Brands take collaborative approach in India

29 March 2010

NEW DELHI: A wide range of advertisers are taking a more collaborative approach to innovation and marketing in India, as they seek to drive up sales in the fast-growing market.

Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, has placed a global emphasis on utilising the knowledge and skills of a broad network of suppliers, and this strategy is already benefitting its Indian operations.

For example, the owner of Tide and Pampers formed a tie-up with Appleton, a specialist in the paper industry, to develop its fabric softener range, with the results being applied in India and other markets.

"We found that Appleton had been utilising the 'fragrance burst' technology in the carbonless paper industry for the last 50 years," said Sumeet Vohra, director of marketing at P&G India.

"With this partnership was born perfume microcapsules in fabric enhancers at much lower costs."

Changing consumer habits, intensified competition and the rise of digital platforms have all encouraged the emergence of new models, he continued.

"The increase in the number of players, and hence the options to form ecosystems, have multiplied," said Vohra.

"For instance, mobile and digital companies didn't feature in the marketing set several years back, but are now strong pillars of the system."

ITC, the FMCG-to-agriculture group, has pioneered the e-Choupal initiative - which has 160 members, from brands to NGOs – and offers goods and services to farmers and shoppers in rural communities.

"To provide rural consumers access to complete services and solutions is like trawling in the deep sea. The transaction costs are high, therefore, an ecosystem approach is needed," said S Sivakumar, ITC's ceo.

Nokia, the telecoms giant, is one firm participating in this scheme, delivering real-time information on agricultural prices alongside educational resources and entertainment content for mobile phones.

"The partnerships depend on how much a brand influences the livelihood of the target audience," B V Natesh, head of emerging markets for Nokia India, said.

"All the players involved are ones who have a perceived need to be seen as a solution's player."

"It may not be an outright revenue model for them, but partners realise it's a huge consumer awareness programme for brands which the conventional media reach cannot give."

Prakash Bagri, the head of marketing at Intel, said these kinds of tactics can generate considerable advantages, but warned they provided challenges, too.

"It's a tough one for brands on how to monetise it. There are some models evolving but it depends on each segment," he stated.

Bagri further argued that the chip manufacturer had achieved the correct balance in the form of a tie-up with Staples, the office goods retailer.

"The programme is all about configuring the PC the way you want and it is then delivered to you. There is a vendor and an assembler doing it for you," he said.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff