When three of India’s top marketers — Patanjali, ITC
— appear willing to share their experiences on how they have survived and thrived in a competitive market like India, all attention is on them. People want to hear them and understand what makes them click with Indian consumers.
Thursday saw the three companies congregate at the Grand Hyatt in Bambolim, Goa, for the inaugural session of the three-day marketing, media and advertising festival, Goafest. Nobody walked home disappointed, especially after hearing Patanjali
Ayurved Chief Executive Officer Acharya Balkrishna, the keynote speaker.
Addressing a packed ballroom, Balkrishna said he viewed his work at Patanjali
as a mission, not a profession. “Our mission at Patanjali
is to instill pride in Indian people for Indian brands and ingredients. We also want to help the poor and marginalised, especially the Indian farmer, who is seeking a market for his produce. If each one of us can put our knowledge, in whatever domain or sphere, to lift the poor, it can take us places. Above all, if we take pride in who we are and what we stand for, it can help us stand out in a market of me-toos,” he said.
Reiterating that Patanjali
still had much work to do, Balkrishna said its success — the company is likely to close the 2016-17 financial year with a turnover of Rs 10,000 crore — had inspired others to follow suit. “For long, we have allowed foreigners to dominate our market, not anymore. There are more like us (Patanjali) who are coming. Our mantra is simple: Tap into the rich culture and heritage of our country and provide effective solutions. It works,” he said.
Taking a jibe at the culture of objectifying women in advertising, Balkrishna said, “I don’t understand why companies need to show a woman when selling a toothpaste or any other product. Patanjali’s ads have always focused on the utility of the product and nothing else.... My request to ad agencies is to not employ creatives they don’t want their families to see. This is not our culture. India may be a marketplace for the world, but it is home to us,” he said.
ITC’s divisional chief executive of its foods business, Hemant Malik, said that in a market where players were confronted with myriad questions regarding who to market and how, the need was to define the role of the brand, identify its audience clearly, and target that group specifically with marketing and brand-building initiatives.
He said ITC’s success in creating popular food brands, such as Bingo, Aashirwad and Sunfeast biscuits, was due to its targeted approach to brand-building. “We realised that our legacy business (of cigarettes) would be under stress. Hence, we chose to diversify and enter areas such as foods,” he said. “We have and will continue to invest heavily behind our brands,” he added.
Upasana Taku, co-founder and director of payment wallet Mobikwik, said that post-demonetisation, the company had had to address Bharat and not just India. “The total number of bank and non-bank payment apps downloaded in India wouldn’t be more than 120 million,” Taku said. “It is still an evolving market,” she reiterated.
Taku also said brands needed to change gears to remain relevant and that consumers loved brands they could relate to. “Digital has changed the way Indians travel, shop and they are spoilt for choice,” she said.