Thursday, February 13, 2014

Guest Lecture by Mr. Dheeraj Sinha

The tradition of industry stalwarts delivering guest lecture to the students continues unabated in SIMSREE campus. SIMSREE students got an opportunity to interact with a veteran from Media world, Mr. Dheeraj Sinha, Chief Strategy Officer(CSO), South & South East Asia at Grey Group on Thursday, the 13th of February.

Dheeraj is the author of a highly acclaimed marketing book Consumer India – Inside the Indian Mind and Wallet, published globally by John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pvt Ltd, Singapore. Till recently, he led the strategic planning function for Bates (WPP Group) network in Asia, across 13 countries. He has worked in advertising for over 14 years across McCann Erickson, Euro RSCG and bates. His thinking has impacted brands across categories and markets. Colgate, MasterCard, LG, DBS, Tata AIG, TVS, Virgin Mobile, Max Bupa, Fiat, Reckitt Benckiser, Emirates, Dabur, Park Avenue, Ashok Leyland, Marico and CavinKare are some of the brands that he has been associated with. Dheeraj has twice been the winner of the prestigious Atticus Awards (WPP’s award for best published thinking). He has won several effectiveness awards, including the Jay Chiat Planning Award by the 4A’s, the Asian Marketing Effectiveness Award and the Yahoo Big Idea Chair. He has won at EFFIES in India, last five years in a row. He has a Post Graduate Degree in Communications from MICA and a Graduate Degree in Economics from Delhi University.

Sir began the lecture with looking marketing through the lens of India. Although he is a CSO of South East Asia, he has had a keen interest in Indian market owing to his deep study on India. He started with how the Indian culture and the mindset have changed from Brahminical to Kshatriya way of life, meaning there is a shift from intellectual doings to action oriented doings. He substantiated his argument with examples such as winning is more important than mere participation, fielding is equally important as batting in cricket. He also stressed that how bollywood knows the pulse of consumers, the same way marketers need to use cultural changes and traditions to their advantage. He gave examples such as changes in morality in 2 different eras were beautifully captured by 2 different movies, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaenge(DDLJ) and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi(RNBDJ) and other being Vedic maths used by students for their CAT preparation.

The topic then veered to youth brands and branding in general. Sir mentioned that there are many young looking brands in our country but very few brands for youth. We have 60 % population in the age group of 25-45 years, but we hardly have youth brands. Youth in India generally bypass sanctions; they look to find a way through the system. To capture this idea, Sir and his team came up with a campaign for Virgin Mobile, which proved to be a great hit amongst youth audience. Sir played a few very amusing videos from this campaign, which kept the audience in splits. There was another campaign made by Grey group on Killer jeans to market it as an environment friendly product amongst youth, which also picked up and created a lot of buzz in India. Further, Sir started explaining in depth about branding scenario in India. He began explaining that we are currently living in a Beta world and marketing is talking today to a different audience so marketers should engage with the audience by means of debates, conversations rather than on consumption patterns and monologues. Marketers should look at their target group as fluid people and not as consumers with fixed mindsets. He said that the future of marketing lies in strategising things in real time and not doing everything in a pre-planned manner. People need to be provoked and marketers need to bring in an aura of exclusivity by creating a Lehar (a Wave or a Buzz). Next, he spoke about challenger brands. Indian consumers buy into proven successes rather than niche experiments, so challenger brands need to play by leadership values. Most of the brands end up targeting only the age group of 25-45 years, but there is a huge potential to target the older group above 45 years and also people less than 25 years. So he also mentioned a scope of “Second Innings” market for Travel, Housing and finance sectors.

He threw more light on the aspects of branding by enlightening us with new concepts such as Access brands. Access brands are the brands which feed on the imagery created by leader brands. He gave examples of Action cashing on Nike, Micromax on Samsung and Kakaji Namkeen on Lays. These brands are kind of parasitic in nature but they do not kill the leader brands. They cash on the popularity of leader brands and make their profits on volumes. He again stressed upon the point that we need to take our past along with us; marketers/brand managers need to take into account the cultures, traditions and people’s mindsets while planning & strategizing various things.

Finally, he spoke about 2 Indias that we are living in. One India is very progressive with people in it leading luxurious lives whereas other India is still struggling to keep itself afloat. So marketers need to be inclusive and take both Indias ahead not through charity but through profitability.

Last but not the least, the session ended with a round of interesting Q&A session. Students asked some inquisitive questions on importance of market research, reviving a failed brand, sir’s take on marketing strategies used by BJP, most recent being 'Chai pe Charcha' & whether media awards are losing its sheen etc. Sir answered each of the questions convincingly and with clarity of thought.

SIMSREE is highly obliged and thanks Sir for taking out time from his busy schedule and edifying students with loads of insightful information. Students are looking forward to see you soon on campus again. 

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