Top 10 Marketers 2012

Updated: Dec 25 2012, 10:18am hrs

Buzzing bazaar

Touted as Indias answer to Amazon, Flipkart today is arguably the most popular online store in the country. If 2011 was all about creating the right buzz to make Flipkart a household name, this year, much of the focus of this e-commerce firm was on expanding its services and dispelling doubts about online shopping. So much so that it led the internet start-up category's march onto the Indian television screen with a series of ad campaigns that not just caught the viewer's attention, but also answered every doubt about online shopping that may have been in her mind. The first set of television commercials launched in April, was aimed at educating consumers about the ease of shopping on Flipkart via guarantee of original products, cash-on-delivery and a 30-day replacement policy. Through the campaign, Flipkart targeted people who had kept away from online shopping. Next, in August it launched another series of commercials, which drew inspiration from customer feedback. Shripad Nadkarni, founder director of MarketGate Consulting, says, What worked for the website was how it used creative advertising to address real consumer concerns about internet shopping which made Flipkart a part of our lives within no time! Its success can be gauged by the fact that currently the e-commerce site has 4 million registered users of which about 2.6 millions are active customers. According to our panelist Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Dentsu India Group, through its correct planning, Flipkart has single-handedly created the e-commerce category.

Much of Flipkart's aggressive and expensive marketing strategy was bolstered by the $150 million funding it raised from new investors, MIH (part of Naspers Group) and ICONIQ Capital, besides existing investors Tiger Global and Accel Partners. That gave Flipkart Online Services Pvt Ltd, which runs, to invest the money raised in expanding supply chain capacities, launching new categories and in growing the talent pool to continue building the brand. Flipkart this year entered new segments such as perfumes, watches, bags and belts, toys, posters, baby care, apparel and shoes for men and sports and fitness. It also acquired rival e-commerce site, seller of electronic goods, which ensured its presence in the category. Next it entered the e-book section, with an initial collection of more than one lakh books, which can be downloaded onto users' mobile devices from its digital store Flyte. In a category that is populated by so many me-too brands, daily deal websites and virtual avatars of brick-and-mortar companies, Flipkart has managed to hold its own. The site has seen 40% increase in user base quarter on quarter. Arvind Sahay, professor of marketing, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, who is part of our panel, terms Flipkart's success as a classic tale of being at the right place at the right time.


The game is the winner

Hate it or love it, but the Indian Premier League (IPL) is here to stay. Despite all the controversies, IPL continued to enthrall cricket enthusiasts and advertisers alike, proving yet again that the tournament still remains India's biggest media property. According to television audience measurement firm TAM Sports, the final match this season scored an all-India TVR (television viewership rating) of 8.92 compared to the 6.44 achieved in the previous season's final match . In the last four years, though the tourney has witnessed a decline in overall ratings, in terms of reach, the fifth edition earned the highest numbers. The consolidated reach of IPL 2012 was 1,62,934,000 viewers, compared to 1,62,276,000 in 2011.

Despite the doubters, the jamboree settled down to a steady state - IPL is here to stay, said Shripad Nadkarni, founder director of MarketGate Consulting.

While television viewing took a hit, interestingly, online viewership of IPL grew by 55% to 113 million page views this year as compared to 72 million page views a year ago. The T20 cricket matches were streamed online by IPLs official partner Times Internet Ltd in partnership with YouTube. Also page views for India grew by 87% to 80 million compared to 43 million last year. The final match generated 7.5 million page views, making it the highest single-day viewership during the entire season. What mainly lead to an increase in online viewership was an array of features such an interactive scorecards, high-definition streaming of matches, DVR a feature which allowed the viewer to rewind during the match, video-on-demand facility which were introduced on the site. In fact, Indiatimes' introduction of a new feature Battleground went on to become a rage. In the first week of release, Battleground saw 1.5 million engagements. The game was also integrated to Facebook. The brand was infused with fresh ideas and elements which re-vitalised it and further helped in holding onto its popularity and also increasing it, noted Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Dentsu India Group.

Today IPL has emerged as the top media property in India with the annual jamboree accounting for nearly 25% of marketers annual ad spends. Since the first edition, IPL has attracted record viewership, and generated immense response from advertisers and sponsors too. Earlier this year, beverage giant, Pepsi Co India, bagged the title sponsorship for IPL with a whopping winning bid of R 396.8 crore for the next five years, starting 2013. Given Pepsi's deep pockets and its penchant to do something unusual, we can expect IPL to be bigger and brighter next year.


A new galaxy

Psy's Gangnam Style wasn't the only chartbuster from South Korea this year as consumer electronic company Samsung gave its best performance this year with the launch of its latest smartphone Galaxy S III. Touted as Samsung's answer to Apple's iPhone, the phenomenal success of Galaxy S III placed it in the big league. The way it handled the launch also marked a big change in the Korean company's marketing strategy and its renewed marketing commitment and its aim to become more of an aspirational brand. Its sponsorship of the London Olympics also helped it promote the smartphone brand. On the downside, it has been making headlines for its patent wars with Apple, but that hasn't detracted it from its core objective of dominating the smartphone market.

In India too, in line with the company's global strategy, the launch of Samsung Galaxy S III created tremendous buzz about the brand. While launches dotted the overall Samsung landscape, it was the mobility and IT segment that became the torch bearer for the company in India. High-decibel marketing, particularly on television, and clear positioning of devices and products have made a considerable difference to its brand image. In line with its association with the International Olympic Committee, Samsung India was a key sponsor of the Indian contingent to the 2012 London Olympics, a partnership which provided good soft marketing mileage to the company, given India's better than usual show at the Games. Particularly commendable was the manner in which Samsung has pushed its Galaxy range, which now almost works as a second brand name for the company's smartphone-tablet segment.

Dentsu India Group executive chairman Rohit Ohri calls Samsung the innovation leader, and rightly so. At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung won 30 innovation awards for the range of products it put on display. And at the 2012 iF Design Awards, which aims to reward beauteous industrial design, the company garnered 44 coveted accolades.

One thing that makes Samsung stand out is its ubiquitous presence in every single consumer electronics category refrigerators, televisions, display monitors, televisions, microwaves, laptops, and more. The company reportedly sold goods worth R20,000 crore in 2011, and with the onset of 2012, set itself a target of R25,000 crore-plus, relying, apart from durables, heavily on segments like mobility and IT. As Shripad Nadkarni, founder director of MarketGate Consulting, says, Mobiles, tablets, televisions you name it, Samsung's right on top! Looks like India's hooked on to Samsung.

Vodafone India

Only for you

What do you do to remain significant in a world which is full of me-toos Vodafone, needless to say, has surely made an effort to stay different and has certainly managed to do so the reason why it's on our list of top ten marketers. In a category that has so many brands with not-so-different products, Vodafone continues to stand tall with its emphasis on meeting specific customer needs, a belief emphasised by its latest 'Made for you' ad campaign.As part of its campaign on Facebook and Twitter, two new applications were introduced 'Design your own mobile cover' and 'share the video and win'. So far 1,425 designs have been created and these have been shared 47,000 times as tweets and Facebook posts. The official Vodafone India website was also revamped as part of this campaign.

To create further impact, an out-of-home (OOH) campaign was launched in important markets such as Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Bihar.

As Anuradha Aggarwal, senior vice-president, brand communications, Insights, Vodafone India, says, Vodafone and innovation are closely interlinked, be it in terms of our creative campaigns or the products and services we offer to customers. Vodafone's customer mantra has been 'Power to you' and we are constantly seeking to empower our customers to get more out of life, through multiple initiatives.

Vodafone has been able to decipher the shift in the market from pure voice to data and bring out customised solutions which have worked to its advantage. It launched concepts such as chota recharge wherein one could recharge for an amount as small as R20. It next extended the offer with 'bonus sachets' which allowed prepaid customer to recharge for R4 and make calls for 20 paise. All along, the brand focused on customer retention coming out with the Vodafone Delights campaign and the 121 campaign to give subscribers a customised usage plan rather than a one-size-fits-all. The results have been there to see: For 10 straight quarters, the firm has topped the Net Promoter Score, a third-party customer rating of all mobile services providers. As Nabankur Gupta , founder CEO, Nobby Architects says, Vodafone demonstrated its marketing ability to regain and retain a top slot in mobile communication across spectrum.

Formula 1

Pole position

The second edition of the Formula One Indian Grand Prix may not have seen the kind of frenzy it witnessed in the inaugural edition, but it certainly proved one point: India had one more marketing platform that could draw in the crowds, albeit the well-heeled ones. While the most expensive ticket this year was for R21,000 compared to R35,000 in the previous year, the event created a buzz in the right circles. Brands, whether associated directly or indirectly with the sport, left no stone unturned to ride on the game. Title sponsor Airtel introduced a slew of activities, on-ground as well as on social media. It launched the 'Join our pit crew' contest in partnership with Mercedes AMG Petronas. In all, the official Facebook page of the Airtel Grand Prix was liked by 1,170,819 people, with 25,134 talking about it apart from gathering 121 followers on Pinterest. During the race, Airtel had also launched a mobile application which provided second-by-second updates.

Vodafone, which was the title sponsor and official telecom partner of the McLaren Mercedes team, too, latched on to the opportunity by launching an animation based campaign featuring two caterpillars, enjoying the thrill from the speed. Interestingly, the telco brand as part of its initiative, made Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) Flyway toll free on October 28, allowing a smooth ride to the Buddha International Circuit. Nabankur Gupta, founder, Nobby Brand Architects, says, Formula1 demonstrated the ability to install a brand salience in a difficult environment, a key reason behind its success.

Next, recruitment solution provider, Monster India which had forged a global partnership with Marussia F1 team, launched the Social Media Speedster Contest, which allowed the winner, apart from watching the race from the Grand Stand, to participate in behind-the-scenes activities such as interacting with the team drivers, management and the other team members. Bajaj Allianz, the insurance player, too, came out with its 'Drive Master' game featuring Nico Rosberg, from the Team Mercedes Petronas GP to spread its message on safe driving. Participants had to play the game on 'Jiyobefikar' Facebook fan page and winners got a chance to experience the F1 race. Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Denstu India Group, attributed the success of F1 to the quick creation of a loyal fan base. While the race already had a set full of dedicated watchers, the number has risen potentially with the race happening in Delhi.

Jaypee Sports International Ltd (JPSI) the promoter of the race, got selected college bands to perform in different entertainment zones across the circuit. The Facebook page of Jaypee Sports International over all gathered 3729 Likes, while on Twitter, the handle - @IndianGPF1 got 9,482 followers and 2,359 tweets. The impact can already be felt: According to real estate consultant Jones Lang LaSalle India, apartment prices in the Greater Noida area where the circuit is located rose from R3,000 to 4,000 per square foot in 2010 to R3,800-5,500 in 2011. Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consultants, explains, While cricket represents lowest denominator of sports in India, Formula1 belongs to the highest rank. Because it is niche within the broad space of sports and has an attitude of high-end pricing, it is a catch for all premium/luxury brands. Basically what IPL is for Pepsi, Formula1 is for luxury brands.

Bharti Airtel

A friendly world

At the end of the day, it is the top-of-mind recall which actually works for a brand and who knows this better than Airtel. The year 2012 for the telecom company started with a brand new campaign, Jo mera hai woh tera which was a new take on its friendship insight. The campaign of 65 seconds was released on TV and a longer version of 105 seconds was launched on Youtube. It reached 27.28 lakh people on Youtube, while on Facebook it was viewed by 17,200 people and on Twitter it reached out to 14.2 lakh people. At the same time, the company launched the Tera Mera Friendship Band application in the run-up to Friendship Day. The application generated 541 Likes on its Facebook page. Airtel meanwhile had begun its preparation for the second year of the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix. As the title sponsor, it launched a contest, 'Join our pit crew'. Interestingly, the Airtel F1 Facebook page gained 863,102 fans from the start of July till October 21, a week before D-day. On Twitter, Airtel's F1 page had an estimated unique reach of 17,10,638 and was mentioned 22,82,439 times. It also launched an F1 mobile application.

Increasingly, Airtel is going for a unified brand campaign across geographies as it expands its operations beyond India. The first half of last year saw the telco brand associating with various sports through the Delhi half marathon, Rising Star -- wherein 12 promising soccer players under the age of 16 would be given an chance to train with Manchester United Soccer School, after a three-month long talent hunt, besides cricket. Says Arvind Sahay, professor of marketing, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Airtel was persistent as it continued to charm the consumers throughout the year. Also it was able to maintain a presence in high decibel markets.

Data usage has been an issue for telcos; to boost wireless data consumption Airtel expanded its services with the launch of 4G internet services in three cities Bangalore, Pune and Kolkata. It also enhanced its services with the launch of applications such as SmartDrive that enabled users to view their location on a map and plan the route from one place to another and My Airtel application which allowed customers across various services (mobile, broadband, fixed line, DTH, etc.,) to check their outstanding bills, recharge their accounts, make s activate or deactivate any service, raise requests or complaints, etc. This year it also launched a new service called Airtel Money that allows subscribers to send and receive money from their mobile phone. Meanwhile, as digitisation became a reality, Airtel DTH the direct-to-home service launched an aggressive campaign focusing on its services as well as interactive channels. The campaign spread the message, 'Sirf cable nahi, life badlo', across the country. For panelist Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Dentsu India Group, it was not one thing, but rather the combination of a breakthrough communication plus focus on data usage along with leveraging F1 and the launch of 4G services that kept the Airtel flag flying high through the year.

Nestle India

In the pink of health

This year was special for Nestle India as it celebrated 100 years of its presence in India. For a company whose history goes back to 1912, when its first sales agents began work in Chennai and Kolkata, Nestle has exponentially expanded its portfolio of products in India. This year it focussed on bolstering its premium category, with the launch of Nescafe Sunrise Premium, Milkmaid Creations (powdered dessert mixes) under the brand Milkmaid, nutritional supplement Baby & Me and assorted gift packs in the chocolate category, all supported by new ad campaigns.

Interestingly, it opened its global research and development centre in Manesar this year. Nestle has successfully been able to manage all its brands across category. While it had launched products for premium category, at the same time it focused on rural consumers, too, said Rohit Ohri, executive chairman, Dentsu India. In the last two years, Nestle had launched several products such as Maggi Rasile Chow, Masala-e-Magic, Chotu Munch and single-finger KitKat targeting rural areas. Nestle's biggest success story in India has been with Maggi noodles as it continued to rule the instant noodles category despite the entry of several rival brands. Two new variants called Meri Maggi Dumdaar and Maggi Xtra Delicious Chicken Noodles were launched to take on the aggressive push by ITC's Yippee! Noodles brand. This year it also launched a new ad campaign featuring actor Amitabh Bachchan which urged consumers to share their unique experiences with Maggi. The brand campaign was later followed by several other commercials which showed Bachchan talking about interesting consumer experiences. In the beginning of the year, it unveiled yet another campaign for KitKat, with the tagline, KitKat break banta hain.

Meanwhile, the company has been working on its concept of Created Shared Value (CSV) focusing on three areas nutrition, water and rural development and integrating them into each stage of its value chain from agriculture and rural development to delivering products to customers and disposing of waste. The global Creating Shared Value (CSV) forum, co-hosted by Nestle and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), held in the capital this year, saw over 450 government, civil society and business representatives coming together to highlight the role of business in social and developmental issues.


The milky way

AMUL. As soon as someone mentions this name, the image that flashes through your minds eye is of the Amul moppet casually commenting on some issue. For five decades now, the little girl has been the toast of the nation and perhaps the subject of one of the biggest and most relevant advertising and marketing case studies in the country. The moppet turned 50 in 2012 and Amul's journey has been as significant yet unassuming as hers. The Amul butter ads, created by Mumbai based DaCunha Communications, appear in no less than 25 Indian newspapers twice a week, are aired by six television channels and are spread across 190 billboards across the country. This year saw the Amul ad going international with Dubai's popular English daily Khaleej Times carrying the ad in its pages. Amul continues to be one of India's most recognisable brands with a sustained top-of-the-mind recall, or like Dentsu India Group executive chairman Rohit Ohri says, Amul's always current.

A significant tool that has generated renewed and significant interest in Amul ads and the brand itself, is social media, with the ads reaching an estimated 15 million people through this medium. Comemorating 50 years of the Amul moppet, Amul and DaCunha Communications also launched a coffee table book published by HarperCollins India this year. The book, titled Amuls India traces India's social, cultural and political journey of the last five decades through the eyes and the mind of the Amul moppet.

On the business front, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which owns the Amul brand and whose name is used interchangeably with Amul, embarked on a revamped growth strategy this year. The R11,668-crore GCMMF is now working on a three-pronged growth strategy, which includes a packaging revamp, expanding production capacity and increasing its distribution network to expand its reach and penetration to smaller towns and villages of India. Amul is expanding its production capacity by 25%, with nine new production facilities coming up across the country, five of which will be in Amul's home state of Gujarat. Amul's operations right now are run through 40 production facilities. Amul is also in the process of adding 1,000 outlets to its existing 6,500 distributors to expand its distribution footprint. Amul's huge product portfolio also saw revamps and launches in categories such as yogurt, thus taking the competition from multinational brands head on. Keeping a vigilant eye on consumer behaviour and consumption trends, particularly in the face of the prevailing slowdown in the economy, Amul started selling economy packs in milk powder and butter this year, after realising that consumers were shifting to economy size packs to cut costs.

The very fact that the consumer seamlessly associates herself with the Amul brand speaks volumes about its marketing strategy. Amul strengthened its brand equity in face of MNC brands. It remained the only truly popular leading Indian brand for all socio-economic segments, says Nabankur Gupta, founder CEO, Nobby Brand Architects & Strategic Marketing Consultants.


Back to the basics

Sticking to the basics at times helps more than trying out new recipes. Selective lending, diversified exposure and focus on low-cost savings deposits, shunning risky, exotic products and being picky about borrowers these are just simple and plain rules in the banking sector and are also behind HDFC Bank's success. The bank has posted profit growth of over 30% every year for the last decade, and since 2008, the value of its shares have risen nearly 87%. The bank's non-performing assets as of September 30, 2012 stands at 0.2%.

One of the reasons behind its phenomenal growth is cross-selling to existing consumers. It is here that the bank's data warehouse plays a crucial role, maintaining customer records which provide a 360-degree view of each consumer's profile including credit card account, fixed deposits, asset accounts. In short, the totality of the bank's relationship with its customer. This further helps in segregating between the most profitable consumers and other consumers, making it easier to offer the right kind of products and services.

Earlier this year, the company launched INFINIA credit card, and in the later part of the year, it introduced tax payment facility through ATM. It also opened a branch at Leh and towards the end of year HDFC Bank, in association with Vodafone, launched m-piasa (a product for financial inclusion) in addition to introducing a range of credit cards for women under the name, Solitare. Says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consultants, It is a profitable bank, with the largest network among private banks, which is very efficient and is helping India in realising its aspirations the real reason behind its success.

Interestingly, while the brand has stayed away from above-the-line (ATL) advertising, much of its focus has been on digital and below-the-line (BTL) advertising. The bank has relied on digital tools such as direct mailers for its products, apart from launching apps to make itself accessible to Android and Windows based devices. HDFC Bank won the Best Email Marketing Campaign award this year at the IAMAI 2nd India Digital awards. The campaign talked about its high net worth (HNW) newsletters (Classic Speak, Preferred Speak, and Imperia). These newsletters which catered to the HNW segment of consumers served as the bank's one-stop communication. Apart from that, customers were given a plethora of discounts and offers on their travel, shopping, dining expenses. According to a survey by Social Bakers, in May the bank's website was the most visited private bank website and the most responsive bank on Facebook. The official Facebook page of HDFC Bank has so far garnered 537,608 Likes with 36,261 users talking about it; while its official Twitter handle, @HDFC_Bank, has 5,607 followers and has so far received 14,136 tweets.

The bank also carried out a series of below-the-line activities which included road shows, mall activations, participating in exhibitions, door-to-door selling, promotions, in-branch and branch-front activities, innovative display units, direct mails in cities, but its main area of focus has been promoting itself at the grass-root level, especially in the rural areas. In the hinterlands, it has relied on activations such as loan melas to take the bank's product to the customer's doorstep.

Honda motorcycles & scooters India

My way on the highway

The end of a marriage can mean problems for both partners. More so, if it leads to a situation where the erstwhile partners are now competing against each other. The break-up of Hero Honda, which was the world's number one motorcycle manufacturer by volume, pitted Hero MotoCorp and Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India (HMSI) against each other in one of the largest two wheeler markets globally. In that battle, HMSI seems to be racing ahead with a portfolio of 15 products on the road already, a new-found assertive brand identity, and steady, and in some cases, quite staggering, growth in sales and marketshare figures.

Having crossed the 10-million sales mark, HMSI is now the fastest growing two-wheeler company in the country for 18 months ending September 2012. Led by Dream Yuga, Honda's first mass market bike in the Indian market, the company has seen a five-fold jump in sales in the 100-110cc mass motor-cycle segment in the first two quarters of fiscal year 2012-13 when sales grew a staggering 49%. This figure, notwithstanding HMSI's small base, speaks volumes via-a-vis the two-wheeler segment's single digit growth rate of 3.12% year-on-year. HMSI now holds a substantial marketshare of 19%, as per the last reported sales figures. Growing at 39%, HMSI also increased its leadership in the automatic scooter market.

Earlier this year, Yatvinder S Guleria, vice-president, sales and marketing, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, had said that the year 2012 was a very significant year for HMSI, as people in India were yet to get a glimpse of the brand properly. And it was to showcase the quality of innovation that the brand is known for, that HMSI launched a high-decibel ad campaign Sach kar denge sapne (We'll make dreams come true) based on its global brand positioning Power of dreams with Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar as the brand ambassador. That dream seems to have been realised to a large extent with it creating, in a short span of time, an impressive portfolio, selling everything from gearless scooties worth a few thousand rupees to superbikes that can set you back by several lakhs. As Dentsu India Group executive chairman Rohit Ohri puts it, Honda is India's fastest growing two-wheeler brand which is connected with India despite separating from its Indian partner with its portfolio marketing approach yielding rich dividends.

But HMSI is not satisfied with what it has achieved. It aims to become the market leader by 2020 by cornering a third of the Indian two-wheeler market. It certainly seems headed that direction.