Chief executive agro business, ITC also talks about version 3.0. But it’s not about the trajectory when it comes to evolution of the consumers, but the business model – it’s e-choupal 3.0, the next phase of ITC’s foray into the hinterland.
But it’s not just from ITC who’s excited about turning a new page in the book. Because by the time e-choupal 3.0 assumes its final shape, a host of companies and brands will also stand to benefit. ITC may have provided the platform a decade ago. But improvising for the future and even the progress over the last 10 years owes something to what they call “a collective effort.” In short, it’s a trend which one will increasingly witness in the time to come – ecosystem marketing. A labyrinth of alliances and partnerships all aimed at fuelling the next wave of growth through the decade to come; growth that will be shared by and restricted to those who decided to collaborate. And it’s not just ITC who’s looking at creating an environment of long term strategic alliances, but even players like P&G, Intel and Nokia, who realize the importance of dependent growth to reach out to new markets.
The concept of operating within an eco-system by theory and practice isn’t a new phenomenon. A director – marketing, puts it; “even our ancestral farmers and traders worked in partnerships with each other and thus functioned within a beneficial eco-system.”
What however has changed and made companies pay a greater degree of attention to creating a mutually beneficial environment is the Indian marketplace which has undergone a sea change in the last decade and is likely to change further in the time to come. What has evolved is the increase in the number of players and hence the options to form ecosystems have multiplied. For instance, mobile and digital companies didn’t feature in the marketing set several years back, but are now strong pillars of the system. There are multiple triggers driving the need to create an ecosystem, the primary being meeting the consumer’s needs, both evolved and underserved.
Take the example of ITC’s e-choupal, which works on the pivots of collaboration. The online initiative which started with four partners has now grown to 160 partners (brands, NGOs, governmental bodies and others) touching four million farmers across 107 districts in India.
The rural consumers are looking for solutions and not just products. So to provide rural consumers access to complete services and solutions is like trawling in the deep sea. The transaction costs are high; therefore, an ecosystem approach is needed. To create the whole chain, the objective is to get specialists in each solution offered on the platform.
So the ecosystem created by ITC to reach out to rural consumers is also proving to be beneficial for Nokia, who’s looking at the same rural populace to fuel growth in India through Nokia Life Tools The partnerships depend on how much a brand influences the livelihood of the target audience. So one looks at alliances from how does a partner benefit from it and what is the usefulness of such a partnership over a long timeframe for the consumers. For instance, the eco-system Nokia is looking to create involves diverse players — from ITC and Syngenta to even the Spices board and the national horticulture board.
An ecosystem, brands realize, works even in high clutter urban markets. The high octane growth in India has lead to a more evolved consumer prompting brands to look at alliances to satisfy the growing desire for an experience.
Citing the example of personal computers, head – marketing, Intel, says that the purchase of a PC swings from going to telcos for connectivity to procuring hardware to figuring out content. Now they can access it from each player individually or the players can team up to provide a complete package. One harnesses the collective power driving towards growth.