Hard for brands to stay ahead of the consumer: Diana Cawley, CEO- APAC, Geometry Global | Interview

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Published: November 15, 2019 12:43:06 AM

Geometry Global, WPP group’s shopper marketing and brand activation agency, is working towards devising communication that fits the non-linear, omnichannel shopping behaviour of consumers.

Diana Cawley, CEO – APAC, Geometry Global (Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

Geometry Global, WPP group’s shopper marketing and brand activation agency, is working towards devising communication that fits the non-linear, omnichannel shopping behaviour of consumers.

Diana Cawley tells Venkata Susmita Biswas about the challenges of rapid technological advancement, why shopper marketing is effective during a slowdown, and more. Edited excerpts:

How has the discipline of shopper marketing been affected by technological advancements?

Traditionally, shopper marketing was done mainly at the retail level. The digital transformation led to people shopping online, on their phones and, in some cases, searching online but buying offline in a store. The whole online-to-offline and offline-to-online shopping behaviour was one of our big headaches because you had to have data to map shoppers through that journey.

We now understand this evolving shopping behaviour much better. Our job now is to use an omnichannel approach to fit the shopping process into people’s lives and work with not just two spaces — online and offline — but rather wherever people want to buy, and target them with the right kind of communication.

It is hard for brands to stay ahead of the consumer as they map their marketing budgets out at the beginning of the year, and by the end of the year, the landscape has changed. This is a great opportunity for us. Earlier, the experience was limited to a few people; today, we have limited experience and unlimited amplification because of digital proliferation.

What roles do brand activation and shopper marketing play during an economic slowdown?

Since activation allows a brand to meet and engage with end users directly, it has to be locally executed. Therefore, in markets like India where the culture is so unique and diverse, activation is one of the most relevant marketing tools to reach out to the target audience. And the outcome would be maximised when digital comes into play. Digitally charged, data-driven activation would significantly increase and improve measurability.

Additionally, shopper activation has very little wastage, since you have a captive audience, unlike a mass broadcast. For instance, for a mass product like a dental cream, the marketer would rather activate specific retail stores to target the right consumers or go to markets where there is a potential for the product.

During a slowdown, the business which was probably going to print has a good chance of coming to us because we can measure the wastage and calculate the whole reach versus relevant reach in shopper marketing very well.

With respect to adapting to new consumer trends, where does India stand in comparison to the rest of APAC?

India is a growing market that is young, vibrant and dynamic. We are really keen on India’s use of mobile technology. We have already learned a lot about how this works from China. With WeChat, Alibaba and Tencent, we have learned how to use the mobile phone to get people to buy directly from their phones. We serve up contextual content at the right time that nudges them to purchase a product. So we can bring that to India quickly.

Geometry’s India team is, in fact, creating communication models for our global clients. We are applying them in APAC, Latin American countries and western markets.

Indian marketers admit to having a lot of data on consumers, but they are not using it in the right way. Your thoughts…

Most marketers fail to understand how to use that data for remarketing. Data can also be overwhelming because people need to know what they are looking for. We have access to a lot of data, from first-party data owned by brands on their consumers, to census data, and other third-party data. One has to take all those data forms available in the public domain and elsewhere, and marry that to sales and consumer data in the right way. By using data smartly, we are now able to target consumers who step into a retail environment with personalised text messages.

An organisation has to have the mindset of getting digital and data oriented. Unless the whole team is driven by thinking data, data is going to be just a sexy word.

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