M-POWER 2016: Day 2: “Digital disruption”– Mr. Ganesh Ramaswamy,Manager- Web Services at The Himalaya Drug Company

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In an interactive session with students, Mr. Ganesh Ramaswamy spoke extensively on various aspects of marketing. He began with the history of Himalaya, about its multiple divisions, how the company does extensive research for its products. It is now in Wellness, Personal care, Baby care, Pharma as categories of its products & is also gradually venturing into Nutrition. Initially, the company had more of pharmaceutical products but has now diversified in FMCG products as well. Mr. Ramaswamy further spoke about how the company ventured into e-commerce as early as 2004 when digital marketing was a new concept. Also, there was technology infusion in the FMCG sector & they wanted to take advantage of this. Through market research, they concluded that about 51% of their customers preferred to use their mobile phones to make purchases hence, 30-35% of their transactions were made through this mode. Taking this as an opportunity, the company came up with several product combos which were a success.

One reason why e-commerce is preferred is also because this enables the company to understand an individual customer’s behaviour. Also, it is a boon especially where the company may not have a strong distribution channel. This can be seen in rural markets. Thus, through e-commerce or web services, retailers can have access to such markets. Mr. Ramaswamy gave several examples of Tier-4 towns which have now become a significant market for the company due to their demand for its products. He also mentioned about how digital disruption has revolutionised many functions, especially the supply chain. Also, how we are now moving from B2B & B2C to something like B2R2C which is more like where a retailer does not place an order until the customer gives a specific preference for it. He also discussed how e-commerce can have some grey areas, for instance certain logistics issues. He also mentioned how the company partnered with Amazon for several product launches, products which were niche categories. With Amazon as its strategic partner, these launches have been popular & successful with the customers, with online sales accounting for 10-15% of total sales for such products. Mr. Ramaswamy further spoke about his views on E-pharma & how it is still an undefined territory, certain of its flagship products, exports made by the company, its competitors, ways of achieving customer acquisition targets, etc & concluded the session with answering several queries of the audience.

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