Mind your Marketing

Businesses need to focus on constant innovation and reinvention to stay relevant.

| Updated on February 27, 2020 Published on February 27, 2020

Zameer Kochar, VP – Marketing & Member Engagement, InterMiles (Jet Privilege Pvt. Ltd.)

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


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

In a dynamic, changing business environment, every generation comes with its own set of individual characteristics and unique behavioural traits, presenting brand new challenges as well as interesting opportunities for marketers to connect more effectively with them. 


Millennials are the generation of today and Generation Z are the future. As we move forward, they collectively grow and so does the importance of 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 billion population and are 34% (at 440 million) of India’s total population. According to a Bloomberg analysis in August 2018, India’s GenZ population is expecting to rise to 472 million in 2019, doubling that of China’s. 


Constituting a significantly large chunk of the population and being largely influential and empowered, has made these generations someone that businesses cannot afford to ignore. The distinct traits have left organisations with no choice but to adapt, thus leading to a complete transformation 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 and services. Keeping their distinctive personalities in mind, businesses need to focus on constant innovation and reinvention to stay relevant and drive the right engagement with them. Leveraging the power of data and technology has enabled this process, making it more effective. Additionally, brands today need to tap into advanced technology platforms to become digital listeners and understand their needs in a better manner. This transition into becoming digital listeners from being digital speakers will enable marketers to understand the customer needs better, driving higher brand relevancy and advocacy in the long run.  


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


Modern day marketers do realise that in order to stand out from the clutter, individualisation is something they will need to embrace. Today, basic field-based or segment rule-based personalisation has become a norm. It is time that organisations look at behavioural-led insights and through the use of machine learning and data science start predicting the intent to elevate the overall 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 than 10K has ensured a rise in data consumption and increase in internet penetration. Keeping this digital transformation in mind, organisations are now looking to build a data-led ecosystem and are focusing on Big Data technology adoption at an enterprise-wide level. Companies which are harnessing the power of data will win big in the marketplace and will create disruptive business models. Constant change in consumer behaviour is driving the evolution of technology and through use of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Science, marketers today can interpret consumer behaviour, target prospects and open opportunities in new markets and geographies. Another interesting area that marketers need to look out for is the potential and impact of voice search and with mobile being the primary device, there is a significant increase in voice search forcing organisations to re-visit their SEO strategies, curate content which will be more relevant and contextual for consumers when they search on the mobile.


Furthermore, social media has made the world a smaller place. Sharing of opinions and impacting millions across the world has never been easier. While we have witnessed some perils that this social media influence has, there are tons of benefits too. Brand engagement that was restricted to conventional advertisement methods has now shifted towards influencer marketing. 



Zameer says…

One strategic change we plan to execute by 2020

We as a brand will continue to strive to bring to life our vision of ‘fulfilling aspirations through memorable and rewarding experiences’. Data and technology are at the heart of everything we do, and we will continuously invest in ways to drive superior consumer experience and consumer delight by adopting a customer-centric approach at all times.    


My top three marketing buzzwords

Voice search, artificial intelligence and individualisation 


Three words I believe define a hot brand

Authentic, passion and agile 


The biggest marketing moment of 2019 in my view

As 2019 has had multiple standout moments, it would be difficult to pinpoint just one, given how diverse and impactful each of them were. The highlight has definitely been Chandrayaan 2, India’s historical attempt to land on the moon. It was a proud moment for India and the rest of the world. In the same league, two mega sporting events – ICC finals and Wimbledon finals took place on the same day. 2019 has truly been an unforgettable year filled with stellar individual achievements by women, from PV Sindhu in badminton, to Hima Das in athletics and Mansi Joshi in para-badminton. In promoting these moments, brands went digital-first in their marketing efforts which has resonated very well with their audience.



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 in recent years. A lot of brands like Airbnb and Netflix have been successful in raising the bar for CX through their unique business models. Technology is enabling businesses to make the shift towards being more personal and relevant. At InterMiles, our constant endeavor is to build data-led customer engagement platforms. Each member is different to us and our efforts towards engaging with him/her is also unique. This has been a strong factor driving our growth numbers. 


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 CX will be more about creating a seamless, frictionless ecosystem for your customers when they are engaging with your brand across multiple touch points. It will require delivering a consistent omnichannel experience for existing and potential consumer’s end-to-end journey. Today, consumers are willing to share their personal data till the time they get value out of that exchange. It is important that organisations work towards building a robust data ecosystem and drive customer data integration to develop a single view of the customer and continuously drive relevant customer engagement.  


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


5. How brand loyal are customers today?

The ever-evolving consumer of today is not only conversant and empowered but is also not afraid of experimenting to perfect his/her overall experience. While a brand may be of deep interest to him/her at one point, the very next day his/her inclination may switch to another brand that offers something different. Many-a-times switching brands may just be a matter of curiosity. 


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’ has shifted to ‘knowing your customer needs right now’ referring to the real-time understanding that goes beyond demographics and psychographics. Identifying the consumer need, at the relevant time, on the platform of his choice and using contextual advertising as a mechanics to reach out to them will be crucial. The increased competition continues to migrate the power from companies to consumers. Advanced technology and Artificial Intelligence has made it possible to track the consumer’s behaviour and hence provide more individual and personalised experiences. A marketer needs to be upbeat in technology and harness 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 brand cannot expect to stand out from the rest when there are several clones narrating the same story in the market. The reason why iconic brands have survived in the market over the years and over generations are because they stand out by offering more value than their competitors and offer consumers a more 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 increasingly demanding more personalised services and memorable experiences. In such an environment, it is extremely important that brands develop mechanisms to continuously refine the data that they collect about their customers – use historic data to develop patterns, look at behavioural attributes to know them better beyond demographics and psychographics and accordingly deliver personalised and relevant offers and promotions.  


The third is to walk the talk. The most important ingredient that significantly elevates the trust and reliability factor of a brand is its authenticity. Today with so many brands in the market, consumers are experiencing a crisis of faith. In the case of millennials, brand authenticity is second most important after discounts, according to a recent BCG study. In order to be considered a brand one can trust, the brand needs to reflect its culture 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, one size certainly cannot fit all. Where a blanket of services worked impressively well for a larger set of consumers earlier, today more personalisation and tailor-made solutions are the key to ensuring consumer loyalty. In a country like India, which is characterised by extreme diversities, be it geographically or demographically, each region displaying uniqueness in behaviour, marketers need to 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 or regions. Different markets across the world showcase uniqueness in their cultures, political scenarios and values. For an effective engagement, a marketer needs to tailor the communication perfectly to suit the needs of the market being targeted. A marketer can only do this if he or she has an in-depth understanding of the sensitivities associated with that region. Using local insights are beneficial for a good impactful communication to resonate well with 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 essence and the change in consumer behaviour that they want to drive. The core insight of a brand’s value proposition remains the same and can cut across geographies and regional markets. However, the executional treatment of the communication idea may vary keeping in mind the diversity of local culture, regional language, 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 a region-wise divide when it comes to reaching out to a targeted consumer base. 


For an organisation, it is important to create a distinctive personality for their brand and strongly communicate what they stand for. If the core target group that has been defined for the brand finds the value proposition attractive and are able to resonate well with it, they will continue to connect and invest in the brand irrespective of which part of the country they come from. 


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Published on February 27, 2020
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