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Young Achievers – Navneet Biswas, Trade & Brand Marketing Manager

In conversation with Navneet Biswas, Trade & Brand Marketing Manager

Please tell us about your professional & academic background. Can you also brief us about your role in your current organization?

I completed my B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology in 2005 before deciding to pursue a management degree from Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode. At IIM-K, I did my summer internship with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance but my true calling was in the world of branding and I joined the Consumer Products Division of Himalaya Drug Company as a Brand Manager after completing my MBA in 2008.

At Himalaya, I looked after the Body Care and Health Care categories and was responsible for handling products like soaps, lip care, body lotions, foot care cream, hand sanitizer and slimming capsules in India and Nepal.

After almost 2 years with Himalaya, I moved onto Kellogg India where I worked for their Adult & All Family portfolio consisting of Kelloggs Cornflakes along with its variants, Special K, All Bran and Muesli brands.

My next assignment was as a Regional Brand Manager with Britannia where I looked after their International Business Division and was responsible for managing Britannia & Nutro biscuit category brands in the Middle East & Africa

Currently, I’m working as a Trade & Brand Marketing Manager (Middle East – Lower Gulf) for United Biscuits in the GCC region of Middle East. I handle countries including the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait & Bahrain, and my main brands are McVities, Carr’s & Jacobs.

What is your favourite advertising campaign in the present scenario?

Oreo in the Middle East! By sustained investment & focus on the same positioning, emphasizing the father – son bond, Oreo has not only increased the off-takes by 100% over 2 years, but also grown the Sandwich Cream segment in biscuit category. They have done this by consistently sticking to the strategy for all the 4 P’s.

Their growth has encompassed all nationalities & countries within the Middle East, which is a big feat considering the diversity of this region, with a high % of expat population.

How and by what channels do you create an emotional attachment with customers to build brand loyalty?

In order of priority:

  • Communication – This is perhaps most critical while building an emotional attachment. Brands need to ensure that the communication is based on a long term, sustainable, focused & differentiated positioning strategy.
  • Retail – In the Middle East, with the predominance of Modern Trade, retail is an extremely important touch-point with consumers. Hence, the critical relationship with the shopper has to be established in the outlet, through a complete mix of shopper marketing initiatives – packaging, promotion & planogram.
  • Activation – Increasingly, activating the brand outside conventional media, through PR, digital, social media & outdoor are becoming important in order to break through clutter & create a long lasting attachment with consumers.
  • Product, price, packaging & promotions – These are also important in supporting the brand strategy & actually can help strengthen the emotional attachment.

Do you think having a “Brand Character” is an important component of a successful branding strategy? Who is your favourite brand character?

Definitely! The “Brand Character” is of vital important not only to the success of a brand, but also its long term viability. A consistent brand character helps complement the brand strategy & facilitates the development of the marketing mix. Over time, it also enables the brand to establish a connection / relationship with consumers, which is based on longer lasting emotional bonds, rather than purely functional benefits.

My favourite brand characters are Marlboro, Redbull & Oreo.

Marlbro Man

What measures do you take to ensure a better brand positioning vis-à-vis your competitors? Cite one such example.

For the best positioning, there is no alternative to the classical marketing model of STP.

The starting point is a proper segmentation of the market. I strongly believe in a need-state based segmentation since it provides the most readily relatable basis of segmentation, and also helps fine tune the entire 4 P strategy.

Once the segment is chosen based on relevant parameters, the proper targeting strategy has to be worked out. This means that the 4 P’s will have to be tailored in order to ensure that the segment is addressed in the best manner.

It is essential that positioning not only includes the communication tactics, but also encompasses the other P’s. Many brands do the mistake of only focusing on communication, and that is not sustainable in the long term.

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