Vijaygopal: helping brands grow
This leadership – a fusion of practical wisdom and academic insight – has propelled R.K. Swamy to new heights. The company’s strength lies in its diverse team of 2,391 employees, each upholding the company’s rich heritage and driving its success forward. The depth of client relationships and the company’s market position today are testaments to this enduring legacy – a legacy of excellence and innovation.
R.K. Swamy boasts of a well-diversified client-base, having catered to over 4,000 client organisations and served more than 475 clients in 2022-23 alone. The company’ s clientele spans multiple industry verticals, with a particular focus on BFSI, automotive, FMCG, consumer durables, retail and e-commerce sectors. This diversity is complemented by deep domain expertise across various client organisation structures, including private sector business groups, multinational companies, public sector enterprises, central government ministries, and NGOs.
A portion of R.K. Swamy’s business comes from repeat clients, underlining the strength and longevity of its client relationships. In 2022-23, revenues from repeat customers accounted for 83.73 per cent of the total revenues from operations. It showcases the company’s ability to consistently meet and exceed client expectations. Its client roster reads like a who’s who of the corporate world and includes marquee names such as Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC, Cera Sanitaryware and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
For instance, the sectors contributed to the company’s revenues, include BFSI leading at 32.60 per cent, followed by automotive at 17.75 per cent and FMCG/ consumer durables/ retail/e-commerce at 17.02 per cent. Additionally, the company’s reach extends beyond these primary industries, serving clients in rural areas and the social (IEC)/advocacy and media & entertainment sectors.
“We continue to stay focussed on sectors where we have gained deep industry knowledge, enabling us to respond to diverse client requirements effectively,” says Sundar. “Our expertise extends beyond mere service provision; we have acquired domain experience covering various types of organisational structures. Our depth in these areas allows us to tailor our approach to each client’s unique needs and objectives, ensuring that we deliver not just solutions, but value and insight”.
Rising above marketing
In terms of content, there are creative and digital content, media (including digital), events and activation planning, buying, executing, and other services like public relations and social media management. The evolution reflects the expansion of the advertising landscape, especially with the rise of social media advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. R.K. Swamy’s creative teams craft interactive campaigns, offering unique brand experiences that connect clients with diverse audiences.
R.K. Swamy’s pioneering efforts in the realm of research and strategy is epitomised by the flagship original research publication, the ‘R.K. Swamy Hansa Guide to Market Planning’. First published in 1989 and periodically updated, this guide has become an indispensable tool for enhancing marketing and sales efficiency.
It also features case studies crafted from real-world queries posed by marketers, offering insights into handling diverse marketing scenarios. Further cementing its thought leadership, R.K. Swamy spearheaded the ‘Indian Readership Survey’ for a decade, setting industry benchmarks for readership trends.
The company’s revenue model is diverse. It includes commissions & retainer fees, project income, production income, and rate card based charges. Each category tailors to different client needs, from commissions on media payouts and production expenses to retainer fees for ongoing services. Project income covers specific client projects, while production income is generated through in-house or third-party film/video production. Rate card-based charges apply to pre-defined work, offering transparent, itemised billing.
Sangani: putting clients’ interest first
Under the advertising and digital content category, R.K. Swamy has excelled in creating engaging content for a range of platforms. This includes commercials for television, digital platforms and print, among others, in multiple Indian languages. The company has also specialised in digital content at scale, website development, social media management, and online reputation management.
In the media, events, and activation sphere, it ensures that client content reaches the right audience at cost-effective prices. This involves meticulous media strategy development, rate negotiation, and campaign execution, leveraging years of industry experience and insights to deliver impactful results.
“Our track record of helping build brands and businesses speaks for itself,” says Vijaygopal V., president, RKS. R.K. Swamy’s approach to media planning and execution is underpinned by a suite of proprietary tools designed for optimal efficiency. These tools include the reach optimiser, channel optimiser, time band optimiser, TVC mix optimiser and sponsorship optimiser. Each tool plays a crucial role in ensuring that media spends are optimized and that the client’s message reaches the intended audience effectively and efficiently.
In addition to these services, R.K. Swamy excels in events and activation programs, directly engaging clients with their stakeholders and target consumers. These events range from product launches and employee engagements to industry-level conventions. The company’s capability extends to both online and offline project management and execution, ensuring a seamless experience for clients and their audiences.
Charting data frontiers
R.K. Swamy ventured into the data analytics business in 2008, at a time when the concept was just beginning to gain traction. This forward-thinking initiative positioned the company as a pioneer in an area that would soon become a cornerstone of modern marketing.
In fact, in this segment, R.K. Swamy offers an array of services, including customer data analytics, online reputation management, campaign tracking, CRM tools and sentiment analysis. With Indian businesses’ increasing needs, the recognition of MarTech solutions is growing to gain deeper consumer insights and optimise marketing strategies.
Hansa Customer Equity, a subsidiary of R.K. Swamy, has been a key player in this field, and is recognised among the top groups in the customer data analytics and MarTech services segment. “We are pioneers in the customer data business,” says Neeraj Sangani, CEO, Hansa Customer Equity. “We are tool- and platform-agnostic. We put our clients’ interests first”.
At the core of the firm’s approach is the establishment of a robust data foundation. This crucial first step involves amalgamating data from multiple sources into a single repository, creating what’s termed as a ‘Customer Single View’. This comprehensive view provides a multifaceted understanding of clients, enhancing customer engagement.
The data is then subjected to a blend of descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics, transitioning from retrospective analysis to more proactive and advanced analytical methods. This progression culminates in strategic campaign execution, ensuring content is communicated through the most effective channels and at optimal times.
In terms of specific services, R.K. Swamy offers a wide array of data analytics solutions and services. Data architecture consulting is a key area where the company assists clients in constructing efficient data architectures, making data easily accessible, while maintaining confidentiality and integrity. This process is streamlined through automation using marketing technology tools.
Another critical area is data science and AI, where R.K. Swamy helps clients process and derive insights from unstructured data like texts, images, and videos. Using data science, machine learning, and AI, the company deploys sophisticated algorithms and analytical techniques to navigate complex data sets. This approach enables R.K. Swamy to provide AI- powered marketing solutions that are both innovative and effective.
Narasimhan: integrated service
In terms of specific services, R.K. Swamy offers a wide array of data analytics solutions and services. Data architecture consulting is a key area where the company assists clients in constructing efficient data architectures, making data easily accessible while maintaining confidentiality and integrity. This process is streamlined through automation using marketing technology tools like Adobe, Salesforce and Clevertap.
Also, under the umbrella of its subsidiary Hansa Customer Equity, R.K. Swamy has been servicing over 200 clients, meticulously building this business segment from the ground up. The focus has been on developing a comprehensive suite of services in Customer Data Analytics and MarTech, tailored to meet the diverse needs of clients in an increasingly data-driven world.
This commitment to innovation and excellence in data analytics and MarTech is not just a part of the company’s ethos but is also recognised by industry peers. Hansa Customer Equity was acclaimed as one of the ‘top 50 companies in India for data scientists to work for’ in 2022 by Analytics India Magazine, a testament to the company’s leadership in this field.
Financially, the customer data analytics and MarTech business segment is growing strong. According to CRISIL Research, “The customer data analytics and MarTech business was approximately Rs11,500 crore in Fiscal 2023 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13-15 per cent to Rs20,000 to 23,000 crore by 2027-28,” states the report. R.K. Swamy’s early entry into the industry will enable it to capitalise on this burgeoning field.
In its other business, R.K. Swamy, through its subsidiary Hansa Research, has established itself as a force in full-service market research. The company delivers an extensive array of services, characterised by a commitment to gathering organised, systematic, and scientific feedback. This meticulous approach hones consumer and stakeholder preferences, equipping clients with actionable, clear, and objective insights. The company excels in creating and distributing proprietary research content, comprising published reports, interactive tools, briefings and direct communication channels.
The firm offers market research solutions across seven distinct categories, each tailored to specific facets of market research. These range from quantitative and qualitative studies for consumer insights to comprehensive strategies for customer experience measurement and from insightful marketing and business strategy to in-depth syndicated studies.
In conducting quantitative and qualitative studies, R.K. Swamy has delved into generating critical consumer insights. The process involves a thorough understanding of consumer behavior, predictive analysis, and causal relationship examination. The goal is to extend these insights to wider populations. The company’s specialised studies, such as brand health measurement and tracking, advertising pre-testing and product and concept testing are integral to assisting clients in assessing and strategically positioning their products and brands.
This multifaceted approach to market research not only establishes the company as a provider of services but also as a strategic partner. This positioning enables R.K. Swamy to guide clients through the intricacies of market dynamics and consumer behaviour, offering effective solutions and insights for informed decision-making.
Hansa Research, specialises in providing services like audience segmentation and consumer intelligence. Notably, Hansa Research conducted the Indian Readership Survey for a decade, covering over two million individuals, highlighting the company’s extensive experience and expertise in market research.
“We seek to eliminate this information asymmetry faced by clients and provide clarity with actionable, objective insight,” says Praveen Nijhara, CEO, Hansa Research. “The foundation of our business model is our ability to create and distribute proprietary research content through published reports, interactive tools, briefings and direct communication”.
Scaling digital heights
The firm’s journey in the digital domain exemplifies starting small and dominating big in a short time. Besides, over the years, the company has built its digital capabilities in-house showing the immense talent the team has acquired over the years. “We have built our own capabilities for Digital. Not acquired them. Our service is therefore already integrated. No struggle to blend teams from outside,” says S. Narasimhan, chief digital officer.
The company’s digital operations have been contributing to its overall revenue. The digital operations have accounted for an impressive 78.13 per cent of the company’s total revenue by March 2023. This marks a consistent upward trajectory from 75.30 per cent in 2022 and 69.81 per in 2021, showcasing not just growth but a dominant presence in the digital landscape.
The company’s handling of unique customer profiles is a key indicator of its expanding digital influence. The numbers speak volumes: in 2022-23, the company expertly managed 195 million unique customer profiles -- a remarkable increase from 153 million in the preceding year. Moreover, the company’s customer outreach campaigns have seen a surge. In 2022-23, these campaigns reached a towering 2.264 billion – up from 1.774 billion in 2021-22. This escalation in outreach efforts is a testament to R.K. Swamy’s commitment to leveraging digital channels to connect with and engage customers on an unprecedented scale.
The increase in voice calls and digital queries, encompassing ORM, chat, and email, further underscores the breadth of R.K. Swamy’s digital capabilities. These numbers highlight the company’s proficiency in employing a range of digital communication tools to interact with and understand the needs of its customers.
R.K. Swamy’s focus on the creation of digital content at scale is now a key focus of its business strategy, as it addresses the growing demand for engaging digital experiences in both online and offline realms. The company’s approach covers three key areas: crafting short videos, product videos, and animations for targeted distribution across various digital platforms, second, produce specialised, engaging, longer-duration productions with viral potential, and third, create longer-duration informative videos for communicating complex concepts and programmes.
In 2022-23, R.K. Swamy’s prowess in digital content production was evident, with the creation of 2,828 videos in 13 different languages, which can be seen in the projects for some of its clients. In one of its endeavours, the company was instrumental in expanding its services to transform static material into dynamic digital content, enhancing stakeholder engagement for a leading regulator.
Besides, in a special project for a top life insurance company, R.K. Swamy assisted in agent recruitment through a comprehensive program. This included the creation of unique digital content, extensive digital media outreach, and effective social media and response management.
The initiatives reflect R.K. Swamy’s commitment to leveraging digital content as a key driver of client marketing strategies. “We produce digital marketing content at scale, both in terms of volume and languages,” says Shekar Swamy. “Producing digital content at scale will continue to be a focus area and we are investing to enhance and expand this area of our operations”.
To further enhance client engagement, R.K. Swamy has established CATI (computer assisted telephone interviewing) and customer experience centres across 10 locations. These centres, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and multilingual capabilities, are integral to the company’s value-added service offerings. They enable direct interaction with consumers nationwide, providing insights that are crucial for client success.
Nijhara: eliminating information asymmetry
Regular collaboration with Central ministries and public sector enterprises has also contributed to R.K. Swamy’s industry standing. This diverse and robust client base, coupled with a commitment to staying closely engaged with clients, underscores the company’s growth trajectory, rooted in a deep understanding of client needs.
Leveraging its deep-rooted connection with India, R.K. Swamy has successfully straddled both public and private sectors, each playing a pivotal role in its impressive growth trajectory. The company’s ability to cater to the diverse needs of these sectors has been a key factor in its sustained success and financial robustness.
Elevating profit horizons
The firm’s business is an interplay between public and private sectors, each contributing uniquely to the company’s growth. In 2022-23, the company’s private sector engagements generated a robust Rs250 crore in net revenue, accounting for 85.48 per cent of operational earnings. Meanwhile, the public sector carved out its own significant niche. It contributed Rs42 crore, accounting for 14.52 per cent of the total revenue in 2022-23.
Over the last three years, R.K. Swamy has demonstrated remarkable growth, effectively navigating and capitalising on different verticals. The strategic expansion has been reflected in its financials, with the company’s revenues witnessing a significant increase from Rs183.2 crore in 2020-21 to Rs292.6 crore in 2022-23. Notably, in 2022-23 alone, R.K. Swamy achieved a solid 25 per cent year-on-year revenue growth, an indicator of its robust market presence and evolving business strategies.
This growth story of R.K. Swamy is not just about increasing revenues but also about enhancing profitability and efficiency. The company’s EBIDTA margin has benefited from the growing revenues and resulting economies of scale. In a clear demonstration of improved operational efficiency, the EBIDTA margin expanded from 15.7 per cent in 2020-21 to an impressive 20.9 per cent in 2022-23.
Another critical metric that highlights the business efficiency is the growing return on capital employed (RoCE). The company saw its RoCE expand from 8.5 per cent in 2020-21 to a remarkable 28.95 per cent in 2022-23. “Our performance in recent time is an outcome of our strategic initiatives as well as well thought through operational and treasury interventions,” says Rajeev Newar.
Exploding market trends
The marketing services industry in India has witnessed a transformation in recent years. Driven by digital innovation, changing consumer behaviours and an increasingly competitive corporate landscape, this sector has become a crucial component of the country’s economic fabric.
“The marketing services market in India grew at a CAGR of 5.6 per cent between 2018-19 and 2022-23, reaching Rs1,93,600 crore in 2022-23,” informs CRISIL Research. “This increase in corporate earnings has led to higher spending on marketing activities, with advertisements forming a significant portion of the overall marketing services market”.
The future of the industry will be increasingly shaped by digital advertisement spends and investments in customer data analytics & MarTech. Within this broader segment, the overall market size of integrated marketing communications in India stood at about Rs87,100 crore, expanding at a CAGR of 5.6 per cent from Rs70,000 crore 2018-19.
This was higher than the 4.4 per cent growth in the global integrated marketing communications industry during the same period, indicating faster recovery from Covid-19 levels. “The industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14-16 per cent to reach Rs1,70,000-1,80,000 crore by 2027-28, on account of broader economic recovery and due to the shift towards digital advertising and spending, as internet subscribers rise,” adds CRISIL Research.
On the other hand, the overall market size of customer data analytics and MarTech in India grew at a CAGR of 12 per cent and was Rs11,500 crore in 2022-23 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13-15 per cent to reach Rs20,000-23,000 crore by 2027-28. Even in this segment, according to CRISIL. The FMCG and retail sector accounts for the largest share of 26-28 per cent of the MarTech market, with Rs3,000-3,500 crore, followed by the BFSI sector with a 25-27 per cent share, with Rs2,900-3,200 crore.. These numbers indicate a strong demand for MarTech solutions in these sectors, emphasising focus on understanding consumer behaviour and optimising marketing strategies.
Besides, the full-service market research in India grew at 6.2 per cent CAGR between 2018-19 and 2022-23 – from Rs7,300 crore to Rs9,300 crore and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7-9 per cent to reach Rs12,000-14,000 crore by 2027-28.
That should set the growth rolling for R.K. Swamy in the coming years. For enhancing its growth, R.K. Swamy has outlined a strategic plan that hinges on deepening existing client relationships and expanding its client base, with a particular emphasis on key sectors.
Recognising the immense potential for expansion across various business segments and geographies, R.K. Swamy has been proactive in capitalising on these opportunities across its business operations. In 2022-23, the company saw that 16.27 per cent of its revenue from operations was contributed by new clients, which shows its successful business development efforts.
R.K. Swamy’s approach is underpinned by a robust portfolio of over 475 active clients, emphasising the need for continuous service enhancements. The longevity of client relationships, with the top 10 and 50 clients averaging about 19 and 11 years respectively, is impressive. At the core of its strategy is the drive to build and sustain long-term client partnerships. Its integrated marketing communications strategies enable the company to retain clients over the long term.
And it’s a strategy that is bearing fruit in several instances. For a consumer durables company, for example, R.K. Swamy significantly scaled up the creation of digital videos for new product launches. This initiative has now become an integral part of the client’s strategy for all new product introductions.
Since August 2022, the company has produced 47 videos, contributing to a remarkable CAGR of 22.95 per cent in revenue from 2020-21 to 2022-23. In another case, for a leading automobile company, R.K. Swamy expanded the number of client experience representatives from 299 to 525, adapting its marketing infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the client. Such strategic moves exemplify R.K. Swamy’s commitment to evolving with its clients and reinforcing its position as a key player in the industry.
At the heart of R.K. Swamy’s strategy is a focussed commitment to the creation and scaling of digital content. The company adeptly leverages digital content to bolster its clients’ marketing efforts, both online and offline. This includes an array of offerings from short, impactful product videos and animations designed for targeted distribution across digital platforms, to specialised, longer-duration productions with viral potential, and informative videos that communicate complex concepts with clarity and engagement.
Sangeetha: deep connection with our country
Eyeing new horizons
Looking ahead, R.K. Swamy plans to further bolster its digital content capabilities. The company intends to invest in creating a state-of-the-art production studio equipped with advanced post-production facilities. This move is aimed at enhancing the quality of production while ensuring quick turnaround times, thereby elevating the standard of digital content creation to meet and exceed client expectations in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
R.K. Swamy is charting a course for diversified growth and innovation. A key initiative is the establishment of the R.K. Swamy Centre for Indian Markets, envisioned as a think tank. This centre is set to conduct both large-scale and targeted studies, illuminating the intricacies of the Indian market.
Another project is the launch of Prerna, a multi-media platform under the R.K. Swamy Hansa umbrella. Prerna is designed to feature real-life stories of value creators, serving as a sponsored platform aimed at organisations that have thrived under the influence of their founders’ and leaders’ steadfast values.
The company also plans to establish the R.K. Swamy Brand and Marketing Consulting Group. This venture will be led by domain and consulting experts, offering specialised assistance in marketing strategies, brand assessment, digital and data consulting. With its integrated expertise in market research, media, branding, and data analytics, R.K. Swamy is uniquely positioned to offer specialised brand and marketing consulting services, anticipating this group to become a significant contributor to the company’s business performance.
R.K. Swamy’s strategic expansion plans extend both domestically and internationally, underscoring its ambition to strengthen its presence in key markets. As of 30 June 2023, with 12 offices and field locations across 12 Indian cities, the company is poised for further geographical expansion.
The success in locations like Kochi and Hyderabad, where it serviced 10 clients each, highlights the potential for building a stronger client base in these regions. Building on this experience, R.K. Swamy plans to commence operations in Ahmedabad, Lucknow, and Jaipur, targeting new and emerging clients in these cities.
Internationally, R.K. Swamy has established a corporate and business presence in Dubai and Bangladesh. Dubai serves as a commercial hub for the Middle East and a gateway to African markets, while Bangladesh’s growing economy and large consumer market offer opportunities. Additionally, through a marketing service agreement with Hansa Marketing Services Pte Ltd in Singapore, R.K. Swamy extends its reach across the Asia-Pacific region, leveraging Singapore’s status as a regional hub for many companies and a gateway to South-East Asian markets.
In line with these expansion efforts, R.K. Swamy is also focussing on new initiatives to enhance its product and service portfolio. One key area is investing in physical and operational infrastructure to boost content creation capabilities. The plan includes setting up a fully-equipped production studio with post-production facilities, aiming for high-quality production and quick turnaround times. This investment is expected to enhance in-house production capabilities, meet the rising demand for digital content creation, reduce reliance on external productions, and ultimately contribute to increased profits and revenues.
One of its key initiatives is to set its sights to revolutionise marketing in the automotive sector, with the introduction of its auto marketing platform. This initiative is aimed at developing a marketing services platform that seamlessly integrates into the marketing processes of major automobile companies, including those producing ancillary auto products.
The platform, underpinned by a data-driven and software-enabled approach, is designed to significantly enhance the marketing efficiencies and effectiveness of auto sector companies. It will feature sophisticated frameworks capable of measuring various aspects of the customer journey, including touchpoints, media reach, brand perception, and experience, tailored for both two-wheelers and four-wheelers.
The company’s strength lies in its diverse team, which drives its success forward
In addition to this automotive-focused endeavour, R.K. Swamy plans to develop a data mart for individual and household consumers. This platform is envisaged as a comprehensive customer data repository, providing detailed consumer profiles to enable clients to accurately target the right audience. The goal is to support clients in growing their businesses profitably while ensuring sustainable audience retention.
This service will be particularly beneficial for clients with their own first-party data, enabling them to execute targeted campaigns based on a range of indicative variables. Such targeted approaches are expected to lead to increased sales and enhanced customer retention, bolstering R.K. Swamy’s position as a leader in innovative marketing solutions.
These initiatives are designed to provide data-driven, software-enabled marketing solutions, aiding clients in improving marketing efficiencies and targeting the right audience for sustainable business growth. Furthermore, the planned DVCP Studio and post-production facilities are set to support and address client needs effectively, reflecting R.K. Swamy’s commitment to staying at the forefront of the marketing services industry.
R.K. Swamy’s journey is now set to enter the next leg. The company plans to raise funds to strengthen its capital base and it will be the first integrated marketing firm to tap the markets. With the Rs215 crore primary raise, it will set up a state-of-the-art digital video content production studio, investing in IT infrastructure development, while establishing new customer experience and computer-aided telephonic interview centres. A further 8.7 million shares is being planned through an offer for sale.
The establishment of new customer experience centres and computer-aided telephonic interview centres will further bolster the company’s ability to deliver comprehensive and innovative solutions to its clients and enable the company to enhance its comprehensive service offerings and solidify its position as a pioneering integrated marketing services provider.
“Our clients use our integrated marketing communications, customer data analytics and MarTech, and full-service market research offerings as strategic tools to pursue their growth agenda. We believe that there is substantial opportunity to expand our client base across our business segments, functions, and geographies,” affirms Shekar Swamy. As these plans roll in motion, R.K. Swamy is on the cusp of transcending into a new league, heralding a transformative era in the integrated marketing landscape.