Hi Marut, please tell us about your role and the journey at Indegene. 

My association with Indegene is recent, just about 3 months now and I have been spending most of my time building the team across India, Japan and Singapore. Lots of good work is already happening in China and we are looking to accelerate our footprint there. At Indegene we are seeing a hyper growth phase in adoption of digital technology across our customer base and we are gearing up to ensure that we can support them across the globe.

How is Indegene approaching the COVID crisis from a marketing strategy perspective? What are you doing to respond now, and what are the next steps in your scenario planning?

While we are missing the physical touchpoints with the customer, most of the interactions have moved to virtual. In fact the number of touch points with customers have increased given their need to adopt digital and mitigate the impact of COVID. We are leveraging our inside sales team more than earlier and taking our flagship events (like Global Summit) to digital.

We don’t think this situation is going to go back to pre-Covid normal anytime soon so our effort is to continue to accelerate our digital journey in all aspects of business including marketing and sales.

Many CMOS were looking to re-invest in brand building this year. Have you had to prioritise the short-term moves? Is brand building a luxury right now, or is it something you can juggle?

According to me Brand building is a continuous exercise and as much as possible it should not be effected by business cycles or situations like we are facing today. Any pause in implementing the strategy will push the organising back by multiple years.. what will surely change is the mode of engagement to build the brand and it is quite surprising how marketers are finding unique ways of engaging the audience.

Another interesting trend that we are seeing is deflation in cost of channels to deploy brand marketing strategies. Assets and airtimes are available at a fraction of cost and CMOs should look at leveraging these deflations to lock long term cost which will help them once the business is back in the post COVID world. While it absolutely depends on the organisational capacity to absorb shocks and continue to invest , where possible marketers should look at this blip as an opportunity and judiciously invest to achieve long term goals of the organisation.

What are the most common problems or rather, challenges, CMOs face?

In my mind marketers have a tough time in establishing ROI from different programs and channels. While ROI in the digital world is easy to track some of the outcomes are intangible in nature and most CMOs have a tough time justifying the investment.

Another one is long term vs short term returns. As the business cycles gear more and more susceptible to environmental changes and peaks and troughs follow each other much more closely than they have in the past and long term investment is being scrutinised very carefully. This is where the ownership and convincing capability of the CMOs comes into focus. More they align the organisations internally better is the long term impact of the work.

Has Indegene made any changes with regards to where you’re spending your media budget, based on new consumer behaviours?

There is surely a lot of shift in terms of channels that we are using to spend the money, specifically in the growth markets. Digital is becoming more and more important with social media marketing taking up a much larger share of wallet compared to 6 months ago. We see this as a good opportunity to move in the direction that is anyways is more sustainable for a growing organisation like us from a long term perspective.

Many tech brands are thriving during this time as online services and digital tools become more important. How do you plan to capitalise on these opportunities, both in terms of what’s coming through now, and the consumer behaviours you think are going to change the nature of your category moving forward?

Well we are one of the organisations that are seeing the increase in demand for our services. Being at the cusp of technology and healthcare, Indegene is poised to take advantage of this growth cycle. We believe we are entering a cycle where digital technology is going to take  centre stage and organisations that make right investments will be able to cash-in on the trends not just now but for almost a decade to come. While we are hoping that the world gets past COVID quickly, the impact on consumer behaviour may be here to stay for a much longer duration. Organisations and employees both have found the new way of working far more efficient, globe trotters are realising that online meetings could be productive too. While nothing replaces human to human contact we do feel that the world coming out of COVID will be far more digital oriented than what we have ever seen before.

What is the Future of Marketing in the post-COVID era? 

While the impact of COVID will be industry dependent, specifically for healthcare we see the following trend in marketing

  • Lot of focus on ROI for marketers
  • Digital first approach for almost all deployments / launches / engagements
  • Hyper segmentation of consumers for targeting marketing messages


Which tools and technologies is Indegene using for Marketing, Sales and Communications?

Indegene has developed robust AI/ML based engines to understand the digital affinity of our customers and our customer’s customer.

What would be your one piece of advice to every young Marketing professional?

  • ROI is super important and you should not shy away from getting into these tough discussion to back your strategies
  • Plan for a long term but have clear risk mitigate at every stage. World will keep changing, you have to be as agile.
  • Adopt digital first and expand channels.


Marut Setia will be speaking at the Marketing Innovation Exchange in October 2020. Register for free and join the conversation HERE. 

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