstanding of the sensitivities associated with that region. Using localinsights are beneficial for a good impactful communication to resonate wellwith the desired target audience. 


10. What changes do brands make when they talk to different markets?

Brands today create a communication idea basis their core essenceand the change in consumer behaviour that they want to drive. The core insightof a brand’s value proposition remains the same and can cut across geographiesand regional markets. However, the executional treatment of the communicationidea may vary keeping in mind the diversity of local culture, regionallanguage, visual cues to name a few. 


11. Do you have a specific strategy when it comes to speaking to customers in the South?

With the digital revolution, anyone and everyone have access,visibility to everything and there is no more an urban/rural divide or aregion-wise divide when it comes to reaching out to a targeted consumer base. 


For an organisation, it is important to create a distinctivepersonality for their brand and strongly communicate what they stand for. Ifthe core target group that has been defined for the brand finds the valueproposition attractive and are able to resonate well with it, they willcontinue to connect and invest in the brand irrespective of which part of thecountry they come from.