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Marketing is not Selling, but Developing a Relationship


The Post graduate students of International Master in Business of  SDA Bocconi Asia Center had the rare privilege of hosting the guest session of Mr. Prashant Parameshwaran, Director, Marketing Strategy & Insights, CocaCola for India & South West Asia. Mr. Parameshwaran being a man of practicality over theory, discussed what marketing meant for the students. Mr.Parameshwaran’s perspective, though very simplistic, commanded a great amount of effect.

“Marketing is to market a thing”, and not just anything, it is to market a brand, what is a brand? A brand is a thing with life. So how do you market a brand? With this question Mr. Parameshwaran commenced the main session:

He started with the case of Netflix, how it grew from the 0.1 million subscribers to over a 100 million subscribers. The point conveyed was that with the growth of Netflix, brands like Blockbuster died out. Following an extensive survey, it is known that about 74% of consumers/customers do not care if a brand disappears. The question then raised by Mr. Parameshwaran was, how do you make sure that your brand does not die out. The solution to which is to form a relationship between the brand and the consumer. And how to accomplish that? Here is his  outlook on that:

  1. Consumer Connect:
  • This is where a brand should try to read between the lines. Not always does a consumer know what he wants. But when you drop the spotlight on a consumer’s life, you will be able to understand your role in a consumer’s life and establish a relationship.
  1. Know who your consumers are:
  • The brand should understand who the consumer is. This was beautifully explained with a series of ads where famous brands were successful in understanding who their target consumers were. Some ads were from Air Deccan, Heineken, Axe, and Nike.
  • The concept behind knowing who your consumers are is psychographics, exclusivity, and ability to find a need in their lives. In that way fulfilling their emotive needs.
  1. Uncover the Insight:
  • Once you unravel the need, it is important that you define and understand the underlying emotion behind the need, since all needs have very specific behavioral dimensions behind them which arise from belief/ feelings/ attitude.
  • This was well explained with ads like Oreo which highlights how a child’s curiosity for discovery fuels the sales of Oreo.
  • A powerful insight is important to give a brand the image it needs.
  1. Growth Idea:
  • For the growth of any brand, it is crucial to maintaining a balance between the rational need and the emotional need. Since any product which fulfills an emotional need but ignores the rational need will fade and vice versa.
  • Three key points for growth idea are: To be single-minded, to stay on track and to always have a benefit ladder.

Following a thorough interactive session with students, Mr.Parameshwaran made it clear that marketing is not selling, but developing a relationship. Towards the end, a considerable change was seen in the students’ perspective as the answers shifted from a theoretical point to a practical approach. This was a clear indication of a change which was brought on by Mr. Parameshwaran.

SDA Bocconi Asia Center, Mumbai is immensely grateful for the wonderful session that Mr. Parameshwaran conducted and we look forward to implementing the knowledge he provided in our future endeavors.

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