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Interviews
'Experiential marketing plays a very pivotal role in the luxury segment'
30 July 2010
Gitanjali Group has been visible across mediums for their event properties and sponsorships of live events. Being one of the highest spenders in the category, event and experiential marketing has always been an integral part of their communication mix over the years. In conversation with Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy and Shweta Ramsay, Vishant Dahake, General Manager - Marketing, Gitanjali Lifestyle, shares the Group's thoughts and plans in this space.

Working across a multitude of sectors spanning telecom, consumer products, food & beverages, media companies, health and consultancy businesses, Dahake is presently handling the marketing vertical for the Group. Prior to Gitanjali Group, he was the National Brand and Marketing Team Lead for Reliance Communications Ltd. In his career spanning over a decade, he has worked with Hindustan Times Media Ltd. and Coca-Cola India. Earlier, as part of his stint in the consultancy business, Dahake has consulted TCS and JK Tyres.

Excerpts from the conversation:

How important is on-ground consumer enagagement in the luxury segment that you operate in?

Experiential marketing is the key point in any luxury segment across world, India is no different than this. With the explosion of mass media and the strong growth of retail, increasingly the need to go on-ground for promotions is paramount.

Luxury purchases are sensual purchases and the touch feel experience is a big turning point for consumers. In the space that we operate in, ticket size of the purchases is fairly large. Consumers/shoppers need detailed understanding of product quality, design, packaging and the overall look and feel of the product. Based on these observations they try and make purchase decisions. Hence, we try to give our consumers in-depth knowledge of the product as well as the category. Therefore, experiential marketing plays a very pivotal role in the segment.

How would you define your Target Group (TG)? And, how do you reach out to them?

Our main TG is SEC A+, age group between 25-40 Years, with a strong female skew. To communicate with the audience, we have a lot of consumer engagement programs, which involve participation from our consumers. As a resul, they get relevant information about our products, categories and new offerings. The engagement program includes fashion shows, movie tie-ins, exhibitions, social gatherings for page 3 celebrities and who’s who in the country.

What are the primary modes of consumer engagement employed by Gitanjali?

Events, promotional activities, exhibitions, special previews of the products and offering, etc are the key activities that we focus more on. This gets supported with heavy media spend and communication. Consumers invited to these events are exposed to the product, and much of the lifestyle association is what makes our products desirable.

Has there been a significant shift in the marketing budget allocations from traditional media to on-ground activations over the past couple of years?

This set of segment really does not work the way FMCG or Telecom companies works in these times. This is a more involved and serious buying product category. So our marketing focus is very specialised and to the occasions. Therefore, not only traditional media plays important role of communication but on-ground activations also play a very big role as this is the primary platform we try and use for showcasing our product.

Typically, in FMCG industry, for big ticket product categories, companies would spends around 4-7 per cent of the revenues. We have a significant budget allocation towards events like IIFA, IIJS, Fashion weeks and specially created properties.

What has been Gitanjali's preferred medium -- sponsoring other events or create event properties surrounding the brand values?

We generally try and explore multi-dimensional and dynamic communication mix for our various marketing activities. This involves exploring different modes of communication, which again includes sponsorship and hosting particular event that suits our product image and brand ethos. We strongly believe that this product category (luxury segment) is highly involved and specialised product category for Indian Market. Consumers/shoppers are well educated and from sound backgrounds and are from the High Income group category. Hence, we have dedicated teams who look after all possible event requirements in a very specialised manner.

We work with a combination of both, using the most hi-profile events to build, traction and have our own properties to establish thought and market leadership.

How has the marketing spends increased for the Group over the years? Which mediums have you targeted more?

As I told you earlier, we not only have electronic medium but also conventional medium like Print, OOH and emerging medium like Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing and a robus Word of Mouth (WOM) strategy. In our product category, we are the largest spender by far on marketing. That being said, our effort has been to be more effective, and not just push up share of voice.

What is the percentage share of marketing spends allocated for on-ground promotions and sponsorship of live events? Has there been a change in the spending over the past couple of years?

Actually we do not distinguish between core marketing activity and frill marketing moves. On-ground events and sponsorship both fits into our overall marketing strategy. Post recession period, purchasing habits started taking a positive swing in the country, and we are surely looking at a positive growth for FY 2010-11.

How does the brand measure Return on Investment (RoI) from sponsorship of live events and on-ground promotions?

We have our in-house research team who do research on a regular basis. Intention To Purchase (ITP) scores coupled with Awareness and Top Of Mind (TOM) recall plays very a important role when we decide ROI on any marketing initiative. Sometimes, we do research through a third party agency, as we can then judge the actual brand positioning of the entire Group as well as the product category. This part of research has always been qualitative as well quantitative.

That being said, overall ROI measurement is much tougher, where there is no specific sales oriented promotion. In these cases, pure awareness and positioning is the actual goal.

What prompted the Group to start its own events division? And, what are the key focus areas for the division - ideation of properties or execution?

At Gitanjali we are extremely conscious of both quality as well as cost. Given the fact that we do a lot of events having an internal team, it helps us control the quality and ensures that our target audience gets exactly what we want them to experience. Our own division allows us the ability to be cost efficient, quick to the market and extremely quality conscious.

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