Tata Global Beverages
The interplay between the loose tea segment and the packaged tea segment impacts the category.
Who is your biggest professional mentor?
Shubhajit Sen (currently country head of LIXIL, ex-marketing head of GSK Consumer).
If not a brand marketer, what would you be?
I would have probably been a ‘Life Coach’.
Name a brand (other than your own) you admire. Why?
I admire Horlicks as it has stayed relevant across the years with Indian mothers. I also admire brands like Nike whose marketing is no longer about selling shoes apparel but about a lifestyle choice or a shared philosophy.
CATEGORY What are the big challenges you see coming your way in the next 12 months?
In ‘habit categories’ like tea, the challenge remains to increase the ‘share of throat’ by delivering better value in terms of innovation, quality, price points and formats.
What’s the biggest change in the way consumers approach your segment today, versus a year back?
Regular tea has been about refreshment, relaxation and rejuvenation, with taste playing an important role. The consumer approach has largely remained unchanged. But they are increasingly trying out variants based on ingredients that they have been traditionally using in their tea for enhancing the taste experience (such as cardamom and ‘masala’) which is driving growth for these variants.
An increasing focus on health and wellness is driving growth in the green tea category and in ‘value added tea’ (our newly launched Chakra Gold Activ+ which amla and kokum based). There is also a change in the way consumers shop for this category, evident in the growth of modern trade and e-commerce channels.
Which product segment out there impacts trends in your category most? Why?
Tea is a highly penetrated category (over 95 per cent), but branded tea accounts for only about half of the overall tea category in terms of volume. The interplay between the loose tea segment and the packaged tea segment impacts the category. Premiumisation in the form of health and wellness indulgence remains a mega-trend.
In what way/s does your marketing strategy change from Tier I to Tier II and III markets?
In Tier II or III markets, it is about offering consumers products that are customised to their (local) taste preferences and offering multiple price points that are in sync with spending habits. Our marketing mix is customised to the local medium used. In UP, we used a mobile-led radio campaign for non-smartphone feature phone users.
MARKETING What’s the toughest part of a being a brand marketer?
Today’s consumer is subjected to sensory-overload of digital noise via email, text messages, blog posts or videos. The challenge lies in breaking through this noise while driving memorable personalised consumer engagement.
As a marketer in the digital age, what is your biggest nightmare?
The biggest nightmare is handling a social media crisis or investing in a technology only to discover that it is going out of the consumers’ preference, or is shutting shop.
ADVERTISING What is your lead medium of communication today? Which medium do you use least?
TV is the lead, but it is losing its effectiveness as digital is becoming the lead medium of engagement. The least used medium is outdoor (excluding dealer boards).
Are the best creative minds still in advertising?
No longer, as they are increasingly into content creation or new-age (technology) mediums.
In what way has your relationship with your agency partners changed of late? What’s the one must-have quality for an agency today?
The relationship is evolving into using them as far more active and strategic partners in managing the category brand agenda. One must-have quality for agencies today is the ability to ‘drive disruption’ for the brand.
Are you open to paying agencies a pitch fee? Why?
I’m not in favour of paying pitching fees. Agencies need to view it as cost of investment.
Do you wish you could work with just one full-service creative agency instead of multiple creative minds?
Working with multiple creative minds ensures that multiple disciplines are addressed effectively.