In this episode, we sit down with Prachi Mohapatra of FBB as she spills the beans on how FBB (the fashion arm of the ubiquitous Future Group) literally created a new category, purely on the back of a great marketing campaign!
Hi! This is the Marketing Connect podcast! A show, where we get up close and personal with some of the most celebrated marketers in the country. We talk to them and discover the art and science of marketing. After all, we are a show of marketers by marketers. Listen on…
In this episode we have with us, Prachi from fbb, the fashion business of Future group. On the podcast, we understand from her, how does one sell something as personal as fashion to a country as diverse as India. Listen on…
Hi everybody. This is Prachi here. I work with future group specifically at OPP which is the fashion arm of future growth and I currently work with the marketing, experiential designing, analytics and the CRM team. So yeah, that’s me. It’s been approximately four years with future group currently and the enjoying distant.
Amazing Prachi. Welcome to the podcast, it is so amazing to have you here. Thank you so much Saurabh. So give me a quick background, from your B-school, post graduation and what all roles have you played, till you reached here.
My journey started with very with very humble beginning. So when I started I remember I’ll start I will not start from when I what I passed out. In fact, I realized during the Summers that if I don’t do something good in summer training, nothing fruitful would come out. I was in the Deccan in my final year and education from Pune. So I remember it’s one of the first institute’s MBA institutes in India and I still remember they had this self learning process, which I write because I come from a small town. I didn’t understand for me teachers teaching you everything handhold you and teach you everything so the self learning development system was definitely very new to me and I still remember it because primarily I never had this friend like relations with with a feature my for me basically Guru teaches you everything. Guru can never be a friend Guru can never sit next to you and have a glass of beer. So those are things we could Blasphemous for me and you know, thanks to make a small town beginnings and all I think I just worked in my favor because I was absolutely open to what I was seeing. Yes. I was definitely getting stressed at a looking around people saying, you know hanging around with teachers hanging around with them having conversation arguing with this was very very new to me. This is very new to me.
And you know, and when you were topper throughout your college and all this becomes very different with our teachers. Look at you teachers definitely want you to score high is all the time. So this the pressure of studying was always on me and my father is himself a professor so I can just say that it was it was very new to me. So what I what I realized during my summers that most of the My peer had some other kind of experience. I never realized how does it feels like to do work. I was a fresh out of college degree and I just realized that oh my God, they are speaking out of their experiences. Maybe they know far more than what I will know ever. So DT so many so much. We think your customers May achieve the company Kia then there will be never or opportunity to learn everything and no chance. I’m getting placed anywhere. My course was for 90 days of coffee bite one of my favorite coffees Brands to work with and I thoroughly enjoyed about the jingle. Yeah. Exactly, and that’s something that that’s something that attracted me to berries in the coffee base in the first place and I was so happy and so glad that I was looking for fairies coffee by turn on a brand like coffee by and yeah more than anything else and I saw my friends having the gala time during Summers and here I was talking like properly door-to-door going from shop to shop doing sale per day covering approximately 60 store following the executive sales executive of my scooty met but you know what? I was in Pune.
Pune summers can be very harsh, Yeah, it was basically 40 to 45 degrees and I had turned 4 shades darker but I turned 4 shades wiser as well, I had a blast and by the time I came back and ready for my second year of college. I think I was way way way ahead of whatever my fellow peers. I knew about your life sale and marketing by the time and I remember I had a blast. I had a blast because I was studying a subject which I really liked wanted to study and second, I really was ready for what was in store. So yes, that was me and from there the journey started and never looked back remember joining Kirloskar again, it was a place where my heart was not set primarily again I I could know why I left my engineering seat at the beginning of my graduation. A 16 year old me was Far wiser than a 22 year old me. But at that point of time, I just joined Krloskar maybe under the pressure by my heart was never set on it. So I fast came back to fmcg food was my Preferred Choice of occupation and at that point of time. I came back to a brand called Rasoi Magic. I remember my parents getting really amazed that I had left something like a four and a half thousand crore company. I joined a 50 crore company, but my heart was set and then from there on I’ve really enjoyed working in the field. As I said, I always believe that you really have to pull up your socks and actually in this case you have to just pull up your sleeves and get into the mud and learn. Absolutely and I never really cared about how I my shade of skin look so I think it just was Who for me to just get out hop onto a scooty are just walking back here work from shop to shop and I really enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed it people complained about it. So I really thoroughly enjoyed it and those with the I think those were the days which set up the tone for the rest of my rest of my career this humble beginnings actually teach you a lot these Beginnings actually Taught you a lot about what happens right at the grassroot level. When you go inside and there is a stock which is completely you know, which is expired how how how they speak to you to how they manage their fee for to how you have to push your brand to how those good old days of posters to connect. So these are things which teach you a lot.
So yes, these are things I think which I can learn and moving from there you have from the food industry to the beauty and personal care industry a marked change decidedly a huge change in my life from from being a grassroot level person to coming to a space where in you know looking good and looking beautiful was a huge part of huge part of how you actually sell the product. So you have to think very differently when you get the product like this and that too with a with a brand like Mary Kay, which is worldwide globally, it’s one of the leading Cosmetics Brands and in India, we we were just starting up. It was a start up for that for us. So, you know having to work with the premium priced brand as a start-up gives you a very huge in-depth kind of a different kind of knowledge about hands-on operations to launch new products and marketing them. So yes, these are things which I learnt a lot in with Medicare the startup culture and then moving to Modicare and then finally to Oriflame with actually I spread my wings as as a category head as a brand head. I really I really came into my being in the beauty and personal care industry with oriflame huge exposure from being a category head from being recruited to actually start the category team in India to having his nice Tintin you’re up there and you go get to see a lot of very well in get to see a lot of things right from production to meeting vendors to really getting the maximum exposure.
I have an aura flame being able to handle a lot of lot of different donned on a lot of different of avtars and actually made me a very confident individual from from brought. I started so from the right from learning something from the Grassroots to actually actually being stationed at a dark place like Stockholm and seeing the Dark of the winters where you see three hours of the car sunlight you usually early Learn to appreciate a lot of things like Sunlight Like I used to mark my calendars. So these are the things these are things which you generally start like in this situation when we are actually learning to say thanks to the environment in a lot of other ways. I think I started thanking sun. So these are these are small things which actually put you into the fore. Yes lot of success as a professional channel between Mary Kay and oriflame ahead of huge successful strengthen Medicare also with the Modi group, you know the group and then move to huge successful chain. I still hold it as a feather in my cap having started the category having started the global products with my team and surpassing all the targets that were given to us by 5x 6X level. So these are these are these are things which actually built up a lot of my confidence in building up a p&l, setting up a midsize business properly in an established in an established business. So these are things which definitely move me up to right now in fbb. I think where I joined fbb to where it has deemed today approximately a hundred percent jump in for the past four years to write on how ever customer saw a fbB and 2016 when I joined the brand 2. Thousand twenty I think we have come a huge way. I can’t take all the credit for myself. I think the ball was had already started rolling when I joined, but I was very I was very surprised, be very thankful that I was I was given this role to head a team of such young people when I did not come from a retail background. Neither. I was from a fashion background, Beauty and personal care industry and retail industry is very different.
When you actually start working in at you understand the nuances of the difference because Beauty and personal care are integrated. Of course, they’re integrated. Like every every Cog in the Machinery is integrated at some point of time, but I had no background in retail industry. I had no background in fashion industry and I remember having a very interesting conversation with mr. B&E in my last round of interview, and I remember when I came out I thought that I should just take the A flight back to Delhi and never got the job but surprisingly within when I came out the HR head followed me back and said that okay, you know what you are in and I was like really I exactly I was like really I thought that was a really really bad interview bad conversation. And I don’t think I should be I should be even the I think I was real shit. So yeah, but here I am four years down the line and I think I had a fabulous Journey with everybody now when I say fabulous, it’s not smooth fabulous. It’s a it’s a journey which has been through a lot of rocking and path which definitely has not been easy, but it has taught me a lot about definitely about the industry about the about the cafeteria. About about how this entire business operates also as an individual, I think I learned a lot from where I was as a professional to where I am today and a lot of thanks to my team which who I really cherish and really believe in at this point of time from where we started off to where we are today. I think I share a fabulous relationship with the team.
And I have at least a hundred questions to ask you because to be honest while I’m not a consumer of you know, FBB but while I will say something about the kind of work you’ve done I was really really amazed that you know, I have a lot of work is happening and people like me are not even aware and call myself a marketeer. But so I’m going to ask tough questions, okay. This journey was very enriching for you. Right both in good ways and bad ways add fpv. So are you okay talking about one of the biggest blunders that you would have made the journey.
Absolutely. Why not? In fact, in fact at the beginning right at the beginning, in fact, there are so many there’s so many blunders that you do and there are so many bad things that you learn from this blunders that it puts you in a space that its good that you learned in here only. Yeah, exactly exactly because you know when you’re joining a new industry and still trying to make a foothold still I in a crude way trying to impress your boss right space to make blunders. I remember it was one of my first campaigns and remember suddenly and we were shooting it with Varun Dhawan. Who’s our was who’s our brand ambassador and we were all set. We’re absolutely set for a shoot. We’re absolutely going and we were here we were in Krabi. In Bangkok and people we’re going Gaga about how beautifully the script was written and how Varun had arrived and on time and we were all set to shoot super I think it was 3 am call time, and after meeting him we were coming out around 8;39 pm or as English time or other and suddenly we realized that what we had not taken into cognizance , there was a huge communication gap between us as clients and the production house and the director. So how while the script was beautifully floating around in every things are suddenly all of us realize that this this shooting of this entire content is going to take way longer then Varun’s actual working hours. But this which is which is not in the celebrity speak not a very good speaker, if you ask a celebrity to work for 12 hours instead of 10, at 3 am calltime, its not the wisest thing to do. It was 3 months of me joining the institute and we reached a gridlock of almost 5 hrs before we go live for the shoot. And in a different location. You don’t have access to anything, not even to a boss who is not even in a nice mood.
Going with varun, it was a breeze. He’s one of the best best of ambassadors you can actually ask for and I’m not saying this because this is going on recording. I think it’s I would have to speak about it very openly is one of the best brand ambassadors. You can actually ask for a very invested brand ambassador by any means and an amazing individual to work with very In doubt at all, but yeah, there are lines which the team will draw. It’s not about money only about it’s about the talent being exploited even ask me before you go live. So understood that there has been a huge communication gap, but you know, you’re working on a project this big for two days of shoot. I think if there are points were definitely there will be cogs which will definitely be losing their will use ends and there will cogs. There are at least 50 of us so it can be anybody’s fault, but the fact is how you actually tied over this entire situation is going to be a at that point of time. It’s going to be the only question but what I learned from this Experience is you know, when you have a production size of this when you have a campaign this big but biggest mistake that happened as a team leader at that point of time. I realize that when you have so many people working on it. I think the flow of information has to be absolutely like a like a lay man, even if it should not be asked I think it has to be asked like for example, what time will my car arrive?
If it looks lame as lame as that clear ask it please make sure the grass cape and what exactly is it love it just has to be as simple as as as dumbbells that but all the dumb question has to be asked right from the pre-production stage so that there is no there is no surprises like this and I think this is this this kudos to the entire team and Varun who is an absolute sport for I remember I arrived at the he already At loggerheads till like 2:00 a.m. We didn’t catch any sleep. We had all traveled the previous night to Krabi and we had not had a previous night’s sleep also, but two days without sleep and there was a buffalo Campaign, which at this point of time I can proudly say that after three years of being Buffalo was like at a hundred percent growth this point of time, you know kudos for the entire team for being such a sport and yes from this mistake it could have been such a grave mistake. It could have gone towards such a huge toss and such huge Stakes at that point of time such a huge production costs. But yeah, 2 days below the line, we’re actually celebrating with Varun actually was thing for 11 12 hours for the next two days and along with Varun most of us but in like 16 days, so yes, this is one one of the primary mistakes that happened and it could have gone the other. Either way, but yes, it was a huge huge huge pull back.
If I told you my idea that you have to leave FBB, you have to do something else and whatever even more two different company start a business where own whatever but you can find a replacement for you at this organization could be an internal candidate could be next and pick but somebody else has to the replacement. So what what tenets would you look for in that person, you know, soft skills and hard skills and so on and so forth.
So we start with the soft skills first. I think it is a huge impact. I think I believe in soft skills far more than hard skills hard skills can be learned later if your attitude is absolutely, correct, so See soft skills may the first thing I would like to know about a person is how comfortable he or she is working with a huge team like this. So at this point of time I work with four teams. I work the visual merchandising thing which is called as experiential designing. I have I work with the marketing team which with an age as varied as a 23 year old to a 43-year old.
I work with the CRM team and Analytics. so this this more than anything else is human beings you are interacting with and when you have a team this very this size, I think a huge amount of pressure comes around to how do you interact with the team? What is it that they give you without being asked what is it that you can take out of this team and make them perform in ways in which they don’t even know about themselves. Like there are there is like to take this example of someone in my team who I joined was literally on the verge of being a chucked out of can I join and I remember this person had been rated a rating of 1 or 2, then you are out of the system kind of the space. Yes person surprise me the maximum when I joined I had only the marketing team with 12 people 13 people at that point of time and I remember she was the only one who got a promotion that year. Wow, and she surprised me in ways that nobody else surprised me. You just cannot make a fish climb a tree. That’s that’s not only or that’s the only thing you have to give people what they love skills, they will learn and the only thing I will look forward in a leader. I will hand over this mantle if I have any kind of influence in making the choice in the leader that I’m going to pass the Baton to is to learn how to make a make a is to make them see the skills of a person and when I say skills I am not saying the hard skills that a person already has what skills an interest of a person what she or he wants to do that’s one thing that definitely I would want to spot in a leader.
Second thing is I definitely want to spot in somebody in a leader that what is it he or she is wanting to do more than what is written on the board. That’s something I think is a given I would not have been working with four teams right now. If food, and I would not have been putting up my hand time and again saying that I want to do that I want to do that, you know, I had no experience in visual merchandising as I had no experience in retail industry. I had no experience in visual merchandising of a retail Market ever, but we’re putting up my hand saying that give it to me for 6 months if I fail take from me, so it’s just us. It’s just that put up your hand for from whatever is written more than what is written for you in your JD. So if a person like this, I see a person like this. It just warms the cockles of my heart. Okay, you know what? I will dig this out. I’ll learn this hard skills about it just boils me to down to things like what has happened to me. I don’t believe in industry specific marketing at all people will learn if they know the more of marketing people will learn any kind of marketing. I truly believe in that any other part of these two. As I said hard skills. I don’t want to really focus on water. What is marketing head or a leader marketing leaders hard skills will be but I think it really simple to know that keep your customer at heart and know your numbers right? That’s that’s the two thing, I really sum up and any business leader beat marketing or operations doesn’t matter.
So you mentioned that you work with four different teams at the same time it actually like that’s true. Just want to understand. What is it typical day in office for a top marketeer, right? I mean from the time that you start working at eight nine. I don’t know what I mean start working. But what is a typical day like for you?
Okay, they starts for me really early so pre covid days and post covid days hard trip. But pre-covid office going days, with office going day would generally begin at 6;15 a.m, in the morning. I am no early person, trust me Saurabh, I don’t want any person. I need I need my one hour of my time with my exercising. So that’s something that I would definitely invest my time on and I usually wake up early during weekdays, to make sure that I’m a little ahead of the curve rather than playing catch-up throughout the day because I’ve realized is that if you if you don’t complete your personal requirements that you need from the day, then you come keep on playing catch up throughout the day. I don’t like the feeling of playing catch-up. So that is what I usually wake up early in the morning. I the office going days started in her somewhere around 6:15 an hour or an hour and a half of my time with me, be it yoga, be it dance, whatever I’d really like that one one and half hours of me time generally catch up on all my emails and all my whatsapp’s post that eight o’clock post–and o’clock 738 is the time that I start my work day starts with my professional Life Starts to generally by emails will be out or my WhatsApp spendings will be out you will not be able to reach me before 8 a.m. in the morning on a work day. That’s for sure for me so before 8:00. 8:00 is a time when I start catching up and releasing all the whatsapp messages and emails before I start my day.
Generally, I’m in office by around sometimes within 9:30 or 10 o’clock and then my day starts and then really the first part of the day is absolutely an hour of the day is for the team. That’s when I actually like to catch up on anything that is on table any update anything that Does a new project also I like to start talking about with the team. This is this is my time with my team and since there are its a fairly large team and there are cross-functional people. I really like to get them into a room because then people learn a lot from each other and that one are becomes very sacrosanct for people to learn people to know what they’re wanting to do. There is somebody in visual merchandising who might be wanting to work in marketing someday. So this is the time he or she actually can judge her silver sensing. After that all the Q4 or Q3 firefighting jobs are handle post that one hour and then the day begins with an update with the CEO also I also have belonged to some somebody’s team and everybody up getting taken update. I didn’t really walk up to my boss and give him an update or whatever pending work is there I definitely try to keep him an update and then the cross functional team roles, right if it is category or operations? That’s how the day starts. That’s how the day begins.
I don’t like checking up on my emails time. And again as soon as it comes you don’t need to respond. I think there are better ways to reach a person now if there is anything urgent and firefighting then definitely there is always the phones to pick up and speak to I keep markets to check my email. That’s something that I learned the harder way that emails just take away your attention from from what you’re trying to do. So generally after a catch up with my boss, which is in a day or two. I want want to do it once I keep time to myself with there are some some project strategic projects that has to be done some work that has to be done emails have for specific markets in about once in about two hours or so, so if I find time once early in the morning once in the first half of the day and then once in the second half of the day, so unless and until there’s a burning issue. I really don’t want to check up on my emails investment angle. It takes attention away from what you’re trying to do. And as I said, I’m always reachable on phone if it’s a burning issue, please reach me on phone. I am easily available that case.
So yeah have that’s how the day looks like and second half of the day generally again goes into cross functional meetings or any of any strategic work if it requires my attention, and yep, I trained to wrap up my day stay around 6 o’clock in the office. So 6:00 6:30 is when I make an exit from the office and then evenings are for a run or walk me, whatever. I’m feeling like doing okay, and then the day ends with me time and it’s generally catching up with phone calls with my family nephew and niece and that’s how the day ends. Yeah, generally with a nice dinner.
So easy question a lot of people that using this podcast and they tell us that it’s Market here for them is somebody who makes fancy TV season has spun along with it. So they often do not realize it at your level Prachi. You also have people to report when you mention it couple of times in this last answer fee. So just tell us our listeners that you know as the head of marketing who all do you interact with not the teams that report to you, but the ones that you are, you know, I mean you are also part of top management and the committee or whatever you call it at FBB. So just talk to our listeners about what you are supposed to report to who you are. Who do you suppose you could report on a daily basis.
On a daily basis, I am answerable to the CEO of the company. I’m still able to grow at ease. I have a very regular interaction with the CFOs who definitely play a huge role in passing our budget and keeping an eye on the Pnl. I am answerable to the promoters. They definitely play a huge role of and and our budgets or the fancy stuff that you keep on saying and seeing. I think other is a lot of lot of interaction that happens with the retail heads and the zonal ceo as well. So these are the people whom you definitely attract.
Can you tell heads and the zonal CEOs as well? So these are people you definitely keep on interacting because these are the ones who who are at the back-end of the work on the product the cat heads in the buyers and the retail heads and the front end are the zonal CEOs who almost handle of 5000 crore business at any level by themselves at any point of time so these are people you definitely you interact with and you keep all working with on a very on a very regular basis to keep them updated on everything. So yes, that’s a line of people that you generally speak to and work with at any given point of time as a marketing Lead. You Will and it’s quite exciting you what you get to work with operations head. You will get to work with the CEOs the cfo’s the promoters at every level. So these are these are exciting spaces to work with because at every point of time, I think you get to learn a lot from them you absorb and you throw your ideas back. And there is quite a bit of interaction which generally enriches you by the end of the day.
For you at FBB, a large part of your customers are in tier 2 and tier 3 cities in the country. And that is where we are seeing probably a larger position by compared to tear one location. So, you know how let’s say let’s say there’s a girl called Rita in Ranchi. Who’s your Target customer in there is a girl called Lena in Delhi. How are these two data, and it has different to each other.
Well the Rita’s and Gina’s have a very different choice of what they actually buy. So you’ll be surprised to know. All that the Rita in Rachi is actually willing to try on a pair of denim’s far more than the arena in Delhi was really wanting to buy a patiala and kurti. So the choice of you know, the choice is very very specific to aspiration that they are have the kind of information that they’re exposed to at any given point of time. Both are employing of communication becomes very very specific to the area that we are operating at so a raunchy Rita would be definitely going to cost me more on a digital platform but is very less honor ATL platform. So to find find to find the balance as to how I approach Rita and grouchy is going to be a mix of a lot of data that is thrown at me in the terms of figures in the terms of what is going to be the cost of conversion of Rita in Ranchi versus what is going to be a cost of conversion of Rita in Delhi.
And what is it that she was going to but And as I said the cost definitely a matters a lot and both the spaces and the conversion cost might be very different depending on the call, the kind of product that they’re going to buy the voice is going to be very what what space they are in what location they are in what is the commode that I’m trying to speak to age doesn’t matter the kind of exposure that they have is definitely the kind of speak that they are having the kind of the kind of interaction that they’re having on different platforms on social media on the kind of brands that they’re interacting with apart from my brand is going to have a lot of voice speak when I’m trying to speak to each one of them. So if I am trying to speak to Rita in Ranchi saying that style be highly beneficial, and then the then the Delhi girl will definitely hear Kurti is the best friend of your life, kind of speak as well. So this is how the voice differs and it’s very exciting to work on such different space with both the girls while we have personalizing them. In fact, the personification of a human being is so different and while they’re speaking to them in marketing parlance. It means a lot of different voices and that’s how that’s what we are working today.
Rather than a sprain free approach a personalization has taken a lot of value in our life.
That brings to the next question that I have right? I was looking at the entire campaign within you went hyperlocal with no communication for I think it was for the shirts category. If I’m not I’m not I’m not sure that’s right there tell you right? Absolutely. Yeah, so so maybe you want to talk about that because I found it very very fascinating that you know at at the scale at which you operate across the country. So do you want to talk about that?
Absolutely, it was a huge turn-over for the business that comes over setting other the smaller pegs in place. That’s what we believe in and that’s something but we have so that’s that’s something that all of us believe in. So before coming to Future growth, trust me. I was a very unaware of a lot of different small festivals that were celebrated all across India and I take pride in saying that I come from the eastern part of India. I’ve stayed in Bombay for such a so I’ve stayed in the western part of India for such a long time. I have stayed in Delhi for 89 years old. I know northern part of India a lot. So for me a person like me who is actually traveled all across current state all across in each zone of India getting surprises is definitely not not not a not a very common place. So I was surprised at the speak that the consumer heard from us as a brand and trust me. It was a huge eye-opener for me. See that how is how is testable like dashara is celebrated each part of India and how we are able to segregate the Dashara and how it is celebrated even in Ap if he celebrates it a separate way different way than Telangana celebrates a Connecticut celebrates it two different ways and how the Kerala celebrates it and we actually have a speak which is very very particular and personalized to each of the customer that is there in each of the different state. And we operate at that level at on her own on hyper localization because I think it is it is required for us to be able to see those the nuances that are customer feels about when you when you see a campaign being personalized for you.
And when it is both a personalization and digital marketing is very achievable. Personalization in ATL medium is very very difficult when you have such a huge pay and pay approach when you are giving out a communication, which is there in holdings. It might be very different in Kochin when I travel to trivandrum. It might be very different so and ATL it’s very difficult to achieve a personalization and that’s that’s the kind of space that we the operator and so speaking about this particular campaign of shorts campaign. What would what we started noticing was when we’re looking at a specific market like Kerala where our fashion growth was huge, but we will not grow any categories which were actually nascent or two or native to the the location which is if you see 60 to 70 percent of men in Kerala wear shirts over t-shirts. So this is something that we realize and then secondly most of the local brands were doing very well over there. Where is the price that we operate at or the quality of the product to give that give is very at par with any of the any of the Mass Prestige brands that we operate in that you will find. So we took this campaign as an example saying that okay, let’s speak to the customer in their language. So there is this campaign which we created saying for shirts. Sure. Now if you see this campaign in what is basically saying bro in various languages. So it was as simple as that and we for the first time we actually interacted with an agency who which who was a Malayalam agency. So this is the first time we actually thought that okay, let’s give it and if there were it was a fair page while we have a creative agency and on board with us. It was a fair bitch took out saying that okay, let’s speak to an agency, which is a localized agency. I don’t think any agency would anybody else will understand and once is any better than in local agency, you know. But are there are scale of operation which comes when you work with a brand like us but that can be achieved by a lot of support that we can give as a brand but the thought the sentiments can be cracked only by somebody who is would be leaving in the who believes in it who understand the nuances like I don’t think anybody else could have come back with saying that it is a bro or a bro code in the local parlance. One is in is the agency that you have Israel has 30 planners on the account. You will never guess which is which is which is why we love working with smaller agency let me not say smaller. You can see we love working with buried agencies from various parts of the country. And this is what they crack for us and water campaign. What we did was we followed it up with a huge amount of precision on data how we want to go ahead.
What is it? Is it that we want to go ahead and have a speak on the crawl the digital space on by geofencing it for careless specifically specifically for Market like Kochin in Trivendrum where we have huge number of stores. We absolutely targeted those campaigns. And what does what a huge week on week achievement. We had it was a Or which actually showed us that when you go as much hyperlocal we had actually interacted with micro Nano influencers from Kerala from fortune and trivendrum which give us who gave us a youth speak on how what what what the advances of the location was. So yes apart from you know, apart from numbers on the actual campaign objective. What are they gave us was a huge brand speaker watch it. Whatever he meant for the Malyali customer was we actually understand them, Which is a huge Plus? Us which I think we’re more than any more than the numbers which of course all of us are on hot seat for it was a huge campaign success for the brand.
So let me describe you the same question used to code beta and about listening religiously on digital platforms by geofencing the other thing that I found really really fascinating when I did the research was your entire take on how Instagram is actually playing a pivotal role in your success as a you know, as a brand in terms of boat traffic. And let’s say the continuity page create on that. So so like like like I remember reading something during you said that you know, you actually went down to the level of reworking on the stores and made them look better so that you know, people can come take pictures and upload that on Instagram. So just talk to me about that piece. And and how did that Insight came out? And and and how did you work on that day?
As a fashion brand Instagram is a space for us where in we we understand that a lot of our customers are active on you know when you started going Instagram first, we thought that we thought that actually we should be targeting women who are extremely active on Instagram. But what what was it fascinating thing to see was didn’t matter what that we are targeting a specific Cohort saying that okay women in this age group should be interested. What did it for us came out as a brand which is very fashion forward and which was very digital forward it gave us a sneak peek of us a completely different than Avatar totally. We’ve been known see we are not a digital native ran what we do is we operate out of brick and mortar space which in all Millennial or gen Z parlance is not a very Savvy space to shop at what what Instagram did for us is the more more number of interaction the more interactive we made our platform our brand the more interactive. We made our campaigns what it did for us in more than numbers. As I said it gave us that kind of young brand which we are always striving for we are a young brand will be a Harley 12 year old and the kind of product when You’d walk into an FBB and see how how how different they are or how different they look from any other brand if you will find that it caters to a lot of youngsters, but we never able to speak out loud. Of course once we had Instagram in place and once we had fabulous campaigns like the virtual trial room like the Pujo campaign last year. I think it gave us an edge over our our other competitors that you know, if we are in Instagram first brand and we definitely operate at a space which looks makes us look younger second. Yes, of course when when we work on any of the online space, but we definitely want is number of footfalls that should go into a store.
Secondly, every campaign of ours not again, this is not the space wherein we are looking for footfalls inside the store every campaign of ours was built in such a way that we wanted to move a lot of footfalls into this or story should get us footfall fan or is it did not make any business sense for me. So 020 was a huge space for me to operate at so you can’t just click on me and shop online at fBB online and be done with it. And I’m not I’m not going to be a satisfied brand. If I don’t get my customer to the store visiting my stores and what I did was since the youngsters started strong thronging the stores with definitely from what fashion looked like inside a big Bazaar to what it looks like currently and also they be dependent store. You will find a lot of young Vibes. You will find you will not find those vibes like a like a brand which is instagrammers brand but you what you will find is a The Vibes the lighting the way you browse the products. It’s a very young man, but you will not get you not get intimidated by how the entire space looks like so friend Bender. There is a tier 2 tier 3 customer walking in he or she should not feel that okay. I might not be wanting to shop in this space because the space looks way too advanced for me. No, it doesn’t look like it should not be intimidating fashion should never be intimidating. It should not be should not put you in a space which says that okay, you are not fashionable come I’ll make you fashionable. That’s not the space like me would like to speak. I would like to say that other than that thing. Or whatever fashion sense you have come. Let’s just look good with Me.
Next question I have is is around again something that my research threw at me that you said that you’ve launched a category the sleeper category, right? And you did a lot of work on it before you launch it and it is now among the biggest successes for you guys as a you know, a product categories to talk to me about how did the entire thing came out, you know from the time you thought about it to the time you launch it to the time now, so how do we have to tell it?
So the category team just surprised you’re saying that you know what this time. We have got a lot of feedback starts like that unless and until you are a European company like oriflame with put like three or some research behind it is a surprise since we since I have been on the category side and handle pnl for such a long time. Exactly knew what I felt when I I ordered it because Ryan personally, okay, let’s do it. But the good part of it was when we saw so what George it generally happens is in a typical working environment how we get involved in how the products are built over over ages. What were yours? What we have done is we generally get involved in seeing what the products are coming at least eight to nine months in advance, but somehow these are the only part of when when I had joined and remember we got it has surprising the six months or five months in advancing that there’s a huge order of sleepwear that we are coming up with and this is something that we would like to launch and speak about but how what happened was when we look through the products and what we realized was we can say so much about this category, which has never been spoken about in a huge loud voice ever.
So when we went we launched Shila as a category. Shila is the sleeper brand that we have with us and it’s one of those products that had never been spoken about this brand has a lot of lot of products that generally a woman spends her day the entire days if you if you generally see a housewife at home, she would be in her loungewear or lounging where in fact not loungewear Lounge, but she should be sure to be not lounging wear or a pajama or a or a gown with look exactly like my mom’s is comfortable to wear and they wear and tear so much but nobody speaks about it the gender the the only space where people used to buy a gown or a pajama is open market is open market. So young while the organized space had some kind of products but nobody spoke about it. So we said okay open open space for us to go and have a communication about this brand and we just simply put out the conversation saying that you know, we have this brand like stay pretty throughout the day and you can you’ll just be comfortable around this brand and the moment people saw that okay, they can buy sleepwear comfortable sleepwear in a in a such a contained environment in an AC environment as you say it.
It just went out as a surprise to them. We didn’t even have to push that communication for more than two weeks and four eight two weeks. We saw a straight growth we convene we can we convey growth generally campaign when we go live with the campaign. It will see a little see a peak then into plateaus and generally plateaus within four weeks five weeks because the kind of conversation we used to put out for not more than two weeks three weeks and generally really were four weeks five weeks. We were flat, I figured if we saw an 8 weeks straight we convey growth which was by any parlance a huge success. We went ran out of stocks we It’s a Retailer’s wet dream to go out of stock on in within with halfway through the season. We ran out through the stocks. So it will add to something that that to something that they have bought extra reduction would be absolutely like it was a surprise category for us to be speaking about in huge terms and it was amazing to see as a marketer.
I think it’s a huge feather on the teams cap saying that okay, you know we achieved such a huge speak on a category that is sleepwear.
Got this and got eight times growth in the last five six years. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean cool so tell me there must be times like resemble your team came back to you and said kitchen home the bottom algorithm. We don’t know what to do. So when you get it when you get these kind of problems and you can’t discuss it with your team. Today, I mean it’s all things that you don’t want to because they are team. Who do you go out to jamming, you know marketing problems?
I reach out friends and peers, you know, when you get to hear a lot of varied versions, they might not have a complete answer to this problem that you are going through but what they throw at you is a lot of use case as we say a lot of case studies as they would have gone through so Hearing them speak about certain or certain odd issues that they have been it throws gives you a lot of ideas. So generally I try to speak to a lot of friends and peers around the industry and then not may not be necessarily from marketing. They may be from any other operation operating feel that they have they are they are but it just gives you a lot of ideas. It gives you throws at you a lot of business speak it throws at you a lot of Consumers Peak and then it makes a lot of sense for you to approve what’s your problem from a completely different Avatar? So, hence I try to detach myself from the immediate warm coat Airy and go to people who are who have a very different view to what you’re going through.
How and what are some unconventional ways in which you learn about the consumer Behavior? Like one of the marketeer is I was talking to who he manages one of the QA side brands and he said that he goes and stands at the emotion at the floor of the restaurant kids come in and keep their burgers and fries. So what will you do to learn about consumers?
The kind of quality of information that you get on a shop floor is I think it doesn’t it supersedes any information that you will get so most of the time I love traveling and I would definitely make it a point to travel to various big bazaars and FBBs across the country to get a to get ahead first-hand information of of how how consumers are reacting to certain or generally to stand there and note the look at customers. If example, I remember standing in trivandrum in earliest visit and I remember um creditor May somebody asked me or some nobody so somebody was checking and saying that you know, you do women shorts are knee-length shorts are not selling so I and I still remember I turned around and asked the area sales manager. I’m just trying to make my head spin around it saying that a college-going might not be the more I’m seeing the more I’m seeing York City and to Venom is a space place where I had which I had already visited like six or seven times already and I was just thinking about this is supposed to be a young girls apparel. The way girls are dressing in here.
So why am I what’s the point of having this SKU lying over here in this in such huge numbers the other have it in small numbers and let it flow by whatever is whatever numbers it flow out. And if you run out of stock, then we will arrange for interest or transfer or we will arrange for products from their husband rather than keeping it on the floor in such huge numbers and it’s mocking at you. Just get it off. It is something That that’s going to be a much more relevant. So these are things you catch when you’re traveling to a place like Guhati. You realize the you realize individuals are so daintily built so you should have much more of a small size or a medium-sized over there. I’d rather than large which are in a place like Punjab or a Rajasthan you actually put up the large sizes rather than Guhati store or Dimapur store where in already people are so daintily on belt. So these are these are local nuances which will which works store in the Dimapur would open up at my 8 a.m. In the morning because the Dimapur opens wakes up early. Yeah, and this clone daylight savings right here. So you would know this should open up at 8:30 in the morning and wrap up by 5:30 in the evening because that’s how people shop. That’s how people operate. So these are things in one sense. You will catch only once you go there so these are things which makes you see a very different kind of how any kind of product it’s not only fashion or any kind of product is Big getting consumed. Yep. So these are things which actually gives you a view to help how any kind of product be consumed at a new part of India.
So, yes the biggest mean experience is to stand in the shop floor and I love going to open markets whichever Zone, I am visiting apart from my stores or the in normal parlance submarket are a brand managers. I remember going to Manipur and there is a market called Eema market which is absolutely run by women. It’s completely figuratively manned by women. So these are things I think you catch only when you travel and interact and I don’t know when will it start in good such good times, but I am hoping I’m hoping it starts very soon.
So coming to the good times and bad times question covid-19. 19 tell me as a marketeer a and b as a as a person the impact that you think covid could have on the professional marketing.
Very positive because I’ll tell you what. From my experience what I have seen is marketers have been very decidedly keeping a digital marketing as a side support marketing. Wait till now if you are not a digital native, then definitely a focus on your digital spends or digital marketing initiatives are very restricted. What this situation has done is it has forced all the marketers to whatever digital maturity organization might be or you might be as a professional, it has forced everybody to look at a communication which goes beyond the spray and pray approach.
And which has given you a push into saying that you know, what now take it up a notch above or a few notches above because there is no other way out. So I think it’s a very positive push. It has been a push wherein I think all of us including me and my agency have been actually pushed to launch something completely new, whatever stages we are in somebody who does not didn’t do performance Marketing actually push themselves, too.
Somebody who wanted to find out more about a IML and always had a of always had an excuse of saying that okay. I don’t know much more about aiml has actually pushed themselves to learn much more and learn far more integrated approach of knowing the next step in marketing good for us. I think it’s a it’s a space where I’m seeing professional professional skills being sharpened and being implemented at the same time. There is no other way out now. At this point of time the production capabilities are less because what it has done is not what it is beautifully done is basically not every brand jumped into the moment marketing brand speak and because of restricted production capabilities.
No, that’s not how it is going to work. If production capabilities. Our district is bunnies are restricted. The only way you can do your marketing is to have a very rough and raw marketing and that you can do only when you know something inherently and actually know how to reach out to your customers. So I think it is it is really really professionally pushed us all to innovate.
Tell me where have you pushed your team, too? How they should upgrade themselves or skills?
Okay. So what we me and my team are completely upskilling at this point of time is people see with everybody in the team is not at the same level of skills or at similar level of skills or at or at a similar level of experience somebody who was who is far more experienced at this point of time in number of years might not have the capability to might not have the capability in the inclination to learn digital marketing or e-comm. But what this situation is doing, that I wanted to tell at this platform is within we have never stopped working like fashion might not be selling but because I was always open and within 14 days, I think our e-commerce site was up and running. So unless or until you want to be completely out of the loop and after the lockdown opens, I think things are changing by the minute unless and until you want to be a completely obsolete marketer you have to get Down and learn again things this time not 4 Shades Darker, but 4 shades wiser for sure so learn about e-comm this is something Ended up breaking water brand will never be able to give you so what you will have is an edge over a digital native is something that who specifically are an expert in a brick-and-mortar space? But at this point of time, there is no other option than e-comm going life. You also have a plus + on doing any calm business. So this is a point in time. My entire team has been learning live e-comm and I time I am extremely proud of what they have done in the to themselves in the past three months. All of them have actually come notches above what they were before going into lockdown before going into lockdown.
I think initial first two three weeks were forced upon them suddenly when you push them we were always we always had an e-commerce platform fBB online.in, but it is not enough, but it was it was never their primary responsibility, but now with reduced bad power with reduced speak of marketing. They don’t have any other option. So e-comm learning e-comm is not a choice for them anymore. So all of them have now become expert in right from operation back in the operation to warehousing to the front end marketing and front-end e-comm operation. So at this point of time, I think the way my team has really UPS killed themselves. I am I’m really hopeful that they have turned around this situation into something very positive. For them though with a lot of push pull in some some spaces, but I think it’ll all come out thankful and humbled out after this experience.
Tell me if I told you that you have to start a business at this hour at this time? What opportunities do you see existing in the market right now to become an entrepreneur?
Oh I think lots lots. Lots of my eye. I see a lot of speaking ritual there is a lot of see. when we work from home and the first and most of us like a professional. I am working in my room. My husband is working in the other. I’m still completely doing end-to-end everything But both of us complete embroider at this point of time if somebody says chaos I’m going to provide you home cooked food. I’m going to kiss her hands. This is one thing is going to blow up this working from home specifically is going to blow up a lot of opportunities for women who actually stay at home and have absolutely been looking for opportunities to go up and start something of their own such great times to start something.
So I think there is a huge opportunities for home-cooked meals. There is a huge opportunities if I go to tier 2 and tier 3 and I am I see this happening with a lot of my lot of my friends who are still residing in tier 2 tier 3 towns, they are opening up new Urban from their perspective. I think businesses who which deal in direct selling in hygiene in in new products in natural products in immunity building products. These are going to the next level and even if it stays for true for the next one year or so till we as UK says they have found some solution to this vac virus, but for the next one year, we are going to be fearful of who we come in contact with I think by this time by that time we have huge opportunities for such natural immunity building those boosters for work from home for working from home women who actually can build up a business on their own deserves that I can see is going to build up from here and I’m seeing this because I think smaller business will mushroom faster smaller business will do and flourish also.
How is the expectation of consumers changing from you as a marketer In the post covid-19 world?
Okay. So safety is going to be a safety and hygiene is definitely not a not a it’s not a good to have anymore. It’s a Must have. I think I’m any customer is going to be a think about you. You have never walked into an FBB if you walk into an fbb or a big Bazaar. The first thing just visualize yourself walking into a store. You will be a fearful individual I was no gloves panic and he was the mass panic in a mirror back Casa de Korea undergoes a maybe many oftemperature check. So these are things which we definitely are going to be very aware of the person who’s standing on the floor is manning the custumor or not proper customer at proper social distancing or not. He or she self is a properly distant at a distance place or not. Try not to touch as many products as possible. See as I keep on telling it in every Forum before Market is all over are discussed our customers how we would like to be dealt with a brand. We are interacting with that the the same way we should be dealing with any for customers as walking in there are trial room sanitized why? Hi Kenny, before I go into a trial room even if the Along with sanitized I should be sanitizing it in front of the customer because the virus is there in this surface as much as there it is there in your head. I’m gonna tell you will you will always be fearful of what you’re touching. I think as customers as customers of any brand I think We will expect the same level of hygiene and safety and safety is going to be Forefront. Second thing is talk since I don’t want to be floating around with a lot of space in open markets or I don’t want to stay around in open space in for a long time. What I would want to do, I would like to pick up the maximum requirement from us the contained environment and walk back home. So for example, if I am looking for a for something for my kid, if you walk into a big Bazaar I should be able to give you a laptop. I should be able to give you a fashion crowd of kids car under garments of kids K T-shirt. It could be shorts. I should be able to give you stationary. I should be able to give you your toys so that when you walk out the fabric bizarre, you’re completely surrounded. Set you are sorted. You don’t want anything else for your kid. So that’s that’s the way we are speaking to our customers in that come they safe and they stock them and one stop destination for all your needs and put everything we have.
So tell me what is the most cringeworthy marketing jargon you’ve ever heard in your career of let’s say fifteen sixteen twenty years?
Target customer. It’s so misused. I know I have been pulled on this word. So many times that I can’t I can’t even start to say as marketers. I don’t really think we always know where TG is, you know more Target group is but this is such a misused word. This is something that you know, I can say as much what I need to be really ready as a marketer is that this this lines are going to be blurred. This lines are definitely merging somewhere and also starting somewhere. So these lines are going to be in always in gray. It’s never black and white the cohorts that you speak to a definitely merging into one another so there is no there is no there’s no hard lines of or PG that you are always defining as so these are things.
As a marketeer how important is technology, what tools what devices what apps do you use to stay you know up to date with what is happening in the world?
If you talk about gadgets, I think the phone has everything to you at this point of fact, I don’t think you need anything more than a phone if you have if you have a phone properly which works fine with you have a smartphone with you. What is it that I generally use? Yes. I don’t I can’t take credit that I know WhatsApp University graduate, but what’s up has become a really huge business enabler for us. That’s I think if any business professional is saying otherwise is lying on face. I think most of us have started relying on these groups these communication platforms as a daily business. As I said, I generally wake up to my business and my team at 8 a.m. And WhatsApp is the first app that I checked. There is no before it even before I check my means that’s the first thing I said I checked and I think it’s true for most of us. That is something that we operate out of, Apart from that, how do you keep myself updated? Generally if I say that? Okay. I really keep my network alive is the the absolutely true for me because I think the more number of people you speak to the more varied information comes through might not be relevant for you? But if you exactly know what is irrelevant for you at some point of time it just you see when you filter. It’s something that stays with you.
I remember I reached out to some professional last week and saying that actually want to speak to you primarily because I think there is there is somebody I would definitely want to discuss at the mental level and that’s something I definitely want you to be at this point of time. I don’t think a lot of us go ahead and seek out mentorship actively and that’s something I think I’ve learned this from my team a lot of youngsters in my thing that they don’t hesitate to ask and this is something that I believe that I have learned from them that if I need if there is a Need for me to learn if there is a need for me. When I feel that I need to be guided I should be able to speak to people who I can look up to and say that seek out Mentorship. So these are things as I do actively I keep my network alive. I used to go to a lot of conferences because not because not because of something that gives you a space to say hi to a lot of people it just is a space where in cross-industry, what are the new things which are coming up? What are the new things which are being utilized in other space, you know who knew that at this point of time, my husband is a CTO and I remember this conversation me having this conversation with him saying that you know, there is a huge space when people are saying that a CMO CTO and CEOs roles so interchangeable at this point of time, I have my opinion on it, but however at this point at any point of time who I knew that I would have an active interest in my husband profile at any point of time. When I seriously when I got married 13 years back, I really used to feel that IT is one of the most boring spaces to talk about but at this point of time I keep on eating his head every single day seeing that help me understand this help you understand this technology. I don’t understand this. I don’t understand this language, even if it is a technical language. It’s being thrown around is jargon in the digital marketing space you will have to decode for me to be able to decode marketing far more better. So these are things I think of seeking out information is one of the things I actively have started actively doing I believe that I have been a very curious kind of person since the beginning of my life. I think I I always have thought when my parents used to say. You that okay? She’s extremely curious. I actually always it always used to follow with a vac and find some time. But at this point of time, I think that it has helped me as an individual that being curious has always been curious and being able to ask questions. The fact is what I was trying to say is being curious is something that we need to keep alive and with experience. I think we lose the we lose the ability to ask questions. I think you really have to be a little Shameless in things. You don’t know you have to reach out to people. You don’t know you have to reach out to young people. If you don’t know answer you have to reach out to experienced people. If you don’t know answers, these are things which which has kept something alive in me, which I think gives me a lot of experience.
The second thing which I think in is inherently built in me is to question question Norms question rules. I didn’t really don’t like see generally I don’t like sitting in office for a long time or generally I don’t like traveling for a long time. So I think I keep on looking for different varied kind of experience which which keeps my which keeps my soul nurchured which keeps my soul keeps this entire Wanderlust alive mate within me. So I think that just helps me that why follow a set of norms. I am not a A rebel, but I definitely like to question a set of tools which I think has helped me.
The other thing, I think that works in your favor Prachi, I mean shameless here. Is that once you Nokia coat come gonna be what will be cheers people up instead of waiting. Hello interviewing today. Also you would when I was teasing the speed camera without yeah because that the only thing is if I’ve said it and send set some time apart and influence in got God get involved in something. I think you see to it the end if you don’t want to see to then why start it God is so last two questions are tell me the toughest question. Anybody ever asks you in any interview any photo of any conversation? What was the question and what will be your answer?
I think I think it was a conversation with with. Mr. Biyani which I had and I remember he asked me of what do you what do you mean by TG and second second when I was asked that what is it that as professional as a personal ability you think you like to have this is something which are not prepped for like for how much preparation you go into an interview. What is it that the one thing you like to have as an ability which helps you in a personal and professional domain? I don’t think I had ever thought about it as a question. I’d never Like hobbies and all everything is good. These are things which you get asked and what is it that you learn to have as a skill to go to your next level. What is your dream for two years five years six years 10 years understand you prepare for this and you have you have a goal in your life, which you’re prepared for but you don’t understand. What is it would suddenly when you get asked that what is one ability that you think will help you professionally or and personally as well to move ahead in life. So this was one thing which I definitely paused and thought about when I was asked this question, so yeah, this is this is one question I Still Still is fresh in my memory, which is why I think is its is it was a different question?
If you were to ask me a question, what would that be?
Why are you so interested in collecting all this information from such varied people. I understand, maybe you’re wanting to know a little bit more about how people function. What is the next step in life, and I understand but what made you move to such a different kind of space?
Before I Wanted is no Clarity even admit super honest with you. Right if I called him and said somehow I found your number in called you and I want to pitch for work at fbb. You will probably not even talk to me. Right? Will you talk to me? I don’t think so because terms of agencies will talk to you every day. You will ask me to send credentials. You will make me need your Juniors and so on and so forth. I love my won’t look me definitely the more energy, you know on the other hand if I get to talk to you and it’s a by talking to you. I realize that you know fBB does this kind of And I realize it because Mercury is so it shortens my BD cycle. It allows me to create relationships with people who are really up there doing interesting work like you and and see it helps me figuring out the opportunities that I can see tomorrow. Like for example, another question, you told me a lot about working from homes and and women who can work on food. So so this is give me an interesting perspective and and those super honest and and the last thing is that you know, push up the shovel inside adapt the chromium they could be useful to me when I start working again on a larger project whenever that is. I don’t know when that would be but but this just helps me learn more things and like you are a curious kid arcade parent support that with a potentially up to the surface. All I was known as a guy who had a question mark on my forehead all the time that I would ask questions to everybody and anybody and people who hate me for that. That is coming in handy now. He’s dead with the strangers and ask those questions which we can uncover the so yeah, so the concerns and I think that’s a very that’s it for the lack of technology for the lack of any better. Actually. There’s a very honest answer. Okay last question Prachi. If I told you that you have to throw open a challenge to my listeners for marketing challenge. What would that be?
Well, I wanted to actually make people understand ask people this something that was thrown at me. I have I have very dark black hair long black hair and I remember being asked in one of the interviews that how are you going to sell hair color to yourself? And this this is something trust me. It was asked me if I think 13 years the back in one of the interviews and I am yet to figure out a perfect answer for that. So if I were to say something like that to your listeners, Seeing that one thing you don’t want at all and you think that you’ll never need and try selling that to yourself. What would you say? What would you do? Like, I am. I am at this point of time still figuring out an answer saying that how will I sell a hair color to myself? So that’s that’s precisely I would like to ask to your listeners is that you never need in your life now or ever in your future as you think how will you sell it?
So that was Prachi from fbb. Hope you had as much fun listening to it as we had when we recorded it. Please do tell us what you think of it. And please tell me who do you want as the next guest on the show?
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