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'Agility of mind and body needed'

A Draft Correspondent | Mumbai

The Sixth Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Marketing Leadership Summit 2022 'Marketing Agility in the Age of Uncertainty' was held at Hotel Trident in Mumbai on 20 December 2022. The day-long event was attended by senior management personnel from across industry, stakeholders and key industry players.

In the opening session of the Summit, CII National Committee on Food Processing Industries Chairman and Nestle India Chairman and Managing Director Suresh Narayanan spoke about the importance of agility, of body and mind, in the marketing sector, in present-day times of uncertainty and how agile marketing practices can enable companies to quickly adjust their strategies to target the right customers and maximise ROI.

Nestle India Chairman and Managing Director Suresh Narayanan speaking during the inaugural session
He elaborated on how, during the COVID-19 pandemic, 'consumer' behaviour changed as more and more people started connecting digitally. He said, "Technology is an enabler but we're becoming a slave of it. Now, self is not important but selfie is. Community outreach is important." 

Speaking on Nestle India's initiative of introducing paper straws, Mr Narayanan said, "One must move with consumer needs, do what's right for the consumer and the environment. Responsible leadership leads to responsible actions."

He said to activate marketing agility, organisations need to sense and read consumer minds, understand trends, analyse data and macro environment with a need to inject ethics and values as a part of brand strategy as the world is getting digital. Just like national leadership can be a key factor for promoting agile marketing in a country, senior leadership too can set the tone for the organisation and encourage an environment of experimentation and risk-taking, as well as provide guidance when necessary.

He further added, “There were 250 million recipe searches and almost 10 million subscribers to food channels. There are almost 7000 food groups with 100 million members on social media. The business landscape is completely changing. This is a new space to be in." According to Mr Narayanan, while the basics of marketing will continue, only the perspective will change. “There is a need to go back to the roots which will make agile marketing more interesting,” he informed. 

CII National Committee on Marketing Leadership Chairman and Perfetti Van Melle India Managing Director Rajesh Ramakrishnan, who also spoke during the inaugural session, said how organisations that can successfully employ VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) marketing agility will be better equipped to anticipate and respond to changing customer preferences and market conditions, allowing them to stay ahead of the competition. 

He said, "This involves anticipating and understanding changes that could impact the organisation, as well as having the necessary capabilities and resources to quickly react to those changes." He pointed out a leader’s ability to be able to take a high-level approach, looking at what is happening over the long-term and setting goals accordingly, while also being able to zoom in and take a more detailed approach, focusing on short-term initiatives and acting as quickly as possible.

Confederation of Indian Industry Principal Advisor and CII Suresh Neotia Centre of Excellence for Leadership Head Indrani Kar stated, since the Summit’s inception in 2017, more than 2,000 business leaders and more than 100 eminent speakers and thought leaders have actively participated in it.

The session on 'Next-Gen Omnichannel: Thriving in a World of Connected Commerce' focussed on the democratisation of commerce and ONDC and perfecting omnichannel and hybrid customer experiences in rural and urban India. 

The session on 'Next-Gen Omnichannel' at the Summit
The speakers included ONDC Senior Vice President - Strategic Initiatives Rahul Handa, CaratLane Senior Vice President - Retail Atul Sinha, DBS India Managing Director - Group Strategic Marketing and Communications Shoma Narayanan and CleverTap Senior Vice President - Marketing Jayant Kshirsagar. The session was moderated by Nestle India Dairy and Ready-to-drink Beverages Director Mehernosh Malia.

Speakers during the 'Winning in a Privacy First World' session at the Summit
In another session on 'Winning in a Privacy First World', the speakers discussed marketing strategies for the future with cookie-less and consent-based advertising. Speakers included Adobe Regional Product Marketing Head - APAC Surbhit Jain, who said 'Trust is the biggest currency in digital experience', and HDFC Bank Chief Marketing Officer Ravi Santhanam, who said 'We are the custodians of data'. The session was moderated by Accenture Strategy and Consulting Managing Director Deepak Bakshi.

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