The Vision Board Interview | Mr. Anand Narasimha | Professor Brand Marketing | Jagdish Sheth School of Management

Mr. Anand Narsimha

Professor Brand Marketing, JSSM

Anand Narasimha, Professor Brand Marketing, Jagdish Sheth School of Management is a corporate turned academician with 30+ years of experience spanning leadership roles in Brand Marketing, Advertising, Shopper Marketing, Consulting, and Academics.

Excerpt From The Vision Board Interview With Mr. Anand Narasimha.

Earlier in b2b especially, they used to do events and exhibitions where they can meet the customer, they get the opportunity to create some kind of connect with the customer. But now in this virtual world the emotional connect is getting challenged, where everything has become very mechanical in nature. What's your view, what do you suggest?

Firstly today marketing has to be Phygital, Phygital means both physical and digital. It’s not either or it is both. Of-course the weightage will depend on the nature of your business and whom you are targeting. However, the lack of physical connect is a temporary thing, it has happened primarily due to the pandemic and as things open out and hopefully, we are able to stabilize the physical world will reopen. So, it’s not a permanent thing. Now coming to the issue of connecting a b2b brand with consumers emotionally versus rationally, see there are two things and this is a study that LinkedIn collaborated, when you do brand marketing today there are essentially and not today it has been there earlier but in the new context there is what we call Brand Building and Performance Marketing. So, brand building is what you do at the top of the marketing funnel, it’s all about creating an image, awareness, emotion and a connection for your brand. And performance marketing is what you do at the bottom of the funnel which is generating leads and nurturing those leads and converting those leads. Now one of the myths that existed was that b2b companies or b2b businesses need not invest in brand building and they can only get away with investing in performance marketing, this was a myth. A lot of studies have shown otherwise, in-fact interestingly there’s been a study done by LinkedIn on b2b marketers and the impact of b2b marketing. This is a global study done by LinkedIn and what they discovered was quite opposite to what the general belief was. What this study revealed is that, if you don’t do brand building your performance marketing ROI goes down as compared to b2b companies which are investing both in brand building and performance marketing. The brand building is actually positively impacting the ROI of performance marketing. So, you need to do both, the brand building is more about connecting through emotions and all and even on virtual platforms you can create that engagement and connect. The word is engagement, whether you do something physically or virtually, you have to engage your customer. If you don’t engage, it doesn’t matter whether you do physically or virtually. So, engagement is the name of the game and Performance marketing and Brand building must go hand in hand. The old saying that the job of branding is to make selling easier still holds true. The reason why you do brand building is to make the job of your sales guys easier so that holds true even today and it holds to both in the virtual world and in the physical world.

So, my point really is that today you need a combination of High touch and High tech. Unfortunately, a lot of companies are overlooking the touch part and becoming tech! tech! tech! but ultimately who is your customer? Even if it’s a b2b customer, it’s a human being not a robot. You’re not selling to a robot; you’re selling to a human being or a bunch of human beings and these human beings have strong emotions as people and therefore, you have to balance high-tech and high touch. And today unfortunately with all this tech! tech! happening and all these tools’ people are forgetting the touch part. Any good business whether it’s b2b, b2c any category must have a good combination of touch and tech. If you lose the touch, you will become very mechanical as you said. So, that’s my take on this.

We've talked a lot about Consumer co-creation. So, we definitely would like to know more about it?

Consumer co-creation is a very interesting thing. Today what is happening is people are becoming more individualistic as human beings and they want a saying in things that they are doing in life whatever they do in life they want to have a say including the brands that they buy. So, companies are realizing as i had told you earlier that it is not going to be about commanding and controlling consumers anymore it is going to be collaborating with them and one of the very effective ways of collaborating with consumers and engaging them is this whole idea of co-creation. 

Co-creation as the word suggests is all about involving the customer in creating your brand or creating interventions of your brand. So typically, co-creation actually happens in two broad areas, one is co-creation of products which is you involving consumers in creating your products and services and create them in an innovative way. And the second is co-creation of content, what we typically call user generated content. You ask consumers to create content for you, you don't create content.

So, there are a lot of interesting new age brands that have done this very successfully. So, I’ll just give you two examples so that this becomes clearer. So, one interesting example of Co-Creation of content is Go-pro cameras, now go-pro is an adventure camera & what go-pro did is they didn’t create a single ad or a communication on their own, they just created a YouTube channel, they collaborated with YouTube and asked their customers to post videos. So, the reason why you put a go-pro on your head is if you’re doing Skydiving or Scuba diving or any of those. You want to record it from your point of view. So, what started happening is a lot of videos started getting posted by people, in fact Go-pro’s whole philosophy is “don’t tell it show it and share it”. So, the entire marketing communication of Go-pro is user generated, they don’t create a single communication from their site, it’s all the users putting. What that actually did was helped them expand their market. So go-pro was a niche product, it was basically for adventure enthusiasts but when people started seeing so many interesting videos, even if they were not adventure enthusiasts, they said this is a good idea to buy this camera. You know i may not skydive but i can record when i play cricket with my son or i can shoot a birthday party or i can shoot a small holiday that we have gone to with this perspective. It actually opened up the market, so that’s a great example of co-creation of content. Co-creation of a product, a very interesting brand called Glossier, glossier is a beauty and cosmetics brand in the US launched in 2008 not too far back by a young entrepreneur Emily Wise, only in her early 20s. This brand actually began as a blog, so what Emily wise did is she started a beauty blog, she was a blogger and she started a beauty blog where she started asking young women to talk about their concept of beauty, their views on beauty products etc. Her blog became very popular. What she realized in the blog is basically what consumers told her in the blog is that the traditional established beauty brands are letting me down they don’t understand me, they don’t understand my needs, they are not creating products that are actually for me. They just create products and expect me to buy it. So, that gave her an idea that there is a gap, there is a there is a pain point and beauty young millennials, young women, they are not relating to these big L’Oréal’s and all these of the world because they feel these guys don’t understand them, they don’t talk to them, they don’t listen to them they just create products and say you want this buy it. So, she then decided that why don’t I create a line of products which meet the requirements and address these issues of these young millennial women and i will co-create these products with them, i will ask them that what kind of a lipstick should we make for you, what kind of mascara would you like and she started co-creating products and today Glossier is one of the fastest growing beauty brands in the world. It’s giving a run for its money to the big large established beauty brands. So, basically their whole philosophy is beauty products inspired by real life and this whole conversation the blog, the co-creation is what the brand is built on and in fact, they call they don’t call themselves as a brand, they say we are not a range of beauty products, we are a People-Powered Beauty Ecosystem. That is how they describe their business. So, these are just two examples of co-creation. A lot of other companies have also started doing it. So, one-point i want to make is co-creation is more than just listening to your customers, so every good marketing company listens to the customer. Often a lot of people confuse co-creation listening to customers, that’s not co-creation, yes listening to your customers but creating content done by them or using content that they have made and you have collaborated in putting that content, or developing products that they have suggested or they have come up with the idea and you are creating it with them. So, it is more than just listening to customers so that is what Co-creation is all about and it’s a fantastic tool for modern marketers because brands that are doing this are becoming highly successful.

The Vision Board Interview | Mr. Anand Narasimha | Professor Brand Marketing | Jagdish Sheth School of Management

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