With marketers finding it increasingly difficult to break through the clutter to reach the consumers, it has become important to refine strategies to achieve long-term success in the market. Keeping this is mind, The Economic Times organised ‘Compass 2008’ where business leaders shared their experiences in building brands. The event was presented by Starcom MediaVest Group and FutureWorks.
Eminent panelists and speakers gave insights into strategies to handle market-related issues as well as the challenges and opportunities. Stefano Pelle, Chairman, India Perfetti Van Melle (PVM) Group, gave a special address before the panel discussions began, where he stressed on the importance of not losing focus of the priorities while trying to attain long-term visions.
He cited the examples of various companies that had failed to achieve their long-term plans simply due to shift of focus to immediate or short-term priorities. Pelle gave an example of Samsung, that according to him, wanted to be one of the leading automobile players by 2010, but what happened instead was that the car factory that had it set up never got started. In his presentation, Pelle also took the audience through Perfetti Van Melle’s strategy in delivering the right product with the right communication mix.
He explained, “Our’s is an impulse driven category, and thus, it becomes important to have the right kind of message that connects with the consumers. I think, we as a company, have always endeavoured to challenge existing concepts and set trends for the confectionary segment.” He further said that the company was looking at innovation in the packaging of the products.
In the panel discussion that followed, speakers like Saugata Gupta, CEO-CPD, Marico Industries; Murali Sivaraman, CEO Philips Electronics India Ltd; Vinay Nadkarni, CEO Globus Stores Pvt Ltd; and Pelle discussed the means to achieve topline growth in India and international markets. The panel agreed that outsourcing unmanageable process was a smart idea, but one should never outsource activities relating to understanding consumer insights.
The post-lunch plenary session was on ‘Responding to Changing Retail Landscape’, where the panelists debated on the numerous changing patterns in the industry. Presided by Mazyar Kotwal, Director, Advisory Services, KPMG, the other panel members included Sanjay Sinha, CEO, Mahindra Logistics; Gunender Kapoor, President and CEO - Food Business, Reliance Industries Ltd; Ratan Jalan, CEO, Apollo Health & Lifestyle Ltd; Rajiv Agarwal, CEO, The Mobile Store; and Shantanu Khosla, MD – India, P&G.
The panel specially focused on areas like the changing structure and processes of the distribution system to cope with retail changes, as well as the retail-consumer relationship in the changing retail environment in India. All panelists also agreed on the need for growing the market collectively rather than doing it individually. Rounding off the discussion, Khosla noted, “Every retail channel will offer a different kind of need. Some will win, some will lose. Winners are those who understood their consumers better than the others.”
The final panel discussion for the day, titled ‘Innovation Panel’, saw industry experts make presentations on innovation and how they used it in their business and marketing plans. Chairing the session, Rajiv Narang, CMD, Erehwon Consulting Pvt Ltd, began the discussion with a presentation. He said, “Challengers are the ones who innovate more than the followers and leaders.” Citing examples of numerous companies that had successfully innovated to become leaders, Narang said, “It is important to continue to innovate even at the top.”
Other panelists included Dr Arun Vishwanath, Director C&D Operations, Procter and Gamble – Asia; Prabhat Pani, CEO, Roots Corporation Ltd; Dheeraj Gupta, MD, Jumbo King; and Sandeep Lakhina, MD, India-West & South, Starcom Worldwide. While Vishwanath delved into the success of ‘Connect+Develop’ programme of P&G, he stressed on the importance of innovation from outside the company as well as from within. Meanwhile, Gupta talked about his experience in innovations needed for the product from Jumbo King, which is currently present in Mumbai and Gujarat.
The day-long conference came to a close with a special address from Dr Shekhar Mitra, Global R&D Vice-President, Beauty Care, P&G, USA, who stressed on building a world class consumer-centric organisation to deliver breakthrough innovation.