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”

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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.

M-Power 2018: M-Pulse – Mr. Mahesh Kanchan- VP Sales and Marketing, Carlsberg India


As part of M-Power 2018, on 10th February 2018 Mr.Mahesh Kanchan, Head of Marketing at Carlsberg India gave a very insightful talk on FMCG industry and its future trends. He talked to aspiring marketers about starting from the base that is sales and understanding the pulse of the company. He elaborated about the FMCG business model in his presentation.
The first step in building brands is through an emotional connection with the consumers. Single-minded focus is absolutely critical while communicating brand image, he enunciated. Next important factor is the consistency of the brand. Maintaining the packaging, logo, shape and small nuances like color have a huge impact on the brand image of the product. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, was his mantra for maintaining Brand consistency.
He gave key inputs about distribution networks and how the penetration of products can be improved. Going through a wholesale distribution network is like taking the lift, while through a retail network is like taking stairs, was his analogy.
Cash is the King in any Business”, said Mr.Kanchan while talking about maintaining accounts and supplier relationships. Keeping lesser value in accounts receivable than in accounts payable is what marketers should try to achieve.
On talking about Category value drivers for brands, he emphasized the importance the product itself. “Product is the hero” if the product is not good a brand can’t succeed beyond a point. His advice was to know the product better than the R & D guy.
In his ending note, he talked about how one can communicate the product philosophy by translating it into Brand identity through packaging and advertising. “Packavertsing” is away in which message can be communicated to the customers through the packing, which is often overlooked by marketers, he remarked. Students then asked him questions about industry trends. It was a great learning experience for budding marketers of TAPMI.

M-Power 2018: M-Pulse: “If you continue to look for success you lose sight of the goal, you should focus only on one thing – the goal and success will follow” – Mr. Vikram Ahluwalia, Director – Marketing, SRL Diagnostics

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On 10 February 2018, Mr. Vikram Ahluwalia addressed students as part of the M-Pulse series in M-Power 2018, the Annual Marketing Conclave of T. A. Pai Management Institute. He started off by telling us about the five pillars of marketing – vision, objectives, decision making, knowledge and trust. Vision and objectives are important to know where one is heading. Decision making is an important aspect that all must learn to be successful. A person should keep learning because if one stops learning one stops living. Hence knowledge is important to keep up with the changing times. Marketing is changed completely from what it was fifteen years ago. Trust is a major factor in marketing. One thing all marketers are good at is building long-term sustainable relationships.

Mr. Ahluwalia believes that some of the most successful people are the ones who know their weaknesses. They may not overcome them but they learn to recognise them and contain them. Many people fail because they are blinded by their strengths. Everybody thinks that the path to success will be straight. But generally nine out of ten times the path to success is mired with failures and hence it is a very tumultuous path. Talent is not a guarantee of success. We need to redefine success and change our mindset. Grit and perseverance are the only two things that make people stand out amongst everybody else. Relationships are support systems that help you stand back up. They should not be transactional but something that we carry for life. Curiosity is a superpower. We should all be curious regarding what is happening around us. Read new things, experiment and think beyond the obvious. This will not only make you a better marketer but help you grow as a person.

Mr. Ahluwalia then went on to speak about how to deal with failure and be happy. Delayed gratification is a concept that we should adopt. We should problem solve our way out of obstacles and roadblocks. We should be graceful in defeat and learn from it. To be truly happy we should balance three things – what pays us money, what is our passion and what are our skills.

The session ended with a small Q&A session where Mr. Ahluwalia answered the student’s questions about the current industry. Overall it was a very informative and interactive session.

M-Power 2018: M-Pulse – Mr. Sunil Kumar Sathyanarayanan, Business Director: South Asia, Henkel Adhesives Technologies India


On 10th February 2018, the first of M-Power, Mr. Sunil Kumar Sathyanarayanan addressed the students of TAPMI on Consumer Differentiation and Leadership. Mr. Sathyanarayanan is currently working with Henkel Adhesives Technologies India as the Business Director: South Asia for the last 3 years. He started off his career at Carborundum Universal Ltd. as Sales Officer where he worked for over 2 years. He has also worked with Castrol India Ltd. for over 22 years starting out as Business Development Manager and progressing to General Sales Manager and eventually Senior Global Marketing Manager.

Mr. Sathyanarayanan kicked off the session by throwing some light into how he started his professional life and how he climbed the career ladder. For the session, rather than going with a set topic, he asked the students to pick out the topic they want to discuss. When talking about how to decide the budget for marketing, Mr. Sathyanarayanan said that it depends on various factors. First, it has to be decided that what needs to be done in each of the verticals of the organization. The next step is to develop schemes for channel expansion. Then divide the cities into normal and soar cities and get the metrics from the market. Once all these are ready, then only the budget comes into pictured and then the decision on whether to go with a low budget or manageable budget is taken. Next, Mr. Sathyanarayanan asked the students what their key takeaways were from their previous work experience and how these two years of MBA changed their perspective on those things. As students shared their viewpoints, Mr. Sathyanarayanan pointed out that generally everyone is good in telling but when it comes to active listening we all struggle. According to Mr. Sathyanarayanan, active listening plays an important role when it comes to gaining customer insights. When one goes to a customer or a distributor, they will have to spend a lot of time, which is perseverance, and do active listening. In order to gain customer insights as to what their pain points are and how we can add value to the customer, we need to ask a lot of open-ended probing questions.

During the second half of the session, Mr. Sathyanarayanan talked about the role data plays in marketing and about the importance of Big data. While data provides a kind of pattern and history about the consumer behavior, the real question is, Mr. Sathyanarayanan said, what can we do with this data. Mr. Sathyanarayanan agreed that to create a differentiation, data will help us to a certain extent. However, to bring in the real change we have to go beyond data. Talking about leadership, he said there are essentially 5 levels of leadership and explained how each one is different from the other. The most differentiating factor between a level 4 and level 5 leader is humility. In Mr. Sathyanarayanan’s opinion, if one really wants to be a standout leader, then they need to have humility and they should be humble.

Overall, it was an extremely insightful and interactive session, where Mr. Sathyanarayanan let the students drive the discussion. He encouraged them to ask questions and made sure that none of their queries went unanswered.

M-Power 2018: Inauguration Ceremony

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TAPMI’s Marketing Forum’s main event M-Power 2018 started with the inauguration ceremony on the 10th of February 2018. The ceremony began with the invocation song followed by the lighting of the ceremonial lamp, by Prof. Madhu Veeraraghavan, Prof. Gururaj Kidiyoor, Ms. Prabha Shah, the Marketing Forum convener and the chief guest, Mr. Prashant Parameswaran, Director – Marketing Strategy & Insights – India & South West Asia, Coca-Cola.

The master of ceremony opened the event with a quote by GE CMO Beth Comstock which said, “You can’t sell anything if you can’t tell anything “highlighting the importance of content that will appeal to a wide variety of people and the importance of marketers in bringing it to the right audience. This was followed by a brief overview of what the event would entail over the course of the next two days.

The Director of TAPMI, Prof. Madhu Veeraraghavan spoke about his excitement for the event, especially the part were the local entrepreneurs would get to interact with industry stalwarts and teachers, sharing their problems and trying to get as much help as possible from the knowledge of the guests. Prof. Veeraraghavan then went on to highlight a few important questions and concerns that he had about the industry which he hoped would be discussed in the event. He mentioned the importance of figuring out an effective value source and then went on to highlight the burning question on the role of marketing in a firm. He spoke about the distrust between the CMO and CEO in a company and how it was still questionable if the CMO was part of the decision-making process or just there to convey them to his team. Prof. Veeraraghavan spoke about competing in dynamic global markets, predicting competing shifts in the market and therefore figuring out the strategy of contesting with an unknown devil. He concluded his speech by highlighting the importance of changing the image of how roles are defined in the industry and impressing upon everyone the importance of having a connect between the world where we are and where we want to be.

Prof. Gururaj Kidiyoor opened his address by mentioning that the reason why marketers don’t get to strategize is that they don’t get to think beyond the next minute, the next hour or the next day. He exclaimed that the job of a marketer is a boundary job as the marketer needs to serve both the interest of the customer and the company. He mentioned that marketing had a negative image these days and that was something that needed to change. He quipped that people previously thought marketing to be a low skill job, but that is an image that had to be changed. Prof. Kidiyoor also stated that the industry was changing at a rapid pace and one of the biggest concerns was not learning something new, but unlearning it as well, because only then will we be able to stay relevant in the dynamic market. Prof. Kidiyoor ended his speech by highlighting the importance of the learning pedagogy in TAPMI and how the attitude, the interface, and the decision making would help in the learning experience for the future marketers.

The chief guest Mr. Prashant Parameswaran began his address by comparing the world of today with the world of the 90s when he had joined the industry. He spoke about a time where there was no Facebook, Twitter, Smartphone or even the internet. He explained that marketing in the old days was just about selling the product. It then went on to become more about advertisements. But these he mentioned were times of the sellers’ market. In today’s world, we have moved into a buyers’ market and so the importance is more on relationships. He impressed upon the audience the importance of staying close to the consumer to understand how the mind of the consumer functioned. He wanted everyone to become discoverers so that we question if we are doing the right thing, and more importantly if there was any way we could do it better. He mentioned that the consumers today were far more open to experimentation and it was our job to go to the marketplace and discover what the consumer wanted. “A lot of great ideas fail because they are not executed well”, he remarked, highlighting the importance of execution. Intuition he emphasized was a great thing, however, it sometimes had the tendency to go wrong, but if we use consumer insights to base our decision we would be in a much better position to operate. He ended his address by highlighting the point that was mentioned by Prof. Kidiyoor that learning was important but to stay relevant in today’s world, unlearning was even more important.

S.C.O.P.E 2018: Wordsworth: Mr. Prafulla Bhide, Head of Strategic Planning and Logistics, United Phosphorous Ltd. on “Leveraging technology for supply chain analytics  and RFID in warehousing”

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On 4th February 2018, TAPMI hosted Mr. Prafulla Bhide, Head of Strategic Planning and Logistics at United Phosphorous Ltd., for Wordsworth, the guest lecture series of S.C.O.P.E 2018. His topic of discussion was leveraging technology for supply chain analytics and RFID in warehousing management.

Mr. Bhide started by explaining what warehouses are- the difference between warehouse and godowns. Warehouse, he said, is a place to store merchandise, receive goods from a supplier, move goods to customers and accommodate returns from them. Additionally, more than one company can share a warehouse- godown belongs to a single enterprise. It is a place which ensures customer satisfaction by the product shipped after adding value to it.

He went on to elaborate on the various types of warehouses such as retail store, national and regional distribution centers, service part distribution centers, e-commerce fulfilment, perishable and cold chain warehouses, CFA, stockists, etc. He claimed that the future will blur the line of demarcation between the types of warehouses and consumer reaching warehouses- a replacement to the long supply chain. He also spoke of omnichannel retail starting a revolution in supply chain management.

In the next segment of the discussion, Mr. Bhide touched upon RFID or Radio Frequency Identification Device. Just like barcodes, RFID is another form of ADC or Automated Data Collection technology, he said, having components like Readers and Tags which are capable of storing and transmitting information. He mentioned the types of tags, Active and Passive, and talked about each in detail. Active tags are used for long distances like electronic tolls, have large memories, are powered by internal battery sources and are expensive. On the other hand, Passive tags are powered by a reader, lighter, cheaper to produce and used in close range. The types of memory in the same could be Read, Read/Write or a combination of both, he said.

Mr. Bhide compared barcodes with RFID; and also talked about the usages and applications of RFID and also the supply chain management benefits of RFID. He concluded the session by stating such technological innovations help companies as it is better for them to have visibility of what is selling and what rate, in order to make a data-driven decision.