Playing the game online: data versus emotions


The Amazon logo hints at your needs from A to Z, and we are seeing this now being delivered to India. Consumers are increasingly addicted to e-commerce. According to NASSCOM projections, India will close 2021 with an e-commerce sales volume of $ 56.6 billion. Although driven largely by price offers and discounts, the e-commerce phenomenon poses pertinent questions for marketers and brand custodians. “Is e-commerce a threat or a savior for brands? This is what we looked at during our last MADD (Marketing Academy’s Discussion & Debate) – an informal platform, where brand and media professionals come together to review the principles of marketing.

Reach vs democratization

For niche brands and for young brands that lack distribution power, e-commerce has certainly started to level the playing field. As Sridhar Narayan, Digital Sales Director at Adobe India, said in the session, “E-commerce equals reach”.

But if reach is an opportunity, the lack of exclusivity of this reach and the democratization of distribution could be a threat.

What e-commerce provides for brands is massive amounts of data and analytics to better serve their customers. This could be their savior in today’s complex world, where the more you customize, the more you score.

Traditionally, branding was first and foremost about emotions. At least, that’s the foundation on which many great brands have been built. Can data or algorithms swear by e-commerce evangelists track emotions?

On this point, opinions differed. Data, according to Rishi Srivastava, a former Microsoft boss who now invests in and oversees tech start-ups, can help create an emotional map and thus facilitate awareness where the brand can emotionally connect with the consumer.

But branded communications strategist Sanjay Sarma felt that AI could at best map mood, not emotions. Emotions, according to Sarma, are a collection of memories that eventually consolidate to create some type of trigger. These are built over a longer period of time and rely on many more variables, making it difficult to track data.

Competition and ethics

The data itself can become a threat, especially since the repository is made up of e-commerce portals, which could use it for their own purposes. As consumer behavior scholar B. “Nary” Narayanaswamy has pointed out, e-commerce platforms have behavioral data and they have used it “ruthless enough” to create private labels and in so doing cannibalize sales. regular brands.

For some categories, like grocery stores, private labels are certainly a threat to established brands. They know who is buying what, when and how, and can deliver tailor-made products. Nary felt that consumer behavior would not be affected by brand values ​​and the traditional brand thinking that marketers have in mind.

Whenever we talk about data entered and used, the question of ethics makes its way into the discussion. There are still no clearly defined laws around the world. However, the average view of consumers on this seems to be that they have no problem with tracking their data, if brands can use it to serve them better. And this is where brands still fall short. As Jose Leon, COO at Indigo Consulting said, brands would do well to follow the entire customer journey to advocacy and employ Chief Journey Officers!

Finally, as summarized by Shekhar Nerala of SN Strategy Consulting, e-commerce has been a game-changer because of the phenomenal convenience it offers to customers. “It actually helps the consumer to hesitate, think, discuss, research and go back and forth without being judged. And, therefore, that leaves trademark custodians with no choice but to fully immerse themselves in the world of e-commerce. The challenge is to take the fundamentals of conventional marketing – especially customer experience and the moment of truth – and meaningfully integrate them into the world of e-commerce.

(Giraj Sharma is founding director of the Behind the Moon consulting boutique and curator of the MADD marketing platform)

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