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Neel Pandya & Gourav Rakshit discuss the ‘Key to FMCG success on Digital’

Contrary to the old direct push strategy, consumers today no longer like to being forced into buying a brand of product. This is changing the very way in which brands are engaging with consumers and creating a brand experience for them. Particularly for FMCG brands, the entire digital transformation and the pandemic disruptions has led to being prepared for future disruptions, even as they gear up for changing consumer behaviour trends. 

Keeping these evolving strategies in mind, the DIGIXX Summit & Awards 2021, Adgully’s premier event for the Digital industry, turned the spotlight on ‘Engagement Beyond Reach: The Key to FMCG success on Digital’ in a special fireside chat that saw Neel Pandya, Head of Media, L’Oreal, in a freewheeling conversation with Gourav Rakshit, COO, Viacom 18 Digital Ventures.

While speaking about the growth of OTT and how it kept him and entire India engaged during the long period of lockdowns in 2020, Pandya asked Rakshit whether this OTT growth phenomenon was temporary or will it be sustained even as people return to their normal lives and businesses. He also queried as to whether OTT is primarily an urban India phenomenon. “We have a set of brands who cater to Tier 2 and 3 markets, so does that make any sense from an advertiser’s perspective as to how those brands can use OTT in smaller towns?” Pandya asked. 

Giving his perspective, Rakshit noted that there has been a movement towards a video on demand, and what the pandemic did was actually accelerate the pace of adoption. He added, “It is not a phenomenon in terms of disposable time, but I think it is actually getting more and more adoption from new users, who would have taken longer to come on board. So, the pandemic certainly influenced a lot. What could probably have taken us about 2-3 years, we saw that happen in 2-3 months and so that was very staggering.” 

Citing the example of Voot, Rakshit said that “when Voot Select was launched in the first two weeks of the pandemic, the tailwinds that we got because of the timing were extraordinary. So, those are the kind of things that I think the pandemic did help accelerate. I don’t think that this phenomenon is temporary; it is like letting the genie out of the bottle and once it is out, it stays that way.” 

On the question about the rural and urban divide in the smaller markets, Rakshit was of the opinion that in the AVOD space, there was a reasonable level of maturity in terms of adoption all across the country. “We are still not necessarily at the last levels of penetration, but the size of the penetration –the 400-500 million plus numbers that you are looking at right now in terms of OTT, it is fairly staggering to be able to reach that kind of audience,” he added. 

Continuing further, Rakshit said that the new kid on the block is really the subscription-based model, which has found takers in smaller markets. However, while we see growth in the smaller markets, the base is a little smaller than the larger metros. “Hence, as a marketer you need to know who you are looking to address. If you are looking to address through the AVOD portfolio, I think it is reasonably matured, although I won’t say that we have achieved the kind of penetration that you see in China; that’s still a few years away, but the ball is completely in your court.” 

Watch the complete conversation, peppered with some fascinating and illuminating insights coming from the two industry leaders, below:

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