“India will need to develop solutions that impact the lives of Indians. And these may not necessarily lie in trailing global trends but rather in getting a deeper understanding of the Indian consumer’s behavior online. But yes, the internet and social media are exposing the user to global standards of richness of content and experience that will only make them increasingly demanding of standards and speed of interactivity. Are brands ready for it or content to just toe-dip into digital?”Said Charulata Ravi Kumar, CEO Razorfish India.
In an interview with MediAvataar India Charu talked about what it takes to be a pioneer in digital industry and how India is moving ahead in this intensifying pour out. Here is the complete Q&A……
MediAvataar: What is your vision for Razorfish India?
Charu: To drive the industry in thought and delivery leadership in end-to-end digital solutions, and partnering Brands in their Business Transformation journey.
MediAvataar: What do you consider has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?
Charu: Surviving for over 26 years and still seeking new challenges!
MediAvataar: How would you describe the Indian digital landscape?
Charu: Raw and unpolished… but a diamond waiting to be the next Kohinoor! Our population and digital growth numbers don’t match up. So long the Indian market was largely led by online advertising and a bit of social. Clearly marketers have been taken by surprise at the quick evolution that mobile has brought about and cash options to e-commerce to boot. 5 trends that will shape the landscape are
-Better targeted and relevance of online content will drive better brand play. Brands will be forced to weave themselves into the consumer’s lives much more than before or will face the risk of getting preened out.
-Mobile will create hyper-social usage. Impact of social media and micro influencers will challenge the traditional ways of brand building through high cost endorsements. Because credibility will be sought more and more.
-Greater India will fall into e-commerce fold and make marketplaces more robust. It will also force brands and marketplaces to create India-centric solutions on payment and fulfillment.
-New sectors like Healthcare, BFSI, and Infrastructure etc will grow the industry further and drive highly relevant innovations.
-Marketing will become more data driven. Big Data and more importantly its interpretation will be important to drive lateral innovations and will create quadripartite teams involving the CEO, CMO, CTO and the Partnering Digital Agency.
MediAvataar: What differentiates your firm in its approach to its work?
Charu: We are very uniquely placed as our skills portfolio brings a seamless offering of Digital Strategy, Technology, Creative and Media with specialized teams in each working out of our offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune. No disjointed pieces and no outsourcing. We are able to leverage digital efficiencies by identifying and acting on opportunities quickly and also address challenges real time. For clients, it’s just so much simpler to deal with one lead team and stitch the pieces together effectively.
With this unique offering, we are India’s largest Integrated Digital Agency that creates inside-out solutions for clients who seek Business Transformation.
MediAvataar: We are competing against a whole range of communication specialists – from social and advertising agencies, to in-house teams and freelancers. How do you stand out to win the pitch?
Charu: We do not pitch.
Our approach is entirely different. It’s not about how can we out-do the advertising agencies, freelancers and other digital creative and social agencies. Our offering is much larger and holistic. Our starting point is to partner businesses to identify their real challenges and latent opportunities. This, layered with insights about the digital consumer and trendcasting, and our application of a sound strategy and innovative use of technology is what creates business solutions and not just digital advertising solutions.
In India, pitches end up being best price deals and not value creations. The industry must strongly resist being referred to and treated like “vendors”. For that, there is always the Wholesale market. Not a Holistic market.
MediAvataar: What’s the secret to attracting the best talent and keeping clients happy while balancing the books?
Charu: This must be a collaborative effort by the agency, its leadership and its clients. Nothing is more exciting than a powerful vision and the energy, innovative spirit, results and its recognition. All of this must be driven in partnership. A highly driven, proactive and passionate agency team can never go wrong with keeping clients happy. And likewise, a client with clear vision and direction with an inspiring attitude and success sharing spirit will get the best out of its agency.
When the hearts and minds align, the books remain strongly in balance.
MediAvataar: Razorfish has a proven track record in the Creative World, What’s one of the most a) gratifying and b) bizarre experiences so far?
Charu: Gratifying would certainly be the recognition from our prestigious clients Maruti, Aditya Birla Fashions, Eureka Forbes, Tourism New Zealand amongst others, that our expertise and efforts have indeed impacted their business and changed th4e way their consumers engaged with their brand. Great strategy, creative and delivery are means to this very important end. And we must lose focus of that.
In a recent discussion with a new biz prospect that was keen to develop a robust digital strategy immediately for a new national launch, we discovered during the course of our discussions that their unique business model needed a totally innovative distribution method and we suggested to them that this had to precede any digital effort. It was a surprised response from them but sealed a long- term relationship. One may call our approach here bizarre, but it’s the way we do things.
MediAvataar: How have the roles of media, marketing, and communications changed or evolved in India? How has this change affected the work?
Charu: A decade ago, media, marketing and communications shaped the transformation that Indian society was to go through. Now tables have turned. The Indian consumer is evolving much faster and shaping the means of communication and engagement. Indian professionals in addition to being innovative and creative will have to keep up and so will have to sharpen their sense of speed, accuracy and quality.
MediAvataar: Where do you see the future of creative marketing, and communications in India heading?
Charu: On the one hand, it will become highly performance driven and technology will be at the core of it all. And on the other, the need to become highly relevant and innovative in content, and its ability to sustain the dialogue will overarch all communication.
MediAvataar: What global market trends over the last year do you think will progress branding and advertising in India?
Charu: India will need to develop solutions that impact the lives of Indians. And these may not necessarily lie in trailing global trends but rather in getting a deeper understanding of the Indian consumer’s behavior online. But yes, the internet and social media are exposing the user to global standards of richness of content and experience that will only make them increasingly demanding of standards and speed of interactivity. Are brands ready for it or content to just toe-dip into digital?