Indian firms focus on ROI

22 November 2011

NEW DELHI: Many major Indian brand owners are putting more emphasis on proving the ROI from their marketing activities, but further progress may be required in this area.

IBM, the services firm, recently polled 1,700 CMOs globally, and found 69% of its South Asian panel – which includes 88 Indian CMOs – agreed that ROI would soon be the key measure of success. Working with top executives from other departments, or CxOs, is seen as vital.

"Cross-CxO collaboration is finding a lot of favour," Katharyn White, VP, marketing for IBM's global business services team, told the Business Standard. "It also ranks high in the personal skills that they want to hone."

Richa Singh, general manager of Matrix, a salon brand manufactured by L'Oréal, and previously CMO for Garnier in India, revealed that the firm is pursuing a nuanced measurement model.

"We balance the qualitative with the quantitative in our marketing ROI," she said. "We would even look at the kind of programmes that media planners put our ads into rather than just a certain number of GRPs."

Meanwhile, Sandeep Singh Arora, EVP for PepsiCo India, suggested the types of success metrics used by brands are yet to undergo a substantial transformation. But she added that gathering information is becoming easier.

"The ability to get data on those has improved significantly," he said. "Awareness and trials generated, repeat purchases, amount of social media conversations can all be calculated."

As the scale of material available rises, agencies might be able to gain ground. "Marketing trends change every three-four months. Outsourcing is needed for the right capability," Arora said.

However, Abdul Khan, SVP at Tata Teleservices, the telecoms group, warned considerable additional work is necessary. "The shift from awareness metrics to financial measures in marketing is still some time away," he said.

Research in Motion (RIM), owner of the BlackBerry mobile phone brand, has made progress in this area, not least thanks to an increasingly integrated approach with its sales unit.

In evidence of this, RIM's marketers utilise the same software as in-store sales teams, and can thus easily access and share information about customers buying handsets.

"The cross-function collaboration has helped," said Krishnadeep Baruah, marketing director at RIM. "If we find that awareness after a campaign was high but it did not translate into sales, we go back the brand funnel and see what hampered the purchase decision. It could be product features or place of purchase, for example."

Data sourced from Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff