Dabur’s digital leap: FMCG major embarks on a data-led journey

The 138-year-old Dabur India, one of the leading FMCG companies in the country, made a surprise announcement last week when it hired dentsu X for handling its digital media mandate. The move reflects the brand’s renewed ambitions to utilize emerging digital platforms for advertising to further penetrate the domestic and international markets.

While Dabur is regarded as a traditional brand with most of its ad spend going into traditional media, Dentsu X is known for digital content creation, technology, data and behavioral insights.

Dabur India embarked on its digital journey in 2017-18 and since then it has been ramping up its digital AdEx. However, a substantial amount of the AdEx still goes to TV, print, radio and outdoor.

The Ghaziabad-based Ayurveda major with a revenue of Rs 2,220 crore reported a net profit of Rs 504 crore in the quarter ending December 2021. This was nearly 2 per cent up compared to Q3 in 2020. The company spends nearly Rs 230 crore on advertising and publicity annually.

exchange4media caught up with Dabur India management – ​​Rajiv Dubey, Head, Media, and Kapil Ohri, Head of Digital Marketing – to understand what prompted the company to take a leap in digital, and how they plan to leverage the digital media in the coming years.

Vision for Digital

Dabur India sounds like a traditional company, but our action and aspirations for digital advertising are robust, Ohri remarked. The company embarked on a digital advertising journey a few years ago, 2017-18 to be precise, but the majority of its ad spends is still on traditional media.

Sharing more on the strategy, Dubey said: “Now, digital will take a lead. It will be a data-led transformative journey. We have seen major success in the e-commerce business after transforming our business model. We hope that our new partner for the media will help us in the transformation of our communication strategy with more focus on consumers.”

Since 2018, Dabur India has been ramping up its budget for digital. It has already spent a considerable amount on display, search, social media, SEO and influencer marketing.

“The pandemic-induced lockdown has changed the market perspective and data-driven marketing has acquired momentum. More than 40 per cent of our ads are now being placed through programmatic advertising,” Dubey added.

The company has its own social media command centre, which helps it to convert social media listings into insights and then drive the real-life campaign in order to get closer to the consumers. “We have a 360-degree focus on marketing,” Ohri and Dubey insist.

Digital Ad Spend

The company’s advertising and publicity expenditure reported a growth of about 16% to Rs 237 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, against Rs 202 crore in the previous quarter.

Asked if the company’s AdEx will increase further in the coming years, Dubey said, “Our AdEx is increasing every year. It will be primarily led by digital now.”

Asked about the share of digital ad spend in the total AdEx, Dubey quips, “We would not like to disclose the amount or percentage share of digital ad spend, but would like to say that it is in sync with the FMCG industry. As digital has grown at par with TV, and is likely to grow further, our digital ad spend will follow.”

110 digital-first films in a year

Dabur has been making the most of moment marketing for the past few months. The brand’s social media handle captures all fluid moments, apart from Holi, Diwali and other big events.

“Our moment marketing initiative started in 2021, under which we made 110 digital-first films, apart from regular TVCs. We are agile in terms of the marketing approach and in capturing topical moments. We are looking at a similar number of films this year as well,” Dubey said.

The company works with nearly 3,500 macro, micro and nano influencers. “Our regional agencies in Bengaluru, Kolkata, Pune and Gujarat are helping us to have a regional insight as well,” Ohri added.

Dabur has set up five regional marketing centers that engage with local influencers, create their own content and do their own marketing. A decentralized approach caters well to regional consumers.

OTT & CTV

Digital is a wide-range platform and encompasses video, social media, paid search, OTT, influencer marketing among others. Explaining what would be the prime focus, Ohri says: “Our focus has been on video. Dabur has got onto the connected TV platform. We have been focusingsing a lot on OTT platforms as well. We did a web series for Zee5 on Dabur Honey-Hello Fitness.”

Hello Fitness is a chat show hosted by Karan Wahi and it takes consumers to the workout area of ​​celebrities to understand their fitness routine and food preferences.

Explaining the idea behind the series, Dubey says, “We don’t want to limit ourselves to paid advertising conversations. Our aim is to connect with consumers through content. We have recently done a pilot with Snapchat, another pilot has been done with Sharechat.”

“We drive significant campaigns on health platforms. Our media mix is ​​spread across different platforms, which we now want to scale up further on the connected TV. We were among the first brands to join CTV to maintain high engagement levels with our consumers.”

Dabur India’s video engagement rate or view through rate (VTR) has been 50-70%, compared to an average 25-35% VTR of other brands. This means our long and storytelling format in regional languages ​​is working so far. Through the programmatic, we are reaching the right audience, they stated. So, is the company planning to launch more web series? Ohri responds, “Things are in the pipeline. We wish to leverage OTT platforms with paid advertising plus content.”

On Competition

Sharing insights into how the company plans to keep itself ahead of the competition, Dubey says, “We have different brands competing with different brands of other companies. Every brand has a different fight. In three categories – real juices, chyawanprash and honey – we lead with a huge margin with a majority market share. In some categories like oral care, we are at number 2 and 3. Most of those markets have 90-95 per cent saturation. Our task is to expand penetration and go to different users. Different strategies are in place to deal with different competitors.”

Going forward, Dabur will continue to make heavy investments behind its ‘power brands’, coupled with investment in expanding the rural footprint and enhancing the go-to-market approach to drive sustainable, profitable growth.

Brand Safety

The company stays focused on adhering to brand safety measures. “We are working with big publishers that have collaborations with brand safety platforms. We are working with YouTube, OTTs and health platforms because of their partnership with brand safety platforms. This is one of the key requirements to keep the message consistent and contextual on different platforms,” Dubey notes.

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