These are confusing times for marketers. On the one hand, there is a surfeit of options that allow targeted reach to consumers, thus ensuring more effective deployment of budgets and better returns. On the other hand, a multitude of platforms has also meant audience segmentation and hence, the compulsion for not only mass but even niche brands to ride dozens of platforms to create optimum buzz and connect with one’s target group.
The debate on whether traditional advertising was an investment or expenditure was far from over when the digital platform was born. While marketers are still struggling to understand and tame the medium, the more enthusiastic ones have already moved to newer terrains such as the use of neuro-science in exploring the inner core of consumer minds.
Industry veteran Alque Padamsee says a marketer’s job is much more challenging today than it was in the 70s or 80s. “Today, companies need to harness a different sort of creativity. It is no longer good enough to come up with a clever idea. People are in a rush. It all works like a news flash. Grab a person’s attention and give him the main points quickly and the price. What used to be a marathon is now a 100-meter dash,” he says.
In Padamsee’s view, an altering reality alters the marketing rules every day. “Netizens are a big target group today, and there is a lot of analysis required on behaviour online. E-tailing is growing very fast, and big stores are in danger of being wiped out. Shelf space, once sought after in metropolitan cities, could become redundant. There are complex gadgets with complex usage and there are videos to show consumers how things work,” he says.
Picking the best marketers in a scenario like this is an extremely difficult proposition. Who qualifies as a good marketer in today’s time? Should the title go to the young and dynamic new-age marketers who are unsuspectingly writing new rules of the game? Or should one stick to the old is gold paradigm? Are those that offer the best discounts and deals to consumers and survive on wafer-thin margins the worthies to be picked or should one go with those who pride themselves on never compromising on their premium pricing?
As these and several other questions vexed Team Brandwagon, we sought help from the best marketing and branding consultants to help us choose the best marketers of 2014. The panelists included Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad’s professor of marketing Arvind Sahay; author and marketing consultant Rama Bijapurkar; founder and chief executive of Nobby Brand Architects and Strategic Marketing Consultants Nabankur Gupta; brand expert and marketing consultant Harish Bijoor; co-founder of brand consultancy Chlorophyll Kiran Khalap; director of Marketgate Consulting Shripad Nadkarni and MD and chief executive of Future Brands Santosh Desai.
Our list of best marketers of the year comprises the young and the old, the champions and the challengers and the revered as well as the reviled marketers. The title of the salesman of the year, indeed, goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who led an unprecedented poll campaign in which every trick in the old and the new marketing books was put to use. To know about the others that made the cut, please turn over the page.