Son­ali Dhawan

Proc­ter & Gam­ble

The Brand Reporter - - CONTENTS -

Con­sumers, to­day, op­er­ate out of the ‘fear of miss­ing out’ (FOMO). They seek a value syn­chro­ni­sa­tion.


Who is your big­gest pro­fes­sional men­tor?

ne per­son who has played coach, guide and con­fi­dante for me is Shan­tanu Khosla. He was man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at G In­dia when I first got a chance to in­ter­act with him. His clar­ity of thought, strate­gic think­ing and sin­gle-minded fo­cus on the busi­ness at hand have been my guid­ing light, pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally. I im­bibed the ‘Peo­ple First’ motto from him.

If not a brand mar­keter, what would you be?

I would prob­a­bly be a teacher. I would have loved en­gag­ing with young minds, help­ing shape them, and learn­ing from their un­re­stricted, pure flow of thought.

Name a brand (other than your own) you ad­mire. Why?

Ama­zon. What they have been able to achieve in a short span of time is re­mark­able. With a clear value sys­tem that fo­cuses on su­pe­rior cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, Ama­zon has been able to carve a niche for it­self and gain the con­sumers’ trust. It is looked upon as an In­dian brand now.


What are the big chal­lenges you see com­ing your way?

The macro en­vi­ron­ment around us has be­come dy­namic, and hence it has be­come es­sen­tial to be ag­ile and flex­i­ble. We have seen changes like GST and de­mon­eti­sa­tion, but we have also been able to take it in our stride. The ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment will con­tinue to pose chal­lenges.

What’s the big­gest change in the way con­sumers ap­proach your seg­ment to­day, ver­sus a year back? To what do you at­tribute this?

Con­sumers across cities are more aware, more in­formed. They want to make the best choices for their fam­ily, even if that means pay­ing a lit­tle ex­tra, be­cause they re­alise the ben­e­fits they are de­riv­ing from a pres­tige brand. They do not want to com­pro­mise. They want to be up-to-date with the lat­est trends. They op­er­ate out of the ‘Fear Of Miss­ing Out’ (FOMO). Con­sumers, to­day, they seek a value syn­chro­ni­sa­tion; it’s also about what the brand stands for. This is true not just for high-in­volve­ment cat­e­gories, but also for ev­ery­day prod­ucts like de­ter­gents.

In what way/s does your mar­ket­ing strat­egy change from tier I to tier II and III mar­kets?

Across tiers, con­sumers’ needs, as­pi­ra­tions and what they seek from their pur­chase are very dif­fer­ent. We de­sign our prod­ucts and com­mu­ni­ca­tion to cater to these dif­fer­en­ti­ated needs. For ex­am­ple, in our Fab­ric Care port­fo­lio, we have a di­verse range, right from sin­gle-use sa­chets to the big six-kilo packs. We have a mix of In­dian in­no­va­tions, like Tide Nat­u­rals, and prod­ucts from our global bou­quet, like the com­pletely new liq­uid de­ter­gent form of Ariel Matic.


Name the big­gest pro­fes­sional hur­dle you faced re­cently. How did you tide over it?

A chal­lenge that has be­come a con­stant in to­day’s times is stay­ing rel­e­vant. We con­stantly or­gan­ise ses­sions with thought lead­ers from other cor­po­rates or agen­cies, our coun­ter­parts from other busi­nesses and mar­kets, and en­sure that our peo­ple get to be part of ex­ter­nal fo­rums.

As a mar­keter, what is your big­gest night­mare?

My big­gest night­mare is not cap­i­tal­is­ing on an op­por­tu­nity enough and then see­ing some­one else do it bet­ter. Play­ing catch-up is out­dated; we need to stay ahead of the curve and pre-empt trends. Tech­nol­ogy is a lev­eller; if I don’t use it well, some­one else will.


What is your lead medium of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to­day? Which medium do you use least?

It all comes down to one ques­tion – who do we want to talk to? Whis­per, with ado­les­cent girls as the tar­get, will plan their mix very dif­fer­ently, ver­sus a cat­e­gory like fab­ric care, which is one of the most pen­e­trated FMCG cat­e­gories in the coun­try. Noth­ing still com­petes with TV in mass reach. Mo­bile con­sump­tion of con­tent is the new cen­tre of grav­ity while de­sign­ing con­tent, be­cause three inches is all you get there. It’s es­sen­tial to have a healthy mar­ket­ing mix. We lever­age var­ied medi­ums, de­pend­ing on the mes­sage and ob­jec­tive print, , dig­i­tal, in­flu­encers, and word of mouth.

In what way has your re­la­tion­ship with your agency part­ners - cre­ative and me­dia plan­ning/buy­ing changed of late? What’s the one must-have qual­ity for an agency to­day?

Our agen­cies are more like part­ners who live and breathe our brands just like we do. It is equally im­por­tant for them to know and un­der­stand the con­sumer and their needs. We brain­storm a lot and have dif­fer­ences of opin­ion, but that’s what makes for a great cam­paign ul­ti­mately.

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