You have been at Eveready for the last 22 years. What are the top three marketing mantras that you have adopted?
Consistency has always held my company and me in good stead. We don’t believe in changing for the sake of changing. Yes, it is good to change and evolve, but for us as a category and company, we take our steps selectively. Secondly, one man’s medicine is another man’s poison. What’s right for some other company or brand may not be right for us. What other large FMCG players do to enhance their brand salience and sales, is most of the time either not relevant or not right for us to do.
Thirdly, I marry researched and validated insights with gut feeling. Instinct is a great thing, but numbers and facts are equally important to ensure profitability of the company. Blindly following gut could be foolhardy. It should be backed by numbers and facts.
Eveready created the iconic ‘Give me Red’ campaign 25 years ago. How is the brand keeping the tagline relevant for the youth of today? How are you leveraging the digital space?
To my mind, the youth of today is the same as the youth of yesterday. They’ve always been more adaptive compared to their predecessors. What’s changed is our perspective of them. Since they have more amenities now, they are more technologically savvy. The ‘Give me Red’campaign is young, cool, powerful and edgy and has resonated well with every generation. While we have said 'Give Me Red', to the consumer it has always been like a fill in the blanks exercise. Each one of them would have decoded for themselves what they derived out of our communication - 'Give Me Power', 'Give Me Energy', 'Give Me Excitement', etc. Our campaign in that sense always involved the consumer. How does some Red – read action, passion, raw energy, et al - adds life to your day-to-day activities and how batteries add life to your daily needs of entertainment and comfort.
Digital marketing mandates presence on all the social media platforms where our audience is. Our engagement on these platforms with the urban consumer is certainly more and we definitely use it judiciously to drive our numbers. We don't do digital for digital's sake only. We are a real mass brand belonging to ‘Bharat’ and while digital penetration is surely increasing, we leverage it tactically to build connections and drive associations.
‘EITHER CONVINCE ME, OR GET CONVINCED’
Anil Bajaj is a man of few words, but follows a strong guiding principle - “Either convince me or get convinced”. As for making the most of his time, he sticks to the basics and plans well before executing anything. He has taken to heart a piece of advice he received – ‘Take a decision and work towards making it right’. Outside the work sphere, Bajaj is involved with a few charitable organizations which manage schools and hospitals for the underprivileged. “I contribute by giving time to the charity work and that keeps me engaged beyond office hours,” says Bajaj, who also likes listening to light music and reading.
Eveready Industries clocked in profits for two consecutive quarters in the lockdown. What is the strategy that helped you achieve this in the unstable and uncertain period? What is the brand's USP? What are your plans for the long and short term?
Eveready has been under pressure for the last 2-3 years owing to which we’ve been extremely cost-conscious. We optimized our distribution costs since September, 2019 and saw the results in the lockdown months. We saved on advertising costs and managed our recoveries through price increases. Our strong on-ground operations and processes coupled with surge in consumption by 10-15% helped us tide over these months.
Eveready stands for trust, quality and value for money. We hold 50% market-share and more than 70% mind-share in our category. We expanded into lighting products and small appliances a few years ago as an organic extension. Our long-term plan is to have these two categories contribute more to our topline. As far as marketing goes, we’ve had icons like Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar as our brand ambassadors. We will engage with a new brand ambassador in the near future. New products in the lighting and small appliances category are also on the anvil.
Sales and Marketing work hand in hand, each with its own set of challenges. You’ve led both with aplomb at Eveready. How do you marry robust on-ground sales work with brand-building?
You have to keep profitability of the brand and the SBU at the centre of it all. And for this, the consumer’s need has to be kept in mind so that he/she keeps purchasing you. Understanding the consumer and making the right offering is extremely crucial.
On the sales side, making your product available at all the right places and communicating to the trade in the right manner is equally critical. Yes, straddling both sides is a continuous challenge, though our organization has very healthy working processes. Further, we are a small team where one person wears both hats. So, the balance automatically comes in.