Mind your Marketing

We are already in the era of experiences

| Updated on January 10, 2020

Pallavi Chopra, Head of Marketing, redBus

With over 18 years of leadership experience in the field of marketing and e-business in India and across Asia, Pallavi Chopra, Head of Marketing for the bus ticketing platform redBus, speaks about how critical it is for brands to create experiences of value, the importance of honest communication and how a greater understanding of consumers’ wants and needs can impact brands. Along with an entrepreneurial stint at chiefofstaff.com, Pallavi has worked with several brands like ING, Samsung and Nike in areas of brand marketing, strategy, digital marketing, e-commerce, product development and demand generation.

Have millennials and GenZ transformed the way businesses approach marketing?

With millennials, choice remains the key driver while with GenZ the mobile-first approach yields greater results. With marketing, our focus is on what I would call the “critical glance” – those few seconds where you either have your audience or you have lost them. Neither millennials nor GenZ want to invest their time if they aren’t entertained or informed within that time span. Another aspect they have affected is the quality of marketing, they aren’t afraid to speak their mind on any matter and they have no reservations on taking brands to task.

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

Comical or emotion-driven content are the preferred choice among these consumers. However, ultimately, they look for an honest proposition from a brand when making the decision to engage.

What do you need to win in the marketplace – better technology or better ideas?

A healthy combination of both. Ideas needs to lead the charge while technology aids in the effort. Some of the greatest wins in marketing are achieved simply because a great idea was championed towards a smart execution while utilising the technology at hand.

Pallavi says…

a) My top three marketing buzzwords

Buzzwords fade away, especially quite quickly in the world of marketing, so I tend to not put any

weight to them.

b) Three words I believe define a hot brand

Honest, approachable and innovative

c) A powerful ad campaign I liked

Google’s ‘Home Alone, Again’ campaign

What makes customer experiences the differentiator of the future?

We are already in the era of experiences and an experience outweighs products and brands in the mind of a consumer. In the current market, businesses are able to quickly replicate or offer an alternative to any USP offered by the competition, blurring the line for a brand to own a space or feature. Experience adds to the value of the overall proposition and is expected by customers.

How do you bridge the gap between expectation and experience?

Honest communication is crucial in achieving this. Dramatic claims always tend to backfire as they leave customers feeling betrayed. Also, one should never get complacent and should always strive to improve the experience for customers in a proactive manner rather than being reactive.

What does it take for brands to stay competitive in today's dynamic economy and market?

Providing greater choice and enabling greater control for the consumer over their experiences is crucial while being quick to improve and innovate always helps stay ahead of the rush.

What are the three secrets to successful branding?

Engaging storytelling, optimum frequency in communication and absolute relatability among consumers.

Can a one-size-fits-all approach work in a differentiated market such as India?

While a few exceptions exist, for the most part it doesn’t work. India is a market driven by aspirational customers, the expectations are high with regard to localisation and relevance of content. In this regard, marketing and product more often need to work together to first solve the problems unique to each region and then communicate effectively in a tone and voice that is best understood by that region.

Why and how should brands think local?

As I stated before, customers expect brands to address them with content that is relevant and

relatable to them. The local nuances have a huge impact in making any campaign successful.

Consumers want to feel that a brand is accessible, and nothing achieves this faster than

communication that is tailored to speak directly to them. While dubbing national campaigns has

become hygiene and easiest to achieve, localisation goes beyond just speaking in the same language.

It also means how a problem of a customer is different from one region to another.

How does your brand approach the Southern market when it comes to branding and consumer engagement?

redBus applies the same approach across all markets. Our differentiation comes not by way of North

versus South but rather a greater understanding of the different types of consumers who engage

with our product and how we can cater better to their needs.

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

Consumers across the markets are the same. They all want a great experience, a great product,

variety of offers and ease of booking. However, the core problem differs from one city/state to

another. Take Bengaluru or Chennai for example, bus travellers here need quality and multiple buses

to choose from and hence our main focus is to give them as many options as possible and the power

to choose from them in the form of ratings and reviews. In Delhi, the problem we identified was that

buses more often than not don’t leave their boarding point till the bus gets completely filled and

hence we tied up with a few bus operators and offered a unique ‘On-Time-Guarantee’ on those

buses which promised that the bus will leave on time, every time.


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

from across India.

Published on January 09, 2020

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