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Interview: Nicholas M Dudynskay, EVP, Global Director of Retail Marketing, Leo Burnett Worldwide

“A big mistake that clients committed last year was that they tried to do transactional sales on the social medium. People do not want to use it for that purpose”

Neha Saraiya | Delhi | March 26, 2012

‘Social shopping’ as a trend has seen an upward swing in recent times, be it to the factors like increased time spent on the internet or easy availability of products on websites at affordable prices. Tech-savvy consumers of today literally make a purchase decision anywhere, anytime. And presence on social media seems to be a good idea for companies to influence impulsive consumer behaviour by building a personality for their brands. But does that really work? Nicholas M Dudynskay, EVP, Global Director of Retail Marketing, Leo Burnett Worldwide, in conversation with, answers this and talks about the nuances of social shopping. Excerpts:

How do you define a social shopper?

A social shopper is essentially a person who uses some kind of social media to influence his or her shopping decisions. Consumers on social media share with their friends and visit websites like Amazon or Groupon which are aggregators of daily deals. But these sites tend to have social media as an add-on review and thus the question of accountability of reviews prevails as companies can pay or influence people to give good reviews. It’s not just important for companies to find out that people are using social media but also what kind of people are using social media.

How do you see this phenomenon in India?

Oh, it will be here before you know it! You are going to have girls who will go to a store, take a photo on phone of their dress and send to friends on Facebook and ask what you think. And friends will reply back with comments like ‘Oh, it looks ugly, don’t buy that’. The next thing you will see very quickly is price comparisons. People will check reviews and then make their purchase decisions. You will see a striking familiarity across markets and how people use social media. The social shopping viral will spread everywhere before you even know it. You will see the whole world skewed towards social media.

What are the consumer touch points beyond a typical set-up of a retail store when it comes to social media?

The first part of any shopping journey will start with the trusted source. It could be with the consumer’s mother, father or friends. Consumer will go to a trusted source largely because of lack of belief in what the marketer has to tell them. And that will be start of the shopping journey. And social media is the first place they will go to.

But with the fragmentation of media, how difficult is it to engage a consumer to a particular medium?

They do it on their own. Companies do not have to tell people how to use Facebook or Twitter.  A big mistake that clients committed last year was that they tried to do transactional sales on the social medium. People do not want to use it for shopping purposes per se.

When it comes to shopping through social media, what big trends do you foresee?

I see three big trends coming up in a big way. First, we will see that retail is going back. It’s going to be online everything for the consumers and how they will behave socially for their purchase decisions. The other big thing is that a lot of flash sales will happen in the near future. Third, it will play an important role in terms of geographical locations wherein consumers will get the products delivered at their doorstep.

Any example of a brand or company in India that is using social medium to drive its sales?

I don’t know how many companies in India are using it. I think what’s happening in India is the same thing that happened five years ago when companies realised that ‘oh my god, I need a website’. The reason for having a website was not because of their product but because their competitors had it.  That’s the kind of world it is.

How important is retail as a business for Leo Burnett?

We have retail clients that are interesting as they are not global clients. These clients vary from market to market and across categories. We have a big retail business which is one part of the puzzle and we have a big shopper activation business for manufacturers making it two different kinds of clients. Then we have a business wherein in we try to bring the two together to try to create value by working together because that’s the key. Like Walmart really doesn’t care about Coca-Cola and if they don’t get the right price, they kick it out. But Coke is worried about Walmart. Thus, clients need to understand that retailers and manufactures need to work together.

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