Q1. What is the experience or thought that developed into Almond?
It wasn’t one idea or one thought but rather a series of observations, insights and client inputs/feedback. First, amidst the attention-deficit economy, engagement will play a pivotal role, and it’ll keep growing. Only a brand/idea that can engage and sustain engagement will stay relevant. Second, everything is moving to a digital-first approach, however, digital engagement is not limited to social media or video or e-commerce, 40% of Indian mobile users still don’t use smartphones and content fatigue is real. Lastly, mobile behaviour i.e. communication, commerce and community is evolving with internet penetration, voice, gaming, digital payments and virtual experiences. Mobile Marketing Association reports that voice search queries in India are currently growing at 270% per year.
Almond identified key challenges and opportunities with physical engagement(s) and outreach programs, and how simple technology solutions can make these engagements extremely rewarding for consumers & customers, and effective for brands & organizations. A sales team doesn’t need to go to a far-off Kirana shop anymore to engage a shopkeeper who owns a feature phone. It can be done through a combination of IVRS, SMS and systems like DBT (Daily Benefit Transfer).
Through our products & services, we harness the power of community, content, hyper-localization, data analytics and instant gratification to build digital customer experiences that deliver on business goals.
Q2. What has been the impact of your innovation on the businesses?
To put in numbers, our tech products & solutions have been able to provide cost-efficiency of up to 70% on consumer/customer engagement programs. We have been able to reduce the go-to-market timeline by up to 3x times and deliver real-time impact measurement. Most importantly, our innovation has increased the key message retention by up to 50%.
Q3. Tell us about the adoption of mar-tech solutions by various brands?
Instead of talking about a particular brand, let me give you an example.
Imagine an FMCG company is launching a new herbal ayurvedic shampoo. For its Go-To-Market strategy, it’ll need to engage five primary stakeholders – consumers, retailers, stockists/wholesalers, sales teams and influencers.
To engage consumers and retailers, we deploy a combination of our mobile-first audio and video engagement platform, our video commerce and e-gifting platform. This can educate, engage and reward the stakeholders within minutes. For stockists/wholesalers and sales teams, we deploy a combination of our virtual events/experiences platform and our digital edutainment platform to develop brand loyalty and long-term message retention. For influencers, we deploy our custom video platform, to create personalised communication using the power of AI.
So, essentially, our platforms can simultaneously reach & engage 1 billion smartphone and feature phone users i.e. 75% of the Indian population, immediately reward/gratify 20 million UPI users, and provide real-time analytics.
With industries such as consumer durables, FMCG, auto and B2B retail we have seen tremendous success. We’ve also developed custom solutions for social and not-for-profit institutions that engage with communities, support and uplift them. Information is the key to engage these communities and simplistic solutions like IVR, SMS, WhatsApp, low-bandwidth video engagement ensure reach, consistency and ability to measure impact.
Q4. How has the pandemic impacted the relevance of solutions you offer?
Our products had started seeing a lot of traction with marketers in 2018 and 2019 but the pandemic catapulted that relevance. Social distancing, WFH, and low preference for physical/touch-based interactions has catalysed the adoption of interactive digital and technology solutions, and brands/marketers are now more eager to deploy our solutions.
But, the biggest story is data and ROI. The market had begun to understand the importance of data before the pandemic, but as content and other digital mediums grew in the lockdown, the relevance of data and measurement grew multi-fold. Every technology has to deliver a business goal. Our vigital (video, virtual and digital) platforms provide data, user insights and market intelligence, and thus have become a must-have part of our client’s marketing and sales programs.
Q5. How has the market responded to Digital Platforms?
Out of the 1.9 trillion global marketing spend roughly about 600 Bn is spent on physical outreach programs and about half of it is spent on programs like consumer promotions, events, exhibitions, activations and retail engagement. This is four times the current AI market.
Digital experiences have grown 3X since the beginning of the pandemic as virtual, video and digital have together taken over engagement. Like I said, the market was ready but the adoption was pretty slow. The pandemic turned out to be an eye-opener for everyone and it made clear that everyone must innovate to survive.
Engagement is the core of customer experience and if we add in reduced budgets and deep focus on business metrics, brands and marketers have been very receptive to our ideas, platforms and solutions.
To give you an example, a client that’s been conducting physical training across India for years, worked with us to create a digital education academy for their business partners. First-year cost optimization of 35% has pushed them to invest in a full-time solution and a dedicated team that’ll work on evolving this platform through user insights and business goals.
Q6. What gives your products an edge over your counterparts?
The edge is in three things – customization, scalability and operational efficiencies.
With customization we amalgamate creativity and technology.
Our vigital product portfolio i.e.
- Virtex – Virtual events, expo and experiences platform
- Vingage – Mobile first video & audio engagement platform (built for both smartphones & featurephones)
- Vider – Personalized video platform
- V-Commerce – Video + virtual commerce platform
- VGift – An all-inclusive gifts, rewards and e-gratification platform
is built to deliver wide reach with or without internet or with low-fidelity internet.
With operational efficiency, we bring best-in-class data management & analytics and technology support. Each of these are the pillars of our current products and those that are in development.
Q7. What is your vision for the company?
We are a technology transformation company with the mission to build sophisticated but simplistic tech solutions that can engage every connected human on the planet. Our solutions are aimed to empower brands, organizations and institutions to create customer experiences that are aligned with business goals. Our vision is to help businesses transform with the power of technology.