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'Focus on the input, you can't control the output: Amazon's country manager

Manish Tiwary gives Storyboard18 the inside view of the brand's festive season campaigns including the latest, 'Amazon se liya'

Published: Sep 19, 2022 10:47:21 AM IST
Updated: Sep 19, 2022 12:50:38 PM IST

'Focus on the input, you can't control the output: Amazon's country managerManish Tiwary, country manager and vice president of India Consumer Business, Amazon India 

Manish Tiwary’s favorite Amazon advertising campaign is 2016’s Apni Dukaan. However, the newest campaign out of the ecommerce giant’s marketing stable, ‘Amazon Se Liya’, is giving the former a run for the number one spot.

It’s that time of year again. The great Indian festive season is here and brands across the board have started unleashing their mega marketing campaigns.

The ecommerce juggernaut is launching its biggest campaign of the year in India— Amazon Se Liya and its digital-first extension, Find Life.

In an exclusive interaction with Storyboard18, Tiwary, who is the country manager and vice president of India Consumer Business at Amazon India, tells us about the genesis of the campaign and how it brings out the brand's purpose.

Tiwary also shares his outlook for the festive season or, as it is informally known, the Fifth Quarter.

Edited excerpts.

Q. We are into the great Indian festive season. It's an important time for Amazon. Let's talk about the campaign that's coming up and its genesis and objectives?

It is that time of the year that our sellers and our customers look forward to. This year is a little more special for the sellers because of the past two years. So it's very critical for us and sellers to have a great demand here.

Just to take a step back, over the past nine years, Amazon, in its own modest way, brought sellers online and gave customers an experience of shopping. Over time, Amazon became synonymous with online shopping.

We've just launched a digital campaign which is focused around ‘Find Life'. It anchors on something very simple: Behind every delivery, every product, there are emotions, expectations and expressions of the seller and the consumer. It's far more than just a commodity and every order in its own way has a story behind it.

Amazon sells over 123 million products. We help customers find all kinds of products, but more than products, we help customers find life in almost everything and anything they do. That's what the digital campaign is focused on. It's about stories of real people, real experiences and how Amazon helps them find products, and in turn find the emotions during this festive season.

Q. Tell us more about the hero campaign—Amazon Se Liya, and how that ties in with what the brand wants to deliver on the marketing communication front?

The big customer-facing campaign for the season is deeply rooted into how we look at the festive season and how Bharat shops. If you have bought something new, the first question anybody—friend, acquaintance, family—would ask is ‘kahan se liya?’. That's the most obvious question. It's about who we are as a country.

The entire Amazon campaign is focused on this innate customer expression of saying ‘kahan se liya’ and the big idea of the hero campaign is that. During this festive season, when your acquaintances, your colony or mohalla asks you "kahan se liya?", the customer would say “Amazon se liya”. And in some way the entire country would say Amazon se liya. So that's the big idea behind the campaigns.

Q. Which cohorts are you specifically addressing through these campaigns that are coming up and how has the significance you attach to some of these consumer and customer groups changed over the years?

When you leverage a very deep insight, it has the ability to cut across cohorts. There will be various local expressions of ‘Kahan se liya, Amazon se liya’, but it will cut across metros, towns, and customer segments. That's the beauty of it. We are The Everything Store for everybody. We have committed ourselves to deep-rooted universal customer insights.

Taking a step back, over a decade's digital acceleration has happened in the past two years. Today, close to 80 percent of new customers are from small towns. Over nine years ago, shopping online was largely a metropolitan phenomenon. But now we get orders from 99.9 percent of India’s pincodes. That just tells you how deep the customer base is.

It's also true for a very important stakeholder for us—the sellers. 50 percent to 55 percent of our sellers are coming from small towns.

What we've managed to create in terms of the brand and the customer confidence in the brand is trust. It is enabling customers to come online and buy and move the flywheel for sellers much faster.

Q. Coming back to the festive season, which categories do you see firing for Amazon and what are some of the categories that you think need a bit of a push?

We have a very large base of Prime customers and this base has accelerated during the pandemic. These customers are comfortable not only shopping online, but also use our payment services, and other products such as Kindle and music. 

New customers will enter online shopping through categories like fashion. When you look at the season starting from Dhanteras, electronics is, of course, a huge category. Brands, manufacturers, their product cycles, and more, everything is in sync with this season.

Look at the television industry. It used to be 32-inch a few years back and very quickly the sizes are moving up, it's moving into LEDs. There are reasons for that. The seller community, the brand community and us with products like Amazon Pay have worked hard to help realise aspirations.

Q. How have your expectations of hero marketing campaigns such as Apni Dukaan and Amazon Se Liya changed over the years?

I believe consistency of messaging is super critical. If you pick up any campaign, it's always about building trust with the customers and that is at the core of what we are trying to achieve in this country. We would enable the right services whether it's speed or fulfillment selection. Our sellers will get the right pricing and the product, and the customer experience will be a seamless one.

From a marketing point of view, we've been very consistent about Amazon as a brand which drives trust. We feel good when that is echoed back to us during customer research and third-party market research. So that's the pivot of our marketing campaigns. Of course, we look for executional differences and bring some newness into it.

Q. What is your outlook on the Golden Quarter or Fifth Quarter as it’s informally known?

There's a lot of expectations. But there are more than 11 lakh sellers who are looking forward to it more than me. I’m cautiously optimistic about the season. All our pre-season sentiment studies clearly show that people are looking forward to this festive season.

The last few years have been very difficult for everyone personally, professionally, and on the income front. In some ways this festive season will unlock our next level of customers and consumption and that's how we are looking at it.

We are preparing everything. In Amazon, we have a saying: Focus on the input. You can't control the output. That's what we're focused on. So fingers crossed, we are quite optimistic about the season.

Watch excerpts of the conversation on Storyboard18 - CNBC-TV18.

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