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Goafest 2017 Day 1: Of Patanjali’s new ‘parampara’ & a changing India

The 12th edition of Goafest got underway at Grand Hyatt Goa amid much enthusiasm, expectations and a full house. India’s biggest advertising festival, organised by the AAAI and The Advertising Club, promises to elevate the entire experience through recognising successful brand stories, facilitating a progressive speaker line-up, launching meaningful initiatives and curating an enhanced awards experience. 

Setting the tone for this year’s festival, Ashish Bhasin, Chairman, Goafest, said, “This year we promise to be different from all the other years. Of course, there will be the staple Sam Balsara in his classic shorts and the sight of seeing people run helter-skelter at the sight of Nakul Chopra, but there will be lots of new things.” 

Raj Nayak, President, The Advertising Club, preferred to call Goafest the world’s largest industry event by the Indians, for the Indians and made in India. “We are the only national awards that are not for profit, and we intend to keep making it better. Every professional in the country who has made a name for him/herself is made of Abbys,” he declared. 

Meanwhile, Ashish Bhasin, Chairman, Goafest 2017; Nakul Chopra, President, AAAI; and Ramesh Narayan, Chairman, Awards Governing Council, Abby Awards, stressed upon two key differentiators this year – Goafest going Green in partnership with National Geographic and the launch of the Gender Sensitivity campaign. 

From delegate badges made of recycled paper to efforts encouraging carpooling, to making people conscious about water wastage with strategically placed tanks to empty water bottles in; Goafest 2017 took a big leap towards being greener as well, in partnership with National Geographic. 

Day One’s proceedings commenced with an opening note by Ashish Bhasin, followed by Raj Nayak, who mentioned that the Association will be spending around Rs 8-10 crore over the next three days in an attempt to give back to the industry. “The Association subsidises for the under 30 professionals and encourages the youngsters as much as possible,” he added. 

Karan Bajaj, Senior Vice President & General Manager, South Asia, Discovery Networks, Asia Pacific, kicked off the Discovery Channel presents Industry Conclave on the topic ‘Role of Brands in Changing India’. He put a spin on the topic by making it the ‘role of brands changing India’, stating, “The brands that we experience in this room have a deeper impact on our lives than we realise. I’m happy to be in a roomful of people who are impacting people and lives.” 

First on the dais was Upasana Taku, Co-Founder MobiKwik, who talked about demonetisation, the growth of digital payments and powering 55 million users and 1.4 million retailers in India. “Brands have played a role in transforming India. Consumer choice drives brands, and brands have the power to transform an entire country. 86 per cent of India’s spending is cash. It’s a massive amount of money that moves in an unaccounted manner. I truly believe it’s the era of mobile wallets, and won’t deny that demonetisation has sped up the journey,” she observed. 

While speaking on how brands and consumers have an impact on each other, Taku cited the examples of Amul and Parle G as two brands that strongly resonate with the consumers. She pointed out, “Today, the consumer is evolving and wants choices. They chose the brands that they can relate to. India is a country with many consumer segments. While some still shop grocery from a kirana store, a few would prefer supermarkets like Big Bazaar for premium products while the others, the tech savvy ones, are hooked to grocery apps like BigBasket.com. The consumers demand choice and brands are here to cater to those demands.” On the other hand, brands, too, have shaped user behaviour a lot, Taku maintained. 

Applauding Patanjali’s growing dominance in the market, Taku termed it as a brand that resonated with the people at an ethos level. “This is the behaviour observed not just in India, but globally. Even globally, consumer is driving the brands and innovation,” she added. Taku further termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led demonetisation drive as a monumental step in the right direction, which has brought a mindset change in the whole country and how Indians, despite challenges, have reacted positively to the move. It collectively provided a very large opportunity to the fintech sector as well as to all kinds of companies operating in this area. 

“In 2015, we were speaking to a different audience. Post demonetisation, we are appealing to Bharat and not just India. Just creating a brand is not enough, we need to spread awareness. While consumer choices are increasing, it is up to brands to create larger and larger impact. Start-ups are marching their way forward to change India through product innovation,” commented Taku. 

While also speaking about e-commerce and digitisation, Hemant Malik, Divisional Chairman of ITC’s Food Business, acknowledged the evolution of Goafest. He also spoke about the shift from hierarchical collectivist culture to individualistic. He noted that even as Apple and Facebook have changed the world, brands like Patanjai and Reliance Jio are changing India. While mentioning how the homemaker is changing in today’s age, Malik noted that a wife is transforming from being just a provider to an equal partner today. 

“Digitalisation has brought about a drastic change, where people have become active participants. Exciting consumer trends have come to the fore. If there exists a trend, there also exists a counter trend. The role of brands is to make taboos outstream,” he observed. 

According to Malik, communication is only one of the pillars of brand building. Supply chain, product & packaging, pricing & promotion constitute the other pillars. “The mantra for brand building in changing India is that there is no amrit mantra to it. But it is important to define the role of brands, what the brand stands for, speaking to the right consumer, what he/she needs, and utilising every opportunity,” he advised. Like MobiKwik’s Taku, Malik, too, acknowledged the growth of Patanjali, which, he admitted, “had eaten into everybody’s business”. 

Taking the stage next was the CEO and MD of the much acknowledge brand Patanjali, Acharya Balkrishna. Dressed traditionally on dhoti and kurta and speaking in chaste Hindi, Acharya Balkrishna won over the audience with his take on marketing peppered with observations on life and philosophy. Hence, it was not surprising to see his session start and end with resounding applause, laughter and standing ovation. 

Speaking at the Goafest forum, Acharya Balkrishna said, “If you learn to applaud yourself sometimes, the world will learn to applaud you.” He further added, “The nation is ours, the children are ours, the life is ours. We must take care of it ourselves. Always remember, for the world India is just a market place; for us, it’s our home. We don’t want to sit with patents. We want to share the knowledge and act as mediators between the farmers and the consumers. We are starting a new ‘Parampara’.” 

It was a great day for Make In India, and a greater day for Goafest. After a power-packed, standing ovation leading to the end of Day 1 in a full house, Goafest Day 1 proved that the number of delegates keeps increasing exponentially every year, and this year is no different. 

Day 2 promises to be an even bigger blockbuster…

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