Brands need to take social media more seriously: Pepsi India Chief


Highlighting the key role of social media in relation to companies, Cola maker PepsiCo India said it has started a daily “digital listening” to gauge online sentiment around its brands.

The comments came in the wake of recent controversy involving the Maggi instant noodles brand.

“We do digital listening at PepsiCo, we get brand-by-brand report every morning, positive sentiment, negative sentiment, what are the issues etc,” PepsiCo India Chairman and CEO D Shivakumar said at a Nasscom event on marketing.

All the brand managers and those engaged in research and development are looking carefully at discussions online everyday “to make sure there is a sense of consumer sentiment”, he said.

He said the deepening mobile and digital penetration has resulted in people getting a tool to express themselves and others commenting on the same, which can hurt a brand.

Moreover, people have started trusting their communities and there can be a situation wherein there is a “volcano of commentary” on bad experiences, he said, advising all companies to pay more attention to this aspect.

Without naming Maggi, Shivakumar also alluded to the controversy, saying, “I know there are a few people from Nestle in the audience, and they know what I mean.”

Once some problem is detected, companies have to be very “judicious” in the timing of their response, he said.

“You have to time your response very carefully. Too early, may be no use and too late, again no use. You have to judge the pulse of consumers in social media and hence, all good companies need to do what I call digital listening every day,” he said.

It can be noted that before being banned by the food regulator, there were a slew of criticisms of Nestle’s popular Maggi noodles online, with many people flagging health concerns.