Digitalization : Strategizing and directing new dimensions in Marketing

By Subramanian CS, Head – Information Systems, Metro Cash& Carry India Private Limited
Brands are up in arms to find new ways to connect with their target audience on digital, while also fighting for maximized reach through paid social media spends. Social media channels do not keep the same popularity throughout. There are short life cycles on their popularity and hit rate of users and browsing behavior has been ever changing. Therefore it is not advisable to keep all the eggs in the same basket. Businesses have to be vigilant on how social media channels are transforming themselves to keep up their popularity & relevance to users. So manage the spend in such a way that most happening social media channel is to be partnered with and manage the life cycle of getting associated with it. Get out before the bubble bursts. Don’t get into a long term association with a longer revenue commitment. Be there where the world is attending to at the same time.

Rising to the new challenges posed by the evolving consumer behavior on digital, brands are investing heavily into originality, innovation, meaningful engagement and experimentation. Some brands are adapting themselves to customers’ digital behavior. Some brands are creating and developing customers’ digital behavior (example: coupon codes for mobile app usage). In any which ways it is better to be reactive or proactive to customers’ digital awareness than to be neutral. It will be too late to adapt to digital arena for brands unless brands too evolve their digital journey

Consumers are now living in a whirlwind of visual banners, paid ads, and promoted content. Consumer’s expectation is engineered by some players in the market. Therefore personalized content should not be a big threat. Online users are increasingly coming to expect personalized content, compelling video and relevant ads to their own tastes and desires. It is more important to see whether there is a presence in the most popular digital channel or not. How content is managed is up to the businesses to decide. There is a risk of being too personalized also. This means brands are creating a niche of customer segment. The ads and promotions should be more generally suitable and applicable instead of highly customized. It generally creates a ‘choice’ at the stage of content itself without creating further curiosity among customers.  High customization of online content shrinks potential customer base.

First challenge for a brand is to understand and estimate the life cycle of digital trends. How long, which channels will be relevant for what kind of demography, for example Facebook was initially attracting younger generations. Now there are profiles of all age groups in Facebook. Is it good? Yes. But should the content of the ads be same as before? No.

Second challenge is to predict how soon the new technology will arrive. How long the technology can be relevant and what will it be superseded by? When is the next wave and what? It is a challenge to predict and manage the strategy and investment. When to get in and when to get out are most crucial investment decisions and strategic answers.

METRO Cash & Carry is in B2B business and not a retail business, where the digital space has made maximum inroads. Hence the need is to be cautious in the digital space. The company sees an opportunity to connect to our registered customers and serve them better. While trying to take new initiatives for example, METRO Cash & Carry was possibly the first in India in B2B business to offer mobile payment solutions to its customers. It is also a better channel to reach out to customers at various timelines. Digitalization is inevitable, how fast and profitable it can be are the topics that need to be addressed.

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