M-Power 2018: Closing Ceremony

Closing Ceremony Collage

T. A. Pai Management Institute’s annual two-day marketing conclave ‘M-Power’ organized by the marketing forum recently concluded on 11th of February 2018. The event, which was inaugurated by Mr. Prashant Parameswaran of Coca-Cola, is a competitive platform for marketing students to showcase their knowledge and also network with senior industry professionals. Currently into its 2nd year, ‘M-Power’ aimed to bring together industry stalwarts for discussion and exchange of ideas. The theme of the conclave was “Force of the Future- Integrating Conventional and Unconventional Marketing”
Speaking about the conclave, Prof Madhu Veeraraghavan, Director TAPMI mentioned that he was extremely proud of the marketing forum to have come up with such an event where they had actively collaborated with the local community. He exclaimed that for a B-school to truly succeed it had to work locally, nationally and globally. According to Prof. Veeraraghavan T.A. Pai Management Institute was doing great work nationally and globally but now due to the efforts of the marketing forum it had started to work locally as well.
The Marketing Area chair, Prof. Gururaj Kidiyoor expressed his thanks to everyone whose efforts led to the successful conclusion of the event. He mentioned that it was not known whether the second edition of the marketing conclave would happen, but with the support and hard work of everyone and the good experience from the previous year they had gone ahead and had a memorable event. “Marketing and Innovation go hand in hand”, he emphasized, “and it was heartening to see the local entrepreneurs sharing their concerns and getting new ideas from industry stalwarts.”
This edition of ‘M-Power’ witnessed students battling out in competitions like; MarkNeeti and Adjuxta- The Case Study Competition. The forum also provided a platform for the better understanding about the industry through panel discussions called Symposium and interactions with industry experts called M-Pulse to students. The closing ceremony had prize distribution for the winners of the above events who had battled it out over the course of the last two days.



M-Power 2018: ADJUXTA


Day 2 of M-Power 2018 was lined with Guest Lectures, Panel Discussions and one of the most awaited events of the conclave, ADJUXTA, the marketing case study competition. It was an event that tested the core marketing concepts and simulated a real marketing challenge with an opportunity to showcase one’s marketing acumen to the Industry stalwarts.

There were 8 teams that qualified for the preliminary round. With passion and excitement, the participants displayed their skills and knowledge in branding a state and surfaced their creativity. This round was judged by our faculty members, Prof. Srinivasa Reddy, Prof. Utkarsh and Prof. Swapnarag Swain who shared their valuable insights with the students.

For the final round on February 11th, 2018, 5 teams qualified: Highape, Brandgurus, Coldplayers, Candor, and The MarketFoxes, with students from both PGP1 and PGP2. They were given a case study based on Asian Paints, which has come a long way since its inception in 1942 to become India’s leading and Asia’s 4th largest paint company. It has constantly pushed new concepts in India like home solutions, color next, etc.

Mr. Rohan Prasher, Corporate Brand Manager at Asian Paints was among the panel of judges, who sought to get new ideas and marketing solutions to meet the company’s objective of making art accessible to a wider audience by taking it out of the conventional gallery space and embedding it within the cities we live in. Our esteemed judges also included Mr. Rajesh Patel, Sr. Marketing Manager at SEIKO Watches India Pvt. Ltd. and Mr. Govind Raju, Area Sales Manager at Godrej Consumer Ltd. along with our faculty members Prof. Srinivasa Reddy, Prof. Utkarsh and Prof. Shirshendu Ganguli.

The participating teams analysed the industry, the competitors, presented their approach to the problem and came up with innovative ideas and solutions to spread the colors of Asian Paints to every household. They were evaluated on the basis of practicality and feasibility of the solution, ability to think out of the box, justification of the approach and presentation skills. The panel left no stone unturned to grill the students during the Q/A round and assess each and every detail of their idea and presentation. The event was a great learning experience for all participating teams and the students present in the audience and hopefully Mr. Prasher could take back some insights from our students as well.

M-POWER 2018: Interaction of Local Entrepreneurs with Industry Stalwarts


An interaction between the local entrepreneurs and industry experts was held on the 10th of February 2018 at T.A. Pai Management Institute as part of the marketing conclave M-Power 2018. This unique experience gave the local entrepreneurs an opportunity to discuss issues and concerns about their industry with the industry experts. The event was graced with dignitaries from various parts of the industry, like Mr. Mahesh Kanchan- VP, sales and marketing, Carlsberg, Mr Vikram Ahluwalia- SRM diagnostics, Mr Rajeev Ranjan- Director Sales, DSM Foods, Ms. Ritika Rajpal- Assisstant General Manager, L’Oréal, Mr Pawan Pandey- Category Head, Dabur, Mr Vikas Gupta- Head-Foods, Liberty Oil Mills, Mr S Sunil Kumar- Business Director, Henkel Adhesives, and the Platform for Women Empower Register represented by Ms. Sadhna Mallya- social activist and entrepreneur.


Mr. Mahesh Kanchan opened the discussion by mentioning that only 5% of food is consumed in the packaged and ground form the remaining 95% is sold loose and unbranded. He elaborated that there was a huge opportunity in the food and beverage sector. The government, he mentioned, was promoting agro-based food processing which was leading to an improvement in the quality and therefore an increase in the food life. He then quipped that the concept of a national player was a myth and that being local and hyper-local can make an entrepreneur a lot of money. Keeping a tab on consumer consumption behavior is important, he concluded.


Mr. Rajiv Ranjan mentioned the dominance of local players in snack food. He pointed out that understanding consumer behavior, points of competitive advantage and converting observation to insights is what would make a huge impact for entrepreneurs. Ms. Mallya mentioned that 90% women despite having resources do nothing, it was important to motivate these women to work from around 62 villages. Mr. Kumar added that gathering the extra produce from all the houses and branding them as fresh produce and then selling them in localities would be a good idea. It would not need any branding or money for investment. He reasoned that if people start earning the extra money they would be motivated to earn more. Mr. Gupta suggested that they should register on Amazon or Flipkart so that their product would be shown on their pages across the country.


The issues that were discussed ranged from the packaging of homegrown Udupi recipes that gave restaurant experience at home to utilizing the high tuna demand in the western world by exporting canned tuna. The experts also discussed the online and offline sale of cotton fabric as well as sharing the success story of the textile markets of Coimbatore. Mr. Mahesh suggested the selling of cold press virgin olive oil and juices as a private label so that they can garner a profit, while Mr. Ranjan warned about the competitiveness of the coconut oil market. A wide range other issues were brought forward to the experts and each of them was discussed to help the local entrepreneurs.

Mr. Ahluwalia stressed that a distribution set up was required with sharp metrics to decide the success of a pilot project in the first six months. Benchmarks had to be set and people had to understand how to promote and advertise their products. Mr. Kanchan ended the discussion by asserting that an entrepreneur had to understand the POD of their product. They needed to understand what the people needed and give them something that was better. Only then, he reasoned, would people chose someone local instead of the big brands.

M-Power 2018: M- Pulse: Mr. Raja Chakraborty, Head of Marketing-FMCG, Raymond


On 12th December 2018, Mr. Raja Chakraborty interacted with the students of TAPMI and shared his experiences of working in different companies throughout his career spanning 19 years. He started with Raymond and talked about a few brands which Raymond owns. He also talked about his first few days working in sales and how he learned a lot of things there. “Behind every success and behind every failure, there is a learning”, he stated.

Talking about the importance of taking risks, he said “There is no place for risk averse brands in marketing”. He then told the students about a few products which weren’t selling well and how he, along with his team, worked on the problems and revived the products. The first example he gave was of Meswak toothpaste which initially didn’t capture the market but when it was re-launched as a mystique ayurvedic paste, its sales took off. Another example was of the mosquito-repellent crème, Odomos, which didn’t work well initially. Later they found out that it was because the consumers found the crème sticky and smelly. With a few changes in the product from the R&D department, the product started selling very well. He gave some more examples of products like Babool toothpaste and Nerolac paints, which were not doing well in the markets, were revived after proper research, innovation and strategies.

The session ended with him answering the questions from the students. It was a very interactive session and the students gained a lot of valuable insights from Mr. Raja Chakraborty’s career.

M-Power 2018: Day 2: Symposium – The Panel Discussion: “Lean and Digital”


On 11th February 2018, a panel discussion on the topic “Lean and Digital”, conducted as part of M-Power, the annual Marketing Conclave of TAPMI, shed light on lean and digital, conventional and unconventional marketing. The focus is on FMCG with all the guests being from that sector and the factors affecting the expenditure on digital media in their respective organizations. Prof. Surya Mahadevan moderated the discussion.

Mr. Pawan Pandey (Category Head – Beverages, Dabur India Ltd)

Mr. Pawan Pandey opened the discussion by drawing attention to the increasing digital viewership and the need to leverage the same for consumer marketing. Online advertising is valued by advertisers for its flexibility and targetability. However, he cautioned, these mediums are to be used with clearly defined objectives in mind. The relevant brand equity parameters are to be defined for the target audience and the message is to be communicated in line with the same. In addition to being specific, marketing objectives must also be measurable. Only then can you gauge advertising success in a quantifiable way. In the absence of measurability, he continued, digital advertising will eventually undermine itself. Thus, it is important to define KPIs at the very outset to measure the success of the campaign. While the marketing medium changes, what hasn’t changed is the need for marketers to connect to people, he underlined. He stated that FMCG companies spend over 10-12% on digital advertising, which is imperative in these times. Companies cannot afford to lose out on online visibility in the face of increasing competition, he concluded.

 Mr. Mahesh Kanchan (Vice President Marketing – Carlsberg India Pvt Ltd)

Mr. Mahesh Kanchan set the context of the discussion, talking about digital media penetration and the trends in the digital space. He quoted the Digital Desh reports, providing insights on internet usage in India. Over half a billion people use the internet in India, with mobile communication being the major driver. Falling data prices are further fuelling the rise in time spent on digital devices. In this context, he stated, traditional media such as television is facing stiff competition from the digital space.

He then spoke about the pitfalls of depending on TV advertising, with over 40 – 50% of advertising in this space not meeting the objectives. With digital media, on the other hand, models such as pay per click advertising minimize wastage. He held the view that, in case of budgetary constraints, it would be advisable to spend money on digital ads rather than on national TV. Mr. Kanchan also felt that marketers often take a myopic view on ads, sticking to the same narrow approach used for a 30 second TV spot, for a digital advertisement as well. While digital advertising has its advantages, it is not without its pitfalls, he continued. For instance, ad safety is a concern on Youtube, because companies have no control over where the ads are placed.

He then drew attention to a few examples of successful digital media campaigns, such as HUL Kan Khajura Tesan, Adidas Odds, Whisper’s #TouchThePickle campaign, Quaker Oats’ #BringYourTastiestBowl etc. Refuting the popular notion that brand linkage should be judged by the placement of the logo and number of times it appears, Mr. Kanchan underlined that it is all about the consistency of the messaging.

Mr. Govind Raju (Godrej Consumer Products, Area Sales Manager)

Mr. Govind Raju, an alumnus of TAPMI agreed to the point made by the other panelists that digital marketing is growing but he can’t say whether it is impacting sales or not. The fact will help in building a brand awareness is indisputable but will it result in sales of the products? That’s a question which is still up for debate. A case in point is how in rural areas the awareness of ecommerce is still very low.

He notes that the digital expenditure among organizations is going to come up in coming years. While he is skeptical on digital marketing yet he is ready to invest in it only in future keeping in mind the sensibilities of the Rural India which still relies on traditional media as a source of information.

Mr. Vikas Gupta (Liberty Oil Mills Ltd – Lead of Foods Division)

Mr. Vikas agreed on the points made by Mr. Pawan Pandey. He then elaborated on how his organization incorporated digital marketing. He said that he preferred using digital media for customer engagement as their customer base is housewives and the products their company sells are cooking oils. He uses Facebook for recipe contests to generate interest among customers otherwise his company doesn’t need any digital thrust. Digital marketing is not affecting company’s performance that much.

He used the example of Atta to prove the lack of impact of digital marketing in Rural India. Only 6% of Atta consumed in India is packed. Rest of it is consumed from non-branded non-packed Atta sold in small kirana shops. It takes considerable effort to do digital marketing in Rural India. He thus reemphasized on the importance of traditional media for marketing his products as they are for the masses. But he is not ruling out going digital when the need arrives.

Ms. Ritika Rajpal- Assistant General Manager, L’Oreal India Pvt Ltd

Ms. Ritika opened the discussion by stating how digital media has helped her company in lead acquisition. She said that targeting can now be done on various parameters of psychographics and is not just based on geography. Talking about the challenges she mentioned that conversion rate of people clicking on the ads and people buying the product is close to 3%, which is very less. The digital media is helping in brand building, but the actual customer acquisition is still very less. Also, a lot of customer data goes to third party e-retailers. “Today consumer data is gold”, she remarked. Companies spend a lot in acquiring this data.

Another challenge about which Ms. Ritika spoke about was the gap between traditional and modern-day ads. The senior management at most of the companies are used product plugged TV ads, where the product is very directly highlighted. On the contrary digital media uses a laddered approach of advertising, she remarked.

M-Power 2018: M- Pulse: Mr.Prashant Parameswaran, Director Marketing Strategy & Insights, Coca-Cola


On 10th February 2018, The Marketing Forum at T.A Pai Management Institute hosted its annual marketing conclave- M-Power. Mr. Prashant Parmeswaran, Director of Marketing Strategy and Insight participated in the guest lecture series and spoke about the need to integrate conventional and unconventional methods of marketing these days.

Mr. Parmeswaran started his talk by speaking on the future of marketing such as the just walk out the technology. Something completely different awaits us in the future- he said, and we cannot afford to be marketers like we are used to being. The world is changing very fast and the biggest driver is technology. What is 2018 today is going to be 1820 tomorrow, he said. According to him, marketing is not equal to advertising. Marketing is a function which focuses on building relationships, and to do so we have to follow a process- and we need to do that by thinking conventionally and, at the same time unconventionally.

The process as highlighted by Mr. Parmeswaran had four parts- Discover, Build, Execute and Monitor. They are further subdivided into ten aspects. He started off by talking about trend spotting, and the growing need of organizations to be able to foresee big changes in the market. For example, a catching trend in marketing is the preference of experience over engagement. This can be illustrated by the fact that 40% more of the people who bought, did so only after learning more about it on YouTube. Secondly, we need to be alert to identify our competitors; unlike the Hilton hotels which in 93 years set up 610000 rooms in 88 countries; but it took Airbnb only 4 years to set up 650000 rooms in 192 countries. Thirdly, he talked about the importance of consumer insights and how those organizations which are able to uncover the same are at a great competitive advantage. After that, he spoke of the power of personalization and how it is not an option in the mobile era but more of a mandate. He illustrated his point with the example of the “Share a coke” campaign by Coca-Cola in Australia.

This was followed by stressing on the importance of agility in the marketing world. After all, in this fast-moving world, it’s not the big who beat the small- but the fast who beat the slow. Mr. Parameswaran then mentioned the power of disruptive marketing such as that of Jio telecom. He also talked about the importance of relevant or contextual marketing strategies in influencing customers. Purposeful marketing agendas make a mark with consumers, he said, and without a strong reason as to why a company does something, how it does something does not matter. Finally, he talked about the Power of data these days and its immense potential in making successful marketing decisions.

Mr. Parameswaran gave extensive examples and hit the chord with his audience. All in all, it was a very enriching experience for the students.




M-Power 2018: Symposium – The Panel Discussion: “Rural and Urban Convergence”

PD Collage

On 10th February 2018, a panel discussion on the topic “Rural and Urban convergence”, conducted as part of M-Power, the annual Marketing Conclave of TAPMI, shed light on the rural-urban divide and its relevance for marketers. The talk centered around four perspectives – the difference, if any, between the two markets, defining relevance and reach, the impact of technology penetration and the challenges in operating distribution channels. Prof. Vinod Madhavan moderated the discussion.

Mr. Prashant Parameswaran- Director of Marketing Strategy & Insights, Coca-Cola

Mr. Prashant Parameswaran opened the discussion on the perceived difference between rural and urban India. Disagreeing with the notion, he believed that there could be a way to unify the rural and urban markets. The India A, B, C classification for consumers brings both markets together and could help in understanding these markets, he opined. Rather than focusing on the divide, the fundamental question that needs to be considered is the problem that the product is trying to solve for its consumers. Understanding the rural ecosystem and tailoring the product communication to suit the same is also important, he said, citing the “Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola” advertising campaign.

Discussing market reach and relevance, he defined reach as finding a consumer for a product and relevance as finding the right product for the consumer. “In a reach oriented world, ignoring the relevance of your product will only lead to wastage”, he stated. Digital marketing has helped bring relevance and reach together, helping marketers cater to their target segments easily and better communicate their offerings. Developing sales channels in terms of visibility is also an important concern, as marketers try to leverage the limited shelf-space available in retail markets today. Finally, he drew attention to the use of technology as a facilitator to help develop markets in a sharper, smarter and faster way. Companies are using their internal data to make smarter decisions in real-time to better cater to their market segments, he concluded.

Mr. Rajeev Ranjan- Director Sales – DFM Foods Limited

Mr. Rajeev Ranjan disagreed with the notion of the rural-urban market divide, stating that marketing communication is done for the entirety of the country. The difference lay only in the Census Bureau definition of it, he opined, stating that it ultimately boils down to the per-capita income. Rural India has the same aspirations as its urban counterpart, and the only differentiator is the purchasing power. Creating a new product for the market would therefore not be the right strategy and would incur significant costs. Rather, marketers should rather focus on the right package size and pricing strategies for the rural market, he stated.

Distribution channels play a major role in reaching out to rural markets, he stated. Achieving high market penetration through wholesalers would, therefore, be important. The hub and spoke model would be helpful to reach out to the consumers in a cost-effective manner. Talking about the role of technology, he stated that companies should recognize the limitations of data. “Do not force fit data to force conclusions. There must be a confluence of your industry experience and the insights drawn from data”, he concluded.

Mr. Shashank Gaur- Head of Trade Marketing at The Kraft Heinz Company

Mr. Shashank Gaur started the discussion by mentioning that there was really no difference between the rural and the urban market. He felt that we classify the market from our end but in essence, the requirement of the user is the same. He mentioned that Facebook users in the rural area went from 2% to 17% and that showed an increase in the use of social media in the rural areas. He went on to mention that it is important for us to know our audience. Due to the use of GPS, Geocoding and multiple analysis, the cost is very high when we go to the rural market. The consumer he elaborated is the same in both the rural and the urban setting however what might differ is the literacy level and the per capita income.

Mr. Gaur mentioned that even in the rural setting the consumer has become more aware of different products and that it is the job of the marketers to make sure that they can connect with the consumers. The visibility and the availability of the product are extremely important according to him. He mentioned that on top of that the freshness of the product is also something that should be kept in mind. On the topic of the use of technology in understanding data, Mr. Gaur mentioned that data and technology are helping us drive execution since the changes are coming so fast it is up to us to use all the tools that we have to make smarter choices.

Vikram Ahluwalia- SRK Diagnostics, Director Marketing

Mr. Vikram Ahluwalia agreed with the other panelists that there was no difference between the rural and the urban consumer. The job of the brand he mentioned was to reach to the user. He gave the example of one brand that did very well in North India because the brand had smartly tapped into the mindset of the consumers there. “It’s all about the brand speaking to the consumer”, he explained. Pricing was also a very important factor according to him. He elaborated that before positioning a product to the rural customers it was very important to have the price right otherwise the product, no matter how good it was, would not work well with the consumers.

“The mistake that the brand and the company makes”, Mr. Ahluwalia stressed, “is to look beyond”. According to him, reach can be easily fulfilled by using television as a medium to spread knowledge about the product, however, for relevance, smart marketing ideas and language had to be used. He went on to add that the retailers today are the small shop owners and only meaningful brands and SKUs are allowed to stay on the shelf. While talking about data and technology in marketing, Mr. Ahluwalia mentioned that data acts as a catalyst in decision making. He elaborated that today we are able to leapfrog a lot of steps due to the presence of technology, therefore we are able to challenge what we are doing and do it better.