Mind your Marketing

Out of sight is out of mind

| Updated on September 26, 2019 Published on September 26, 2019

Ranjivjit Singh, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Samsung India

This week, in conversation with Ranjivjit Singh, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Samsung India. He talks about the importance of cultivating customer relationships, managing expectations of the current generation and how the south market always seeks innovation.

The idea of ‘glocal’ has become a significant marketing strategy for most international companies. Why and how should brands think local?

In a country like India, culture, traditions and nuances can change every kilometre and I think most brands are aware of this. For this, brands need to not only ‘adapt local’ but ‘think local’, while keeping their DNA intact. I have seen that constant community connect enables brands to have tailor-made messaging that works well in the region. We have seen how brands are increasingly participating in regional festivals, celebrating international days and connecting with their audiences through regional influencers. This is a good icebreaker and I am certain that we will see more creative executions on this front.

Will a universal approach work in a differentiated market like India? How can brands stay ahead in today's dynamic economy and market?

No, Not at all. At Samsung, we understand that everyone has a different need. Look at our smartphone portfolio. Even in the premium segment, we have two distinct offerings – Galaxy S series and Galaxy Note series – catering to different audiences. We launched our Galaxy A series, which is part of our mid-segment offering and this speaks to a very different audience - Gen Z and millennials. The Galaxy A series is built for the Era of Live, for those who capture their moments through their videos in the most authentic, candid and fun ways and share them in their social circles as they happen. But even within this mid-segment, we have so far launched six distinct models of Galaxy A – A10 to A80 – at different price points, which have been identified after understanding the needs of different kinds of Gen Z and millennials.

‘Speed’ and ‘relevance’ are the key drivers a brand needs to adhere to in order to stay competitive. In today’s world, out of sight is out of mind. Thus, an ‘Always-on’ marketing approach needs to be followed. We are marketing to a generation to whom promptness is synonymous to being ‘reliable’. Hence, one needs to leverage technology in the best possible manner to deliver timely results.

The digital world has given rise to a more advanced and aware generation of consumers, how has marketing evolved to connect and sell to the millennials and Gen Z generations?

Millennials and Gen Z are one of the most informed and educated audiences among today’s consumers. Together, they form the biggest consumer base today and marketing to them means marketing to the largest cohort. These ‘digital natives’ value experiences, authenticity and interactions. Hence, communication to them needs to be extremely focused and yet conversational and inclusive.

Their purchase decisions are based on what the brand stands for. They don't like to be 'sold' to and prefer to choose what they want based on their values, needs and wants. Hence, the keyway to connect to young Indian consumers is through right propositions and leveraging the right touchpoints. The communication needs to be personalised and topical.

The digital landscape is changing rapidly and if properly explored, brands can discover great ways to connect wherever the consumer is and address whatever his/her needs are. Consumers today are curious to understand the story behind the product and brands have started to communicate in their language. Brands that can do this well have achieved loyalty and love, in return.

One of our digital campaigns ‘India Ready Action’ is a good example of this. This month-long campaign urged Gen Z and millennials in India to share ‘up to 60-second videos’ of their vision of Real India that will break any stereotypes that may exist about the country around the world. The ‘rationale’ and ‘call to action’ helped narrate the story for the campaign, making it the most engaging campaign in the last one year on Instagram and Facebook.

Ranjivjit says…
  • My top three marketing buzzwords

Speed, scale and personalisation

  • One strategic change we plan to execute by 2020

As a market leader, we will continue to strengthen the Samsung brand and build a stronger connect with our consumers

  • Three words I believe define a hot brand

Innovative experiences, always ahead (future ready) and real

What are the specific technologies that brought about these changes? Ultimately which wins the marketplace - better technology or better idea?

Today, consumers are becoming wise in their decision making, they not only seek information on the internet but also share their opinions, reviews and sentiments that shape the choices of other consumer decisions. It is imperative for a brand to be real and authentic, otherwise consumers will see through the gimmicks and this could be extremely detrimental for the brand. In this age of near perfect knowledge, the consumer is smarter than you think.

One needs to offer meaningful innovation and continuously stay ahead of the curve to solve consumers’ problems and keep enriching their lives. Technology undoubtedly is a powerful driver to enable these endeavours and ensure efficiencies in achieving that goal.

How big an impact do customer experiences have on the future of a brand? What can be done to bridge the gap between expectations and experiences?

Customer experiences have always been a game changing factor when it comes to differentiation. In times ahead, in a highly cluttered economy where most products reach their saturation quite soon, brands need to focus on building community and fandom and cultivating relationship with their consumers to turn them into true loyalists. The experience that a consumer takes back after interacting with the brand not just helps in building brand advocacy but also in the organisation’s cross-selling efforts, thereby reducing customer acquisition costs. In such a scenario, how a customer engages with the brands will speak a lot about his/her life-time value.

To manage expectations, brands must a) be thorough with their research on how consumer needs are shifting b) stay abreast with technological trends c) be sensitive and humanise the entire consumer journey d) work towards simplifying their buying journey.

What is unique about the South Indian market? How does your brand approach the southern market both in branding and consumer engagement?

Consumers in the South seek innovation and are willing to pay a premium for the same. They are inclined towards product experience and seek technological upgrades at regular intervals.

With five States that speak four different languages (Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam), the diversity is both challenging and exciting. As a brand, we lay emphasis on communicating in the most preferred language and celebrating local festivities such as Onam, Ugadi and Sankranti, amongst others.

We’ve been in the country for over 23 years. With this deep understanding of the market, last year we launched the World’s Largest ‘Mobile’ Experience Centre, the Samsung Opera House in Bengaluru. South is home to some of the largest retail stores in the country, we utilise this opportunity and have created experience centres known as ‘Blue Zones’ in such stores to provide customers with an immersive experience.

What are the three secrets to successful branding?

The secret lies in consumer-insight driven messaging.

· Realness

· Personality association

· Consistency

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

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Published on September 26, 2019
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