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Shell Lubricants to up digital advertising budget in India to increase market share to 15%

The brand will spend 70% of its B2B and 25% of its B2C advertising budget on digital. The company is also sprucing up its investment in social media properties and is eyeing a 15% market share in India's B2C lubricants’ market

(L-R) Gareth Flood, Mansi Tripathy, Ram Bhandari and Troy Chapman at the ‘Power of Partnerships’ launch

Shell Lubricants, the global market leader in finished lubricants, is betting big on digital advertising in the Indian market to increase its market share in both B2B and B2C markets.

The company plans to increase its market share in the Indian market to 15% from the existing 5%.

The brand will spend around 70% of its total advertising budget on digital. For B2C, it is planning to spend 25% of the total budget on digital advertising, including all major social media properties.

Speaking about the marketing and media strategy for the campaign, Gareth Flood, CMO, Shell Lubricants India, said, “We are focusing very heavily on social media because that is where a lot of the B2B interactions normally take place.”

While Flood agreed that the B2C business gets a larger pie of the marketing budget, he mentioned that the B2B business is equally important for them as well. He said the brand is looking at spending more than 70% of its marketing monies on Shell Lubricants’ B2B communication.

“We have spent a lot more on digital this year than previous years. But that is not just us, it is an industry trend and it true across B2C and B2B. But when it comes to B2B it has become a much more effective way to talk directly to the B2B customers. This is a very technical category and people are always looking for answers online and so upwards of 70% of our marketing budget is going on digital,” said Flood.

Commenting on the dramatic increase on their digital spends, Mansi Tripathy, Country Head of Shell Lubricants India Cluster, said, “If we go back five years, our digital spends was less than 10% and it is more than 70% now. Similarly, when it comes to our B2C communication, the percentage jump has been very high. It was less than 5% and within four to five years the number will be jumping to about 25%.”

Shell Lubricants’ media agency is MediaCom.

While Shell Lubricants has been in India for about 70 years, it has a market share of about 5%. According to Tripathy, one of the reasons for the small market share is because of the joint venture partnership that the company was under for a long time.

“We really started being a Shell wholly owned company in the last seven to eight years. From that point of view we have done a fairly good job in a very competitive market. Our aspiration is in the accessible market and where we have the right to win. In those markets, we should undoubtedly become number one which means that we will have to have a market share of about 15%.”

Tripathy believes that there is a lot of scope in the synthetic/premium lubricants market. Currently, 13% of Shell Lubricants’ business is synthetic but the Indian market is less than 5% synthetic. 

“From a product portfolio perspective we see a lot of scope to grow in the synthetic/premium lubricants category. We have the scope to create the market there. In some markets like Russia, premium is 70% of the market whereas in India it is less than 5%. Also, as the market grows we will have to go from tier I to tier II, III and rural as well and that will bring in its own set of growth. Partnering with more Original Equipment manufacturers or OEMs is also another avenue from where we will see the numbers come in,” said Tripathy.

Tripathy said India is a very important market for Shell and they are investing in India for the long haul. According to Tripathy, the areas that they are choosing to invest in are people and talent, building the brand, footprint and portfolio.

Speaking about the challenges of marketing in a large market like India, Flood said, “One challenge is obviously the diversity. It becomes a challenge when you have to roll out a country-wide communication because for some places one has to localise the content because of the diversity in the language and cultures.”

The brand has also launched its biggest marketing outing for its B2B business for the year 2018. The campaign, titled “Power of Partnerships”, is an extension of ‘Together, Anything is Possible’ (TAIP), the first global brand positioning for Shell B2B Lubricants, introduced last year.

Highlighting the message of forging strong alliances, Shell launched ‘The Bat Doctor’ video, featuring Ram Bhandari, a celebrity bat doctor, who has made bats for cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, to name a few. The video demonstrates the importance of striking the right partnerships across situations to brew a solution for success; just as the cricketers’ bats were instrumental to their own.

The campaign has been conceptualised by Iris London and will be digital heavy.

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