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Our retailers, trade partners, everybody was an influencer for Pulse: Shashank Surana

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Pitch CMO 2019: Surana, VP, New Product Development, DS Group emphasized the growth of influencer marketing paradigm in India and how it is helping brands

At the Pitch CMO 2019 Summit held at Leela Ambience Gurugram, Shashank Surana, VP, New Product Development, DS Group spoke on ‘Building Brand- The Influencer Way’ wherein he laid emphasis on the growth of the influencer marketing paradigm in India.

Surana began his session by citing an example of how Amitabh Bachchan has been the biggest influencer in the past and he still continues to be. He then moved on to Amit Bhadana, the new age influencer, who gained immense popularity with his content on the digital medium.

Recalling how things were dramatically different in the ’90s, Surana delved into a day in the life of a typical brand endorsement in that era. Partnering with a celebrity was a key hope for brands to get noticed back then. He then spoke about Sachin Tendulkar, who was endorsing many brands during that time which eventually led to a pitfall. “Sometimes, brands tend to compromise on their reach, visibility, and storytelling when partnering with a person who is endorsing too many brands,” said Surana.

Talking about the need to tap into the digital goldmine, he quoted a report by KPMG saying, “Today, one-third of the population owns a smartphone and by 2020 this is going to almost double. By 2020, India will have 790 million internet users and 690 million smartphone users.”

He further spoke on how the digital revolution has given birth to macro and micro influencers which have helped brands immensely. “Influencers lend authenticity. With the emergence of the digital era, engagement with your consumers directly and transparently has become possible,” added Surana.

Influencers were an integral part of the success of brand Pulse. Talking about the role played by influencers in the success of the brand, Surana said, “It all began when people started talking about the brand dramatically. Leveraging the popularity, we seeded our own memes through influencers. To further amplify the conversations, Pulse collaborated with Jose Covaco for #PulseKaTwist. The video was a hit and people started sharing their own content. Slowly, celebrities also started becoming fans of the products. These fans eventually turned advocated for our products and started recommending them in their social circle, peers, friends, and families. While all of this was majorly happening online, things were also happening offline simultaneously. Our retailers, trade partners, everybody was an influencer for Pulse.”

With all the success, came the problem of ‘counterfeit’ products. This is where influencers as advocates played a major role in the brand. “We had over 50 counterfeits available in the market. A lot of consumers had a bad experience and started sharing that on their social handles. The interesting thing here to notice was that in the social space, we had a huge amount of influencers who had already faced this problem. They came out to the public before us and educated those people about our product. That is the power of an influencer. And all this was possible because of a great product,” said Surana.

Concluding his session on the continuing popularity of the brand in the country today, Surana said, “We are present across multiple channels and are among the top 5 confectionery companies in India today. We are the number 1 hard boiled candy in India for the last 3 consecutive years and all of this was possible because influencers have played a major role in the success story of our brand.”

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