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‘We are not looking at communicating with youth’

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Ramesh Chembath, Assistant Vice President, Marketing, Godrej Appliances

Don’t be shocked by the headline. Ramesh Chembath, AVP, Marketing, Godrej Appliances, tells Pitch that Godrej is looking to have a dialogue and engagement with the youth. A name synonymous with locks and safes, Godrej has come a long way and increased focus on the youth by adding to its portfolio products like the music refrigerator and the gaming television set.

On the backdrop of the corporate Group’s repositioning of brighter living in 2008, Godrej Appliances reinvented its brand communication. In 2011, to strengthen its appeal among the young consumers, it came up with GoJiyo, a 3D integrated online activation platform and since then digital innovations have become key to their marketing initiatives. It now aims to connect the ‘brighter living’ philosophy with the youth.  Thus they have come up with the new proposition of “Designed by Curiosity”. With this positioning, their aim is to evolve the Godrej appliances brand from being at home with India’s middle class to also being in step with buyers of the top end appliances. Excerpts:

What are the challenges of marketing a brand, which has been in around for the past 118 years to young consumers? And what can you get away with?
Godrej is a known brand. The trust and comfort with the brand is present. We don’t have to tell people that here is a brand; we don’t need to reinforce it. The connect with consumers is already there. So that’s an easy bit.

The challenge is that when consumers know you for a long time, it becomes ‘ghar ki daal’ like. When we talk about the new generation, it wants something new. Even if it knows that you’re good and you’re reliable, it still wants to try something new and different. So, that’s a challenge for a brand like ours. We constantly have to build that excitement around our brand apart from the reliability bit.

So how are you keeping up the excitement in the young circuit?
We are viewing things from the consumers’ point of view; the way they are evolving, emerging and the way their needs are changing. If you look at the lifestyle today, digital is an important part and so is television. Their consumption pattern, their interests and their needs – we are trying to build all of these things into our products and services.

For example youngsters today follow music, they listen music all the time. This is a trend that is prevalent around us. We tried to converge this with our product. We made a refrigerator which had an inbuilt music player. We are working at building that product proposition and communication perspective.

What are your other marketing initiatives?
If you’re targeting youth or any other segment, you need to know where they live. If you look at today’s youth, they live on the digital medium. The consumption of this medium for them is more than any other medium. On an average, a person spends three to four hours on the medium. We are spreading our presence online as we have identified it as an important medium to communicate with our target audience.  Gojiyo.com is one such effort, which is a virtual world and the youth can interact with our products.

Apart from the medium, we need to look at the consumption pattern as well. Today’s generation doesn’t want to be told what to do. They want to understand it themselves and do it themselves. From the brand’s perspective, we thus need to change the way communicate. From a larger perspective, we are not looking at communicating anymore; we are looking at a dialogue. That means more engagement. I don’t look at managers as communication managers but engagement managers. We have incorporated this in advertisement, activations and everything else that we do. We want them to feel that they have a stake in our business.

Can you give us some examples of your initiatives?
When we launched our music refrigerator, we tied up with Salman Khan starrer, Ready. We created a website, where bathroom singers could come and become television singers. People could participate by singing on the platform. Around 800 people participated in the contest. Some people were selected and we brought them on TV. We tied up with Zoom and we had a show where these people got a chance to sing with Pritam who was the music director of Ready.

Apart from this, we have built Facebook as one of the main mediums for our communication. We have around two lakh fans and the engagement level is around 38-40 per cent.

What are the challenges in targeting youth?
I am reminded of this dialogue, “I talk English, I walk English, I sleep English”. Similarly we need to converse with young consumers in their language. There is a particular way in which the youth consumes everything. If we are speaking of online, it shouldn’t just be a buzzword. You have to live in that medium and communicate in that medium. Our engagement managers are thus in the age group of 24-26, are people who know the medium well. We are looking at online as one of the mainstream mediums to communicate. The idea is to identify the message, the medium and the people who’ll be sending that message. The short attention span of youth is also a challenge but if we talk to them about things that matter to them, then attention span doesn’t matter. Continuing our endeavour of spreading on the digital medium we are tying up with indiatimes.com in a big way, which we will be announcing next month.

What is your marketing budget for the year 2012?
Our marketing budget for 2012 will be around Rs 140 to 150 crore.

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