Hemanth Vasudevan

Head of Marketing at NinjaCart

Redefining Marketing Strategies: A Deep Dive with Hemanth Vasudevan

In today's digital world, it's vital to focus on personalization, content, and localization in marketing. We had a great chat with Hemanth Vasudevan, a top marketing expert who knows the ins and outs of the field. Hemanth is the Head of Digital Marketing at NinjaCart. He leads efforts to grow the company and connect with customers across many channels. In our talk, Hemanth shared the importance of localization in marketing. He stressed the need for brands to connect with their audience in a relatable way. Hemanth also touched on the marketing basics that should always be kept in mind, no matter how fast the field changes.

This conversation offers useful tips on the current state of marketing. It gives practical advice for marketers who want to adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape. By learning from Hemanth's insights, marketers can stay ahead of the game and create strong bonds with their audience.

1. Could you tell me about your career journey? How did you start in the FMCG industry and what is your current role at NinjaCart?

Let me take through some things in my career. They have impacted me as a marketer today. I began my career in the FMCG industry, focusing on sales. I think that has had a very big role. After that, I shifted to marketing. Working in sales gave me insight into consumer preferences and expectations, which helped me with successful marketing campaigns. I then worked at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and helped the a become a market leader in value as well as volume. That brand was Eno. It was a brand that leveraged marketing in the true sense of the term.

Next, I joined IBM. I came in when it had lost its market leadership position. So, I assisted in revamping it. It was a stint where I learned a lot. IBM regained its position in the top 3. Later, I worked at Ola. There, I led several brands, including Ola Cars, Ola Financial Services, and Ola Electric. Ola Cars became the no. 2 brand in just 5 months. Currently, I work at NinjaCart, which is an agri-tech company with a Greenfield status in the marketing landscape. It presents an exciting opportunity due to its relevance.

2. Can you share an interesting campaign you worked on during your stint at GSK?

We did a few campaigns for Eno. One of the campaigns we executed at GSK involved using personalized content to engage customers. We aimed at providing contextually relevant ads based on the users' interests. For example, if someone was viewing content on cricket, we would serve them an ad with messaging related to cricket. This approach led to impressive brand lift scores and allowed us to target customers more effectively. It gave us a peek into what marketing was going to be in the next few years. I'll give you another example. During the launch of the "Eno Cooling" brand, we executed a campaign using VR and AR. We set up AR zones on-ground where people could experience a virtual battle between the product and chilies in a fiery environment. We aimed to create a unique engagement that would make us stand out from our competitors and connect with our target audience. We took the approach of doing unique campaigns to stand out. This approach helped us achieve brand growth and market share.

3. How has the marketing landscape changed in the past ten years, especially with the emergence of AR and VR technology?

The marketing landscape has undergone significant changes over the past ten years due to the increasing use of digital platforms. Currently, around 49% of consumers use the Internet. About 33% are on social media. These numbers are constantly growing. This growth has resulted in a change in the traditional marketing mix. Digital marketing has become more prevalent. In the past, marketing focused mainly on brand awareness. Now it has expanded to include growth marketing, performance marketing, and other approaches. This trend is expected to continue.

Another change is the transition from offline to digital marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart. From them, it has moved now to social and local commerce. For example, ONDC as an initiative, is focused on providing ammunition to local retailers to take on the bigger players. As a result, marketing strategies have shifted to personalization, where content is tailored to the individual's interests, language preferences, and behaviors. Customers today, are looking to be a lot more engaged. The correct channel and timing also play a crucial role in modern marketing. It has gone beyond Facebook and Google now. UGC and influencers have gained prominence as people seek authenticity and trust in brands. AI has also begun to transform marketing, particularly in content creation, data analysis, and customer service. AI is here to stay in marketing.

4. What is your opinion on AI and its impact on the marketing space? Have you used AI in your marketing efforts?

AI has changed the game in marketing. Content creation has been taken over. With AI-driven tools, the need for full-time content creators and designers has been reduced. AI is also vital for capturing and synthesizing data to obtain meaningful insights. It enables more personalized communication. It shines in predictive analytics, predicting future trends and potential pitfalls. This allows marketers to adapt their strategies accordingly. Customer service has also been transformed by bots. They now provide 24/7 support, personalized outreach, and real-time insights. This shift has made customer service more efficient and effective.

5. We talked about personalization and making content. Both are big parts of marketing now. How does localization fit in? What if brands mostly talk in English?

Localization is essential. English is not the sole form of communication everywhere. It makes content more meaningful and relatable for customers. The goal of content is to drive affinity, empathy, trust, and loyalty to a brand. 

The objective of building any kind of content is to drive a lot of affinity.

This is best achieved with personalized content that speaks to the consumer in their language. With localization, brands can reach a wider audience, including non-English speaking consumers, and ensure that the content doesn't feel alien to them. 

Localization is key for both mainline and personalized communication.

6. Based on your experience scaling various businesses, what are some marketing basics that you believe should never be overlooked?

First, think about the customer. Do research to learn what they need and what problems they have. Find out what drives them and what stops them. Then, set goals for the content you make. Make sure it matches your brand's identity, tonality, voice, and values. Keep the customer's journey in mind. Give them the right message at the right time and don't send it too often. Make content work well on each platform and in each format. Help people find it by using SEO. Stick to these basics to build a strong brand and stand out from others.

Identify the channel, and optimize it. You want your content to be searchable.

7. How has marketing changed from paid ads to organic ways? How can marketers use these organic ways in the best way?

Marketers should use organic ways because paid ads can't build a brand by themselves. Organic ways like SEO can give good results and the right content for your audience. Find the best ways and make content work well on them, like your website and app. Make content that matters to your target audience. Use different formats and platforms to save money on marketing. Use organic ways to grow your brand and help customers without relying only on paid ads. For me, SEO is one of the biggest channels that exist.

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