Interview With Pranesh Misra, Chairman & Managing Director, Brandscapes Worldwide

pranesh misraEditor’s Note: Today I am extremely pleased to interview Pranesh Misra, Chairman & Managing Director, Brandscapes Worldwide. Pranesh will be co-presenting with Emami – on the topic “Exploring new frontiers – TV ad testing through mobile at MRMW Asia Conference. In this interview Pranesh provides in depth insights on the topic he will be speaking on. I am sure that the readers of this blog will be glad to read his views.

Brief Background of Pranesh Misra: An alumni of IIM Ahmedabad, Pranesh joined Brandscapes after a professional career encompassing three decades of hands-on experience in marketing, market research and marketing communication. His experience spans multiple facets of brand building and marketing strategy and he is recognised as an astute brand & communication strategy thought leader, having been the force behind several successful brands in Asia Pacific.

Pranesh periodically contributes columns to leading business publications and conducts training programmes on brand and communication strategy. He has taught at several management schools as a visiting faculty member.

Akshay Kanyal: Tell us something about your company in terms of history, service suite, future plans etc.

Pranesh Misra: Brandscapes Worldwide’s goal is to find “Winning Insights” for its clients. We passionately believe that discovery of the right insights at the right time would lead to profitable growth. Our core offering is Insight Mining, where we reanalyze and synthesize insights from data the client already possesses. We also offer innovative customized research based on use of new technologies and new thinking.

Akshay Kanyal: What are your key responsibility areas, the challenges and your approach for the same?

Pranesh Misra: As a professional turned entrepreneur, my goal is to build a insights consulting organization with a global footprint. We now have presence in USA, Europe, Singapore and India. Our team has grown from 3 to more than a hundred in the past six years. My key challenges are two (a) build a world class team that is passionate about discovering insights and (b) build long term, sustainable relationships with our clients.

Akshay Kanyal: Given the current focus on leveraging mobile technology for insights what are some of the advantages?

Pranesh Misra: Mobile is more than a technology – it has become a way of life. Can you call electricity or air travel a technology any more? No. Because these are now part of our lives – they fundamentally affect the way every citizen of this world lives his or her life.

The ubiquitous mobile has transformed lifestyles of consumers. It changed the way people communicate, learn and interact with the world. It gives us the power to reach out and observe people’s behavior and attitudes 24X7. Smart phones give us the power to access rich data in the form of picture, audio and video – rather than just codes. So, the opportunities to use the mobile as a route to insight gathering is limitless.

Akshay Kanyal: Have you ever participated in the MRMW Asia Conference? If yes what has been your overall experience?

Pranesh Misra: This will be the first time I will be attending and am looking forward to it. I have studied the past workshops and seen videos of the presentations. I believe it is a great knowledge sharing platform and brings together a community that is passionate about this field to learn from each other.

Akshay Kanyal: Can you elaborate on the topic you will be speaking at the MRMW Asia conference?

Pranesh Misra: Sure. In markets where online penetration is high, TVC testing has primarily gone online. However, there are several markets – particularly in Asia, Africa and South America – that have low online penetration. In these markets testing TVC is a cumbersome process, where respondents are herded into central locations and shown the TVC in an artificial environment and asked questions. Until mobile technology was available, there was no other option.

With mobile technology, we were able to take the ad on a mobile tablet to the respondent in her own environment and ask her questions there. The time the respondent had to devote to the test reduced dramatically from more than an hour (including travel time) to less than 15 minutes. Also, using the device we were able to voice record the verbatim responses, which could be analyzed later. Overall we saw an improvement in the quality of responses and a reduction in cost. It was a win-win solution.

We started a protocol called MAATS. Emami, was one of the first companies to participate and we have done several projects for them. Swati from Emami is my co-presenter and we will be sharing a case study for everyone’s benefit.

MAATS has now been implemented globally and some MNC clients have recognized it as one of their copy testing protocols. We are happy with what we have achieved in the past one year.

Akshay Kanyal: “Mobile will lead the next insight revolution”- what is your take on it?

Pranesh Misra: Mobile is the future. Unlike PC and Laptops, mobile is with the consumer all the time – it is like an extension of her persona. Also it is the ultimate convergence device – talk, message, email, take photographs/ videos, converse in social media, watch movies, listen to music or radio, share content…. and the list keeps growing every month. Penetration of smartphones is rising and there will be a time in the next 3 years where smartphones will be as ubiquitous as mobile phones – meaning more than 80% penetration, even in developing and emerging markets.

Anyone who ignore this, would do so at his or her peril.

Akshay Kanyal: Is it feasible to gather in depth insights from Mobile technology considering its current limitations?

Pranesh Misra: There are limitations, no doubt. But the old adage said, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. So, the onus is on practitioners like us to invent and reinvent how we can overcome these limitations and get deeper insights. Also, mobile technology is changing rapidly – so before we know it some of these shortcomings will vanish.

This is the best time for MR and Insights practitioners to demonstrate their creative and innovation instincts.

Akshay Kanyal: The greatest concern with any technology gathering data is ‘privacy issues’ – what are your thoughts on it?

Pranesh Misra: Yes, that is a big issue – but not insurmountable. We have to ensure that people give us the permission and we don’t snoop into their lives without their knowledge. Privacy must be respected. Having said that, people actually are less concerned about their privacy than we think – just look at the amount and variety of content they post on the social media!

Akshay Kanyal: To effectively utilize Mobile for TV Ad testing do we require sophisticated and costly tools? If so won’t it put small and medium enterprises at a huge disadvantage?

Pranesh Misra: In fact, the truth is the other way round. Mobile app based TV testing is cheaper than doing tests in the traditional format.

Akshay Kanyal: Are market researchers fully equipped to provide meaningful insights to clients via Mobile platform? How should a traditional researcher approach it?

Pranesh Misra: Equipped yes – oriented no. As long as our clients don’t demand it, market researchers are not inclined to go off the traditional path. Market researchers and their clients need to take some risks – it is something that you cannot avoid, when you are trying a new pathway. If your stomach is filled, the appetite for risk is low – so the larger research institutions will respond slower than the smaller, hungrier startups. But they will.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Akshay Kanyal:  How should market research agencies justify the required investments on TV ad testing through mobile?

Pranesh Misra: By providing proof of concept. Investing in a few pilots to perfect the technology, as we did. Also, by learning from others and sharing.

Akshay Kanyal: If someone wants to know more about your company ‘Brandscape’ how they can do so?

Pranesh Misra: Visit www.brandscapesworldwide.com

Akshay Kanyal: Any inspirational message for the youngsters who want to join the insight revolution?

Pranesh Misra: Be inquisitive, take risks and remain passionate.

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