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NEW DELHI : Colgate-Palmolive India has relaunched a number of toothpaste brands in the recent past, reinforcing what it calls positive, distinct and motivating memories. In an interview, Arvind Chintamani, vice president, marketing, spoke about relaunches, using influencers and marketing in rural and urban markets. Edited Excerpts:

 

We’ve seen Colgate relaunch a bunch of its key brands in the market. What has driven this exercise?

Building a brand is like building a memory structure in the minds of people. You want your memory structure to be positive, distinct and motivating. While your brand is a set of positive, distinct associations and motivating associations, a product fulfils that as well. For us, relaunches are very critical events because eventually, we are a brand-building organization. 

Recently, we relaunched Colgate Strong Teeth, which is our flagship toothpaste. It is India’s No. 1 toothpaste and one of the most-used and most-distributed products in the country. It is bought or used by over 600 million people annually. What we needed to do with the relaunch is shine a light on the fact that strength of teeth is a critical part of your digestive process. It may sound straightforward, but I don’t think many people realize that the strength of teeth can make a difference to the quality of chewing, and hence, the quality of nutrition. So, for the relaunch, we got Shahid Kapoor, and progressive men/fathers who are taking the message across the country. We also relaunched Colgate Vedshakti, which is a portfolio of toothpaste, mouth spray and oil pulling. If you see that portfolio—the message is very simple, it’s talking about your overall health, not just your mouth.  The other thing that we have been continually doing for the last four to five years is telling stories of optimism and doing it under the banner of Smile Karo Aur Shuru ho Jao—in Hindi and in different languages. This is the Colgate master brand living out its philosophy. We recently put a new story of Kiran Kanojia who is India’s first female blade runner. 

Has the pandemic shifted more ad dollars to digital? 

For us, to be chosen as a brand, is to be mentally and physically available. If our consumers are mentally spending more time-consuming content digitally, and are physically spending more time transacting digitally—we have to spend more time and attention digitally. We have opened a direct-to-consumer platform — cpbrush.co.in — where we are exclusively selling power toothbrushes and we’re seeing a phenomenal response on this. So, we’re doing a lot of things both from a content as well as a transaction point of view i.e. on e-commerce platforms. India is a very interesting country—while growth in digital happening, television audiences have also grown in this period. Their share of time spent may have changed, but the number of people watching traditional media has actually increased. What guides us is the philosophy of integrated brand experiences across media, touch points and messages. This does not mean you repeat on e-commerce, what you’ve put on television, etc., but to fashion your communication to the medium in order to create a seamless, consistent messaging across touchpoints that helps your memory structure. 

Does television get the biggest chunk of media spends? 

We don’t give away our numbers but from a reach frequency point of view in the country right now, TV is the biggest singular reach medium for certain a kind of communication. So, we are using both TV and digital media…primarily it’s mobiles in India, for different kind of messaging. I’ll give you an example of rural, it is very interesting to constantly see how rural India has evolved. People confuse the rural Indian consumer to be a fundamentally different construct, but people in rural India are consuming the same content increasingly and are accessing the same media increasingly. Differences, if any, continues to be around access. We are increasingly using technology to do consumer research in rural India, because tools are now available for us to talk to people in different parts of the country on a day’s notice. 

More importantly, we are treating rural India and urban India to be similar on aspiration... Also, now because of digital reach, we are able to do more targeted reach. 

You recently put out a campaign on featuring influencers; are influencers becoming key to your marketing ecosystem? 

Two and a half months back, we put on air the Visible White O2 campaign; and we did that with Toshada Uma, Dolly Singh and Prarthana Jagan. Not just from a branding point of view, but from a business point of view, it’s doing really well. It has reinforced our belief in the fact that influencers, if used appropriately and authentically to give value to people who look up to them then we can draw tremendous value from that.

 Society has changed, culture has changed and brands change in accordance with culture. For us, influencer marketing is a way of bringing value to people’s lives, whether they’re urban or rural is less important to us, but rather what their aspirations are.

Will we see more premium launches from Colgate?

Nine out of 10 Indian households buy us every year. We need to speak to every segment in the country. We strongly believe that everybody deserves a future they can smile about; these are words we have thought about very carefully

. So, for Colgate, in our DNA, the democratic nature of what we do is extraordinarily critical. For us, it’s not just premium; premium is an end result of what we provide.

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