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Fundamentals key in a digital world: R Chandrasekar, Nestlé

For R Chandrasekar, Head of Communication and Ecommerce at Nestlé India, the need of the hour is not talking digital marketing but focusing on the fundamentals of marketing in a digitally connected world.

“We value identifying and adapting to meaningful change but we also keep calm to all buzzwords. To face new realities, adapting the timeless fundamentals is much more key than abandoning them,” Mr Chandrasekar said in his keynote address at India’s Top Digital Planners held on December 12, 2015. The DMA initiative was presented by DB Digital and partnered by DGM India. LIQVD ASIA, Tyroo and Seventy Nine were the Associate Partners at the event.

Advocating the need to adapt fundamentals in a rapidly changing world is the most important capability for a marketer today. Mr Chandrasekar listed out four pillars that comprise these fundamentals

People-first meets right messaging
The first of the four pillars is a reminder that marketing is about people. No matter how many times marketing experts reiterate this advice, it still holds enough mettle to be said once again. Mr Chandrasekar stated that terminologies such as consumers, customers, shoppers, media audience, target groups and the likes were only fabrication of the marketing industry to simplify and allocate tasks to brands and agency partners. “The key is how we behave as human beings – the way we behave with our families and approach the relationships that we have. Understanding our consumers as people and human beings is the most important thing to derive any consumer insight,” he said.

He quoted the Maggi example from the ban to the return on how Nestlé focused its communication on the ‘emotional’ aspect. Beginning with the ban, where Nestlé received ‘Miss you Maggi’ responses on digital platforms including social media, to the welcome back campaign, much of the messaging captured the emotions that consumers were experiencing.

The second reiterates that message quality matters the most. Any question that debates the efficacy of a platform – whether it is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or the likes is missing the point. “The question is whether the quality of the message is transferrable to the media that the consumer is on,” stated Mr Chandrasekar. Nestlé was able to execute this well for its coffee brand Nescafé, where the message of keep going, was taken across all media. Nescafé in fact saw more than 5000 stories coming on social platforms in this initiative.

True engagement & bold creativity
Mr Chandrasekar also pointed out that social engagement metrics are only an enabler and not the final result. Likes, retweets, fans are all important to achieve but for the marketer, it ultimately is about selling the product. This constituted his third pillar of marketing fundamentals. The Nestlé brand campaign of ‘Good Food, Good Life’ attempted to embrace this by translating a simple idea into a corporate brand story.

But the “nice” story is not really the recommendation. In fact, the final element that completes the four fundamentals of marketing is that safe creativity is not safe anymore. What marketers see as safe is flat, boring and uninspiring. “Under pressure, it is tempting to play along the category rules but that is not really what will resonate back with the audience. Even in marketing, there is enough evidence of every action attracting an equal and opposite reaction,” Mr Chandrasekar remarked, adding, “Be more unsafe. Create content that is inspiring and share worthy.”

Irrespective of the ‘sexiness’ that technology has to offer, the fundamentals are always more important. Mr Chandrasekar summed up his address, saying that in times of rapid change, the most important skill set for brand builders is not digital marketing but understanding how to adapt the fundamentals of marketing to a digital world.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.