Arvind RP of McDonald’s India

In this episode of Marketing Connect, Arvind RP of McDonald’s India talks about whipping happiness, burgers, smiles, safety, and a lot more!


Saurabh:  Hey, this is the marketing connect podcast, a show where we get up close and personal with some of the most celebrated market years in the country. We talk to them and discover the Art and Science of marketing. After all we are show for marketeers by marketeers, listen in. 

Today’s guest is Arvind from McDonald’s India. This was One of the most candid and fun conversations I’ve had on the marketing connect podcast you are in for a ride listen in. 

Arvind:  Hi everyone. My name is Arvind. It’s my privilege to be a part of this podcast. Looking forward. Thank you. 

Saurabh:  Thank you so much. What do you do right now? [00:51]

Arvind:  Well, just had a cup of coffee, got a bit of Netflix in the afternoon. And yeah here I am. 

Saurabh:  What kind of shows you watch? Sorry I’m going to ask difficult questions. 


Arvind:  Well, it’s a variety of stuff and now I am watching through some movie called Train to Busan which is all about, you know, some kind of linked infection spreading throughout South Korea. But I do watch a lot of Comedies also a lot of historical sections. So to say I do end up, you know, watching a fair bit of variety of shows on Netflix, Hotstar and so on. 

Saurabh:  Well, I was doing some stalking, to understand who you are before we talked. You mentioned at every other place. I can imagine that you are a, you know, pseudo historian and economist. Would you like to say something?

 Arvind:  What I can imagine the earliest data point is probably in class 6 or so. I was a favorite of my history teacher and it didn’t happen by accident. I love stories and among all the subjects, Mathematics, Science. I felt a peculiar acidity to history, A) Its story based B) It takes you back in time and brings alive those Era’s and those history’s so I think right from childhood I was a big fan of history mythology and so on and so forth. It’s been one of the interests which has stayed with me. so I have my favorite set of author’s that I keep being. And my history span is from ancient, medieval and religious history. Also I’m a bit waresious about World War history.

Apart from being interesting and passing the time what history does is gives a lot of perspective and it’s quite useful I’m a bit of reflective person and when I read history it takes you back in time but also many things repeat in history and you see the things that repeated in the past coming back again either being up in terms of political perspective or a social perspective or an economic perspective. So, I really think there’s a lot that people can learn from Reading history. 

A) You don’t repeat the same mistakes again B) Importantly it gives you a better perspective of what’s going on, right and and then perspective kind of Helps you avoid getting into situations that are untenable right now helps you position better with what’s going on because you have a kind of a long view of the situation right and and not a short-term reactionary. So I found it. They have a history and all the Allied reading I have been doing just makes me a much more balanced person with great perspectives. Of course, I have got my deep dive into perspective. So you have the world war you have the religious history, especially I would say the Crusades that happened. Yeah. So I tend to kind of Deep dive into those topics because of conflicting ideologies and people having different perspectives on how the Clash of civilizations happen, right? And sometimes they say it is called a butterfly effect light a small. And it happens that it has no direct bearing but it sets off a ripple effect. Yeah, right and it sets things in motion. And finally you have something like the world old war going on for example, right? So those kind of very uncanny situations integinial. Give me a lot. I just finished the last book of a Trilogy. There’s another I follow Hilary mantel who wrote about you know Cromwell. Out back in the 16th century and it’s very interesting. It’s about King Henry the seventh or eighth and forget who got five six wives most of them. He did to death and and here is Cromwell this character master bureaucrat Master politician who almost survives toward the end of the Henry’s Reign, but is then put to death Because he makes a mistake and it’s all about the Tudor dynasty and and their skin for first stuff online in next click exit row that todo Dynasty and this particular author is a very very solid writer brings alive those situations in a very dramatic fashion in the very unique writing style. So that’s something I finished just yesterday. And once you know Cromwell is put to death. It’s almost like an era has finished for me because that’s a third of the trilogy that I just finished so yes, I’m a bit into all of those stuff.

Saurabh:  I knew you would have probably spent a few months on it, right? 

Arvind:  Of course, of course I Savor those things, you know, there was probably one point in time where I used to finish one book in over a weekend or so and so forth. You don’t get that kind of time nowadays, but I wanted to savor it over and over. Our weeks and so on so forth and I think it’s like wines speaking of.

Saurabh:  I was just thinking I want to get there and ask him if it is like wine and whiskey that engages with time to let me savor it go back to your history from the time. So Arvind you did your MBA or even prior to that and where you reach right now. I want to talk about things that shaped you back from college days. 

Arvind:  My father was in a transferable job and I think that benefited a lot from his stints in pinball start off from Delhi Of course then went to Andhra we came back to Delhi were I finished my education there and I think A) Early exposure to different cultures was very enriching as far as I was concerned, but but I would say those days schooling at cetra.  I was a typical confused student as to what’s next. I tried my hand.

Saurabh:  I’m yet to meet a student who’s not confused right now like in life.

 Arvind:  Yeah, that’s a tragedy isn’t it Saurabh in our education system is so predictable in that sense. So yeah, I kind of took a stab at Medical exams engineering exams, and I did that, you know the usual stuff. Thankfully I didn’t get into those dreams and later on. I realized I know it’s not my cup of tea at all and I stumbled almost by accident into statistics, right? I did BSD in statistics. And so sometimes you have an instinct where you like stuff like history, something by Instinct. I love in contrast to that statistics I grew to love so it’s something I worked hard and often. Working hard. It was very smooth. I just segwayed into the subject very well. I almost became a natural I would have thought after three years of Statistics. I would be among the top ten students for my statistics teacher ago. She was hoping that I read more in statistics MS in statistics or something like that. I went into marketing to do my MBA so it was disappointing for her, but for me, it was a signal that you know, okay. I didn’t statistics well, and three years back. I was not sure if it was my cup of me. So thankfully the statistics stayed with me. You know, I’m told I’m a very analytical person and yes analytics and data analytics Advanced analytics are areas of Interest. So again statistics is something that has stayed with me in various ways over time coming back to your question. I think it was during the college days. I used to, you know, read Business Today magazine. And brand equity in Economic Times, you know, Mr. Slain had a magazine. I forget what at the time still has I guess so so those are very impressionable days and I was very intrigued by this thing called marketing where there are various Brands like Asian paints and Hero Honda in those things with brands in those days bigger brands and went larger-than-life Persona and there were people actually making it happen. 

Very glamorous looking in that way. Right? It wasn’t anything else, just a goody glamorous and very fascinating thing for me, but it was very solid very far off then I did my marketing for the MBA in marketing because I thought that yes, I should get into corporate life and do something like this what these guys are doing. I should say I should admit that, you know getting my MBA I wasn’t, you know my exams. We’re just above average. I will save you know, The scores were just above average but what that’s scours, it was my interest in marketing and absolutely thanks to the professor I had one professor in particular which was Vijay Raj Govind. I mean he had a certain Flair. Yes it is in style and he kind of sparked that interest in marketing. It’s completely I think to his credit that I see that spark remained in me. I kind of worked at this philosophies that he kind of talked about and and I think I have been able to live more or less that over a period of time and my first I would say job was with the TVS Suzuki at that time it had a TVS at a joint venture with Suzuki as well as two witnesses concern. They had a budding market research department and given my background in statistics and my MBA in marketing. They took me in market research. Made a lot of sense to me. Just search in TVS was a very important job. They called it the voice of the customer and since the customer is God they called it the voice of god. Wow, right? So it’s a very aspirational thing to get into writing for a management trainee that needs to get into that kind of description. And I think I had a lot of fun, right so it’s almost as if sort of approached marketing from the edges right while brand marketing is the heart of marketing. You know, I got into consumer research. I did a few things there which caught the interest the company and there are a whole lot of mentors in TVS that I came across who honed my skills who make sure my career made the Right Moves who kind of exposed me to Serious challenges and which also gave me serious learning in particular one of my mentors was mr. Chandramouli who recently retired from TVS and I owe a lot to people like him. So he was a serious believer in the management trainee program, right recruiting people across campuses putting them into serious business challenges, right? He does not like those classic programs where you do the work on sales in marketing and then five years later you get into something, you know, he believed in throwing the kids right at business problems then and there we believe in empowering Those kids right? And he had a direct line to the kids, the kids he built so much trust and he was a senior vice president the kids there was so much trust kids could go and tell him what’s going on. I know I still remember one incident and these things are etched in my mind. You know, one of the things that you do is you go into dealerships right hand at dealerships. You meet customers who come for a service, right? And of course previous is a big believer in customer satisfaction. It’s paranoid about customer satisfaction. And so we five kids went to different parts of India. We did our strengths. We came back and he had a presentation and he was asking all the guys. Okay, what did you learn right? Give me a few incident anecdotes. Right? So one of my colleagues poor thing. He did it in the right Spirit you told about an incident where a customer came for tire replacement right? Something went wrong. Wrong in the tire. I think it got punctured or whatever. He came for tire replacement. And for some reason that customer had to wait for an hour before anything happened to be the lunch hour or something that I forgot. Right? Let’s go suddenly. Mr. Chandramouli asked this guy. So, what did you do? You stand, you stood there , you are observing this, what did you do? Right. So the kid didn’t have an answer, right? 

So he got wild and he told the management trainees including me right so you couldn’t have stood there and waited for an hour if the customer got satisfied, right? It is your job to get customers satisfied. If someone is not solving the problem for you, you have to move Heaven and Earth to solve to get this problem solved for the customer, right? So and he lost it. He literally lost it for a couple of minutes that move those kind of things made a tremendous. Impression upon me right in the day customers first customer is God and you do everything for from a customer perspective. Yes. There are corporate processes a large company TVS is a large company but in the end it’s about this a customer in front of you and the customer has to walk away happy. So like that he was a master at teaching us the right things and the right attitude. I would say capability you get to build sometimes you built attitude a little bit more early his Mastery was in building the right attitude and the customer first attitude a business first attitude and I think many things like that stayed with me over a period of time and he also believed in throwing people at problems. Like I said, that kind of exposes you to new situations. You have to come up with solutions and solve issues. 

So it kind of challenges you to come up with best and and yeah, I’m a much better person and a professional thanks to mentors like him. 

Saurabh:  So what happened after TVS years you are a tedious and then what will you go from there? 

Arvind:  So  TVS, you know, they were two stain with TVS one in India and one in Indonesia. I have to talk about the Indonesia stain because it was Unforgettable stain that the culture was so different the challenges were so different and And wonderful country much like India, very diverse and every few hundred kilometers the culture changes and one things that only India or is that is that Oddity where this happens but then I realized Indonesia is very much like that. Right? So there’s a complexity in the culture and as a marketer you need to unlearn many things before you learn things quite so he taught me humility. You can’t go into the new market and say, okay. 

I’ll cut copy paste stew right? This is what I did three years back cut copy paste Implement. So it early on in my career. It told me that start with the customer unlearned stuff go with a blank sheet of paper don’t assume stuff right and then you build hypothesis and solve for issues. So that’s what I did there started from scratch learnt a lot about the Indonesian customer and the marketing programs. I conceptualized where far. Our better simply because of that approach. So the duration still was very enriching both personally and professionally then I moved into Britannia, Britannia was I manage marketing for their diary business, but and has a wonderful brand and wonderful marketing machine. So it was like from a two-wheeler industry to a fast-moving consumer goods industry and complete contrast in terms of systems and processes and it was a wonderful experience and a pleasure to work in Brands like that. And it was a very steep learning curve very many billion marketing minds and Britannia from whom I thought and and then you know, another memorable stint was with Levi’s Levi’s as you know is a multinational brand both Britannia and Levi’s I was based out of Bangalore and being a multinational brand you can of collaborate with different stakeholders in India and abroad. So that kind of dual reporting structure came to life and one of my mantras that in learned in Levi’s was collaboration. I think that has helped me a lot in the second half of my career how to collaborate with people right collaborate with different functions and get the best out of all. And all to tap the opportunity at hand. So collaboration is something that typically, you know, especially culturally I believe we are very intelligent individual listing, right? So collaboration is something doesn’t come naturally. I believe to people like us that’s what I know. I can do believe and thus it is very useful to kind of you know, this theme of collaboration drilled into you and then I think again the Something that has helped me a lot in the years to come of course Levi’s also was in Bangalore. Like I said, and then I moved on to Marry ko Kaya was a skincare business started by Mr. Harsh Mari wala, and it was a part of marry ko before before it was kind of spun out into a separate list identity. So fill the time I had done to Willis was urban-rural customer, you know, and and.Britannia dairy.

And the Mac consumers were women. Housewives Levi’s was a fashionable young team, right and here in Kaya it was it completely skin care premium skincare so women H&M women wear makeup and consumer and it was very different kind of a milieu. So I had to start from scratch because beauty is a very complex category marketing is habit complexities, especially Beauty and so I have to learn beauty industry. Right from scratch, right. So what motivates the woman would have the what is she looking out for right? What is she looking out from the brand Kaya? So it was a very very interesting category business and and I think I have been able to do a lot there beat in terms of the e-commerce business be it in terms of data analytics and CRM and and of course apart from Brand marketing. 

Saurabh:  You didn’t mention that you had to use Double TGs is like everybody change companies. You work you still snipe and each time and if there is a standard of unlearning gonna stayed with you, so what about if tomorrow you were to change the TGs again, if somebody’s listening who wants to change the kind of market to how would they go about learning about this taking where you had to learn about Beauty from scratch and you had to speak so obviously everybody knows in GDB, research. What did you do? 

Arvind:  So the interesting part of handling different Target consumers so over your career is something that I learn to actually very early on. Let’s say you’re targeting a teen A male teen looking for fashion. Right one should not be surprised by the fact that the male team looks at fashioned a certain lens and you tend to think that as a marketer. I know this consumer. 

Inside out. All right, I know his what he’s looking for the psychographics lifestyle and so on so forth but it same teen male teen interacts with trick. Let’s say for example male grooming in a very very different way, right? So when you look at male grooming categories this male taile interaction of a different fashion and you think because you have interacted with him for a fashion category perspective you have cracked it. But the consumer is so different when he or she interacts another category for the same consumer, you know, it’s not just about the consumers also for the category lens of with which the consumer kind of relax. So the same consumer has different expectations of various categories. And that Nuance makes it very interesting and of course very complex, right? So a part is about into understanding people’s motivations right as a marketeer, right? So it’s about what makes is consumer Tech. What are the customers aspirations? What are they looking forward? Right and you kind of look at life insights from the customer perspective but equally important as many marketers would say is also the category in size or the category truths, right? What are the expectations from the category perspective and of course, it changes from category to category. It changes within category in terms of segments, right? There are in a category. There are like safe. Five segments of products, right Simplistically, it could be mass and premium for example, right? So the expectations changed so much within a category. I think it’s very important for the customer for marketers to a understand customer and be understand category and and Link the both right and and I think A)  question then comes how does how does one do this right here is it isn’t? The focus groups to five focus groups and you have cracked it. Yeah. I’m afraid not I’m afraid not so thankfully, you know whenever I have entered this new category. 

They have been quite experienced colleagues of mine and you get into deep discussions with the colleagues to really understand from their perspective. What makes this category also a you don’t want to end up making the same mistake twice, right and sometimes you know, if you careful though many people many people say this strategy has not worked. I tend to believe differently sometimes the strategy. Okay might not have work, but sometimes would have it could have been a wrong execution of The right strategy, right? So it’s wrong to conclude that. Okay. I have tried this three years back. It hasn’t worked. Right so coming back to the point. It’s very useful to have those discussions if people who have been the category for a long time, they give you valuable perspectives. So that’s one kind of learning the second is reading, you know industry reports Trends Global Trends. Asia Trends. I think it’s very important and help me, especially in the skincare category. I spent a lot of time looking at Global Trends Asia Trends and and predicting the Indian consumer Trend because as a marketer is very important to be ahead of the consumer. It’s not just about OK customer has told me this and I’m going to do this but it’s important to predict what how the customer Behavior will change over the next few years. 

Saurabh:  The millions of customers says that they want something but They imply something else altogether. 

Arvind:  It’s quite possible. It’s quite possible. And you know, for example, if I were to kind of explain that to is an example, you know, so there is a dual trend in Beauty care, right? So this some people who have spent the time to kind of go through what we call as a cleanser toner moisturizer makeup routine every day, right? 

Couldn’t do minutes and take 30 minutes, right but there are many consumers who take the time invest the time in looking good and go through the whole routine. Right? Well, that is something that’s a trend and which means that you kind of make products in that fashion, but there is also the conflicting Trend where people say, okay, I don’t have time. I want products that can do five in one. Or three in one kind of a beneficial for this right. So for example CC cream is a good example where there are multiple benefits the same product time you have you have parents like face mask, which is kind of on the go Beauty, right? So many a time when you see a trend right and given that India is the early stage of in terms of beauty category growth. Sometimes you find this conflicting Trends is very important. 

Not to just go for one, but sometimes both trends make sense. It’s just a different consumer segments in different consumers behave differently and need different things. So it’s so sometimes the needs are to be eaten by customers are quite nuanced. You need to go deep to really understand. What’s what importantly try and predict the trends so that you are ahead of the customer ones. We of course the last year and a half, you know at McDonald’s is It’s great fun. It’s a fantastic brand great quidity from the customer perspective. And we Democratic brand particularly different kind of Target consumers importantly. It’s a leader in the USR space and especially in the context of the current situation. It’s a leader as far as safety and hygiene practices go right  there are many many aspects for the brand to be proud of You know what other positive because trustee areas for the brand is food delivery. So we have got MC delivery which you know Taps into the convenience need and delivers food to homes and officers as you order these also make a MC CAFÉ. Yeah with our coffee brand. It’s a product is very much appreciated by consumers.

Saurabh: I have to say I’m a big big fan of make MC cafe’s coffee. I mean, to be honest. I do not consume MC burgers. MC cafes like  place to go to and if there is a McDonald’s and Starbucks besides each other I’ll probably go to McDonald’s and grab a coffee and to Starbucks and set and work and come back Facebook close to each other. So that’s what I rights rights.

Arvind:  Thanks for that saurabh. Yeah, so yes MC CAFÉ is a very very appreciated product highly appreciated product as a brand has a long way to go in terms of awareness and appeal. working towards that so there are different facets of the brand that makes McDonald’s are very very interesting brand to work with and I lead a very fun team a committed team mixed of youngsters and experienced professionals who do their bit to make this brand come alive in every way of in every sense of the word.

Saurabh:  So tell me what is it typical day  like an office like this and walk to me from that, you know. Given our by our accounts later. You need to obviously create or seven of nine. So what it is like? 

Arvind:  So even before that I kind of plan my day ahead right so till at about 7:30 8:00. I am quite clear of the day. You know, I kind of clear the head early in the morning. Okay. These are the five things I’m gonna do today or three things I’m going to do today and I make sure I set reminders so that I don’t forget about those three things and and get up at 9:00 9:15 a.m. In the morning and for the first couple of hours till Knock of the most important stuff. They could be strategic things. They could be interventions with our agency partners or set up preview meetings because let’s say the last week’s sale or last we can seal has not been as per plan. So we needed intervention, right? So what’s the what’s the course of a recommended course of action to make up for that lost sales, right? So it could be any of this. I kind of set up those meetings for the First couple of hours most of my time spent in reviews with my various teams the brand Team or the PR team more the digital team or the media team. It’s spend in review spend in constructive discussions, right? It’s spending ideation. It spent in problem solving right? So there is a retail marketing team who’s very active in solving on the ground below the line, you know brand solution right. So it’s very important for me to kind of gets me get my hands dirty and help my people do their job better. That’s the way I see it. So I try and enable these reviews so that I am constructive in terms of helping my team find Solutions. Well, and of course, you know, I kind of keep my administrative stuff towards the end of the day after 5 p.m. Right? And probably my day at the office ends at around 7 p.m. Roughly, but of course Bombay is a city of long commute. So you’re so you’re home by 8:00 8:30.

Saurabh:  Do you bring your work back home?

Arvind:   I try avoid but many a time. It’s inevitable. Right your work that spills over sometime late in the night. There is something that needs to be especially during campaign launches. I think, you know work dust blower. There are some late night late night interventions. I need to do I need to be available for my team if they want to check some creatives before they kind of send it off, right? So but by and large I try and do a digital detox after 8 p.m. I think I would be about 60 70 % successfully arrived and I’m trying to work on that and and yeah, so I try and relax while I’m home and catch up on you know, if there is some series that we are watching catch up on the latest episode with my wife. We tend to have common interests as for us working for TT and such things move political satire those kind of stuff. 

Saurabh:  May I ask if she works as well or she is a homemaker?

Arvind:  She is a homemaker. She’s a homemaker. She is the CEO of my household taking care of my son. Well 12 year old son. 

Saurabh:  Oh, so you have a target Audience right at your home about how McDonald’s is doing.

Arvind:  Yeah. I also so very much. Yeah, so he loves the our make veggie burger. He loves fries not very experimented once he finds what he likes. He kinds of signs of sticks by it. I try to interest him in in the McCafe shakes and so on so forth, but he hasLimited range and he loves that things 

Saurabh:  it’s so our quick. Okay. So the next type of question is assumed that you know, you are told that you will have to let go of what you’re doing right now and you need to hire somebody to replace him. Yeah and in somebody to do marketing gigs at McDonald’s what kind of questions would you ask him or her what kind of skills would you want that person to have? What kind of insights you what do you what do you want to look into that?

Arvind:  So I think for the role I do it’s very important to A) Of course be good at marketing and from a functional perspective. It’s very important, you know have a breadth of experience in marketing while we release a marketing. Saurabh. You also know marketing is a very complex subject, right? So this is brand marketing then there is Media, right then there is a whole new world of digital which is so fast growing so many new age platforms, like on-the-go music listening OTT right? So this fast-paced revolution is happening in digital. You need marketeers to be on top of that Trend right and and invest more in digital as compared to the traditional media, right? So and of course, you know, I know Latex data analytics And CRM Etc. So it’s very important for marketeers. Especially for Brands like McDonald’s to have enough experience with in all of these disciplines within marketing. Okay, right. So that that’s one very important requirement. The second is I think being a seasoned marketeer is very important and let’s see, you know, how do you become a season Market? You’re right. So A) it It helps to have multi category experience so that you don’t get into the Trap of cut copy paste like a say. Yeah, it’s very important to develop a playbook for the back. So McDonald’s is a very unique brand having a different set of challenges different set of opportunities. So you need to develop a playbook for the brand rather than just leverage past experiences. So a multi category experience and wisdom from past in terms of like the say you need to win and lose in your in your during your in your carrier to learn right? It’s not just about winning right you learn a lot from the failure cells. Yeah, absolutely. Right? So so so that kind of a season the marketeer is also very important for a brand like McDonald’s apart from the exposure to various marketing disciplines. And the third big thing is leading the team’s right and managing the teams you need. Motivate people need to bring the best out of people you need to be very high on collaboration so that you are able to work with the operations team. You have to work with strategy your to work with people teams and get the best out of everyone. So so people management skills are very very critical because and a little bit on this story, 

Saurabh:  Imagine you were interviewing needs for the role. So what question would you ask who judge? That person is a good fit or not like specific question. 

Arvind:  Well, I think one of my favorite question is, you know, have you been to a McDonald’s recently? But you know, it’s a common question right people do ask that question to kind of check a hat you really have interest in the in the role and have you experience the brand as a consumer. So it is very important and that’s often underestimated virtue as a marketeer. 

Great or rather before your Market your consumer, right and you are much better marketer. If you are a consumer of the brand. Yeah, so thankfully, you know every brand that I worked with I like it first as a consumer, right and I adopt it more as a consumer and then I put the marketing hat on top of it. So that helps you kind of appreciate the role even better than the just clinical about it. So once you kind of ask a person you’re interviewing have you kind of experience the brand then? I would say my next question would be what would you do right if you wear the managing this brand what would you do? How would you tap those opportunities? What are those opportunities in the first place? And how would you or what would you do to kind of tap those opportunities? So that would be my I would say the most important question. I would ask because a it would test his commitment. Strike his understanding of the brand in the understanding of the category and importantly the approach with which right you kind of approach opportunities because in these kind of roles is very important to hit the ground running rules is quite quite critical to hit the ground running and this kind of tests people from those aspects and it is able to you know, 

Saurabh:  If could ask extension is somebody in your team who’s got that say four to five years of experience. And you see potential in that person and you know that the lady would go on to do larger things with lies. What kind of you know skills or or courses will recommend to a apart from what she does for you but inventory her what kind of things would a pointer at so that this helps you tomorrow. 

Arvind: Well, My recommendation nowadays this courses on digital right? So did you know a brand person or a PR person or a retail Market? Person, right I think digital is so all and influential it’s not just a medium. Right and it’s not just about an app. So it kind of changes the way you work. So my my first advice would be to up the digital quotient in yourself that you really do with a lot of reading, you know being up to date with stuff as well as formal courses to help and go along. To create a structure for your learning night for negotiable. Absolutely. Absolutely. I think the learning never stops, but sometimes structured learning is even better and there are different facets of digital. So there is digital the context of e-commerce this digital in the in terms of you know, social media marketing SEO. So so it’s very important to get a well-rounded view of digital because the future is all about digital

Saurabh:  Got this so next question is for you Arvind. You are trying to solve a super critical business from anywhere are out of your minds cannot so the question is who are those few people that you go to and these could be colleagues or non colleagues or Agency contact or whatever. What do you score three people that you go to when you are really struggling to sort of, you know, make them bigger  break through than they do when you’re thinking very 

Arvind:  Well, I think you know, some of my colleagues who have been in the industry for a long time, right and they have been colleagues. Thankfully who’ve been helpful and who have been guiding me beat at Levi’s or Kaya or here at McDonald’s. Some of those colleagues have seen, the various Cycles, right? And they’ve seen various situations and the ready with advice as to what could work in what he not work, right? So definitely I pick their mind on this saying that okay. What do you think I should do or what you think should be done? And in the context of inputs, right? It’s not as if many time what they say is exactly what I do, but I think it really helpful in provoking a top thoughts many a times and building upon that thought. So I would say season colleagues in the category in the industry in the brand are going on the first put of calls the second of course new partners, right? The great thing about marketing is you work with specialist Partners be it in advertising be it in PR. Or be it in digital right collaborating with them troubleshooting with them is going to be very very important. And since McDonald’s is a global brand the great thing. Saurabh is in order our playbook for various situations from across geographies, right? So accessing those playbooks accessing those learnings tweaking it for your occasion, right troubleshooting when problems come up. Those are some of the things that no one gets to do much better over time, correct. 

Saurabh: so that brings to you to the next question,i think you are the right person to ask to so Levi’s and McDonald’s both they are global Branch kind and they must have very strong new brand guidelines in terms of what could work and what will not work and co-coach certain problems are gone. So and then obviously you will have a convention that you know that consumers and to get panels the global, you know, push versus what you want to do add a tad on the ground with

Arvind:  So expectation is always from everyone that you do the writing for your business. Right? So, let’s say you’re managing the Indian business and you Market you are the marketing head for the Indian business the first assumption everyone makes this you’re doing the right in for your business and how you said that this is a certain way you manage the brand right the certain way the brand is defined and there are certain boundaries. So we these people exist to help you understand those boundaries, right? So that’s the way I would say it. I think the key thing is having a collaborative mindset which also made a transparency honesty and transparency. That is right. So the moment you are transparent with your different stakeholders and you make a serious effort to get them all on the same page, right and and everyone’s expectation is you’re doing the right thing for your business and I think Think that reduces conflict significantly. I know the then there’s a positive energy that simply then you’re using the positive energy.

Saurabh:  So to the right thing growing up as a marketeer I learned and I now used to do even case studies that you know, India is the only country where if you offer a MC Aloo tikki only for India is it true? 

Arvind:  Well, we have made are looking for the Indian market. Yes. 

Saurabh:  And even in orange sauce, you know what it is called The Sauce added to the original source of input is especially for Indian Market. That’s what I got to know!

Arvind:  Products that are uniquely Indian. So to say of course Mc aloo tikki is the most famous example of that. 

Saurabh:  So, I don’t know if you want to cover this or not, but you want to talk about the role of marketing plays into creation is no importance from the users who can see what do you know about that? 

Arvind:  Well, I think in the end right like culture says right it’s all about those four pieces of five days of the five seas and so on so forth and interestingly inherent in them is the correct solution, right and throughout my role Innovation was one of my one of my favorite subjects where the whole science and art of Developing a solution from a customer insight right giving you giving the brand a Competitive Edge. All right, and I work with service Brands like Kaya. I have worked in product Brands and I find that interpreting product and service very fascinating. So for example, MC delivery right make deliveries all about, you know, someone orders in the app and the product comes home, right? You’ll get your favorite burger. Home. It’s also a service, right? 

How fasts always happens in a house some seamless is the ordering on the app in the end as it come to you in 20 minutes 30 minutes, right? So it’s also about a service right? So it’s a very fascinating aspect and think about how product and services kind of come together. And play a role as an augmented product in consumer minds. I think marketers have a huge role in developing that proposition and bring it to life. As far as the campaign’s go after 

Saurabh: I want to ask you a simple question before we jump into the coronavirus set of questions some unconventional ways in which people can pick up inside our own customers in marketing which somebody is cooked food that you want. With almost how this one individual who use power of communication to you know, rally the entire village so what are some unconventional ways for you to learn about marketing

Arvind:  For me is the one and when unconventional way is what I used Indonesia the power of observational research. And so what I did a lot was observed customers how they interact with us right in different situations, you know. Early in the morning For the people do be any of them for example have inhabitant coming out and cleaning their vehicle. How they kind of use it on the way to office. Come back home. How do you sit in weekends? So it’s very fascinating the way consumers interact with products and while I use traditional research techniques iPhone observational research very very powerful, right because it’s a lot of stuff implicit in that interaction between the consumer and the product. So I found observational research. I would recommend strongly the youngsters to kind of study observational research non-traditional research use it to augment the formal researchers that companies innovate and to do from back-to-back. 

Saurabh:  Also somebody else will be something similar reason is it that you know, uses of observational research people attending Google evidence of whatever Java into it. So you can use this to create a thesis for yourselves that you can then approve a lot of interference is it correct or not? 

Arvind:  So in the end, you know, if I kind of hard to get from a statistical background perspective, it’s all about hypothesis and then proving that hypothesis or disproving hypothesis. Right? And if you use a framework, let’s say I would and I would strongly recommend that same work. Then you’re going with your forming a hypothesis right at forming a hypothesis itself is tricky, right? So there’s an effort needed to form the hypothesis. And then once you have a hypothesis, you you look at the facts you do consumer research. You do a lot of consumer inside joke and then you kind of decide is the hypothesis is positive right or not. Right? Is it so that kind of framework really helps you develop and add to your booking in terms of knowledge as a my video. 

Saurabh: So let’s come to the question about corona Well, obviously the impact it is having on DIO mean to win centroid is zero sales in stores. And we some trickle of sales in the delivery business.So, how is Corona impacting the consumer at last as in the sentiments and spending and soon as the wood and we how is cool down covid impacting McDonald’s communication from McDonald’s as a business. So these are two questions.

Arvind:  So differently covid has had a huge impact on the way we go about doing things. That’s right. Specifically I would say with regard to categories it would have it has a different impact on different techniques, right? So this interesting framework that a gentleman such as by using Economic Times in the early days of covid it affected the business into what he calls a singular and proximate right similar businesses are War where consumers consume one-on-one, right? So for example, You know, it could be a game that I’m playing online right? I’m consuming it one-on-one. I’m and only one consuming it right or there are many business like proximate where you consume as a group like cinema halls, right you go with your family and friends to the cinema hall, right. So in his view the proximate businesses will be much more impacted than the single of businesses. Right? And I think that’s one frame was it’s very useful to see will your category be impacted by Covid or not, right then. The second question comes is how do you solve for M. So I think it’s very important for businesses which are going to change their business models be much more still friendly, right? For example, the context of u.s. Our food delivery is a channel is going to increase in importance, right? Because we launched for example contactless delivery in February given the importance of social distancing contactless delivery. Was that much important solution much-needed solution for consumers? Right and it is very much appreciated. Right? We are still doing contactless delivery, even when the lockdown is going on. So so it’s very important for those business to switch their business models and be much more digitally friendly because you know, even as consumers during this lockdown this enough data going around the same that the consumption of digital media has significantly on in man. It’s like US this is a sharp uptick as for a second. I was in the last 45 days. So this in Africa points to save that digital the growth of digital will even more accelerate compared to what it has been doing things. Right? So these are some of the ways in which you need to kind of change the business model. The third most important thing is the importance of hygiene and safety brands have to integrate hygiene and safety into the business processes thankfully. Oils, you know quality gentleness and service parent in the standards have been always very high. Right but we found opportunity to up it even more right and and communicate to customers about our kitchen processors about our hygiene standards and restaurants about our hygiene and safety standards that were vendors suppliers, right? So so that whole Farm to Fork story as we call it bring it alive from a high chance. Keep perspective. I think these are some of the things that are very very critical a for business survival, but we to grow faster in the post-soviet era.

Saurabh: So staying with covid and in a lot of people are saying that because of Corona people have now learned the lesson of you know, washing your hands staying healthy eating healthy. So now there is a tradition and people know that You know fast food tends to be an early as 

Arvind:  Well, I think in the end out. We do a lot of work with our food with our supply chain to make sure that the freshest food is they’re presented to the consumer. The order comes right and is delivered hot and fresh to the customer.we take a lot of effort for some fibber and we have taking efforts for Our food for example, you know one of the recent Innovations has been whole wheat bun right and consumers really have taken to hold with one in a very very big way. So they, you know, we you the option of customers to kind of use to switch the whole wheat bun and many many customers offer for that and whole wheat bun, you know is much more nutritious and consumers know that these are some of the steps we have been taking over the years to make sure Our menu is up to the standards in terms of customer expectations and we are really leaders as far as that goes. 

Saurabh:  So I don’t know is the team busier than before the team still working hard ? How is the work load in the team changes because of this corona crisis? 


Arvind:  The team has been working even more harder and and you know based on different days weekends and you need to make it even more effort. We use Microsoft teams to kind of connector regularly, but very clearly we believe the people into putting extra effort. So that everyone is on the same page, right the collaboration continues, I guess in officers face to face things that happen faster take a little bit more time when you’re working from home, right? So what it means is people have to put in that extra foot. And people are doing that people are putting that extra effort to get things going right for us delivery is a very important business Channel takeaway is a very very important decision Channel and the team is working harder to kind of reassure customers be sensitive to the customers concerns, right and prepare ourselves for the Post lockdown. 

Saurabh:  So is there a message of a ballot initiative from not only other competitors. But from across the category you have seen in these times. Like I was reading a report when you said you respect for Nike does as a brand but to understand is a communication around corona from a different brand.

Arvind:  So I would say, you know, very very useful programs that we have kind of implemented is the means for good camping, right? So as you know, so or of the people are going through a lot of pain, right the economy is going through that of been there are less privileged sections of society who have borne the brunt of this crisis. So as a food brand we felt that we should take the initiative partner with NGOs and reach out McDonald’s food for the less privileged sections, right? So we launched this bills for good campaign in March. We worked with various NGOs. In kind of different markets and the aim is to get fresh hot food in the hands of the less privileged sections of the society. So we just, you know started another campaign along with salaam Bombay foundation in Bombay. Salaam, Bombay Foundation works with BMC and make sure that different clusters are are kind of catered to from a food perspective given Now that we are in the food delivery space. We are uniquely advantaged in kind of income kind of so doing playing an important role here and that gives not only a lot of satisfaction. But also it’s very important because what consumers are saying today is it’s not just about what you’re doing for me. What are you doing for a society, right the expects Brands to do a good for the society in this times of fee and the means for good program has gone a long way. 

In doing a bit for the larger part of society

Saurabh:  what about some not just competitors to other Global brands than that is seen in this covid-19 cries another case study, you would like to talk about.[59:30]

Arvind:  I think you know, I really appreciate what Coke has been doing coke has said that, you know, it will cut down the marketing spends and reinvest that for the larger good right and they have been doing it some of the Getting some of the recent digital campaigns have been very very interesting in terms of bringing cheer to the community. That’s something that our brand has done which is very interesting.

Saurabh:  And obviously coke has been a partner to McDonald’sfor a long time. 

Arvind:  Absolutely absolutely 

Saurabh: once the covid crisis is over you want to mention how and when what could be the new contours  but you still have a in clean terms of how  would marketing Change the much thinking to you guys and then go What is going to be digital in store? How do you feel [1:00:15]

Arvind:  Yeah, of course, you know, one of the big changes will be, you know, the growth of digital or the influence of digital would accelerate anyway pre covid it was a faster growing medium, but it will be even more so in the years to come I think that’s one thing very different. So the digital quotient of everyone working on in marketing has to really go up the second thing is to be sensitive. Listen to what our customers are saying, right? It’s very easy to for branch to go tone deaf in their effort to sell right, but I think it’s very very important to pick up the new answers be on top with of what the consumers are saying what the consumers are wanting in this time of Crisis because you know, I like this saying something I kind of learned. It’s important to treat customers as people first and consumer second, right? I think even more so during this crisis so that the brands don’t become tone-deaf, right? So I would say these are the two most important things for marketers during this time.

Saurabh: I also want touch upon that clause  marketing piece I did you put clearly mention the customers nowadays are not about what a brand-new colors for the for the working class and not just like us so I think while costed marketing and CSR has been there for a long time. [1:01:30]

Arvind: So I thing cost and CSR is from quite long My own brief is to vivain that very strongly to the brand ethos so that it adds value to the brand and it’s not independent of the brand right? So it’s critical for Brands especially for the larger Brands who have a larger than life kind of, you know connect with consumers to be willing to do stuff from a community perspective also. And then a really good examples around the globe of Brands doing it. For example, McDonald’s has the Ronald McDonald charity where it works with hospitals and takes care of kids, you know in certain life-threatening situations medical conditions. So costed marketing is important, but you know connecting it to the brand roll the other role in the life of the consumer is very critical. Able to make sure that it needs to be dense.

Saurabh:  So last couple seconds. I know you have to rush and portability what you can do is. You can throw a challenge to our listeners and it could be from McDonald’s or something that you personally passionately care about Like environment or whatever so through marketing challenges that our listeners and if there is anything interesting to share some selected ones with you so that there’s no compulsion for you to do that something that will go on understand it to be [1:03:00]

Arvind:  Yes. Oh, so my question to you know listeners out. There is how differently would you Market theYou made the same of the brand. How would you handle it differently? 

Saurabh:  And I think the last question that I have in my notes is that you mentioned that you have obviously failed gloriously multiple times in their career. They want to touch upon one of the failures original things that Bonk really bad and and you know, you will be you still remember it your Good for that. It could be your previous experience or something like that [1:03:37]

Arvind: It could be an Indonesia experience. You know, we’re in I went in from India and I was young kid and I assumed a lot of things about the Indian consumer will be true for Indonesian consumer also, but I didn’t get very far with that thought, right? It helped me understand that every consumer is different in the cultures, you know are one of the big defining aspects to a consumer, right? So the culture is so different and but naturally the consumer expectations will be different the consumer Dynamics will be different. So so that That’s where I would say that it brought that thought to the for about and learning and learning how important the facet is. 

Saurabh:  So that was Arvind from McDonald’s India. I’m not sure about you, but I need to go and grab some fries. And when I do that, please write in to us and tell us what can we do better at the marketing podcast. Thank you for listening. You just heard the latest episode of marketing connect podcast. A show for marketeer by marketeers. Here’s the show was brought to you by C4E and the podium.

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About Marketing Connect

In this podcast we get up close and personal with some of the most celebrated marketers in India.


Saurabh Garg is an entrepreneur, writer, and an adventurist. With The Podium, he wants to learn the method in the madness from other entrepreneurs, creators, and adventure junkies.


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