The 12th Annual Business World Marketing Whitebook launch took place on July 27 in Mumbai. The first session titled ‘Marketing As a Game Changer for Biz Growth’ was addressed by Mainak Dhar, Managing Director, General Mills and Saugata Gupta, Managing Director & CEO, Marico. The session was moderated by Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India.
Gupta was of the opinion that one of the game changing factors in marketing in the consumer package goods industry has been the growth in the digital space. He attributes innovation and distribution as the biggest drivers of growth.
Dhar felt that since it’s all about winning consumers, one needs to be consumer savvy when it comes to marketing.
Sinha: You have been in the marketing domain for the longest amount of time and now you are heading companies. How has the transition been?
Gupta: In any consumer packaged goods (CPG) company, one has to make the consumer centric to everything. The biggest drivers of growth is innovation and distribution. I believe it is useless to chase profits. As I always say, if you do the right thing, growth and profit will always come. A marketer has to be always commercially oriented. One of the things that has changed in the CPG industry is the huge change in landscape in terms of the digital growth.
Dhar: In any consumer centric organisation, marketing is the way of thinking. You have to be consumer savvy because it is literally about winning the consumers. When I made the transition from marketing to General Managing, I realised that we will always be about marketing. The biggest difference which I personally found was the opportunity to make a much broader impact, and second, the realisation that the buck does stop with you.
Sinha: What are the challenges which a CMO faces?
Gupta: It depends on the focus of the organisation; if it is a growth focussed organisation, I don’t think the CMO has any issue. However, the CMO will have issues, if there are pressures on the bottomline. The CMO, therefore, needs to be business-focussed and should have speed with excellence. I think convergence of a CMO and CEO happens, whenever there is a convergence in terms of the long term thinking of the company.
Sinha: In today’s real time world, how do you manage short term pressure versus taking long term decisions?
Gupta: In today’s word, a great leader has to manage everything instead of managing polarity. It is not a question of ‘Or’ or ‘And’. One of the things which I have always believed in is never take a decision that compromises the long term goal. Few things which are important in an emerging market are that you need to build capability ahead of growth and also there is a need to invest in brand culture.
Dhar: If you are focussed, then short term pressures shouldn’t distract you.
Sinha: Can you share few experiences of any successful brand experiments which you headed?
Gupta: I have been fortunate enough to work in some of the best places that have given the option of creating things. I was working as a brand manager at Dairy Milk, when I made the dancing girl campaign. I totally believe, everything works and falls into place, when you are empowered, also you need to have the passion and conviction to make things work. I even believe in the philosophy that a company of great people influences great work. It was a great experience, the feeling of creating something on your own, rather than just executing it. The experience of unshackling the chocolate category at that point of time was extremely rewarding. The two drivers of affordability and relevance can unshackle any category.
Dhar shared his experience of the success which his company recently saw after the introduction of the Choco Idli variant. Cakes, which are at a nascent stage in India, have seen immense growth after it.
Sinha: What, according to you, is the role of digital in today’s age?
Gupta: In the CPG industry, digital is an opportunity and not a disruption. The biggest challenge is how to deal with consumers. Also analytics and Big data has huge opportunity for marketers today. There is actually huge opportunity to drive growth using technology. I feel that the CPG industry is slightly behind the curve. The biggest innovation happens in the constraint mindset. There is huge opportunity in analytics.
Dhar: Technology has helped in bringing the consumers to the board room and secondly, getting the boardroom in to the markets. I feel technology is actually allowing a lot of interesting conversations, it can transcend geographical barriers. People in my boardroom can actually sit and chat with the consumers and have a better understanding of what the consumers want.