Digital & Traditional Both Growing In India: Mark Read, WPP

There is an explosion of entrepreneurship, value creation and innovation which augers well for India

As new consumer preferences and associated technologies have come to the fore, companies need to up their marketing strategies to adapt to changing times. Big conglomerates such as WPP have led the way in agencies embracing change during the crisis. This is perhaps one of the reasons why WPP managed to show growth in some of its biggest markets despite the pandemic.

WPP’s Global CEO, Mark Read, reminds that marketers' demands have been changing faster during the pandemic. “Some of the top conversations amongst our clients is adapting to e-commerce or exploring how they serve online and are acclimatizing to the new normal as the world transforms.” 

He remarked that purpose and reputation are also important conversations for brands these days. It is a challenge for marketers to bring purpose to life and communicate with their people, investors and customers, and make it relevant at the same time. 

In India, though digital is growing at a faster pace but there are still mixed reactions from the marketers as not all are talking about a digital-first strategy. TV seems to be consistent and print has also made a significant comeback. These changes are reflected in the observations of WPP’s agencies in the year.

Continued Growth In India

Commenting on the Indian media landscape, Read says that 2020 has been a time of innovation for the Indian digital economy. The ban of Chinese apps fuelled this further with Build-in India gaining prominence too. “This has led to an explosion of entrepreneurship, value creation and innovation which augers well for India. The digital ad spends in the country are growing at a rate of 20-35%. We have seen foreign direct investments on some of the Indian platforms, but it is still a unique country with room for growth in traditional as well as digital media,” Read remarks. 

Given the structure of the Indian retail sector, digital will enable the current way to work more efficiently. Read explains, “Consumer behaviour is not going back. It will keep evolving as consumers discover the convenience of online services, whether it is in shopping or utilities.”

Speaking specifically on WPP’s India business, Read states, “The great thing about our industry is that it is very competitive. We have a fantastic business in India. We are already addressing issues such as growing digital and e-commerce even before Covid. The use of technology has helped us navigate the tough waters during this time and we have seen decades of innovation compressed into six months.”

As new dimensions are added to the market needs, leadership has been put to test. New age leaders must adapt and quickly evolve in accordance with these demands to stay relevant to their teams and colleagues. “The past months have been a time of self-reflection and as a leader, the most important thing you can do is communicate, be calm and have confidence in the changes you make for the future,” Read advises.