CII Marketing Summit ’06: Inaugural Session

I covered the CII Marketing Summit ’06 for ContentSutra, held at the Taj Palace Hotel on 17th and 18th August. The theme of the event was “Marketing in a Global World: New Rules for an Old Game”. At MixedBag, I shall be posting the non-techie, marketing posts analysing the new Indian consumer, and the presentations on developing India as a brand. I’m also linking to all posts on the summit, at the end of each post on the summit (once they’re all done).

The summit saw some high-profile participation, but, in my opinion, the techies stole the show – they seemed to be much more clued in to future trends (or what I think are future trends), or were more comfortable talking about them in detail. Particularly impressive was OnMobile’s CEO, Arvind Rao, whose presentation I found both very intriguing and very disturbing. I feel watched, and I’m sure this will give rise to some serious legal issues in the future. I also liked the presentations by Prasoon Joshi and Piyush Pandey, although they were more like motivational speeches. I missed the session on Retail, and was told that it was an eye opener. Bummer!

Now, on to the Inaugural Session, then:

The minister was late, not unexpectedly. On his arrival, CII President R. Seshasayee began: he said that India has changed, but not “arrived”: It is now among the top 5 global destinations: India is one of the top 5 global destinations, but which Indian brand is in the top 5? Looking back to the pre-liberalisation days, he remembered the emergency meetings before liberalisation, where they were thinking of ways to spur exports. They were thinking of slogans to coin to get SME’s to export, and someone suggested “Export or Perish”. The same SME’s are setting up and exporting without any nudging, and Indian companies have become much more aggressive.

Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce and Industry took stage. He said that the New York Times recently published an article called “The Myth of the New Indian”. But is that really a bad thing? There was a time when the New York Times didn’t know that India existed. At least India is being noticed. Referring to the Incredible India campaign, he said that what is needed is not just an Incredible India, but also a credible India. Earlier a foreigner would come to visit India’s National Parks, and now we want him to come and visit the National Stock Exchange. We have to build that credibility – we have implemented patent now, and protection of IPR is critical for India. (Note: There’s an IPR conference in Delhi, later this month. Will be covering that too)

He said that we still have to keep on our toes, cause other countries are catching up – Bangladesh today supplies more to Walmart than China. But India has its strengths, that lies in its knowledge base. Manufacturing is essential for growth, and there needs to be a change – currently, mfg is only 17% of GDP, while services is 52%. He acknowledged the efforts of the India Brand Equity Foundation.

My take? Well, nothing new, nothing interesting so far. I honestly wonder how much of the money put into building Brand India is actually used…The entire brand building process must be a combination of things – a nation must be built as a brand, then companies and the government must justify that impression that marketing creates. Also, development of technology for India is a must – otherwise, we tend use foreign investment to fund purchases of technology from abroad and hence develop little of our own.

Posts from the CII Marketing Summit:

P.s.: I really wish Taj would reconsider naming the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi. I’m not the only one who finds this irritating, but one often ends up at Taj Mahal Hotel on Mansingh Road instead of Taj Palace at Dhaula Kuan, or vice versa. Why not go back to ‘Taj Mansingh’, which is just as grand sounding a name as Taj Mahal (if not more), and easily distinguishable because it’s on Mansingh Road?

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