In 2011, Godrej Group set an ambitious target of achieving ten-fold growth in the coming decade. Despite the current economic slowdown, the Indian multinational looks to achieving its goal, which means growing at a 26 per cent annual compounded growth. So, how does the diversified conglomerate look to doing this in a slowing economy? Giving his insights is the man at the helm of the group – Adi Godrej, Chairman, Godrej Group.
Nine per cent GDP growth and over 8 per cent private consumption – this was the catchphrase used to highlight the fast growing Indian economy. However, the resulting downturn saw the GDP fall to 4.5 per cent and even more worrying, private consumption fell below 4 per cent. While slowdown is the time when the market needs stimulation, for Godrej, slowdown is the perfect opportunity for a company to improve its market share by being aggressive. He also believes that while the Return on Investment (RoI) could drop in the short term, one needs to be positive and look at the long term picture. While many companies look at slashing marketing budgets during slowdown, Godrej believes that in a declining market, it is market share and not volume share that needs to be looked at, adding that it is the market share which will help the company emerge stronger when the tide eventually turns positive. He also believes that it is important for a marketing firm to be pro-active and experiment during the good times.
“Innovation is the critical pillar for any marketing company,” said Godrej, adding that the group backed innovation during critical times, in fact, even accelerating their focus on innovation. “The foot is not taken off the innovation pedal,” said Godrej, who also cited various innovations undertaken by the Godrej Group for its brands such as Godrej Expert Crème hair dye and Aer air freshener to reiterate his point. He believed that a well thought out investment during slowdown will bear returns.
Godrej also highlighted on the importance of integrated marketing and the use of multiple touch points to reach the targeted end consumers. Speaking on the significance of this, he said that during slowdown, consumers look for reassurances, and a well-integrated marketing campaign can help get the message across to customers. He believes that this is the best time for a company to reinforce its brand equity and bold advertising can help achieve this. He also added that Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) is always conscious of the needs of the consumer and a constant endeavour is also made to tailor itself to connect with the youth. An example of this is the re-launch of its flagship soap brand, Cinthol. He added that companies today need to integrate both their traditional and digital media. However, with Big Data and social media being the buzz words, it is critical to know how to use them effectively with a well-placed strategy.
Godrej also stressed on the critical role that a mother brand can play. He reflected on the ‘Ideas That Make Life Brighter’ campaign, which utilised actor Aamir Khan as a group brand ambassador for the mother brand, Godrej, and why this association with the A-lister worked. Khan, who is not known to endorse many products, was used effectively to promote the mother brand and this helped Godrej leverage the actor across its wide and diverse portfolio. Godrej revealed that an internal survey showed that 600 million people in India used at least one Godrej product, which is higher than any other Indian group, making this one of the highest consumer base in the developing world. Godrej stressed that the key is not adding consumers, but creating loyal ambassadors and added that being connected with consumers and garnering consumer insights helps the company in a challenging environment. “In favourable times, the same consumers will take you higher,” he added.
Adi Godrej was the keynote speaker at the unveiling of the Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2014 in Mumbai on February 19, 2014.