P Madhavan, EVP-Sales & Marketing, TVS Srichakra Limited, talks of accelerated technology adoption in the wake of the pandemic, and why he sees more Indians buying tyres online in future
Tell us about a few on-ground learning experiences over your 30-year career straddling companies such as Nestle, HUL, PepsiCo, Tata Teleservices, Virgin Mobile and HCL Infosystems, including the last three years at TVS Srichakra. What is one rule that you always follow?
Each and every assignment has been a massive learning experience. If at HUL, it was ‘building scale’, Nestle and Pepsico Foods Limited were about width and depth of distribution. I had a wonderful opportunity at Virgin Mobile to bring all my experiences together to launch a brand nationwide within the time that we were given. Unfortunately, the same organisation taught me how to wind down a huge operation, again in a short window. True to its reputation, HCL was all about excelling in the B2B space and in addition, hiving off one of its business units was a new learning experience for me. At TVS Srichakra, building a brand and nurturing it to market leadership has been at the core of our efforts. Going big in the international arena with TVS Eurogrip is another feather in our cap.
My rules are very simple. Build a solid team that is willing to work hard as there is no substitute for that. One thing that I have urged at all times is ‘continuous learning’. With volatility being added to an ever-changing world, it is learning and improving that saves the day for the organisation and its leaders.
How did you deal with the challenges brought about by the pandemic? What are some of the things you invested in over the last 1.5 years? Is the customer ready to buy tyres online?
We saw an initial setback during the first lockdown last year, but we were up and running again within a short period. In fact, we adapted to virtual working right from Day 1 of the lockdown. We utilized this time efficiently on how we can do things differently while ensuring business continuity.
One of the key challenges we faced during the pandemic was to keep the communication channel active with our trade partners. That is where our digitization efforts paid off. In the last few years, we have been consistent with digitization investments and our sales systems and processes are now on a path of accelerated technology adoption. We had launched a retailer app ‘TVS Eurogrip Bandhan’, which helped digitise retailer loyalty programmes and order booking processes. To address any gap in the replacement market and also enable our retail partners to place orders at their convenience, we introduced an e-ordering feature, ‘Click-to-Order’ as part of our Bandhan app. Early adoption of this feature has been encouraging and many of our trade partners are enjoying the benefits of contactless ordering. This is the right time for Indian consumers to adopt online purchase of tyres. While the numbers are not significant yet, we do see this as a promising segment that is here to stay and one that will show good growth.
Which gets more traction right now – the replacement market or the OEM business? What are some recent innovations coming out of your design centre in Milan and R&D centre in Madurai?
We have witnessed a positive sentiment in the aftermarket segment in the past few months. We expect OEM market to pick-up too, with the approaching festival season. We are fully prepared to lead our customers into the future of riding with our technologically advanced and high-performance range of tyres. Our R&D centre in Milan helps us tap into international trends in tyre technologies and innovations. With this advantage, we will continue to adopt cutting-edge technology and offer world class products.
Tell us about your recent entry into the Indonesian two-wheeler tyre market with the Eurogrip Bee City brand. How has Eurogrip performed in overseas markets and how do you market the brand to remain visible globally?
The first product line to be launched in Indonesia is ‘Eurogrip Bee City’ – a range of aesthetically designed two-wheeler tyres completely customized to suit the needs of Indonesian riders’ urban lifestyle and road conditions. These tyres are suited for popular scooter and motorbike models in Indonesia. We utilised the recent slowdown period to design and study market trends and riders’ needs in greater detail. The new product development went through multiple rounds of prototyping and rigorous testing. We have plans to build Eurogrip as a strong global brand. We have activated marketing efforts and are planning to enhance digital initiatives in new markets.
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