Puneet Das, Senior Vice President-Marketing, Packaged Beverages-India, Tata Consumer Products
Puneet Das, Senior Vice President-Marketing, Packaged Beverages-India, Tata Consumer Products

Puneet Das, Senior Vice President-Marketing, Packaged Beverages-India, Tata Consumer Products, a marketing veteran with stints at Gillette, Marico, PepsiCo and GSK Consumer Healthcare earlier, says his passion of understanding 'why we do, what we do' helps him in his journey of becoming a better marketer every day

Across your roles at Gillette, Marico, PepsiCo, GSK Consumer Healthcare and the Beverages portfolio of Tata Consumer Products, what are the big lessons that you have learnt?

A few lessons I have learnt over the years are:

1. As a brand, one needs to fit into the consumer world, and not the other way around. Successful brands are based on how 'relevant' the brand is to its consumers and how seamlessly it can fit into their world.

2. Key for longevity of a brand is to stay 'updated' with the changing realities of today's world. While the brand philosophy might stay consistent, over the years, in its various touch-points such as packaging, communication, format, it needs to stay 'contemporary'.

3. Brands need to be 'authentic' and consistent with their actions, especially, as most brands are trying to walk down the 'purpose-led' marketing route.

You have handled some iconic brands over the years; there must be amazing marketing stories associated with them. Please share some stories with us.

Some of the stories that stand out are:

1. In Sri Lanka, unlike other countries, the Health food drink was given mixed in tea, even for young kids. Hence, to appeal to SL consumers, we had to re-formulate one of the health brands for it to taste well in tea and market it accordingly. The re-formulated brand found so much success that SL became its biggest market, overtaking India.

2. The 7Up brand was positioned as a lemon-based refreshment drink. In 2008, the first year of IPL, 7Up was among the first few brands to sign up with Chennai Super Kings, as not only was TN the biggest market for the brand but the yellow kit of CSK lent itself well to the 'lemon association'. This sparked off a memorable activation idea called 'lemom pattalam', which was a 'tennis ball aka lemon ball' cricket activation with CSK team for local fans.

3. In crafting a hyper-local/State-specific communication approach for Tata Tea Premium, the approach we have taken is that most States are associated with certain stereotypes/ perceptions which are generally an outsider's perspective about that region. We showcased the 'insider's perspective' and celebrated the positive truth behind these stereotypes in our communication, which has led to some memorable campaigns and has evoked regional pride among consumers.

Why was a new hyperlocal approach necessary, shifting from the earlier cause marketing campaigns, and what has been the result of the change?

Over the years, Jaago Re, has become a clarion call for social awakening. Even in the COVID-19 situation and extended lockdown in the country, Tata Tea worked to spread awareness and facilitate change for the cause of the elderly, who are the most vulnerable during these times, through its social initiative, Iss baar #BadonKeLiye #JaagoRe. The hyperlocal approach has been taken on the flagship brand, Tata Tea Premium. While most national brands only talk about 'connecting at a local level', Tata Tea Premium initiated the hyperlocal approach for its brand restage with an aim to shift the needle from not just celebrating 'India pride' but also evoking 'regional pride'. Our 'hyper-local' marketing mix includes State-specific packaging — which captures the elements of pride for that particular region, a State-wise communication based on local/regional-level insight; and also use of hyper-local media choices to effectively target the region.

What was the insight behind the 'Festive Art of India' collection for Diwali?

In celebration of regional pride, Tata Tea Premium has introduced three limited edition festive packs which celebrate the festive season using traditional arts of India. The 'Festive Art of India' collection not only celebrates the colourful euphoria associated with festivals like Diwali, but also promotes the vibrant art forms from different regions of our country such as Phad Art from Rajasthan, Warli Art of Maharashtra and Pattachitra Art of Odisha/West Bengal.

We saw Tata Tea Gold drive its key proposition 'Dil Ki Suno' as the exclusive beverage partner of the film Shakuntala, released on Amazon Prime Video and earlier through a web series on TVF's Girliyapa channel. What more are you doing in terms of unique partnerships?

Tata Tea Gold has been bringing alive its 'Dil ko na kahoge to pachtaoge' positioning through pop culture stories of people who have listened to their hearts and pursued their own passion. Associating with Shakuntala Devi's story not just helped in propagating the proposition of 'Dil ki Suno' but hopefully inspired several others to tap into their inner voice and pursue their own dreams. Also, in recent times, OTT /online streaming consumption has been steadily increasing. Hence, Tata Tea Gold's partnership with Amazon in a multi-platform collaboration brought together the best of online streaming and an e-commerce channel. It was unique and an industry-first move.

Behind the ace marketer we know, tell us about the Puneet Das that we don't know. What is your ambition?

I am an eternal optimist who values relationships and loves understanding and analysing human behaviour. In fact, it is this passion of understanding how we all behave and 'why we do, what we do' that helps me in my journey of becoming a better marketer every day. I have also been lucky in working with great managers and mentors like Shubhajit Sen and Sushant Dash who are accomplished marketers. My ambition is to continue churning out highly relevant and memorable marketing work which hopefully can also make a fundamental difference in alleviating key societal issues.

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