Sandeep Juneja, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, DHL talks about the brand’s latest campaign and how the organization is demystifying the challenging business environment in the country to become an enabler
BY DIPALI BANKA
Q] DHL has associated itself with Indian Super League (ISL) since the last three years now, and it is probably your largest sponsorship in India so far. What’s the insight behind your association with sports and ISL in particular?
We are a global brand present in 220 countries. What we are basically offering to the consumers is the local expertise and knowledge. Therefore for us to look at properties which have a global appeal, is but natural. Football is the number one global sport and it becomes an attractive property to attach the brand to.
DHL also stands for speed and teamwork. We sell services and therefore every touch-point is important. Also, football and similar sports are all about passion. These are the three things that we completely synergize with football. It amplifies our core values and makes this sport an attractive proposition for us.
Globally too, we are associated with football properties like Manchester United, Copa America, Bayern Munich and China Super League; therefore it’s consistency of the same thought. ISL has had a fantastic reach. People are hungry for such a sport. It’s in the evening, it’s quick, and it’s affordable, so people are loving it. And our decision gets vindicated by that.
Q] You have taken a stand of being an enabler of business using light-hearted humour to communicate your message of ‘Excellence- Simply delivered’ in the recent TVC. What was the insight behind the campaign?
We are traditionally a B2B company and leaning towards B2C as the e-commerce boom is spreading like wildfire around the world. B2C is also becoming an interesting part of our portfolio, with a small contribution from consumer to consumer.
Today, when we do business, it’s really complicated, and businesses have challenges of different kinds. Therefore businesses need a partner which can enable them to score winning goals all the time. Metaphorically, we are likening football to business. In football, you have tough situations, and those situations need knowledge and skill and teamwork. DHL plays an able partner for the business to score those goals. This is the thought that we manifested in our ad campaign this year.
We are possibly reaching the audience in their drawing rooms, when they are watching TV, chatting with the family, having dinner. We wanted to emotionalize the whole experience, keeping the message light, conveying it metaphorically, so that people enjoy it. It’s a three-ad series. Humour is the route we have taken to connect with the audience and to make it interesting to them.
Q] DHL is positioned as a premium brand. How does the premium-ness of DHL come across through this campaign? Also, why the shift from last year’s tagline, ‘We know, great is in detail’?
When you do a 30-seconder or a 15-seconder, you have the attention of the target group for a short span of time. Therefore, we are taking a story-telling route. The element we have added since last year is humour. Globally, we are trying to emotionalize our brand. We are trying to appeal to the consumer by humanizing or emotionalizing our message. Within that, the way we package our ads, the quality of production, the subtleness of the message is what really communicates the quality and the premium brand that we are. It’s all about what value we are adding to the consumer.
About the tagline of last year, here is an organization which is metaphorically saying ‘great is in the detail’ and we know these interesting facts. Our target group doesn’t want to listen to our lectures and why are we so great. The message that is getting across is that they are working with a credible partner who really goes into detail, works on every nuance and therefore becomes a partner of choice for them.
This year, we are also building on ‘Excellence, simply delivered’, a global tagline.
Q] In which other way is there a synergy in your international branding and Indian branding and communication activity?
The brand route on ‘Excellence, simply delivered’ is a global route and we build on it. This year has been a year of changes and turmoil in the Indian economy. In November 2016, we had demonetization, then GST implementation in July 2017. Both these moves have had their short term pains, but the intention is to increase the ease of doing business. We are trying to manage this complexity by working closely with the Government and with customers to improve appreciation of supply chain processes and to simplify people’s lives. In our own way, we are continuously demystifying making complex things simpler, taking customer feedback, giving feedback to the Government. We are heavily investing in improving the ease of doing business from an international supply-chain standpoint.
Q] We are seeing a lot of disruption in infrastructure policy and on the technology standpoint as well, because of which many new players are trying to capitalize on this market. How is DHL re-evaluating its business model and planning for growth?
Like any business, there will always be different kinds of opportunities for the business to shape up in both directions, positively or negatively. But, in India, the supply chain and logistics sector holds a lot of potential as the infrastructure, the transaction cost, the cash structure are quite reformed now. As we become more and more new age with policies like GST, Bharat mala and Sagar mala, with the going away of the check-posts on roads, etc., the speed of business is going to go up. Transportation speeds on the road have already gone up by more than 50%-60%. The cost of running logistics is going to come down, as efficiency is going up, which is going to be good for business.
Business in the domestic e-commerce space has really shot up. Even if we go to a store, we follow a concept of SOBO, which is ‘see offline but buy online’. Buying behaviour has changed, but this e-commerce market cannot run without a very strong supply chain. Today, consumers are buying from anywhere. Therefore, the last mile capability of the organization and the nimbleness needed really comes into question. Different models are emerging, but an organization which operates out of 700 cities in the country has got a head-start in the whole business. It’s really about staying ahead of the game, in terms of knowledge and branding and digitalization efforts.
Q] What’s your approach towards digital media, how do you approach your digital marketing plans?
Unlike a mass consumer brand, the majority of our target audience is made up of businesses. Therefore, we have to be selective in the way we approach digital. A large proportion of our digital strategy spends and activities on social media are based on what we do on ATL and some bits on BTL. Apart from that, we do performance marketing, which is search engine optimization and search engine marketing, find areas of common interest where we can relate with our target audience and be present in those places in a meaningful manner. We are not only on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., but are finding different ways of taking our sponsorship to our target audience. I’d not say that we have arrived on digital. We still have to travel some distance on that. But in the logistics space, we are running harder than most of the others, and hopefully that will help us in the long run.
Q] How do you plan to increase your penetration in smaller towns of the country?
The mark of a true economy today is the level of participation of SMEs. And mirroring that, more than 70% of our business in India is coming from SMEs. We have to have an infrastructure and support at the places where these SMEs operate. We are servicing SMEs in more than 700 cities in the country and investing in newer locations every year. For instance, over the year 2017, we have gone to six new locations directly.
Q] What’s your current challenge in the Indian markets?
We have more than 60,000 customers in India. The change that they are going through sums up at our level to one large change. The rollout of GST, the concept of e-way bill that may come up and the entire process of making it easier to do business in India presents its own challenges. All that needs a lot of investment in digitization and IT infrastructure, and we are taking those steps to meet the challenge. It is a steep learning curve for us.
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