Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and creatives have too much distance between them and it needs to be corrected, Rohit Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer, Swiggy, said during a panel discussion at Goafest 2023 on ‘Brand love suffering at the altar of short-term sale’.
The moderator of this session was Anuradha Sengupta, an independent journalist, and the panellists included Hemant Malik, Divisional Chief Executive, ITC's Foods Business and Member of Corporate Management Committee of ITC; Prabha Narasimhan, MD and CEO, Colgate Palmolive India, and Kapoor.
The session emphasised the importance of brand love as it creates strong emotional bonds with the audiences, driving customer loyalty, advocacy, and higher engagement, resulting in sustained business growth and a competitive edge in the market.
The panellists also discussed the technological advances that have taken place over the last few years and the cyclical impact it has on the audience and in turn, the brand and love for it. Having said that, there was an agreement that the fundamentals of brand love largely stay the same.
Malik said, “It's a great time for marketers, today! We are all enabled because we are able to make decisions with utmost clarity. However, while data helps you, it also makes you vulnerable.”
Kapoor, with regards to the synergy between teams and departments at the brand’s end, said, “CEO and creatives have too much distance between them. This needs to be corrected.”
The session ended with Sengupta asking each panellist about their expectations from agencies. Everyone on the panel unanimously agreed that they need to keep learning from and being challenged by the agencies.
Narasimhan said that she does not think that brand love is being sacrificed at the altar of short-term sales. “I do not think it has been sacrificed, rather it has given an opportunity for the brands to do more,” she added.
Malik said that a lot of things have changed in the world and the relationships itself has changed. From the perspective of the relationship, it is no longer about “long-term relations but situationships today.”
"There are a lot of us who create great challenger brands and we need to find a mechanism for the people to be able to experience us. Sometimes we call it short-term sales and it is not wrong because every sale is a sale," he added.
Narasimhan said that when you look at the world of building brands, big brands had the advantage of reach, media and capital but now none of these advantages exists and you might have to start from scratch.
“So, then what differentiates the love for brands from the non-loved brands is how you are able to create the degree of affinity to consume. That has not changed that much. What has changed is that now we reach the consumers who are in such a crowded place, fighting for their attention far more than we were doing earlier. You can just reach them in so many more ways and be more clever about it. But to keep that brand love has not changed, rather it has become more difficult,” she added.
Furthermore, Sengupta asked the panellists how they evaluate performance marketing and what do they do with data?
Malik said that as marketing persons, people always get away by saying that they are building brand equity and sales will follow over a period of time. But now is a great time for marketers because they can measure everything. Moreover, one can respond and react too.
Furthermore, he stated, “The negative of digital media is that it empowers the consumers to respond to you. The most important thing would be what is your product proposition.”
Kapoor stated that these are the times when everyone is drowning in data.
On being asked by Sengupta if agencies need to change more to become relevant, Narasimhan stated that there is all the more reason to be clear today about what your brands stand for. That is where agencies need to evolve to be able to provide various solutions.
Malik said that he expects his agency partners to be the experts.
"We are not an MNC, we are an Indian company. Therefore, I need to learn from my partners. If they are not able to come up with cutting-edge solutions then I will never be able to do it," he added.
Meanwhile, Kapoor said, “We are a super young company. I look for partners who can help us get there (profitability), challenge us, and much more…I personally think that I love to get challenged by my agency partners.”
Malik said, "When we talk about brands, how many brands do we actually love? Based on some research and reading, the maximum average number of people talking is five. As many as 18% of people said that there is no brand that they love. You keep on changing your brand preferences.”
"If you have only brand lovers, you won't have business," he stated.
Kapoor stated that earlier there were only a few ads that got stuck in our minds due to which they are still remembered, but today there is an explosion - which is so different from the world we grew up in that the nostalgia confounds our thinking.