Empowering customers in India - Indian privacy law set to change landscape

India is gearing up for enhanced privacy laws that protects customers. This can be a landmark legislation that can have lasting impact on consumers, data protection, data sharing and use of personal data & information. 

India has a not been privacy friendly state. Data sharing and exchange is done freely and hence it is not suprising to find personal information being freely available for a few cents. The proposed act or legislation seems to be all encompassing and can have a lasting impact. Take a look at some of the recommendations:

  1. Currently, in India there is no legislation for protecting the privacy of individuals for all information that may be available with private entities. The legislation proposes to bring this to force.
  2. Choice and consent of the indvidual before his/her personal information is collected
  3. Information should be used only for the purpose it was collected
  4. The individual should have access to his/her information at any time. He/she must be enabled to update or correct the information
  5. Data controller would be transparent in his working as regards to the collection of personal data
  6. Data controller is primarily responsible for its safety and use

The framework proposes:

  • All forms of identifiable data be protected against under the right to privacy.
  • It goes on to define what is personal data -..."to be able to identify a person, information need not necessarily be objective identification such as a person's name, but can be subjective information such as the opinion that a person is a "reliable" borrower or that a person is "expected to die of a terminal disease". It is also important to bring all personal information within this definition regardless ofthe format in which the information is stored."
  • It also extensively takes into consideration Indian context - Aadhar program that uses biometric information
  • Explicit consent or even approval from a regulatory authority may be required to be obtained to collect sensitive personal data.
  • Processing of data in an automated manner must be avoided when it affects the vital interests of the data subject.
  • The data once collected must be deleted after achieving the purpose for which it was
  • Privacy impact assessments to be conducted by independent authorities in the form of
    transparent audits, for the protection of personal data.
  • Appropriate measures to protect the data of Indian citizens that are processed outside the country.

I believe this is going to have far reaching implications on how private entities hold data and process data. Also, information available on the web and information shared in social media will have to undergo scrutiny, as this personal data today is being used for commercial interests by many of the entities like google, facebook etc.

I have attached the approach note paper Download Aproach_paper.

I would love to hear comments, feedback and implications on this proposed law. And how marketing in India needs to adapt to this new environment.










How to determine if you want to spend more or less of your marketing budget in 2011?

The year 2010 is coming to an end and the 2011 marketing plans are being drawn out by CMOs.I have often wondered how are budgets allocated year after year by CMOs and marketing managers. In fact, most CMOs use archiac methods of planning marketing spends? 

  1. How much did I spend last year?
  2. How much is the category or competitive brands spending during the same period?

Is there a better  method to plan and allocate marketing spends? I am sure time has come for us to look at this kind of an analytical framework.

I came across an interesting article on how this can be done and I found it very interesting. Here are some of the higlights of the approach:

Step #1: The first question the author says is for the CMO to determine or test their spend leverage.


Step # 2: Most often, the author comments, marketing departments are not in alignment with the overal organizational strategy - on margin improvement, new geography penetration, production innovation or redesign, alternative channel testing etc.. It sounded very familiar to me and it is an important item which CMOs & marketing teams need to revalidate as they build their marketing spend plans.


Step #3: To determine which marketing spends to "defund" based on impact to business over the last year.


Step #4: Then basis the above 3 steps build a strategic prioritization plan.Strategic prioritization means CMOs need to decide which geographies, which segments, which innovations, which programs need more or less monies.

Step #5:  The other interesting point made is that marketers should also look at risk issues around the environment as normally only GDP growth rates are looked at. The issues include terrosim issues, weather etc. which do pose a risk to marketing planning and spending.



I believe this is a great framework for a start to look at defining and planning marketing spends in a new year.








The new direct marketing - mixing offline with digital is the future

The world of direct marketing is undergoing a sea change where there is a marriage of new digital marketing tools & methods to the old world direct marketing principles & vehicles.

In fact, almost a decade back, I had coined a term "Hybrid marketing" as the future of marketing - the convergence of online and offline techniques. I am glad to see it come of age. The internet, mobile &  direct mail needs to converge and work together to drive better ROI for brand marketers. 

Peppers& Rogers has interesting article on the same. There are some interesting points and applications that has been brought out in this article:

Now, thanks to an emerging technology called QR Codes, or Quick Response Codes, direct mail can go immediately from print to interactive. A consumer with a QR Code reader on his smartphone can quickly scan this two-dimensional barcode on a direct mail piece and be immediately taken to online content without having to type in a Web address. In this way, QR Codes turn that printed direct mail piece into an interactive mobile response, transforming static messages into hyperlinks to just about anything online.

We know the positive statistics on the power of personalization, and now the Web itself can be personalized. A personalized URL (PURL) provides a Web address for an individual so that the content at the address can be unique for that visitor. When a direct mail recipient logs on to a PURL, information from the marketer's database can be used to tailor the Web experience for that person. Additionally, the website can track the respondent's activity and modify what is offered based on the consumer's actions. That interaction can also be very useful in making future print and online communications.

A QR code can link a smartphone user to a PURL, allowing a business to create unique QR codes linking to PURLs for everyone on its direct mail list. Once on a PURL microsite, a visitor may be invited to sign up for monthly newsletters, view an embedded video, or request a mailed fulfillment package. And the good news is that all of this online interaction can be measured for campaign ROI.

Email and SMS mobile text messaging can also be integrated into a multitouch marketing campaign. For example, a consumer receives a direct mail piece that contains a QR Code. She scans the code with her smartphone and is immediately linked to a personalized website. Then, shortly after that, she receives an email or SMS text response thanking her for visiting the site. Based on what information she chose to share, she may receive an additional direct mail piece, text, or social media notification as a follow up. Thanks to postal delivery alerts, it's even possible to spark curiosity and anticipation in a consumer by notifying them via email or mobile that a personalized package will soon arrive in the mail.

The fact really is that traditional direct marketers have to adopt these techniques by using them effectively in their marketing campaigns. The digital marketers have to get adept in using the direct marketing principles by seamlessly converging these new tools & techniques to the offline  marketing techniques.

Only  when this is done,will brand marketers see the benefits of " true" response, engagement and conversions.The reality of customer engagement, growing customer relationships and increased customer conversions will become visible.

I don't see too many direct marketers and digital marketers having the skills and competency in using these "ambidextourous" techniques of both the worlds. The faster they learn & adopt them, the faster they will be able to demonstrate the ROI in their marketing campaigns.