In conversation with Prashant Sukhwani, Marketing Manager, Bunge
Talk about your professional & academic background. Can you also brief us about your role in your current organization?
I completed my Bachelors of Management Studies from the illustrious Narsee Monjee College of Commerce & Economics in 2006. Wanting to get some prior work experience before my MBA, I had a small brush with the investment banking industry whilst I was working with Citigroup.
I joined NMIMS in 2008 and was fortunate to get a summer project with Colgate Palmolive. Based out of Delhi, the 3 month summer project was instrumental in me picking up the nuances of sales and distribution. The project earned me the Best Summer Project in Marketing at NMIMS.
I joined ITC through campus placement in the year 2010. My management trainee stint took me to the beautiful North East where I spent almost a year. This stint included “On The Job” training in Trade Marketing & Distribution, right from living the life of a salesman all the way up to the ASM. Post my MT stint, I was positioned as the Brand Manager (Asst. Marketing Manager) in the Matches & Incense SBU of ITC. I was handling Mangaldeep brand for almost 3 yrs before I switched to my current role. As of today, I am a Marketing Manager with Bunge India Pvt Ltd and handle 3 brands in their edible oil portfolio – Gagan, Ginni & Chambal.
What is the best marketing move you’ve initiated in your career so far?
Launch of Fragrance of Temple – Gold Tradition & Silver Edition at Rs. 15 & Rs. 12 respectively. Considering the industry dynamics and rising input costs, it was imperative to move to higher price points than the traditional Rs.10. Instead of aping competition at offering the same product in different volume combinations, we introduced 2 new unique propositions. These fragrances beat all competition in Consumer Panel Tests and were unique as we specifically briefed our fragrance partners to replicate the fragrance found in the leading temples of India – Tirupati & Vaishnodevi during the aarti period. We used industry first packaging – be it in the inner pouch or the outer carton. With a superior product and innovative packaging, not only did we break the price point dilemma, but also strengthened the contributions at portfolio level and also won the packaging awards (IIPC & Indiastar) for both the launches.
What according to you makes a good marketer?
Category Relevance, Constant Feedback & Customer/Consumer Satisfaction
– Category relevancy
Any communication in any medium needs to be integrated with vehicles which are relevant to your category & TG (can’t have a spot running on MTV Roadies if one’s category is incense). Besides communication, a good marketer focusses on the trade channel SKU mix (not all SKU’s can be driven in all trade channels). One also has to adopt primary & secondary packaging in accordance to the way the category is transacted at the market place (can’t have a secondary package of 10 primary packs when the category is transacted at 12 primary packs and/or vice versa).
– Constant feedback
One needs to constantly seek feedback from their sales teams for market & competition intelligence. Planning of inputs need to be with the buy-in of the sales teams. Also partnering with sales force for on-ground activations rather than an agency leads to a higher degree of ownership and responsibility which ultimately leads to success.
– Customer as well as Consumer satisfaction.
As a marketer, it is imperative that your product is well accepted by the customer as well as the consumer. Customer will aid you in consumer conversions and as a custodian of marketing budgets, a fine balance needs to be achieved between push and pull strategies.
Name a well marketed product in any industry that caught your attention and why?
iPod & iPad.
iPod – iPod offered listeners complete control of their music right from buying inexpensive music to transferring, indexing and organizing their music via the iTunes. iTunes became a preferred distribution channel for the music industry including producers, musicians, artists etc. Besides that, the device was powerful, crisp and uber cool and could be used any and everywhere – car, gym, commute, work etc.
iPad – iPad had no consumer utility gap to plug in when it was launched. iPad defined a category and continues to do so till date. What better examples of Marketing!
What role does marketing play in the success of a product?
Marketing to me is the function which makes the journey of a product from its birthplace in the factory to the hands of the consumer. Marketing involves decisions like knowing the needs of the consumer, how to communicate the product benefits to the target audience, making the product reach to the hands of the consumer and then ensuring that the consumer comes back for more. Whilst a superior quality product will tackle the functionality aspect, all other levels of a product necessarily require marketing to define its success.
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