Radhika Piramal, Managing Director, VIP Industries, delivered the keynote address at the recent Pitch CMO Summit held in Mumbai on Friday. Piramal spoke on the topic of truth and transparency in the marketplace and in life.
Piramal began with sharing her mantras for maintaining a brand image that is authentic and honest and how those very mantras played a key role in her life.
Piramal returned to her family business of running VIP Industries in 2010 when the company was going through a rough patch. In the time that she was away from India studying and working abroad, VIP as a brand had lost relevance among the youth of India and making the brand relevant again, especially to people under 30 was her agenda.
“We launched four brands - Caprese (handbags for women), Skybags (backpacks for youth), Carlton (premium range travel bags), and Aristocrat (bags in the value segment). Even though we were the market leader, we were not doing well in the premium segment. The goal was to change the flagship brand and then do something more,” she said. The aspect about the brands that made it authentic was the customer segment each of the brands was targetting, she said.
Piramal added that she received a lot of internal objection for launching multiple brands that seemed to be cannibalising on the market of other VIP brands. “My attitude is if you are scared of losing share against yourself then you will never beat competition.”
She also said that keeping the marketing communication consistent kept the brand authentic. For example, Carlton, a company that was acquired by VIP, is not promoted as a VIP product. Carlton bags are ‘imported and marketed in India’, and they come with great legacy, she said. “It would not be authentic to call Carlton bags to be from the house of VIP, it would not be true to the history of the brand,” she said.
She said that while there is still a lot to be done with regard to differentiation in the market, as far as authenticity is concerned, she was satisfied with the performance of the brand. After Piramal took over, VIP Industries has seen a massive increment in its market cap. It has gone from Rs 140 cr to Rs 2100 cr and the EBITDA jumped from 3% in 2008-09 to 9% in 2015-16. She also added that promoting meritocracy in a family business also adds authenticity to the brand within the organisation.
Learning the skills of critical thinking, persuasion, lobbying, and getting comfortable with solitude further helped her make VIP an authentic brand to reckon with from the shop floor to the marketplace, she added.