28 Jan 2020 15:16 IST

At MICA, Lenovo CMO shares his learning experiences from 'chocolates to chips'

Bhaskar Choudhuri spoke about one of the most famous campaigns of Cadbury — ‘Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye’

As part of the leadership series, MICA, Ahmedabad, recently hosted Bhaskar Choudhuri, Chief Marketing Officer — Asia Pacific, Lenovo. In a session titled ‘A marketer’s journey: From chocolates to chips’, Choudhuri shared his journey as a marketer, how the industry has evolved, and what goes behind successful marketing campaigns such as Cadbury’s ‘Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye’.

He began his session by sharing insights on how the consumer journey has evolved and incidents that he encountered at different phases. Drawing on his work experience with Cadbury’s and Lenovo, he said: “As a marketer in a conventional brand many years ago, we were predominantly responsible for building awareness and familiarity. We had no idea what was happening on the consumers mind. However, it is not the same anymore.”

Speaking about one of the most famous campaigns of Cadbury — ‘Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye’, he said: “Dairy Milk was enjoying the pink of its health. Our task was how to equate chocolates with sweets. On an emotional level, we were trying to say that we were an accompaniment to your celebration. Around 1990s, chocolates was just for kids and its adult penetration was just about 12 per cent, However, in rural India, the chocolate penetration was in single digits. So the task was how do we penetrate further.”

“In Indian culture, ‘meetha’ is the harbinger of celebration and auspicious occasion, bringing sweetness in relationships. It had a tremendous amount of cultural quotient – ‘Meetha’ would be offered during birth and death and its multiple meanings were very strong. Working on these insights, Cadbury landed on the preposition of equating chocolates with sweets, offer it as an over the counter sweet and bought ‘mithas’ in the middle of their offerings to capture the market. At no point, the brand said that they are the cause of happiness, rather they were an accompaniment to the best moments of celebration or happiness,” he explained.

Elaborating on the power of word of mouth in present times, Choudhuri further laid out the purchasing pattern in present times. He said, “Look at your own technology purchases today. The more you research, your consideration expands. The consumer journey no more looks like a funnel but is more of a barrel, where during the middle-stage or the barrel-stage, there can be many niche brands which do not spend money on conventional advertising but spend more on influencers, experts or free sampling and allowing that word of mouth to be the source of awareness for most consumers.”

From FMCG to tech

Differentiating FMCG and technology sector, he said, “There is a considerate purchase in a technological brand as opposed to impulse purchase in the FMCG sector. In technology, there is a point of need realisation and need assessment.”

Mentioning one of the steps that Lenovo took under his leadership of the brand improving its service offerings, he said: “Being risk averse would take companies months, if not years, to change the consumer perception. It is not enough for brands to really excel in some of the touchpoints because a consumer experience is the sum product of experience at each of the touchpoints.”

On a concluding note, he shared his learnings from FMCG and technology sector and said: “FMCG sector will teach you the rigour of marketing. However, in the technology sector, given the obsolescence, one tends to fail fast and learn fast. It becomes important to know how fast did you learn from your failures. Don’t sin because of ignorance. Repeated iterative learning is what you get or imbibe when you get into technology market. Technology companies will not give you liberty to muse over your failed campaign.”