Jugaad, freedom and 'What if?' planning

Alasdair Hall-Jones' takeaways from A Global Conversation: planning for 2021

New Year, new me, new world... as the business world starts turning its attention to next year, The Marketing Society collated seven inspiring marketing leaders from seven parts of the world to discuss how they’re planning for next year.

They were: Vicki Miller, Director of Marketing & Digital, Visit Scotland (Scotland), Keith Moor, CMO, Camelot (London), David Rosen, Board Member, The Marketing Society New York (New York), Kanika Mittal, Business Head, Twitter (India), Celine Sciortino, Head of Global Marketing, APM Monaco (Hong Kong), Emma Cantwell, Marketing & Comms Director, The Louvre (United Arab Emirates), and Alvin Neo, Chief Customer & Marketing Officer, NTUC Enterprise Co-operative (Singapore).

Here are some of the key learnings I took away:

'What if?' planning

A big theme throughout was the need to create multiple scenarios for next year - with many ‘what ifs’ still to be decided because of Covid... what happens if there is another lockdown? What if the vaccine suddenly becomes available? What if our customer behaviours change even more?

The need to be able to create multiple plans and strategies and be able to adapt quickly to shifts in scenarios will be crucial for marketers next year. Teams will need to be prepared for any outcome. They will have to work in an agile way and leaders must empower their teams to be able to act fast within any framework they’ve provided.

This has never been more important.


The business world has worked in yearly planning cycles for as long as anyone can remember. Until now. With the world in so much uncertainty, many businesses and brands have been focusing on short-term planning and budgeting (mainly in quarters) with the ability to change quickly.

Several of the speakers said that hyper-localisation will play a bigger role next year. This will be especially relevant for those in regional or global roles. The Global vs Local battle that has plagued marketers for years has got to the point where perhaps now is the time for local marketers to have their moment.

Jugaad and freedom

Freedom to try new things, to fail and learn quicker, to try things that wouldn’t have been possible a year ago. Freedom for everything not to be perfect. These unusual times have provided marketers with more opportunity to push the possible in their roles. In many cases the value of marketing within the business has never been higher - and indeed more respected, because of the ability for marketing to be able to move the business quickly, and to make change to create revenue-driving opportunities.

Perhaps the perception of marketing being purely a cost function is over?

Marketers are able to do more than they ever have before. The challenge for many is to be able to do this with less budget and less resource, but they must think past that and see this as an opportunity rather than a constraint.

Alvin and Kanika ended the session with one piece of advice: an Indian word ‘Jugaad’ – meaning to find a solution to something in the simplest and most frugal way. Will Jugaad be the Oxford Dictionary word of the year?

Time will tell…



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