Like any other investment, marketing and branding must also give good returns.

Like any other investment, marketing and branding must also give good returns.

BK Singh
Sr. ED-Group Marketing & Corporate Communication Dalmia Cement (Bharat)
Dalmia Cement (Bharat) bagged two awards at the Global Brand Excellence Awards 2013, an event organised by the World Brand Congress in Mumbai. The company was felicitated with the ´Effective use of Marketing Communication Award´ for higher alite low celite (HALC) campaign in the North East and also the ´Emerging Brand-North East´ award. ICR interacted with BK Singh to know what lies behind their award-winning performance. Excerpts.

How important is branding for cement industry?
Branding is certainly important for all the stakeholders. To customers, it offers assurance, and to masons, it helps developing a reputation in the market. A branded product is easy to sell for dealers. They can focus more on their business rather than convincing a customer about the merits of a product.

Do you have different branding strategies for rural and urban markets?
Yes. The strategy does vary depending on the awareness of the consumer about the product. In rural areas, consumers depend on different sources of assurance such as friends, relatives, masons, contractors, etc. Social marketing and influencer management plays a key role.

Does celebrity endorsement add value to a brand?
Value derived from celebrity endorsement depends on the market situation. For new or relatively lesser-known products, celebrity endorsement helps significantly as it adds a sense of familiarity and assurance to the product. Whereas, if the product is well established, then celebrity endorsement does not have much impact. Branding via celebrity endorsements also depends on the type of industry. For a lifestyle product, celebrity brings value, but for a functional product, celebrity endorsement may not be that relevant.

How does one evaluate RoI in branding?
Marketing and branding, like any other investment, must give good returns. We measure RoIs on the basis of several success metrics. A good branding exercise will pay off in the terms of increased market share, increased pricing power, or generation of a new niche segment for the product. It pays in all or a combination of these areas. The time required to get these results depends on the type of effect you are trying to bring in. If it is some discount or instant gratification to consumers, the results will be visible immediately. Brand building is a slow process, and the results will start getting reflected one year after the branding exercise starts.

Isn´t it simpler to incentivise dealers to sell a product rather than spending on branding efforts?
A dealer´s primary role is to make the product available to the consumer and increase its market reach. Giving incentive to dealer does give an initial push to sales but that does not last long. After all it is tedious for the dealer to explain the benefits of a product to the consumer every time. He will rather want to stock a product, which is demanded by the consumer. Branding creates that pull from the customer.

According to me, both-branding exercise and incentives to dealers-are important tools for marketing a product. One should use these tools depending on the situation. In a new market, incentives to dealers may help but the brand must subsequently stand on its own.

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