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India 2015: TOP 50 ANALYSIS | Q&A with KK Chutani

Brand campaigns must touch an emotional chord to connect deeply with the audience

Brand success in India needs an inclusive message and strong value proposition

Dabur is a leading personal care brand distinguished by its focus on health and wellbeing and an extensive range of ayurvedic remedies. It rose 30 percent in brand value in the 2015 BrandZTM Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands. 


What is the most innovative way you’ve communicated to customers recently? A new commercial or social media campaign, for example?

Brand campaigns have to be about touching an emotional chord with the audience thereby owning their mind-space. Our recent campaigns have reflected this. With our Vatika brand’s new “Brave & Beautiful” campaign, the protagonist’s story of coming out stronger after losing all her hair to cancer delivers this message aptly. The Sanifresh “700 Se 7 Kadam” (700 Steps to a Mere 7) campaign builds home toilets to protect the safety and dignity of the women in rural India forced on long and dangerous walks to find outdoor privacy.

These new campaigns debuted in the digital space and have been very well received. The “Brave & Beautiful” campaign, for instance, received over three million views within just a month of its online launch and has become one of the most talked about campaigns in recent times. It has also become the single most awarded campaign at the Goafest 2015, winning the Grand Prix along with seven other trophies and the Blue Elephant at Kyoorius Ad and Digital Awards.

When you think about what you believe are great Indian brands, what qualities do they share in common?

Even at the cost of sounding boastful, I would like to start with Dabur, then say Amul, Tata, Titan Raymonds, Airtel, Hero... The list is endless. All share strong values of trust, Indian ethos and a quintessential “Indianness” in their communication and attributes. In fact, the same can also be seen in many multinational brands that have become successful in India.

Are there certain brand characteristics that are more critical for success in India than they might be in other parts of the world?

To make a mark in India brands need to deliver strong value propositions. We Indians are very hard value seekers compared with other markets. Apart from this, brands need to be socially inclusive in their outlook. They need to enable consumers to feel good about themselves.

What are two or three ways that brand- building priorities in India will change as the country becomes more prosperous and urban?

Brands will have to stay at the cutting edge of the market evolution to be part of the consideration set of consumers in emerging India. Continuously innovating to deliver consumer delight will be essential for brand survival. Being present across relevant communication media with engaging content will become critical. User owned content will be valued more than just company- speak. Brand marketers can ignore e-commerce at their own peril.

Has increased empowerment changed consumer attitudes toward brands, and in what ways?

Yes, consumers today prefer brands that stand up for the social values that they associate themselves with. Campaigns with social messaging have such strong and widespread impact. In the future, we’ll see Indian consumers demand participation in the brand’s evolution. They’ll view themselves as brand custodians in equal measure as the brand owners.

What is the key to reaching young people compared with reaching their parents?

Today’s youth are more socially aware and want to participate in bringing about a change in the society. Successful campaigns are tailored to speak their language across media that they readily access and share.

What is your brand’s particular commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and how important is it to the brand’s relationship with consumers?

We believe that businesses can and should have a positive impact on the communities they serve. For growth to be responsible, it should go beyond numbers. We have a two-pronged approach when it comes to community and social initiatives. The first pillar of this movement is through brands that not only meet the consumer’s ever-changing needs, but also do good for the society at large.

As a company that promises to develop and sell nature-based products, we consciously launch campaigns and awareness initiatives that aim to deliver our commitment to the health and well- being of every household. Our campaigns on “Immune India” (Dabur Chyawanprash), “Say no to Mosquitos” (Dabur Odomos) and “Dental Hygiene” (Dabur Red) are testimony to our commitment.

The second, and an equally strong pillar in our community initiatives, is SUNDESH. Through SUNDESH, we strive to have a positive impact on the communities that surround our operational facilities.