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2021 may see rise of David syndrome as established brands will face a threat from rank outsiders: Anil Nair of VMLY&R India

In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, the CEO of VMLY&R India says big brands will face a major disruption if they don't relook at their conventional brand-building structures

Anil Nair

Brands need to have a re-look at conventional brand-building structures to win the post-pandemic battleground, says Anil Nair, CEO, VMLY&R India.

Talking about the key trends that will dominate 2021, Nair said changing digital behaviour of consumers and increasing maturity in using digital products and services have led to increased expectations from brands.

“Brands of tomorrow will no longer be judged against their category peers but also across other categories in the areas of digital hygiene, salience, CX, e-commerce speed to market, etc. The customer today has a choice and is willing to exercise it ruthlessly and is not fazed by big brand reputation or loyalty,” Nair said.

 "Any brand is only as good as its last positive experience. And which is where one needs to turn to platforms, technologies, data sciences, internal reorientations, etc., to consistently deliver this experience.”

Nair said brands need to get out their product mindset and get into a product+service+content framework.

According to Nair, 2021 will be the year of customer experience and commerce. Brands that invest in both these areas will reap benefits over the next decade.

“Brands that will have a myopic conventional view will see disruptions in the way that people consider, consume and evangelise their favourite brands. The other big trend we will see is a ‘David syndrome’ where brand behemoths and Goliaths will be threatened by disruptions, innovations and rank outsiders redefining competition. The digital zeitgeist has truly levelled the playing field and democratised hitherto oligarchic structures, be it media or brands or agencies.”

VMLY&R India's growth strategy for next year

According to Nair, a combination of agency’s diversified services and its client business mix has fortuitously helped VMLY&R stay afloat and keep the head above water in a tough year like 2020.

“The first couple of months of the pandemic had everyone in a tizzy with clients scrambling to repair broken supply chains and production. But most of our clients scrambled well to get their businesses back on track and in categories that have seen steady growth, right from FMCG to hardware and jewellery brands to tractors.”

“We finished strong in 2020 and intend to drive it with the same passion for 2021. Our investments in commerce, data-driven marketing, CX and content came to the rescue,” Nair said.

Talking about the growth projections for the next year, he said, "The first quarter may be a bit sluggish but I foresee things picking up after that.”

“This pandemic brought us some immense learnings and unlocked opportunity areas in new channels, new ways of storytelling, investments in new platforms, etc., which we will continue driving forward in 2021,” said Nair.

Last year, the agency had plans to open a branch office in Bangalore.

“We were all set to open our Bangalore office till the pandemic brought everything to a halt. But then the pandemic also gave us work from home, which has now allowed us to go beyond geographical limitations. Having said that, the South is an important sector for us and we will be looking at this with the utmost seriousness the moment life returns to normal,” Nair said.


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