CII Marketing Summit 2013: The simple big data mantra – ‘Identify what matters and monetise it’

Published By : Campaign India

Rajiv Kaul, Kartik Jain, Nimal Manuel, Natwar Mall, Vikas Ahuja and Vinay Bhatia discussed big data strategies for marketing 

Day one of the 13th CII Marketing Summit 2013 in Mumbai saw the spotlight being turned on ‘Big Data’.

A panel on ‘Big data strategies for marketing’ featured speakers from different industry segments discussing the buzz word and attempting to demystifying the hype around it.

Moderated by Rajiv Kaul, executive vice chairman and CEO, CMS Info Systems, the panellists included Kartik Jain (EVP and head marketing and depository services, HDFC Bank), Nimal Manuel (partner, McKinsey & Company, Kuala Lumpur), Natwar Mall (SVP and head of Fractal sciences, Fractal Analytics), Sam Balsara (chairman and MD, Madison World), Vikas Ahuja (CMO, and Vinay Bhatia (customer care associate and SVP – marketing and loyalty, Shoppers Stop).

Kaul began the session by stating that there is humongous amount of data being generated every day through various channels such as social media, digitisation of content, use of internet, electronic devices and transactions conducted. Big data offers phenomenal opportunity to marketers and the challenge is how to use data collected from different sources, he explained.

“In the last few years, data and numbers are becoming more and more cool and sexy. Hot shops are being set up around the world, full of bright young energetic people mostly mathematicians and statisticians, who have helped marketers realise and get insight from the data that they are capturing. Big data is about our ability to collect this huge amount of data and analyse it and derive the right value out of it as a business.”

He cited the US example of Obama’s election campaign in 2012, which used social media analytics to determine whom to target, when to canvas for money and contribution and how to drive the marketing media plan.

Tailoring marketing plans, targeting

Vikas Ahuja, CMO,, said, “Big data has always been around but now it has metamorphosed. Eighteen years ago, when I was at Nestlé, we would wait until the end of the month to to receive sales information, but now the story has changed. We have multiple types of information – SKUs sold, price points, visibility at outlets and so on – coming in on a daily basis and sometimes in real time,” said Ahuja.

He spoke of a ‘three V’ framework that he has encountered in the last few years – reflecting that there has been an increase in the volume, velocity and variety of data available to the marketer. Ahuja also classified data broadly into internal (traffic trends, number of people visiting the web sites, sales data and so on) and external (social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter).

According to the Myntra CMO, a marketer should ask the question ‘what is the repeat purchase pattern?’, and then take all the data and analyse it to look for patterns and trends. He cited the example of Myntra being able to predict the buying patterns of males in the age group of 18 to 22 years and how it then approached customers on the basis of this insight.

“Data is sitting in multiple parts of the organisation but the question is who should be responsible for it. The partnership between marketing and technology is critical in an organisation to unlock all the data,” he surmised.

‘Identify what matters and monetise it’

Nimal Manuel, partner, McKinsey & Company, Kuala Lumpur, stated that the scale of big data had grown phenomenally over the years. He said that one must know how to identify what data matters and process it and eventually monetise it.

He made a few observations gathered from over the years. One of them being to avoid stand alone cases; instead, one must use all the data, he said. He also observed that big data was not about technology alone, but how about one uses it.

Natwar Mall, SVP and head of fractal sciences, Fractal Analytics, said, “Businesses have more information on consumers than ever before. This should be music to marketing professionals but it also means that there is a new variable that has been injected into play and companies who play this well will have better chance of success.”

According to him, big data helped in customer segmentation and therefore understanding customer genomics, so as to target them accordingly. From the perspective of market research, Mall said that marketers should move from asking to observing consumer behaviour.

He recommended rapid experimentation as the way to understanding consumer behaviour, similar to the ones conducted by companies like Amazon. He mentioned that earlier digital would account only for 5 per cent of marketing spends but currently could average around 25 to 30 per cent of the spends. He asked marketers to put together online and offline activities together and try and understand how it is driving actions of consumers.

Growing revenues with data

Vinay Bhatia, customer care associate and SVP – marketing and loyalty, Shoppers Stop, expressed disagreement with the formal definition of big data, and offered that ‘data is more about using common sense’.

“The way we approach analytics is that we don’t jump into data as there is lots of data and one may probably sink. What we do is that we generate a hypothesis which then leads to an insight – and we then monetise that insight,” explained Bhatia.

He pointed out that Shoppers Stop is expected to earn incremental revenue of Rs 100 crores this financial year by using data analytics. Among other initiatives, the retail brand conducted community mapping to target Bengalis across the country before Durga Puja, and similarly Muslims before the festival of Eid. With the help of pin code mapping, it was able to cut costs, excess inventory, and even staffing at existing outlets after newer stores were opened in the vicinity. Bhatia explained that niche mapping such as birthday mapping and sun sign mapping were used. Using the insights generated, newer products were then launched accordingly, he surmised.

The ‘invisible’ media consumer

Sam Balsara, chairman and MD, Madison World, said, “I would (like to) see the power of big data in helping me know what people will be watching tomorrow on the basis of all the humongous data collected today as to who has watched what. If I were to extend this argument further, retailers such as Myntra and Shoppers Stop are selling to people who they know in some form or the other. But when I talk of selling, I am selling to a mass of people who unfortunately have remained nameless. It would be wonderful if Cadbury knew the names and profiles of everybody who bought the chocolate.”

He pointed out that it would take a very long time for modern retail that currently covers only for 10 per cent of people to reach to 40 per cent.

“The power of big data should be harnessed as to how can I market on a one-to-one basis to 250 million people. To my mind, that is a big opportunity for data. Secondly, if we could harness the power of big data in creativity then we will be able to improve substantially the RoI on advertising and marketing and our creative will deliver greater results and be more effective. If we work on this, then big data will be the big word in advertising and marketing,” he stated.

Kartik Jain, EVP and head marketing and depository services, HDFC Bank, said that big data was nothing but more data and that marketers should not be terrified of it.

Bringing forth another important aspect of using data, he explained how HDFC Bank used big data at all stages of the customer lifecycle, to pre-determine the needs of the customers and to serve them accordingly.