Digital spends for GSK Consumer Healthcare are growing quarter-on-quarter rather than year-on-year, said Anurita Chopra, head of marketing (India sub-continent), GSK Consumer Healthcare. During the pandemic-led lockdown, the company that sells brands like Sensodyne, Eno, Crocin and Otrivin pushed forth its “For the Love of” campaign for Sensodyne that sought to rekindle consumers’ love for their favourite dishes. In an interview, Chopra, who has worked with Philips India, PepsiCo and Hindustan Unilever, said brands need to be increasingly relevant and communicate their message to consumers in their local language. Edited excerpts:

How has the oral care category evolved in India?

Indians used to buy toothpaste on the basis of a few parameters—be it cavity or freshness of breath, at best, maybe whitening of teeth. But when you look at it globally, this category has matured. One in three people globally, and in India, suffer from tooth sensitivity. So, for us, moving into this space was pretty compelling as a need. India is a big tobacco eating market and, therefore, people have gum issues. The oral care category in the way it is shaped and designed is very nascent. It could be a mature category in terms of penetration, but when you start segmenting it into need states, you find that actually it’s been very immature. That’s exactly the journey we are on.

What challenges do you face building such niche, nascent categories?

It is about consumer education. When we started 10 years ago on the journey of Sensodyne, it started with actually making a person aware that it’s called tooth sensitivity, and it’s treatable.

For us, dentists—we reach out to over 40,000 dentists directly and indirectly—believe in the science of our product. They believe in it; they have prescribed it to millions of consumers. Therefore, their advocacy and credibility add a huge weight to Sensodyne on its journey.

How do manage to weave fun into functional brands such as Sensodyne and Eno?

It totally depends on what your brand is and what your brand personality is. For example, Sensodyne is in no way a fun brand. It is about the authenticity and the promise behind the brand, and, therefore, we talk purely about the difference we bring to the table and the science behind the brand. We have amplified it through the “For the love of” campaign, which is a food-related campaign. So, that adds a little bit of a dimension of humanity to it.

Eno, on the other hand, is a fun brand. It is about having sweets and snacks, and then having acidity. So, it totally depends on the brand personality and the occasion of usage.

Has your media marketing mix changed post covid?

Covid notwithstanding, digital is clearly picking up, and how. It is not even year-on-year but quarter-on quarter how our digital spends continue to increase. As a brand, it is imperative to be where the consumers are—whether that consumer is searching for information or engaging with friends and like-minded communities. As a brand, what is your view? What is your participation? It better be meaningful and relevant, because patience is short as well. So, in those few seconds, how are you able to land your message, and we have done it in a very relevant way, cutting across all our categories.

For Sensodyne, when we mounted the “For the Love of” campaign, we figured that people were at home, experimenting with food, especially during the lockdown. We were asking people to not hold back and eat whatever their heart desires. With Eno, too, we figured that people were cooking all kinds of food at home. And, therefore, acidity occasions and digestion issues were going up. What we did was we dialled up on the cohort thinking.

How key is vernacular reach?

So, just flashback to 15 years ago. As marketing managers, I remember the days when while running mass brand campaigns, we would translate posters into 12 to 13 languages because you do want to reach out to the local consumer in the local language. With Sensodyne, we shoot in eight different languages because you want to speak the regional language. Because we feel so strongly about saying the right thing. The food triggers and formats are different in different states. I will be talking rasam down south, but I will be talking jalebi up north. Second, big platforms, which give us incremental reach, especially in media-dark geographies, are key. Now, here is where the video format, and eventually voice, is huge. And that’s where, for example, YouTube and other visual formats come into play. And, thereby, came the whole partnership with an Instagram, with Facebook, or with a Jio because it gives us scale, especially in harder-to-reach areas.

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