The changing marketing environment has hit new avenues in the last few years, particularly after the advent of e-commerce platforms. While the market exhibits a promising growth for all its stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, creditors or employees, it’s not evident how much research is coping with the changing market scenario. Are the consumers given enough attention in marketing research globally? How to enhance the visibility of research focused on the Indian context? How to facilitate collaborative research between industry and academia? These topics were the focus of the Marketing Round Table Conference held at Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore (ASB) on 19th January 2016.
The forum was chaired by the renowned marketing Guru Dr. Jagdish N. Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt, Professor of Marketing, Goizueta Business School, Emory University.The forum also included the industry veteran Dr. Jayaram K. Iyer, Chief Strategy Officer, Matrimony.com; the academicians, Dr. Subhasis Ray, Professor of Marketing, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar; Dr. Ramya Neelamegham, Professor of Marketing, IIM Bangalore; and Dr. Deepak Gupta, Professor of Marketing, Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore. The theme of the conference was: ‘Changing Indian Consumer – Opportunities or Challenges for Researchers?’.
The conference began with a prayer and lighting of the lamp. Dr. R. Raghu Raman, Chairman, ASB welcomed the Distinguished Speaker Dr. Jagdish N. Sheth. “Here is a maestro who truly lived his dream. He studied in India, worked with Ivy universities across the globe, inspires millions of young marketers,” Dr. Raman introduced Dr. Sheth, who is a recipient of all top four academic awards bestowed by the American Marketing Association (AMA).
Prof. Shyam A. V., Assistant Professor, Amrita School of Business, traditionally welcomed Dr. Sheth. Dr. Deepak S. Kumar, Assistant Professor, ASB, who also spearheaded the event, quickly summed up the career excellence of Dr. Sheth to the gathering.
After the welcome address, Prof. Sheth invited Dr. Raman, on behalf of ASB, to join the Academy of Indian Marketing, a global forum for facilitating research unique to emerging markets as a Charter Member. “It is a proud moment for all of us,” remarked Dr. Raman on the new achievement.
Dr. Jagdish N. Sheth began his speech by providing a glance through his own life. “I love theorizing, therefore, asked myself why these wonderful things happened to me. From that, I found efforts and grace are directionally proportional,” Sheth threw a piece of advice to the future leaders. Dr. Sheth took the crowd through the revolutions happening in the field of marketing and how it affects consumer behavior.“After the economic liberalization in India, we have plenty of options. The choices are incredible. The generation gap is now eight years. An elder sister can relate to her 8-year old younger sister. These changes have an enormous effect on consumers,” Dr. Sheth said. He carefully derived the contrast in the Indian marketing environment. “In this branded era, we have mithai walas (sweet makers). There is still a consumer generation who keeps a cordial relationship with the local shopkeepers. Multinational companies do not understand them... ‘Wants’ have become ‘needs’. E-commerce platforms have changed everything. Retailers counterbalance this trend by building their own portals. New consumers are emerging, a very smart, unpredictable consumer,” Dr. Sheth pointed out.
He also spoke eloquently on the role of internet in marketing. “Today I can influence any brand by simply responding to their behaviors on social media. The internet is the only medium that can combine print and broadcast. We are now a ‘fish in a digital aquarium’. Now, I have 24 x 7 hours people watching what I do. Even for myself to see what I did yesterday, I can simply ‘Google’,” Dr. Sheth quipped, bringing the crowd to laughter. “On e-commerce platform, everything is recorded,” he elucidated.
Connecting the thread of research, he threw a question to the students. “How many of you will decide to live with your parents after marriage?” An impressive number of students raised their hands in support. “This is why you fail. Marketing research in this matter never matches what you do,” Dr. Sheth hinted at the gap existing between the research and the actuality.
In the conference, Dr. Sheth also talked about ‘entrepreneurship’, a topic of conversation in the management domain. “Women are better entrepreneurs than men. They have hard operational capabilities,” Dr. Sheth shared.
As the discussion forum opened, other experts on the panel shared their viewpoints on the topic. Students were also enthusiastic to know about new career options, industry expectations, how to survive and thrive in the current competitive market and more. While concluding the discussion, Dr. Sheth observed that the roundtable session would definitely help the budding researchers to get clarity on key issues related to aligning research outputs with industry demands.
The program witnessed a participation of 250+ people, including research scholars, students and faculty from various colleges.