India & South Asia

India & South Asia

Digital marketing in India: a talk with MindShift Interactive

14 Jul 2014

Mindshift interactive


Digital marketing in India keeps on moving fast, with growing numbers of users and investments by local and international brands. Today we’re featuring an interview with MindShift Interactive, a digital marketing and research company based in Mumbai.

We had a talk with Zafar Rais, CEO and founder of MindShift Interactive, to know more about what they do and what are the most important trends to follow in the world’s second-biggest country. Here’s what he told us.


– What do you guys at MindShift Interactive do, and how it all started? 

MindShift Interactive started with the vision of providing intelligence to the way digital marketing is managed. We saw an abundance of agencies and brands conducting massive campaigns on digital, but with no insights or awareness of the impact they created for them. MindShift Interactive positions itself as an Insightful Digital Outreach powerhouse that provides businesses with a data-centric approach towards achieving an impactful, innovative and, most of all, sustained Digital presence.

The success of merging insights with your digital marketing efforts is evident with the businesses we impact on a daily basis. MindShift Interactive has diversified into three different verticals that leverage insights to their advantage, namely MindShift Digital (Digital Marketing), MindShift Metrics (Digital Research) and MindShift Activate (Events, Activations & Branding). Each of our businesses work towards achieving a unified goal of providing brands with the ideal outreach backed by ideal insights.

We’ve been investing our energies a lot more this year towards Digital Focus Groups, Instagram influencer marketing and creating insightful Social Care solutions to brands who are looking at going beyond response management on social media.


– What kind of clients do you work with?

MindShift provides digital solutions nationally and internationally within the lifestyle, luxury and dot com space, with focus on Entertainment, Hospitality, FMCG and E-commerce. We’ve been spreading our wings across sectors wherever there’s a need for some insightful and legendary solutions!

Some of our key clientele includes Lancôme, Kiehl’s, Giorgio Armani, French Connection, JW Mariott, Renaissance, Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Sula Vineyards, Homeshop18, Max Bupa Health Insurance, Tata Communications, Reliance 3G, BIG CBS Networks. MindShift has been instrumental in conceptualizing some of the largest Twitter campaigns, namely, #FeelingBlue for Reliance 3G, #ChappalMaaro for The Bombay Store &India’s largest Influencer powered Instagram campaign, #GoNoFilter for Lancôme.

All these campaigns have been a result of the insights garnered towards their success. Some of MindShift Metrics research reports have been the talk of the town due to the detailed study conducted in them. Here are two that have created quite a stir: F1 Report, Selfie Report.



– Social media in India: what are the numbers? And most importantly: how fast is it growing, and how much is yet to be seen?

In India, we’re passionate about communicating and socializing. Indians use social media much more than the global average and those of their counterparts in emerging economies. We see Facebook leading the way, equating to 30% of the Indian population, and a growing number of these are from regional parts of India, using web based versions of Facebook. Alongside, video content has seen incremental growth, with users moving away from telecom operations providing VAS to the real deal of watching YouTube.

The massive youth population, increasing consumption of smartphones and the adoption rates soaring within regional markets, social media is only going to grow within the next few years. The advertising budgets for social media in 2013-14 were INR 2938 crores (USD 5 billion) and are predicted to grow at 32% in 2014-15. That’s another insight into how big the space is getting.


– Now for a topic that we already discussed here on DITR: in your opinion is the Internet helping fill the gap between cities and rural areas?

It’s definitely helped as a starting point. There are farmers using the Internet to grow better crop and find buyers for it, doctors using it to enhance their skill sets and provide alternate healing routes to patients by finding similar cases around the world, and students using it to socialize and connect with a world beyond their city.

The Internet has enabled a country that speaks multiple languages to communicate, translate and engage in their preferred language and learn more than what they would normally have access to in a lifetime.

Brands have gradually started taking advantage of this phenomenon and capitalizing on platforms such as Facebook being available in regional languages to create Advertisements that go out in different dialects.


– Many brands use English as the main language for digital communication in India. How important is it to use local languages to reach all consumers? Can you name some brands that are doing it good?

When you start putting your efforts on regional or niche social media websites, being aware of the social media etiquette of each region is essential. According to a latest study, Hindi is the 2nd most widely preferred language, after English in India. In Rural India, 27% of the users use Hindi to access online content, followed by Marathi and Tamil languages. While in Urban India, 60%of the user’s access online content in Hindi followed by Tamil and Marathi languages. Audiences define the language.

Some brands leveraging Social Media using regional languages are BBC – Hindi (on Facebook & Google) – Started in July 2011, BBC Hindi is a 1.4Million Fan Page with an Engagement Ratio of approximately 9%. NDTV (English) on the other hand has a 4 Million Fan Page with an Engagement Ratio of approximately 7.5%. An Engagement Ratio of 9% shows that the audiences engaging are relating to the content and conversing too, delivering an ER higher than what other players receive. BBC Hindi has used this strategy to tap markets where other new players have not made a mark.


BBC Hindi


Another example: Sula Vineyards leverages upon Geo-targeting in order to reach their consumers in Marathi speaking regions, while maintaining 1 Fan Page that communicates to all regions.


– Do you think today global brands are fully exploiting the power of social media to reach consumers in India?

It’s at a very nascent stage right now. A few brands have definitely create quite a stir through CSR initiatives via social media that enable Fans to contribute towards empowering rural areas but there’s a lot that goes beyond these activities that both sides can gain out of.

We have about 22 official languages across India and a route we’ve found successful to connect with every region has been the focus on visuals. It breaks various barriers and connects brilliantly to garner opinions or to disseminate a particular communication. Apart from that, brands need to gain insights on the regions they need to communicate with, what works there and geo target to them in order to get the much desired impact.

While regional language ads have started of on Facebook and are garnering a great amount of interactions, much is to be seen on how the market shapes up.

We’ve covered some interesting elements of Regional Marketing through Social Media in a recent report should you like to read them.


– Let’s talk about your activity: what are the most interesting projects you’re currently working on? (here it would be nice to talk about the Instagram influencers campaign!)

We worked with Lancôme India when they launched ‘DREAMTONE’ a new-generation customized skin tone correcting serum which asks women to go out without makeup. We chose Instagram as the primary platform and aptly labeled the campaign #GoNoFilter. The campaign went on to becoming India’s 1st high outreach Instagram Influencer Campaign, garnering an overall outreach of 792,000. The campaign saw adoption from prominent Influencers within the beauty, lifestyle & luxury segment due to a high tea event that kick started the campaign and pampered bloggers alongside.




The insight we leveraged upon was that women love Selfies & are addicted to uploading their looks on Instagram. Given this, we launched a 7-day challenge which empowered women with the confidence to upload various instances in their life, without a filter, on to Instagram, with a finale of them uploading their Selfie without make up. The challenge engaged about 200+ participants with over 1,500 images being posted using the #GoNoFilter hashtag. The challenge curated a superlative engagement of 7%-8% (average engagement is about 4% across brands) showcasing increased consumer enquiries (sales& awareness) for the product.

 Lancôme made a bold move of solely relying on digital marketing through social media, media planning and mobile ads to create demand for the product and successfully garnered the right kind of noise for DreamTone.

We’ve recently launched an interesting campaign with HomeShop18, a leading digital commerce platform, to introduce their new TV Commercial and positioning. The microsite, engages users with fun memes, jokes and the best offers through HomeShop18’s new mascots, Billy & Sunny.  While the personalization on the website has been highly successful, giving us unique visits of over 300,000 in 2 weeks, we’ve explored a new medium in the mix – WhatsApp Marketing, to give the content an additional boost. The microsite allows users to subscribe to the WhatsApp services via the website and receive the latest Caturday Sales, Funny Memes, Exciting Offers and an insider view onto the lives of Bill & Sunny. Over 270,000 messages were sent via WhatsApp to subscribers of this content.




The Shopping Makes Me Happy campaign received overall impressions of 70 Million users across Social Media, 200,000 WhatsApp subscribers and 130,000 video views. The microsite will continue to offer some of the best deals the brand has to offer and engage consumers with happy moments through Billy & Sunny, ensuring emphasis on their positioning, ‘Shopping Makes Me Happy’.


– You’ve been doing quite a few projects related to influencers outreach: what are in your opinion the main peculiarities of the Indian market in this specific field – if compared to other areas of the world?

Influencer Outreach campaigns are treated at a similar level as they are in any other part of the world where we invite, interact and engage with people across social media platforms who have a large clout and are the right target mix for a particular brand. No matter how hard you try, the number game is always a big decision maker hence agencies and brands are always looking out for people with a massive Follower base versus their engagement levels or the kind of people who follow them. The numbers, however, compared to international influencers aren’t as high and that leaves a lot of brands making do with the average range of influencers or going in for a quantity versus quality approach.

At MindShift, we like to balance this out by ensuring a person does have a good follower count, healthy engagement with his/her followers as well as converses about things within the category we’re looking at connecting him/her with, and if we’re superbly lucky, an existing user of the product. Our Influencer campaigns have always been on top of the charts owing to the right balance of people we bring on board and the thought behind how the campaign must deliver the right impact. Campaigns such as #KiehlsMumbai,#FeelingBlue, #GoNoFilter, #18HappyMoments have reach international fame largely due to the brilliance of targeting and thinking beyond the regular. Yes, a MindShift is what will make the difference always! J


– According to what your clients ask you, what are the main trends for digital communication in India right now?

India is aggressively heading towards Digitization which has entrenched foothold in each and every domain, the world of Marketing and Communication cannot remain an exception. The major Digital trends that we will witness in the arena of Marketing and Communication in India would be:

1) Data mining & analyticsWe started this off a few years ago with many questions being raised by brands on wanting to pay for it but today, it’s become a need and will only grow larger as a requirement.

2) Seamless integration with Mobile: We’ve all spoken about this for years and clients have demanded it for years too but we’re finally see them shell out big monies to be present where the consumer is spending way too much time.

3) Business Impact: At MindShift, we don’t shy away from this topic. Social Media does have an ROI and it is measurable and we make sure our clients can see it too. With research, constant tracking of footfalls, change in consumer mindsets and even delivering sales impact. It’s when you have your KPIs set right from the start and a vision in place that you’re destined for success.

4) Regional Marketing: There’s a massive demand for it and it’s not just the mass products that need to be available there. Some of India’s Tier 2 & 3 cities have consumption and spending power higher than the top metro’s too and it’s evident with the way e-commerce brands are selling more there than they are in the metros.

5) Social Care: We don’t just handle reputation management anymore. MindShift has a cell that takes care of Trainings for Customer Care centers to be empowered to handle irate and happy customers on their own. We have trainings, processes and a 24/7 team that is able to give seamless solutions to what is increasingly becoming a powerful medium of communication for brands.


– With the deep penetration of mobile and smartphones, brands will engage customers, deliver message and content belligerently via IMs like WhatsApp and WeChat. What’s your take on this?

The Mobile Penetration in India is 1.75 billion in 2014, and the number of smartphone users have surpassed the number the population number. So, yes, the penetration of mobile and smartphones is massive in India. WeChat, LINE, WhatsApp are tools that were made to enable people to communicate better with each other. When IMs start marketing without permission, you will see a decline in adoption of those platforms; hence the strategic route to follow is by getting users to opt in to your service.

– Thanks Zafar!

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