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BW Businessworld

“As Marketers, We Are In A Golden Era”

The year gone by for ITC, across its several product categories, has been about continually gauging new consumer opportunities and innovating to bridge market gaps. In this reality, the role of marketing that leverages the new, while still strengthening the fundamentals, makes it more critical than ever for businesses, argues Shuvadip Banerjee, Vice President, Marketing Services, ITC.

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It is often debated that due to fragmentation, a marketer’s core mandate is continually divided. How does this impact the role of a marketer today?

Our role, as marketers, is to create strong brands, and great brand equity. Business follows when we do that. This job is both science and art. The art is all about the storytelling. The science comes in the form of data, digital, analytics and the like that have been great enablers. We are essentially living in the golden era. In the recent past, there has been democratisation of manufacturing, supply chain, logistics but what keeps the business ticking is storytelling and strengthening of the fundamental blocks. Both on the vector of efficiency and impact, we have several new avenues to deliver on, and are hence able to achieve better return on investment. Because of all of this, a CMO’s role is much more core and central today than it was ever before.

You say a CMO’s role is central but especially given that structures still take precedence, creating turfs, is it really possible to work as a cohesive unit to create positive consumer experiences and delight?

Consumer experiences was not a siloed marketing activity even two decades back. It was still needed different touch-points to work together. The number of products today is multi-fold and consumer desire for heightened experience at every touch point has increased. It is a challenge to provide world-class experience every time a consumer comes and connects with a brand. Take the example of customer relationship. It does not matter to a consumer whether they are posting on social media or sending an email. They desire for the brand to respond in minutes. We are all dabbling with direct-to- consumer as an approach. Even simple details such as how many seconds it takes for a site to load or if there are broken links on a page are critical and hence be- come points of delight.

Do you mean all touch-points must deliver to ensure brand loyalty?

Arguably, there is nothing called loyalty anymore. But each of these must deliver to build trust and advocacy. A softer touch is required, irrespective the business vertical. Whether it is content, community or even just promoter at out- lets, the definition of what is delighting the consumer is rapidly evolving. In the digital space due to technology, there are more changes. The need to delight has not changed, but the way to do it has altered.