New Delhi: In a country as diverse as India with various religions and cultures, and where about 1,600 dialects are spoken, marketing a single brand is a big challenge and marketers need to constantly innovate and customize products to stay in business.
“We need to find a unifying” element to market products nationwide to various segments of consumers,” Sanjay Gupta, chief executive of Star India, said at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in New Delhi on Monday.
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“This country is changing very fast. The most difficult (task) is to sustain the business,” he said during a session on brands.
Gupta said the Star Plus television channel, from his company’s stable of networks, had been the undisputed leader before being challenged by others.
“I believe that we lost touch with consumers,” Gupta said of the interruption in that leadership.
For example, he said, his channel didn’t spot the emerging trend of strong women characters in the fast-changing television soap segment early enough.
“Sustaining a brand is very difficult,” he said. “You need to have your finger on the pulse of the consumers.”
Panellists said customization of products was key to staying in business.
For example, Yahoo Inc. sensed a great demand for news in Hindi and tied up with the Dainik Jagran group for content.
Within less than a year, Hindi news was getting more hits than English news.
“I learnt a fascinating thing about Dainik Jagran. They produce 40 editions of the newspaper in simple language and each of the stories is written in the local dialect, every single day,” said Arun Tadanki, managing director of Yahoo India. “I think that is truly capturing the nuances of a complex market such as India, and actually delivers the product experience that suits the consumer of that particular area.”
Similarly, KFC added non-meat products to its menu to expand its consumer base in India, a country where millions of people are vegetarian.
“If you have the right proposition, you can take that and deliver it to the consumers and in a format that they are looking for, no matter where you operate,” said Atul Singh, chief executive of Coca Cola India.
The panellists cautioned companies against getting swayed by India’s population, the second biggest in the world after China.
“It’s easy to be mesmerized by one billion (potential) consumers,” said Niren Chaudhary, managing director of Yum Restaurants in India, that operates the KFC and Taco Bell outlets in the country. “I think you have to filter out how many of the one billion can actually afford your products, and how many are willing to spend on them.”
He said KFC has identified about 100 million people as their target customers.
Retailers in India face a challenge, given that there is a huge potential market but incomes are not high across the board.
“So how do you make them work? My idea of sustainable business is to make it relevant to as many consumers as possible and, therefore, you have the topline,” said Chaudhary of Yum Restaurants.