Lee India’s Anshul Chaturvedi, Director – Product and Marketing is the expert in focus in this edition of ‘Mind your Marketing’. A marketing professional with 18 years of experience in brand management & strategy, category management, e-commerce and sales for leading apparel and FMCG brands in India and South-East Asia, he has been responsible for re-positioning and nurturing consumer brands working with multi-cultural teams across India and Asia Pacific markets.

What behavioural difference of millennials and GenZ has caused businesses to change the way they approach marketing?

Millennials and even more so GenZ are different from their older counterparts in their attitude and behaviour. One of the key differences is that these sets of customers are very open about their flaws. They are more transparent, and they expect and demand similar behaviour from the brands that they associate with. To a large extent that has forced brands to be more open and have ownership of what they do, specifically when it comes to communication.

Second, these customer segments are more discerning, and they want to be treated as individuals and not as part of larger cohorts. This has also forced brands to look at them in a highly segmented manner and find newer ways/technologies to provide personalised messaging to them. For instance, marketing automation has been a big enabler in this area of mass customisation.

Third, digital discovery is a big part of how these customers shop. That makes it necessary for the brands to be an intrinsic part of their customers’ journey plan, be a part of the narrative of how they approach their shopping. Given their shorter attention spans and the nature of digital medium itself, brands now need to integrate their offerings seamlessly with the digital content, which these consumer segments engage in.

What are the best ways to connect with and sell to this audience?

It is very difficult to “sell” to these customers in the traditional way. It is tough because they do not accept the traditional one-way communication and advertising, which is more preachy, more in your face and intrusive. There are still ways to reach out to them, though. However, the role for the new marketer is tougher as compared to what the earlier marketing role was because of the complexity of this consumer segment, their vast exposure to media, and their shorter attention spans. And one of the ways to reach out to them is to be transparent and honest as a brand, because that is what they really value.

The other trait of this segment is that they believe in instant gratification. So, it is not just marketing or communication, it is more about how the brands would need to evolve their business models itself to engage with this consumer segment. Omni-channel, automation and AI, for instance, are helping marketers to sharply segment and offer to these customers what they want in real-time.

Anshul says...

My top three marketing mantras

AI and automation for mass customisation, transparency and sustainability

Three words I believe define a hot brand

Inspiring, unique and purposeful

A powerful ad campaign I liked

Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign, which was very impactful as well as polarising. It did a lot of good for the brand. While it polarised opinions in a big way, it delivered. It showed that when a brand really believes in what it stands for, it eventually builds a deeper emotional connection with its customers. I would rate it as one of the most exciting and prominent campaigns.

What makes customer experiences the differentiator of the future?

GenZ has moved away from the ownership economy to a sharing economy, where they value experiences far more than physical assets and this also makes it critical for brands to deliver to this need of theirs. Also, with technology and globalisation increasingly blurring the product differentiation to some extent, experiences become the big differentiator for these consumers.

How do you bridge the gap between expectation and experience?

Expectations are like moving targets. It is difficult to map an expectation as it constantly keeps evolving. More specifically, with the set of younger customers and the easy access to information that is available online today, they are spoilt for choice. Hence, it is critical for brands to have a clear promise and strategy to deliver on it. Also, it is about finding ways to positively influence these consumers even before they can experience your brand.

Today, consumers are not setting their expectations based purely on the brand communication – there is a much wider ecosystem that is at play. We have mega, macro and micro influencers including key opinion leaders. Then there is the social media chatter that is happening around your brand. You may or may not, as a brand, do it or be a part of it, but it is already happening. Customers are already experiencing your brand to that extent and hence forming perceptions and opinions about your brand. And it is very critical to influence them positively at this juncture – making it imperative for brands to have a sharp and clear brand promise which is aligned to the needs of the target consumers.

Having an intimate knowledge of customer needs and then aligning your brand promise to it is important. Once the customer has discovered your brand, the brand needs to find ways to engage with them meaningfully. Then comes the last-mile, working hard to deliver on your brand promise because finally that is what matters.

What are the three secrets to successful branding?

A differentiated product/service, a clear brand positioning and an unmatched consumer experience.

What is unique about the South Indian market? Do you see any difference in consumer behaviour from the North, in your category?

One of the unique features of the South Indian market is that there are multiple sub-markets which behave very differently, given their cultural and demographic differences. The buying patterns in these sub-markets are also heavily influenced by the local/regional festivals which are different for each of these markets.

Also, given the strong following of regional cinema in South, local influencers in these sub-markets play a stronger role versus some of the northern markets where it is largely the national influencers.

The other differentiator, especially for fashion/apparel brands, is that South has a stronger market for large traditional retailers, while the density of luxury and super premium brands is higher in North markets given the presence of luxury malls and high streets as shopping destinations.


This article is part of a brand initiative by The Hindu BusinessLine to profile marketing professionals from across India.