Local train-ed: MTR is now heavily focusing on millennials; restructures sales and marketing team

This year MTR has restructured its marketing and sales team to cater to the emerging digital need says Sunay Bhasin, CMO, MTR

by Akshata R Murthy
Published - Aug 28, 2017 8:09 AM Updated: Aug 28, 2017 8:09 AM


With digital making a mark in every field possible, Sunay Bhasin, Chief Marketing Officer of MTR, spoke about how MTR is transforming itself to cater to the constantly evolving technology landscape. The target group has now shifted from homemakers to millennials who can be reached on digital channels rather than television or the other traditional mediums. Edited excerpts:





 









About a year ago, you got into this traditional F&B company that has played a prominent role in India since the past 90 years. How has this experience been? 





 





I am not new to food and beverage. I started my journey with Boost and then I was with Yum for about 7.5 years. Then I was with Pizza Hut in the marketing department and then with KFC in Dallas, after which I was back to Pizza Hut and then I came here. So food is not a new space for me. MTR is an interesting play because it is a traditional brand and also a very well-regarded brand. It’s got a very high equity, not just here in its birthplace (Bengaluru) but also across India. It also is spread across multiple categories. I think the play in MTR allows me as a marketer and my team to work on various categories at the same time and that’s a very exciting part as it's not uni-dimension. We cater to everything from breakfast to lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts. We cater to every need, state and every occasion. That is also an exciting part of the brand’s journey and I am very privileged to be part of it. 





 









You’ve recently partnered with Orkla Foods and have launched a new product “Laban”, which doesn’t belong to MTR. What is your marketing strategy for Laban?





 





Though it’s been done by MTR, it’s essentially an Orkla launch into India. MTR is all about Indian local food. So the brand itself doesn’t lend itself to this portfolio. The power of Orkla and what it allows you to do is leverage Orkla’s know-how and brand into categories that possibly MTR as a brand cannot go into. So this is the place where we see that the market opportunity is big, it’s a growing and emerging category. We had to localize the product which took us 3 years of research. Here, you have the power of a local brand, which is MTR, and you also have the power of a global know-how which comes from Orkla and its European markets. 





 





This is basically a brand creation exercise. The brand clearly will be Laban and we’ll build it from scratch. This a new brand launched in India and we will cater to the activities that will go into creating a new brand. 





 









There are several products entering the market which seem quite similar to each other. How do you differentiate yourself from the rest?





 





I think the advantage in a lot of categories that we’re into is that we’ve been the first movers. A lot of categories have been created by us, whether it was ready-to-eat or the 3-minute breakfast. So that gives us an edge. Secondly, our brand and marketing efforts also help us differentiate the other players. The third and the most important thing is the purity of taste. We have a team of chefs internally who are a part of the center-of-excellence team who work with me. So the purity and authenticity of taste is the key part of our MTR promise. This I think is a great competitive advantage that we have vis-a-vis our competitors. 





 





The other thing is that we have a lot of local knowledge. We do not work on the ‘one size fits all’ premise. Our chefs specialise in various Indian cuisines as India doesn’t have any one homogenous taste. 





 









With digital playing a big role in each sector including marketing, how is MTR keeping up with the changing times?





 





We already are cognizant of the emerging digital space. In fact, this year we have restructured our marketing team also along with our sales team to clearly cater to the emerging digital needs, especially now when we’re not only talking to homemakers but also to the millennials. And for millennials there’s, of course, a big digital need. Even for the brand to reach out, we need to have a digital wing as many millennials don’t even watch television.  





 





In both the marketing team and the sales team we now have specialists who are digital experts. On the overall MTR front, we have four big plays on the digital front. The first one is that we have a community called Dishcovery, which is an Indian food community where people share their recipes, know-how etc. It’s an engagement platform of MTR. Then we have social handles. So we are present on Facebook, Twitter, and on YouTube which help us engage and communicate with our TG. The third is we have our own e-commerce portal where we have our web shop where the entire range of MTR is available. People can shop and get the products delivered to their house. Fourth is the marketplace e-commerce with players such as Amazon, BigBasket etc. So, we play in all 4. 





 





In fact, we had a very successful MTR 3-minute breakfast campaign. It was rated no.2 in entire Asia-Pacific region by Unmetric. 





 















Very recently, on the occasion of Independence Day, we also had a small I-Day video that we ran on digital. That was launched on August 11 and by August 15, we had about 5.7 million views, 50,000 likes and thousands of shares. This helps us connect with the new TG of millennials. 





 















E-commerce contributes to about a little more than 1% of the overall sales. We see that becoming stronger and bigger. We are growing almost 80% on our e-commerce portal. So we know this is going to become a very critical part of our business going forward on the digital side.

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