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The need for experiential marketing has grown even greater: Audi’s Gaurav Sinha

In an exclusive conversation with Storyboard18, Gaurav Sinha, Head of Marketing, Audi India, talks about the impact of the pandemic on the brand-customer relationship, key marketing trends and why micro-influencers play a vital role in the marketing mix. from Audi India.

Edited excerpts:

What do you think of the rapidly evolving marketing ecosystem?

Marketing was a dynamic field and the pandemic has just underscored how much it is changing, evolving and adapting. What’s important for brands like ours is to adapt to the changing environment and to be sure of the core of the target audience base we have. We simply cannot react or adapt to the changing environment, we have to be very clear on the direction we are taking. The media vehicle may differ, but the goal is clearly defined, so marketing is a catalyst. The modes of this catalyst may differ due to a pandemic or other disruptive events, but I still think that at least for a brand like ours, we don’t necessarily need to react quickly to these constant changes.

How has the pandemic affected the equation between brands and customers?

Being in the luxury car industry, we were way ahead in terms of digitizing the entire marketing process anyway. We were already using AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) and contacted customers at their place of comfort (work or home). They were experiencing our cars in their place of comfort rather than coming to the showrooms. The pandemic has added more urgency to this process.

What will be the defining trends of this year and how will they impact and shape the marketing landscape?

I believe that a trend that has become much more pronounced is the unique personalized experience. Therefore, the challenge for us is not to deliver unique marketing experiences but to personalize them. The need for experiential marketing as a solid pillar for the marketing of a luxury brand has grown even greater. The value system, aspirations and desires of our customers are different and as a luxury brand we should be able to offer tailor-made solutions rather than one-off marketing initiatives. For example, we run a concierge service, so the engagement with this service is quite high compared to the time before the pandemic. We are seeing more and more trends towards personalized marketing experiences rather than just traditional advertisements delivered on digital and social media. The engagement of these marketing messages is not high.

What are the main areas of concern and challenges for luxury customers?

Luxury customers, especially in the post-pandemic era and with our entry into electric vehicles (electric vehicles), don’t see a car as a purchase or a celebration of their lifestyle. It is no longer just an asset but an extension of themselves. Therefore, the brand and the product must have values ​​that resonate with these individuals. Increasingly, in the luxury segment in India, we are seeing more and more value driven cohorts. Equally important is a brand position outside of its product. So the brand’s progressive mindset resonates better now. Having said that, India is a mix of clients spread across various geographic and SEC (Socio-Economic Classification) profiles. While traditional luxury customers are still celebrating their success in life and buying something that is attached to a personal milestone, we are also increasingly finding that purchasing these vehicles in urban areas is more value oriented. Most of these clients are self-taught. I would like to call them the new “Global Progressive Indians” who are exposed to the global environment.

What do you think of celebrity mentions?

We have a long-standing relationship with (Indian cricketer) Virat Kohli. First of all, we don’t call this partnership celebrity endorsement because we don’t force Kohli to endorse us. As a brand, we believe that we don’t need approval. We need a partnership with a like-minded person who can show people who don’t understand the Audi brand that they are closest to the Audi brand.

Our relationship with Kohli is now almost six years old, even before he became captain of the Indian cricket team. He was seen as someone who sets the bar high for himself every year. He is a progressive individual who advocates for a variety of causes – he plays hard but plays fair. We use her effectively as a character on social media for reach and experiential events.

Celebrity mentions in general depend on the product category and the brand’s lifecycle at that time. If a brand has just entered a market and needs to stand out, then using a celebrity makes sense. Using celebrities for the sake of using them won’t work. You can’t use a celebrity personality as a brand personality, it should be the other way around.

Are influencers essential for a brand like Audi?

They are an important part of marketing. Unfortunately, however, that trend has been reduced to the likes and comments that an influencer brings to the table. We think influencers really mean ‘micro influencers’ who might not have millions of followers but are very good at their selected niche. It can be performing arts, music or painting. We work with such influencers in certain categories and some of them are industry veterans as well as unicorn chefs. We don’t use them for social media presence, but leverage their influence in their core community.

What are the important lessons you have learned over the past few months?

It has been a difficult phase for all of us. As a result, you start to cherish the simple things in life or the work day, they become more enjoyable and memorable than doing a mega campaign. The last few months have taught me to appreciate small victories more than big ones. Appreciate and cherish daily success a little more than milestone success.

(Edited by : Priyanka Deshpande)

First publication: STI


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