Divya Roa has spent more than 20 years at Sony Electronics in India. We talk to her to understand what has kept her going steady at the consumer electronics giant for all these years when almost everyone around us seems to be jumping the gun at the drop of the hat!
Saurabh: Hey, this is the marketing connect podcast, a show where we get up close and personal with some of the most celebrated marketeers 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. On the show today. We have Divya Rao from Sony and let’s talk to her and try to understand how do you stay on top of a category as dynamic as consumer electronics.
Divya: Hi! Saurabh My name is Divya. I handle marketing communication with Sony. I’ve been working for almost 22 years now. So basically I started handling one small category may be only one part and I started handing ATL, BTL, activations. Then digitally came in play all those different that they’d started adding up and now and what I worked in marketing communication function.
Saurabh: Okay, so I’m going to start with a little tough or a weird question, you know, in which in this day and age when every Marketeer seems to be jumping, you know companies every two to three years. You’ve been with Sony for like two years now. So what is it about Sony that it’s kept you there?
Divya: I’ll be very honest. With this as I mentioned in a very brief synopsis earlier, I started with one category, which is television. That’s way back in nineteen, ninety nine eight nine ten, whatever then and I was handling a very part function in that then slowly slowly with whatever you may say. I got another category and every product category has a unique role in the life cycle of a customer. So for television you have to do would think differently for the audio product think differently for the laptop separately then a camera slowly. I got one category after the other and every category in behavior on your challenge. I worked on your things maybe in one category. I worked on just ATL it. which was just print, Second category. I started working on television then the third category camera which was a new category. We had completed launched it from scratch in India. I started more on retail activations when you have launched a new feature on your functions, obviously marketing activities have been very differently from a properly established product category. So obviously I challenge is we are on your. That’s how I continued for almost 22 years.
Saurabh: Wow! And it is 22 long years you would have seen your share of new people coming in and going
Divya: and going and going that’s how it is. So many people came, many people left and then some come back as well as with me are very few years in Office.
Saurabh: Let’s say you start your day early and then what are the first few phone calls who are the Departments that you sort of coordinate.where your going
Divya: Yeah so I usually started at 9? But because of traffic issues, I generally try to reach on then we should one hour and just taking a stock of thing what happened in the previous day it movement until they’re going to be addresses scanning all the emails. That’s what I keep for the past one hour then taking on top of water needs to be completed in the whole day because stock of things so thing that needs to be addressed and posed in the same way. I could put a tick mark and then one has to interact within the department inter-department because you cannot win in our kind of things one cannot work in a silo. There are many departments. That one has to work with it can in product marketing. It can be logistic and can be serviced. It can be movable it can be fiancé. You can weaken and support. Yeah. So one in the department part has one. I think that in your interaction we are Partners, which is your agency’s what all needs to compute anything that is getting delayed. What are the hiccups, try to resolve those things then come in then go interact with your English Team Management. I will be very honest and Frank with you is the meaning of this if your team supports your Navistar also can be completed in a very short span of time. So I need to ensure that the team is happy and united.And there’s my strong and good job of things and also it
Saurabh: So can we just curious how many of these have enough of your team? How many of you how many of your members have stayed with you for? Let’s say, you know, since you were around so many people.
Divya: Out of 10 to 14 people that I have there are four members, three to four members. I would say who have been with me for almost 7-10 years, three to four members. I would say who have been with me for almost seven. Those one of them look with me for 10 years. So he knows me didn’t out a functional and I know how he function so they complement each other so he’s my back up I would say
Saurabh: So something more like family now – having colleagues, right every 10 years or longer
Divya: True will be I would say yeah, like the after given point of time if you have trust in confidence and he becomes family.
Saurabh: Yeah. I think I have somebody who’s worked with me for so long, so you know that person looks at me and before I speak a word he knows the mood that I am.
Divya: So that’s the thing. I would say without me. Then gentleman understands what I want if the conversation waiting on somebody say something. We just look at eye to eye and that’s it.
Saurabh : That makes your job easier
Divya: yeah, yeah!
Saurabh: So to tell me, quick question. So a lot of people that listen to this podcast move, so they asked us that we are about four to five years of experience in the marketing business and we want to understand how do we rise up the ladder past? So whatever. Oh those two fields that people have to have to become, you know, senior marketeers and and reach, you know, the the top of the ladder
Divya: I would say our hard work. There are no shortcuts in this. That’s the first thing I would say, whatever what will giving beginning, please do not skip processes, follow all processes to the core and be true to your work. That’s the first thing I would say. And anyways, the work would be and if people see you you’re not shortchanging you’re doing it in gently and you should think like you are not do employee in a company one should take your owner of the company if that mindset comes in your mind, you will follow these over form and it will be visible to people that I have. I mean if you have bought a hundred things to do 101 do something extra over and above that is required from your job Role. I would say this way and that’s the first thing that one should look in with much more effect and trust so I have fought for that what I have followed primarily
Saurabh: so tell me this was sent from one of our student listeners they want to know like another is a global brand for an induction what I mean the Japanese heritage and American large influence over the business and The Branding and communication. How do you balance, you know Global mandates and how do you mean confirm Indian sensibilities when you create communication?
Divya: There are in do not even our overall organization many Global organizations. There are many Global bandaid that one needs to follow that certain processes some do’s and don’ts one has to follow a certain category. We have flexibility that we can customize based on Indian bronze is likings and behavior and it’s in many of the Capital like. I would say when we had BIO laptops. We had inside a cyber short. So we did a lot of customization in India and we got the flexibility to do that and it many local campaigns. We’re in The Indian nuances says that but always kept in mind in the work for India will be very Frank. This is a good mix of local and Global campaigns that we have done and every product category and depending on the prior product life cycle. Is it a launch day? It’s a majority all those things actually depend in devising the overall campaign and the success of the product will be careful things in mind. So like in
case of BIO We did a very complete localization. We got a locals celebrity. We tied up with them kept the product from his inherent and up front for us. I mean from a marketing point of view from home to three percent humidity down to 10% that while he remains but actually it depends upon organization to organization how much flexibility of weather is just an adaptation of a global campaign one needs to do more. Is it a local company marketing company has the flexibility of dividing their whole strategy in keeping the customer who’s gonna buy the product mind. So in our case, we got good flexibility of local and Global campaign that time
Saurabh: And the other day I was talking to another Marketeer for works on a global brand but in India, the gentleman said that you know that the good part or bad side inside because the brand that he works for is available in probably every country in the world. Your lot of case studies and you know Innovations and happen in different markets and then that information is available to them to adapt to Indian context. So just understand is that make is that a normal phenomenon in your experience at other places?
Divya: Yeah, of course inI mean, of course all Global brand are available in most country and as an information Source internet, so these days of blogs we are reviewed for example, if the product is not even launched in the country people go through the net and search what exactly are the reviews the product USPs and on in and out about the product once you do that, I mean, of course it’s readily available to everybody you Before even the launch of the product, you know, what are the pros and cons of the product so you make up your mind accordingly. So it’s a good thing also and it’s a bad thing also whichever way you want to take it but consumer full access to information which is available. Globally. It’s much more simple from their point of view. They can get all the victims information. They don’t have to wait for the model to get launched in the country and it’s a free source of information for them. They can make up their mind much ahead of the model getting lunch in the country.
Saurabh: Yeah, got it so Divya you really want to talk about any of your favorite campaigns from the time that will connect Sony like something that will really enjoyed and that was really really in your opinion infinitive knowledgeable. You learn so much in that campaign.
Divya: Okay, I would say as I was mentioning it was young. BIO has been one of my favorite categories product at its laptop, right when the BIO got launched in India. We took out the product proposition what we need to communicate so that you can actually match upon the consumer preference immediately. So what we did is why I am the worlds slimmest laptop and that time I did this that you will thinking door open how to roll pan, which would be the best fit. Does it ever work hours the brand they were many questions that were actually coming up in our mind then what? Nice timing. There was a size zero concept with Kareena Kapoor Ajay devgn. We touched on that had come and so we had a discussion with them how that product and celebrity or nobody. I mean, the celebrity does not overpower the product of course product has to remain up front. So we did the size 0 Campaign Will Kareena Kapoor has laptop that time that laptop which we have launched was world’s slimmest . So we did the world’s slimmest can be needed a TVC we did a print campaign retail activations, all those we did not just pick print. It
picked up TV. We picked up for retail spoke from in divisions also with a tro throws. We did a lot of activities at all levels of it and within a span we saw the BIOshare from 2 to 3% growing growing when we reign eternal love. 10% and then of course after that every three months the new model got along then we talked about the u.s. Being the eighth color pink whatever different feature that we had to talk about. So I will say why I will but my favorite camping that we really contributed to the category and apart from that there was two others camera as well. We launched the Cyber-shot can come in now also in 2012. Hmm. We’re in People under technology that would save we had Canon and Nikon who was there in the point and shoot camera category and we were I would say kind of challenges at home. So again finding a unique selling proposition is what to communicate. Mmm. So we have it up front and the side shot shares started growing. Of course, your product’s promise has to be fulfilled first there. No hope for advertising and marketing follows. I would say Market. Has like I would say the Art and Science of getting into the consumers have to be building the brand of each and every touch point and there’s no single touch point. I will see you when you’re done. You have to be present in each and every touch point is happening is just not a diving you have to be at every touch point it again is trying to customize the environment and you have to have a compelling brand proposition. How does the actually touch your life? That’s the key. Hmm.
Saurabh: Okay. So the next question is do you also want to Talk about some if your failures and in these are obviously the highlights, but maybe you planned something really, you know with a lot of the good and it didn’t work out that well, they won’t talk about that and maybe some lesson.
Divya: Okay I will tell a long time that we had planned on audio campaign. we fix the product proposition.I didn’t cooperate Global as is what finally we learn that it did not work for us. Moving the learn from the failures that of course a bit of violation is required times depend product adding any
Saurabh: Do you want to give me any specifics like for example, in terms of the BIO category? You told me that you know, a large increments are impregnable window settings menu this linear. So for this audio can be in you want to give me some specifics like Kareena kappor.
Divya: Other lot of celebrities will just our local. The global keratin that we tried and okay. This is a audio can be tried and created a brand proposition. But finally they realize it’s not sinking with the heart of the consumer. Maybe we just pushing information from I see our side it should not it should be we thought it’s a consumer led communication . But actually it was not ideally in those kids which would be a consumer fed information. We should have taken the insights from the need and requirement for the customer wants from the Category and for the Builder campaign on that we thought that this is what the consumer wants without taking into money what the inside that he’s looking for whether it’s a value that we are giving we should have done that homework which we missed at that time because of the need of the are we have to urgently to launch the product. So that was something that we should have waited rather than just rushing in paste on the push from the tea
Saurabh: Got this by this so I am going to ask you what tough question argument for argument sake assume that Sony decides that they want to get into electronic pencils. For example in a pencil that is you know works automatically if you and you are supposed to be if your agency partners and this could be your 3d agency’s or a digital agency. So what are the few things that you will you know Feel agency guys before they even come for a brief that you know, like for example do Understand the category. So what are the few things that you will use to talk to the agency?
Divya: Basically, it’s the product creation. That is the key in any agencies creative digital media. Whoever so you have to be very careful in understanding what exact is it up in Spencer of whatever product I would say in your insights about the product. What is want to keep going because ultimately the plan strategy Because in current scenario beat whatever product you’re launching the brand has to embrace the customers real requirement and we have to keep our communication simple. We don’t I really should not complicate it and make it very difficult for the consumer to understand and move type in analytics should be used. We should understand. What is the need of blood in the product in the customer? The into real need of the product that we are launching it is just that we want to feed in to the consumer. It has to be a and quantitative understanding you have to do feel that whatever you want to do that is really worth it. And then after that come up with a brand proposition what exactly you communicate how do you communicate whether the error touch the consumers hard whether the customer will really buy your brand trust you. The whole thing is actually leading to enriching his life. So don’t mind and based on your all this homework come up with overall marketing strategy brand strategy and work on it accordingly because ultimately customer is the king who have to ensure that whatever customer experience is getting is actually a key in whatever. All product and service you’re launching an customizer traveler – Innovation. Its is journeys not nonlinear. He can jump from a touch point to be but touch points or whatever touch Point you’re working on. It has to enrich his life.
Saurabh: So the next question is again a hypothetical question, right? Let’s say you are told that the Divya you are supposed to get out of Sony for let’s say a two year break. For educational and you are Who hired a replacement and it could be from within the system or to be outside the company what are the tenants that you would look for in that person to replace you as a marketing heads?
Divya: Okay to be very honest again as I mentioned earlier, you have pretty true to your work. That’s the first thing I would I would not say he should be a replica he or she should be a replica of me doing very honest. You have to do your work and think of the mindset of the consumer and one another thing that’s from work point of view then stick until the strong operational point of view you have to manage work managing is a very integral part of our work life and you have to have that to I would say to jugad of interacting with various departments and how to get work out of them. Potentially. That’s a key that those still have to be really there and I know one or two people who happen.
Saurabh: So I hope that listing and then they can take some heart from this conversation. I am sure I don’t know if you can discuss this or not, but just don’t understand. Do you do you think you can discuss that? You know, what are the some KPIsthat you use to measure your RY in marketing center to me?
Divya: Okay, it varies from what we do is to check the atom talents in such a way that point my touch points we have our Okay, okay point out the kpi whatever activity you’re doing for that touchpoint has a kpi. We method based on the touch points our kpis. There are certain cases certain campaigns in one touch point we achieve over the team in certain touch points being under a change. So I come over all down the readily available to everybody you before even the launch of the product. You know, what are the pros and cons of the product so you make up your mind accordingly? So it’s a good thing also and a bad thing also they want to take it but consumers full access to information which is available. Globally. It’s much more simple from their point of view. They can get all the pertinent information. They don’t have to wait for the model to get launched in the country and it’s a free source of information for them. They can make up their mind much ahead of the model getting launched in the country. Okay.
Saurabh: So do you want to give me some more details about let’s say the digital touch points because these are the hottest contested.
Divya: Okay, I would say as I have mentioned it. Earlier BIO has been one of my favorite categories product at his laptop brand, right when the BIO got launched in India we took out the product proposition, what we need to communicate so then it can actually night upon the consumer preference immediately. So what we did is was world slimmest laptop. And in that time I did this today that you will thinking Little thin out a little bit in which would be the best fit. Does it ever get more power the brain? So there are many questions that were actually coming up in our mind. Then what we standing there was a size 0 concept with Kareena Kapoor it everything we touched on that had come and so we had a discussion with them. How do we do that? Product and celebrity is nobody. I mean the celebrity does not overpower the product of course product has to remain up front. So we did the site 0 campaign with Kareena Kapoor laptop that time that laptop which will be launched was world slimmest. So we did the world’s slimmest can be needed a TVC. We do not print campaign free daily activations all those we did we’ve been approached. We did not just pick print with picked up. Who picked up TV we pick 10 video scope of Integrations. Also, we did wrote roles. We did a lot of activities at all levels and within a span. We saw the BIO share from 2 to 3% growing region in Telegraph 10% And then of course after that every three months the new model got long-standing we talk about expanding the it color being whatever different feature that we have to talk about. So And say why I was looking at my favorite camping that we really contributed to the category and apart from that the work to others camera is well, we launched the Cyber-shot campaign in also in 2012. Where in we were on the technology did that I would say we had Canon and Nikon who was there in the point and shoot camera category and we were I would say kind of Challenges them. So again finding a unique selling proposition what to communicate
so we had it up front and the side research has started growing. Of course, your product has promised has to be fulfilled first there. No hope for advertising and marketing photos is I would say Marketings like I would say Art and Science of getting into the consumers we have to be building the brand of each and every touch point and there’s no single touch point. I will see me and you’re done. You have to be present in each and every touch point. It’s not happening is just not advertising. You have to be at every touch Point did it again as try and do customer engagement and you have to have a compelling brand proposition. How does the actually touch your life
Saurabh: Last 15-20 minutes that you can use for a lot about how consumer and customer is super important to you.You know from the perspective of the team or the product. So tell me what you things that you do to keep, you know, a breast with whatever you have. The customer is doing because every passing day the customer changes your the preferences changes the world around us is changed super fast. So how do you keep track of you know these this changing behavior of the customer?
Divya: Okay. We are I would say a long time and we had planned on your campaign we It’s the product proposition. I didn’t cooperate Global as is but finally we find that it did not work for us. So we need to learn from the failures that of course a bit of violation is required at times the main product category. Okay,
Saurabh: And what about using digital as ambient light, for example, you know a lot of their Market is at we spoke to this a that, you know digital also. But from communication that also gives them inside.
Divya: Look at similar thinking so what kind of celebrity rules of star local or it was just a global campaign had been tried and okay. This is a module can be tried in created a brand proposition. But finally we realize it’s not sinking with the heart of the consumer. We were just pushing information from I set aside. It should not it should be it. We thought it’s the custom human-like communication, but actually it was not idly. In those kids should get consumer fed information. We should have taken the insights from the need and requirement for the customer wants from the category. Taking into money what the inside that he’s looking for whether it’s a value that we are giving we should have done that homework which we missed at that time because of the need of the are we have to launch the product. So that is something that we should have waited rather than Just rushing in bassed on the urgent push wrong with the team.
Saurabh: So you mentioned that you use successfully used a Kareena Kapoor in campaigns for a product. So just take a perspective on you know, nowadays. What is happening is a lot of these, you know girls next door boys next door, you know young people are becoming celebrities on these platforms like Instagram and Tick-Tok and other platforms. So as a marketer or what do you think? Where do you think the scalability? You could go back to those criketers and Bollywood celebrities, or I can go back to these young coming up. So just wanted to send you a peek on that.
Divya: Basically the product clinician. That is the key in any agency be as creative digital media. Whoever so you have to be very careful in understanding what exact is it up in pencil or whatever product I would say your insights about the product. What is want to keep because ultimately the brand strategy using in current scenario beat whatever product you’re launching. The brand has to embrace the customers real requirement and we have to keep our convocation simple. We don’t I really should not complicate it and make it very difficult for the consumer to understand and type in energetic should be used we Understand what is the need of blood in the project in the customer into real need of the product that we are launching? It is just that we want to feed in to the consumer. It has to be a and quantitative understanding you have to you feel that whatever you want that is really worth it. And then after that come up with a brand proposition what exactly you communicate how do you communicate whether they don’t touch the consumers heart whether the customer will really buying your brand and trust you over. Your thing is actually leading to enriching his life. So don’t people mind and based on your all this homework come up with overall marketing strategy brand strategy and work on it accordingly.
Saurabh: Let’s talk about this Coronavirus. Branding halt right to as a marketeer. You know, what do you think will change one’s life comes back like then the lockdown opens up putting the change
Divya: okay here with this covid something and many people will get into the entrepreneurial mode to be very honest with you because there is no I would say I’m keeping the current scenario in mind. There’s no surety of Business, which is their jobs it is there. I mean you never know. I mean travel used to be such a lucrative option from job point of view, but nowadays. It’s so scary from that point of view, even though each and every field there are kind of question marks that are coming and so I would say one has to look at our overall never understand what you do because whatever you now you have to be very sure that it should be slightly a long-term approach you to keep all those things in mind your your your what is your USP that you are best at keep that in your mind to the core and start working on that as a business proposition and take it into a war. Entrepreneurship as your main USP. So whatever your best at find that think through and then get into the entrepreneur mood should be very confident or whatever you’re doing that you will be delivering a value-add whoever your future client that will be going to.
Saurabh: so Divya imagine you talking to two young set of body and slips are people who are in business school right now second year of MBA now Or skills core marketing skill could be learned. Now to be able to you know leverage those mistake password College in this year or next year
Divya: Skills. I would say. One has to look at basically all your marketing skills that you get. Anyways you of course really going through that only about one thing is their Market is ever-changing. I mean there is every day. There’s something or the other that is being taught
Soul this will of course is coming in a big way that’s there but consumer I would say always keep yourselves in consumer as you have core. It was in this scenario customer insights customer lifecycle management. You have to be your customer segmentation. Everything around the consumer will be the key. You will have to understand. What is it relevant from the consumer psyche. What is he looking at? So customer will be the key and the people who have got a customer database your that will also grow your I mean data will be the future of oil. That’s what everybody keeps on saying. So that is what I feel maybe the future. But of course one has to keep on seeing the newer. One so that keep on coming on a daily basis. You have to keep abreast with whatever is happening in the market on our own with learning is a daily process.
Saurabh: So can we just you brought a very very interesting point there something that I’m personally interested in? So let’s say you have a team of 10 to 12 hard-core marketeers who have been around forever. So how does learning you know pass around within the organization that you have all hands on meeting you have, you know, weakly meet ups. So how do you ensure that each of your Team member is under made and is called. I am
Divya: basically we have a weekly meeting Monday meetings as also we re growing every Monday everybody shares what you see how she’s doing come to know what is happening and whether that category belongs to me or not, but at least I get to know what is happening as a work. So it’s completely up close and I thought department and everybody knows what are
Saurabh: So tell me some unconventional ways you use to get inspired word marketing like these are the gentleman I spoke to he says he watches a lot of Movies when you want to understand, what is the wording about marketing we can help you communicate and so on and so forth. So are there some interesting and conventional ways that we use to learn?
Divya: Okay, and I’m not say directly marketing like whenever I travel I’d like I’d like to talk with people understand what they do different different places. So I get plus inside from there that all this happens like this I use it for this purpose. That’s how I do it like once I went to Lady told me that is not a now. I’m getting around five six years back when internet penetration was just getting in that I use my TV to talk to my son that time Skype was very new feature I talk to people different different places different different strata. I would say to get the consumer insights. What should be the real need of getting that product. So travel is one thing that I use to understand the consumer feedback was I have personal passion towards travel. That’s one thing of course movies. Also as you mentioned is a nice thing. I really like that thought.
Saurabh: I think. So traveling like last few questions about travel. So what was your favorite destination? Like I want to know you as a person as well. So what’s your most favorite?
Divya: I have travelled a bit of world. I have not been to South America. I have not been to Australia apart from these two continents. I’ve covered fairly basically because of you if you ask me for me, I like All United States as one place because I visited many many many different
different places, but I prefer natural beauty. I would say that way rather than a city or urban area. I would prefer dog location which has got nice natural beauty one can walk around not very commercial. You can spend some time with your own self. So that’s what I had look at at any location.
Saurabh: How often do you get to travel? I do not know. How is it isn’t easy work or is it like not over for you? How do you do that?
Divya: I try to sneak out as best as possible at least two three times a year generally.
Saurabh: ltast few questions. So tell me during this time of Corona. Have you seen any branded initiative from a different brand that you’ve liked as a marketeer, you know you would have thought we should get together. Have you thought of any have you seen any of those campaigns?
Divya: yes some from FMCG brands and of course we cannot do it but individual I’d like to do.
Saurabh: And the very last question that I have for you is like imagine you were again in a b-school second year students opportunities. If you were to leave them with a marketing problem to think on let’s say that you tell them that you know, think about how would you change his behavior or how do you sell this particular product? What could that be? It could be from Sony or it could be from you know your personal experience or it could be a cause and You are you know who are passionate about?
Divya: It’s been so many others one thing that still I’m not even to fix this just one thing that the customer wants is not there is no rule that you can fix the customers need it is ever changing. So that’s one question. I still have so that was the funeral strong suit.
Saurabh: so that was Divya Rao. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Please do write to us and tell us what can we do next? Marketing connect podcast. After all we are a podcast for marketeer by marketeers. Here’s the show was brought to you by sea body and the podium.