NEW DELHI: Diageo, the drinks company, has navigated alcohol category turmoil in India by relying on content and focusing on category behaviour rather than brands, according to a senior executive at the company.

Sridhar B., Chief Digital Marketing Officer at Diageo India, cited various regulations on alcohol advertising, demonetisation and the introduction of a Goods and Services Tax as factors that have amid a period of disruptive category change.

“If someone was writing a horror story, it couldn’t have been worse,” Sridhar said at the Content Marketing Summit in New Delhi recently.

He stressed that business growth is all that matters when it comes to digital marketing: soft metrics such as likes and shares must be tied directly to business performance and sales. (For more on how Diageo connects with consumers despite category restrictions, read WARC’s report: Diageo India: ‘Marketing has to be the engine of growth’)

“Every form of marketing has to be in the business of performance and business growth,” he said. “Marketing has to be the engine of growth, and in today’s world, content marketing has to be that bullet train which drives productivity in the organization.”

Diageo has focused on context to boost the relevancy of its products. “The search for the words ‘Open now’ has increased three times,” Sridhar explained. “Search for ‘Same day shipping’ has grown 120% year on year and search for ‘Pubs near me’ has grown 87% year on year.

“What (Diageo) needs to understand is that in this occasion space, what role does alcohol play? And that becomes the context for us.”

Likewise, the company has shifted its focus away from digital properties for specific Diageo brands. The company shut down twelve specific brand websites in a single day, “Because of the fundamental principle that consumers are not interested in brands, they are interested in categories and occasions,” said Sridhar.

“The ‘Rise of I’ clearly points to that fact,” he added. “So we created a brand agnostic, party, function and nightlife domain called

“People are looking for category information and we come in subtly and plug in our brand, without over telling it – we only focus on consumer occasions,” he said.

Sourced from WARC