Sawan Patidar

VP - Marketing At Plantix

Navigating Trends and Challenges in Agri-Tech Marketing With Sawan Patidar

Agri-tech marketing in India is revolutionizing the agricultural landscape by blending technology with traditional practices. This dynamic field employs digital tools, AI, and data-driven insights to optimize farming for higher yields, efficiency, and sustainability. Marketers play a vital role in bridging innovation with real-world impact, promoting the seamless adoption of agri-tech solutions across diverse agricultural sectors.

In this conversation, Dhriti Goyal, Product Marketing Manager at Pepper Content is joined by Sawan Patidar, VP - Marketing At Plantix, a pioneering agri-tech company that has developed one of the world's largest AI-driven disease detection tools.

This conversation delves into the changing landscape of marketing, the impact of emerging technologies, and the strategies for creating compelling content in the agri-tech domain.

Here are some excerpts.

1. Tell us about your journey so far.

I'm delighted to have this opportunity to share my journey with you. Over the past eight years, my focus has been on marketing, primarily within the food tech and agritech sectors.

I began my career by launching my startup, which provided a valuable foundation for understanding the fundamentals of marketing and the digital landscape. Fast forward to the present, my role at Plantix involves working on one of the world's largest AI-driven disease detection tools and facilitating e-commerce solutions for farmers and retailers in India. These two domains have been the cornerstone of my professional trajectory.

My journey has revolved around category creation and market launches. A notable example dates back to 2015 when the concept of food delivery was emerging. While major players like Domino's dominated the scene globally, we embarked on a similar venture in the central region of India. This experience ingrained in me the significance of pioneering categories and introducing new markets.

Throughout these eight years, the influence of digital has been paramount, with a significant portion of budgets—usually around 90-95%—allocated to digital initiatives.

Building on this journey, I've had the privilege of establishing teams from scratch, particularly within startups. Witnessing their growth and development has been incredibly rewarding. This journey has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the power of digital strategies in driving category creation and market expansion.

2. Over the past years, what significant shifts have you observed in the marketing landscape?

Certainly, observing shifts in the marketing landscape over the years has been quite enlightening. A significant trend I've noticed is the convergence of product management and marketing within organizations. This trend isn't unique to our company; it's prevalent across consumer internet and SaaS companies as well. What's intriguing is how product managers and marketers, often referred to as "growth teams," are now collaborating closely.

This collaboration spans various aspects of growth, from acquisition and retention to revenue generation. This change has been unfolding over the past several years, with product management playing a more substantial role in driving growth.

The convergence of product management and marketing has led to the dissolution of traditional role boundaries, resulting in the formation of dynamic cross-functional teams.

The blurring of lines between roles has also led to the formation of new teams within organizations. This restructuring reflects the evolving nature of marketing and how it intersects with product development.

Similarly, in my own experience, I've witnessed a transition from a single marketing team overseeing everything to a more specialized setup, including product marketing and sales enablement. It's a testament to the dynamic nature of the industry and how it adapts to emerging demands.

3. What does an ideal marketing stack look like for you?

Creating an ideal marketing stack in today's rapidly evolving tech landscape is indeed a challenge. The marketing technology space has seen tremendous advancements. From my perspective, a comprehensive marketing stack comprises essential components such as analytics, attribution, ad platforms, engagement tools, merchandising tools (for e-commerce), and promotional tools.

In the realm of content marketing, AI has emerged as a game-changer. Tools like chatbots and GPTs have proven remarkably effective in generating copies and offering valuable guidance to copywriters. Personally, our toolkit includes social listening tools, keyword analysis tools, and standard Google suites. These tools have demonstrated their effectiveness over time and continue to play a vital role in our strategies.

4. What is your view on the impact of emerging technologies like AI and chatbots on marketing?

The impact of emerging technologies like AI and chatbots on marketing has been both profound and promising. Within this realm, certain use cases have gained popularity, while others are still being explored. For our e-commerce efforts, personalization and merchandising stand out as significant applications of AI. Leveraging recommendation algorithms to guide product suggestions and assess purchase propensities has been a transformative use case.

This approach has already been implemented successfully over the last two to three years, and many industry leaders have embraced it as well.

Another avenue that excites me is conversational commerce. The integration of platforms like WhatsApp with chatbots has paved the way for seamless interactions, even leading to transactions. This holds particular promise for reaching rural and tier-two markets.

Emerging technologies like chatbots and AI-driven personalization are revolutionizing marketing by streamlining conversations, transactions, and enhancing personalization.

Notably, chatbots have demonstrated their efficiency by managing up to 80% of sales conversations, contributing to a more effective sales process. On a personal note, I've recently explored utilizing chat GPT for copywriting, and the results have been remarkable. This technology has proven especially effective when explaining technical concepts succinctly, as observed when promoting crop protection products in the agricultural sector.

While the full impact is still emerging, the potential of these technologies to reshape marketing strategies is undeniable.

5. What are the current pain points for marketers in agri-tech businesses and how are you addressing them?

In the day-to-day life of agri-tech marketers, there are a few significant pain points that we are actively addressing. One of the foremost challenges is cultivating a culture of positive adaptation among teams as new technologies emerge.

Striking a balance between embracing these innovations and mitigating concerns about job security is crucial. I've been keen on fostering this culture within my teams, emphasizing the importance of embracing change as an opportunity for growth. Upskilling has also been a major focus, as the influx of tools and technology necessitates continuous learning and development.

Another persistent challenge is the measurement of ROI. While progress has been made in narrowing the gap, evaluating the return on investment for campaigns remains a complex task. It's an ongoing effort to refine our approaches and metrics to enhance our understanding of campaign effectiveness.

Lastly, adapting to ever-changing consumer behavior is a classic hurdle.

In the context of rural markets, for instance, there's a misconception that technological adoption would be slow. However, reality contradicts this assumption, and it's vital to dispel such biases. Our strategy involves actively observing and responding to evolving consumer behaviors, ensuring our approaches remain aligned with the actual trends and preferences.

Ultimately, addressing these pain points involves a combination of fostering a positive mindset toward technological change, continuous upskilling, refining measurement methodologies, and staying attuned to shifting consumer dynamics.

6. Content is central to marketing. How do you define great content and what's your approach to crafting effective content strategies?

Certainly, in my perspective, defining great content involves finding a balance between being informative and entertaining.

This approach has proven to be highly effective for us. We're currently in the midst of actively experimenting with what I term "infotainment" content or an infotainment approach. This approach aims to provide valuable information to the audience while also engaging and entertaining them.

As for our strategy in crafting effective content, it revolves around a framework I call the

four Ds": data, design, discuss, and deploy.

It's a cyclical process that starts with data-driven insights or assessments of consumer preferences. From there, we move to content creation, incorporating the insights gathered. The next step involves validation through discussions with sales teams and internal stakeholders. Finally, we deploy the content and observe its impact, leading to more data and insights.

This iterative approach ensures that our content remains relevant, engaging, and aligned with our audience's needs and preferences.

7. How do you maintain a strong connection with your consumers in agri-tech, especially in diverse markets?

Staying aligned with evolving market dynamics has been a crucial focus for us.

Over the past two years, I've encountered various challenges and addressed them proactively. One significant challenge was adopting an unbiased mindset when understanding our consumers.

Recognizing that consumers across different markets and tiers have similar levels of sophistication was a key learning.

This understanding emerged from market visits where we observed that consumers in various regions were using similar apps. This realization reshaped our approach to segmentation and audience understanding.

Channel adoption has been another challenge. Different channels work better in different regions, and even within a state, micro markets have distinct preferences. To tackle this, we prioritized audience segmentation and experimentation. Being transparent and honest with our audience, as well as comprehending their channel behavior, were fundamental lessons we learned.

I've made it a routine to visit markets along with team members to gain firsthand insights. This practice keeps us grounded in consumer realities and helps generate innovative ideas. To me, being close to the consumer is an essential aspect of being a marketer.

Get started with Pepper’s Content Marketing Platform.

Designed for winning teams.

Global Marketing Leaders 2023
Powered by

Global Marketing Leaders 2023 by Pepper Content is an exclusive curation of the brightest minds who have revolutionized the world of marketing. These visionaries have pushed the boundaries, disrupted the status quo, and transformed the way we approach content and marketing. Check out the full exhibit to be informed and inspired by the insights shared by these trailblazers.