BTL Baatein: Pravin Kulkarnii, Parle Products. Powered by VISCOMM

28 May,2015

With over 15 years of experience in the domain of sales and marketing management across various leading companies such as Blow Plast, Pidilite and Parle, Pravin Kulkarnii joined Parle Products in 1994 and is currently General Manager, Marketing. He is based out of Mumbai and is responsible for corporate strategy, business profitability, product portfolio management, strategic brand management, advertising and promotion for all Parle brands in the country. Mr. Kulkarnii is a graduate in Engineering from VJTI, Mumbai and a postgraduate in management from the University of Pune. Mr Kulkarnii speaks with Dyanne Coelho on how ATL and BTL have complementary and not competing roles.


How critical is the role that Below-the-Line advertising and promotions plays in the FMCG space?    

The main role of BTL is to give the experience of the brand to consumers, to have an interaction and experience with the brand , positioning  of the brand, etc. This is done so that the positioning of the brand gets completely fixed in their minds. ATL generally creates awareness and an image, but positioning and communicating the experience of the brand comes only through BTL activities.


Are there any specific products in Parle for which BTL is used in particular?

Almost all brands have some kind of BTL activity, mall activations and all. We even have rural activations. Almost 70 to 80 percent of the brands have some amount of BTL activity.


How important is BTL activity to your overall marketing plan at Parle?

It is very important. Almost 15 to 20 percent of our marketing budget goes into BTL.


Can you give a broad idea of your spends pie of ATL v/s BTL?


Like I mentioned earlier, we spend between 15 to 20 percent of our budget on BTL activations.


Can you also specify the range of activities that you undertake as part of the below-the-line advertising and promotion? 


We do a lot of activities, like sampling of our products, merchandising activities, schoolroom promotions about different brands, brands especially that are targeting kids. We also do rural promotional activities, which means that we go to villages and spread activities about the brand and also do distribution. We also take part in a lot of melas, at movie theatres, exhibitions and other activities.


Do you prefer to do this through BTL agencies directly or via your existing creative/media agency? 

No we do it via specialised BTL agencies that have the infrastructure in various cities. That way it is also much cheaper, because regular agencies charge too much for such activations.


In terms of generating results especially from consumers, do you find BTL a more sureshot avenue than ATL? 

There is a completely different role for ATL and BTL. They don’t clash with each other. ATL helps create awareness and brand image. BTL complements it by creating an experience for the brand. Both have complementary roles rather than competing roles. Neither is complete without the other. ATL doesn’t give the brand experience to the consumers, at the same time, doing just BTL is going to be a very limited activity. How many BTL activities can you have? You want to create mass awareness, and for that you need ATL.


While sales and salience are good indicators of its success, what are the attributes you look at to measure the success of a BTL campaign? 

In a BTL campaign, it is not always sales, but many times we check to see the awareness of the brand before and after. Similarly, we track what the brand image was before the activity and after. Whether the positioning of the brand is more clear is also what we look at. We also look to see what is the overall experience of the brand, whether it was positive or satisfactory or not achieved results. So these are the factors we track before and after the activation.


There are many organisations that often do new launches almost entirely on BTL aided with an outdoor and/or digital blitz? Your view on this. Given rising media costs, do you see BTL managing on its own, without ATL?


Both are complementary. None can exist without the other. A lot of experience also happens at the shop level, during the actual sale. Even if we create awareness, the consumer may not remember it at the top of his/her mind all the time. So if the consumer has a good experience at the shop level, the likelihood of purchasing the brand increases.


You’ll have done some BTL activities recently in non-metro cities…

Yes we have done it across the country. We go to over 500 population villages. We do similar activities there as well. But we have noticed that we get a far better response in the smaller towns than in cities. There people are more excited about such activities. In bigger towns the psychology is that they have seen everything. So they don’t get excited anymore. That is not the case in small towns.


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