We are very optimistic about India: Tripti Lochan

12 Feb,2013

By Johnson Napier


Digital marketing agency VML Qais has had a busy 2012-13 helping multinational clients and digital start-ups chart their digital course and implement groundbreaking online initiatives. One such recent example the agency undertook was an online study for their client Revlon India, which was conducted to better understand the mindset of Indian women and their attitudes and habits towards foundation.


According to Tripti Lochan, CEO, VML Qais, as was the case with Revlon India, brands are today recognizing that digital provides a more powerful engagement than any other media. In fact she is very confident that marketers will soon be putting their dollars more convincingly behind digital.


In an interaction with MxMIndia, Ms Lochan stresses on the need for real-time creation of branded content by brands and how regional clients are increasingly demanding India-specific strategies as part of value-added services. Excerpts:


We know of brands flocking to the social media platform to reach out to their audiences wherever they are. What was unique about the social media exercise you undertook with your client Revlon India?

We believe that all strategy needs to be driven by consumer insights. As a first step for Revlon India, we carried out a social listening piece, to understand real consumer conversations & attitudes regarding beauty, health, and wellness. Our strategy was then pivoted on these insights. With Revlon India we are bench-marking not only against Indian competition but global beauty and fashion players like MAC/ Estee Lauder/ Burberry. We want to use social media as a long-term conversation platform that allows Revlon to continuously gain insights from consumers, and be relevant to their needs.


Any notable trends that emerged as the users sampled your questions/survey?

There were a lot of interesting trends, notably the fact that Indian women prefer natural make-up. Colours are welcome but those that work best with Indian skin tones. Many Indian women are multi-tasking and looking for beauty brands that match that lifestyle – easy to use and long-lasting are two recurring needs. This is validated through Generation Asia India research that we carried out earlier in the year where the theme of individualism is strong.


Is a sample size of 75,000 (via online) big enough a number to convert perception to reality? Did you consider collating inputs through the offline route as well?

It is a substantial sample to consider. And since our strategy was online focused, with focus on communicating on Facebook, we wanted to get the perception of this audience – which is digital, the connected segment.


As a digital agency, how according to you have brands woken up to pursuing online marketing activities in terms of budgetary allocations and importance vis-a-vis traditional mediums?

The spends on digital do not by any stretch of the imagination mirror the time consumers are spending online. This is because brands have a “comfort factor” concerning spending on things they know well. But the good news is that brands are recognizing that digital provides a more powerful engagement than any other media. We are already seeing experimental budgets being set aside. I am very confident that marketers will soon be putting their dollars more convincingly behind digital. If you look at a brand like Revlon, it’s an opportunity to replicate beauty-counter conversation around make-up into a digital dialogue with consumers. Which other medium would allow them this?


VML Qais seems to have an array of corporate clients under its belt. What makes your firm an agency to vie for?

As an agency we have a firm belief: we are marketers first, before anything else. And as marketers, we keep to the fundamentals of marketing: take direction from business objectives, base everything on consumer insights, and think holistically. Yes, digital is complex; it requires an understanding of an added layer – technology. Of course the importance of understanding this cannot be underestimated. And to steer through this requires you to have the ability to join the dots – between what your business objectives are as a brand, what consumers want, and what technology allows us to do today. We believe that technology will continue to change, as it has been over the last decade. There are new developments that impact marketing every day. And we need to be in continuous curiosity and learning mode, so we can help our clients navigate through this sometimes-confusing environment. The first thing I tell our clients is that we are not experts in their business – and that we learn as much from them as they do from us. As an agency, it is our desire to do the best we can by our clients that shows results.


What is the trend you anticipate 2013 to throw up regarding brands taking the social media space for marketing & promotional activities?

I think one of the most interesting trends we have been seeing is the real-time creation of branded content by brands. This is the ability, in real time, to look at conversation in real time, create a point of view or response against this, weaving in the brand’s POV. This, done in an innovative, creative way, can be used for marketing and promotional activities by brands.


What does 2013 augur for VML Qais on the growth front in India?

We continue to have some really interesting projects at hand in India. Our client relationships are strong and growing. We have set some aggressive growth targets for VML Qais in the region, including for India. The year has begun well with big regional wins. We see a lot of our regional clients wanting specific India strategies, and that is part of the value-add we can offer them. We are able to provide global insights in India to brands that want to benchmark against global competitors, and Indian companies that want a regional or even global strategy. We are very optimistic about India.


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