BTL Baatein: Neelima Burra, Cargill Foods India…. Powered by VISCOMM

30 Oct,2015

As Chief Marketing Officer at Cargill Foods India Ltd (CFI), Neelima Burra is responsible for managing the marketing activities of CFI while leading a team of marketing specialists to drive brand leadership for the company.


Burra has been associated with the FMCG, Consumer Durable and Healthcare industries for over 15 years and has in-depth understanding of the consumer trends in the category. Her core strength lies in business turnaround through Brand Marketing, Product/Category Management and Business Development. She is passionate about designing, implementing and integrating multifaceted marketing programmes that tie in successfully with mainstream business objectives. Neelima has been instrumental in setting up marketing structures and frameworks within organizations to drive sustainable and profitable growth through brand marketing


Prior to joining Cargill Foods India in 2014, Neelima was Head of Marketing at Usha International handling a diverse portfolio of Kitchen Appliances, Home Appliances and Sewing Machine verticals.  She has also been associated with Whirlpool Corporation as GM Marketing, Britannia Industries Ltd. & HLL Lifecare Ltd in the past.


An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, Neelima Burra speaks on how BTL is a pillar for any product that requires knowledge creation, engagement or behavioral change.


1. What according to you is the importance of BTL specifically for Cargill India products in the world of advertising and promotions?

Brands in Cargill India’s portfolio cater to varied consumer segments with differentiated demographics, psychographics and geography. The choice of oil is a very complex process involving the cultural background, cooking and health needs. Price also plays a role since consumers don’t see perceptible difference in various brands of oils. Therefore, engaging with the consumer is an important element of our strategy. While ATL is important for creating brand awareness, BTL plays a huge role in the last mile conversion for all our brands.Emphasis on reason to believe and engagement with the brand at the ‘place of conversion’ i.e. the shop floor goes a long way in driving purchase. We also use BTL as a channel to create new business opportunities.


One of the brands where we invest significantly in BTL is Leonardo Olive Oil. Being a relatively new category, it requires knowledge creation amongst the influencers as well as the consumers on the health benefits of Leonardo Olive Oil. Some of the examples are:

  • Medico-Marketing to explain the benefits of Leonardo to Nutritionists and Doctors
  • We have piloted a concept Olive Bar – an experiential store where the consumer can taste the different variants of Leonardo Olive Oil and engage with the product.
  • Engagement with Nutritionists to discuss the health benefits of Leonardo Olive Oil
  • Chef Engagement to break the myth that olive oil cannot be used to make Indian dishes
  • We have hired promoters to communicate the benefits of Leonardo Olive Oil at different touch points such as Modern Trade, Market areas, Malls, Offices, RWAs etc.
  • We have created engagement platforms through digital and mobile with microsite, facebook page and twitter handle to support our on-ground activations


2. Your products cater from urban to rural segments? Are there some audiences where BTL works better than ATL and vice versa?

I believe BTL is driven by brand intent and audience for the category. It is a pillar for any product that requires knowledge creation, engagement or behavioral change. Depending on the need of the brand and the target audience, we decide the BTL strategy, method and approach. For instance, in Gemini which is our mass premium brand, we have a renowned Nutritionist to engage with the consumers on the benefits of Nutri-V fortified Gemini Cooking oil. In Nature Fresh Kachi Ghani Mustard Oil – our mass brand, we use BTL to demonstrate the high pungency and purity of the product. On the other hand, in Leonardo olive oil which is our niche and premium brand, we use BTL to engage with the audience. In that sense, where we use ATL or BTL is determined by the need for engagement and not necessarily by audience. Lastly, depending on the brand communication objective and task at hand, the degrees of ATL and BTL in the campaign mix may vary.


Would you say that there are certain types of marketers who have a greater affinity for BTL? (eg FMCG, durables, auto, etc)

Whether to have a BTL strategy or not, depends purely on the brand’s task at hand and in theory it should be industry-agnostic. Even within the industry, the affinity towards BTL changes by brand and consumers.


Since we deal in the commodity space, ATL helps us in converting the commodity into popular brands and BTL helps us in creating consumer engagement, affinity and advocacy. Depending on the lifecycle at which the brand is in, the optimal mix of ATL and BTL is created. For instance, Nature Fresh Chakki Atta which has been absent from the mass media for a few years now, has majority of focus on ATL right now with BTL as a support.


And typically what the break-up is of spends at Cargill…  ATL v/s BTL?

Putting together all our brand’s spends, it is a 40:60 towards ATL and BTL respectively. While we maintain a balance between ATL & BTL at an overall level, niche segment like Olive oil has larger BTL spends at the moment.


In terms of generating results esp. from consumers and in B2B, do you find BTL a more sureshot avenue than ATL?

Both ATL and BTL have specific roles to play.Today’s consumer is exposed to a variety of medium and the brand shift can happen at any stage during the buying cycle. Therefore, we use ATL and BTL together to ensure awareness, recall, experience, affinity and advocacy. In case of our B2Bbusiness where the audience is niche and decisions are made on relationships, we use only BTL strategy.


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

We spend a lot of time prior to any campaign in establishing theROI metrics that would define its success criteria. Aside of the volume-value generation as a result of a BTL campaign, we also track variables like consumers engaged, consumers converted and referrals generated. We also link most of our BTL initiatives with consumer offer and channel program for better trade engagement and conversion during the campaign with incremental gain in business. We also connect our campaigns with digital and social media platforms to ensure that the consumers can connect back to us when they want.


There are many organizations who 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?

We don’t look at ATL and BTL as substitutes, but more as complements to one another. In general, our ATL drives awareness and consideration, and then task for conversions is taken up by BTL. Until the entire loop is closed, one won’t be able to get the desired results. However, I have a different view for brands catering to fragmented markets. Segmented, targeted and customised conversations with consumers always pay off. BTL can completely drive brand preference in such markets. To reach the niche and premium segments, BTL works the best with least spillover and media wastages.


Lastly, given the rising usage of mobile devices, would you say that in times to come BTL and digital would go hand-in-hand?

Brands are not made by marketers. They are made by consumers. Traditional ATL and BTL are controlled by the marketers however digital can also be used by the consumers to engage with the brand. While we use ATL to create awareness and BTL to engage with the consumers, the engagement loop is not complete until we have provided a platform to the consumers to engage with us when they would like to. Brand Advocacy is created when a campaign provides a two-way communication. Digital strategy forms an integral part of all our campaignswith specific microsites and social media platforms – be it for Leonardo Olive Oil, Gemini Refined Oil or Nature Fresh as of now.


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