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Spirit W | You can't ignore the 130mn online consumers: Kanika Mathur

She is acclaimed as integrated marketing practitioner and marketing strategist for technology products & services and has over 18 years of marketing experience. Kanika co-founded Solutions Integrated Marketing Servicesin 1995. Solutions went on to become India’s largest marketing services company.

After Solutions was acquired by the Publicis Groupe in 2005, Kanika leads 2 business units in India - Digitas India and Solutions as President. Digitas India is one of the largest digital marketing and CRM agencies with 200+ digital professionals.

Kanika Mathur, President, Solutions-Digitas Pvt. Ltd. has also served as Chief Executive Officer and President of Marketing Services of Solutions Integrated Marketing Services Ltd. She has been a Director of Solutions Digitas of Publicis Groupe She provides business leadership and plays a key leadership role in building the business in India.  She has also created a pan-Asia footprint for the company.

She pioneered the digital marketing and integrated marketing communication practice for India. She leads the team by staying involved in all key client relationships including ideation and key strategy development. Kanika helps build and run digital strategies and roadmap for several brands in India and SEA such as Airtel, Samsung, HP, Microsoft, Nestle and Pepsi.

Adgully in an interview with Kanika Mathur asked her about the status of digital industry in India it’s present and future.

The digital industry is evolving in India and along with it so are the customers, media and the agency businesses. Internet has now been adopted by 130 million people. While we are still 1/5th of China's online population, the good news is, bandwidth availability is improving and mobile phones are the leading device through which people are accessing the internet.  Most importantly, consumers now interact over 2-3 screens. Kanika says, “For years we have spoken about a more digital connected future, and the future is indeed here!”

She further elaborated on this, “With the entry of the iPad, Tablets and Smartphones, content is being consumed across channels on the go. This means that people have more devices to access information about brands and publishers and will move to many screens and formats. New Media channels particularly Social Media are one of the key applications on the internet and current reach of social media is in excess of 85% of the total online population. Our business won’t look at all like where we are today!”

While marketers chase customers in each channel to try to achieve their business goals, customers engage in fluid, channel-agnostic experiences in pursuit of their own goals. Marketers need help to balance their goals with those of their audiences.”Hence, the role of agencies like ours is becoming more of a value exchange mediator that design experiences to enable mutually beneficial interactions between marketers and customers,” says Kanika.

Digital today has become the crux of all marketing campaigns today. Kanika believes that, “You cannot ignore 130 million online consumers anymore! Not just that, the digital medium allows you not just to market "at" customers but "for" them - Creating one on one value exchanges that lead to faster advocacy and measurable results.”Thus the Mobile, Telco, Banking Finance and Auto are leading in taking advantage of digital channels. These sectors that are leveraging the maximum opportunity available from the medium Consumer product companies, Consumer durables, IT, Infrastructure, Education are moderately placed.

Building sustainable social media presence is a key strategy today for brands. They need to listen to customers and prospects and help curate communities and convert them to become advocates. Kanika cited the Nielson survey to make her point. In a question asked by the surveyors to what extent do you trust the following forms of advertising?(See box)

Recommendations from people I know was ranked 92% as against paid media which was ranked between 40-47%.

According to Kanika the factors that need to keep in mind while creating campaigns for the digital medium are

  • create work that the consumer will like to share
  • create work that increases participation ,
  • create work that is measurable

Kanika believes that the growing digital medium will not bring about a loss of relevance for the traditional medium. Instead both will co-exist and will play a role in the consumer journey.

Publicis Groupe, in 2011 splitted Solutions Digitas into two separate, stand-alone companies under its umbrella -- Digitas India and Solutions India. While Digitas India specializes in digital creative, technology, strategic planning and CRM services, Solutions India deals with retail and experiential marketing services. The two continues to function under the VivaKi agency portfolio, but with separate profit and loss statements to account for, and separate set-ups and teams. Mathur revealed that the split has helped Digitas to position the 2 brands and help them grow in their own spheres. While Solutions has positioned itself as a "techsperiential" brand, Digitas are experiential branders with a focus on emotional resonance in digital interactions, leading to greater demand which can be optimized real time to drive business results. This approach has led to exponential growth for both brands

However the economic slump has definitely affected their business and Kanika agreed to it. “Yes to some extent it has affected as clients become more cautious with the level of experimentation and investment has reduced.”

Publicis Groupe recently acquired Bengaluru-based Neev Information Technologies, a service provider offering applications across web, social and mobile. The agency will be rebranded as Razorfish Neev, marking the entry of Publicis Groupe’s interactive marketing company Razorfish into India. Kanika while speaking about the acquisition had the following to say, “With the launch of Razorfish we will have a complete offering for the India market. Razorfish is an iconic brand and as business transformers will help companies change their business model, invent new products or enter entirely new businesses by envisioning how its technology capabilities can enable brands to get a competitive advantage.”

On the future of the company and Digitas’ competition Kanika said that, “We are looking at growing exponentially with our clients’ in the year ahead. While we face competition from a wide variety of players we believe that our offering is extremely strong and we have the best team in this market to deliver success. I By Rabab Rupawala[rabab(at)adgully.com]

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