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Kedar Rajadyne

President & COO – Consumer Products | 23 Aug 2013

A large part of the media today doesn’t know how to handle products that are a mix of pharma and consumer products. They are good at talking about purely FMCG products. You have to marry science and consumer understanding as there is a thin edge of sensitivity. Media agencies struggle with this. The other challenge is that the media space is becoming very expensive and you are reaching out to the same eyeballs.

Kedar Rajadyne joined the Piramal Group nine years ago to head the Consumer Products business. He has been instrumental in growing the business at a CAGR of 33 per cent and pushing the OTC business up 31 positions to No. 9 in India in five years.

Rajadyne has handled multiple divisions in the pharmaceutical space for Piramal Enterprises, including an important role in building the domestic formulations business. Post the demerger of Boots Piramal in 2007, he has played a pivotal role in building the consumer products division and managing leading brands such as Lacto Calamine, I Range, Saridon, Superactiv and many more. Before Piramal, Rajadyne had spent eight years at Hindustan Unilever, initially in sales and later in brands.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Mehra, Rajadyne speaks at length about growing the business to Rs 300 crore, giving a contemporary touch to brands Lacto Calamine and Saridon, and more…

Q. Piramal Healthcare’s consumer division has seen aggressive growth in the last four years – from a Rs 40 crore business to Rs 300 crore. Also, you have recently appointed Madison as your media agency. Is this in line with the brand’s vision for further aggressive growth?

We have a pharmaceutical heritage. We became independent four years back, earlier we had a joint venture with Boots Plc. We were ranked 40th in the consumer product space, which is the space between consumer products and pharma, so we have the expertise in pharma and talk to consumers. It is like consumerising science. In the last four years we have grown aggressively, from around Rs 40 crore business, we are now close to Rs 300 crore. We have also jumped ranks and are now placed 7th in this space; our aim is to make it to the top three, given that the top three space comprises of companies that have been here for many years, we thought we needed expertise. We needed a partner who could help us in this journey. We did a complete review in the media space and found that Madison is the agency with a proven track record and credentials in this space. They also have a track record of building many start-ups. That is why we decided to look at a media agency change and partner with Madison.

Q. What is the current brief that Madison is working on?

We have immediately started concentrating on the series of brands under the I Range and Lacto Calamine. Together with Madison, we are planning our overarching business strategy and approach, which will be brand specific.

Q. What were the insights behind the complete revamp of one of your core properties, Lacto Calamine?

We have a good portfolio, we have Lacto Calamine with multiple extensions. It is a huge brand with a huge legacy, but it was still in single digits in terms of sales. What we realised when we went to the consumers and asked them what was their alternative for Lacto Calamine; the answers we got were eye openers for us as the alternatives were purely FMCG and not medical.

So, the aspirations of consumers and brand consumer legacy and heritage were a complete mismatch, we had to do a complete comtemporisation and make the packaging more modern. To live up to consumers’ aspiration, we also started an aloe range because consumers wanted a moisturiser. Then we got a face wash, sunshield, and four months back we launched an anti-ageing cream. We don’t bring products that are only in the do good space, the primary objective is that the product has to work; the sun shield is US patented different technology which actually works as compared to other products in the market, which are purely cosmetic. We are looking at building the Lacto range and should be a Rs 100 crore brand within a year and a half with a series of extensions, some of which have already been launched.

Q. How were changes in the brand communicated to the consumers?

Through trials and sampling with Lacto Calamine, we realised that there is a large set of consumers that have lapsed from the brand as they were not finding it relevant any more. We did extensive door to door sampling, where we gave samples or discounts. When we did this, we realised that consumers actually tried the brand after many years and the repeat buying has been excellent.

Q. Any new media initiatives for Saridon?

Saridon is a brand synonymous as a solution to headaches. Playing on this strength and high brand recall, we do movie reviews with newspapers wherein instead of giving star ratings, the number of Saridons are indicated – the better the film, the lesser number of Saridons to be taken. We have done tie-ups across media. We are also looking at TV now.

Q. What are the brand’s expansion plans?

We have identified a series of spaces; the consumer product space in India is quite nascent. We’ve realised that the market will mature over the next few years, at the same time we look at products wherein we bring certain advantages and equity. Also, we are working on product line and brand extensions.

Q. What are the challenges that the brand is currently facing?

A large part of the media today doesn’t know how to handle products that are a mix of pharma and consumer products. They are good at talking about purely FMCG products. You have to marry science and consumer understanding as there is a thin edge of sensitivity. Media agencies struggle with this. The other challenge is that the media space is becoming very expensive and you are reaching out to the same eyeballs.

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