Role of Courage in Success – Shahrukh Khan, Actor, producer & television presenter

I am going to say good evening again, because that’s how I started the speech. First of all, it’s really scary here. Some of the biggest managers of the biggest corporations in the biggest convention for management – AIMA.

It’s very sad that in such an august company of people, big business houses and managers, all you could manage was to get a speaker from Bollywood to speak at the convention. The economy must be really bad.

Well, who am I to speak about the economic downtrend across the globe etc, or anything, for that matter? Just reading the topics being discussed before I came on stage, I was frightened. And if I’m allowed to say so, shit scared. I couldn’t understand a word. Let me tell you one of the discussions they had earlier on in the day – ‘Could financialisation of commodities be used to incentivise supply growth without inflating prices?’  Continue reading

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How to attain Sustainable Competitive Advantage – Mr. Arunabh Das Sharma – President, Bennett Coleman

Mr. Arunabh Das Sharma – President, Bennett Coleman

The concept of competitive advantage is slightly outvoted concept today.  What it means today and what it meant in 90’s is vastly different. In this age of dramatic & disruptive technology how can we manage the product life cycle is the main question. I have been fortunate to be associated with brands which have managed it successfully.  I have been fortunate to be a part of the journey of brands like Coke, Whirlpool & Times of India which are more that 100 yr old brands .According to me, the concept of product life cycle is dead. I think more and more people are trying to manage the brand life cycle as oppose to the product life cycle today. Because products that constitute the brand can come & go but the brand value will stay forever.

Product life cycle is an inverse s shaped curve, where you would start slow and then there’s rapid growth and then you start slowing down and at the end it would decline. Let’s take an example of Colgate dental cream. It is probably a 65 – 70 year old brand and yet it continues to be the leader primarily in same form & fashion. It is a very successful brand & product. I would however argue that the reason why Colgate dental cream is so successful is because the company has managed to figure out that there is a core set of consumers & there is a peripheral set of consumers & Colgate has been successful in focusing on both these categories by launching different products under same mother brand of Colgate, for e.g.:  Colgate total, Colgate sensitive & Colgate whitening. Continue reading

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Linking Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy to Business – Mr. R Mukundan, Managing Director,Tata Chemicals

Mr. R Mukundan, Managing Director,Tata Chemicals

Marketing is an art as well as science and to make it successful you should have a soft side to understand the emotions of customers. Mahatma Gandhi was a great man who literally made people to understand the concept of freedom. That’s a far more difficult thing to do. That’s the brilliance of him and we can learn many lessons from him. We operate in 3 businesses and we call ourselves life. We have a good team and we have constantly increased our market share in key categories over the time. When I joined Tata Salt we had the market share of around 19%, today it stands at around 60 -65%. The number 1 & number 2 brands are with us. Because we could not grow the first brand fully, we launched the second brand to attack it & we have two brands from the same family in one product category and we are thinking to launch another brand.

We also sell water purifiers and we have just started to sell pulses, which is a growing business area that is compounded every year at 16000+. When we create a brand the amount of power we have in market place is tremendous. The second piece of our business is industrial chemicals. This is truly a global business; we are present in 4 continents: Europe, Asia, Africa & United States. We are the 2nd largest glass making company. When you drink a glass of water or when you wash clothes there a bit of TATA in it. We are the key supplier to Procter & Gamble & Unilever for same. Our 3rd piece of business is focused on farm essentials. We have the largest foot-print in rural India. Tata rural retail has been profitable from past 20 years. We have 700 stores spread over UP, Haryana, Punjab & in West Bengal. Through our company Ralus we are running one of the finest & profitable rural businesses. When you look at top 10 farm brands, top 7 belong to us. We are about a 15000 crore company and we have an innovation centre too, one of our product Swacch came out of that innovation centre. You cannot address bottom of pyramid without focusing on innovation. Continue reading

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Putting ‘social’ into business

Are you still wondering if you should have ‘social’ in your business? Your business works in an environment and not in isolation. You need to be where your customers are. If your customers are online and on the various social media platforms then you need to reach out to them and meet them there. The social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogs can be looked upon as great open opportunities. Opportunities that can enhance your business and brand.

Social Media is just not for marketing. It is useful in practically all of your departments right from creating strategy, to recruitment, to information sharing and spreading and so on. Continue reading

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Corporate Values: Key to Survival

We all agree that companies should be responsible for any adverse impact of their actions on consumers or other stakeholders. But the extent of their liability is tough to measure. To grasp the challenge of this issue, consider this scenario – Should a cab driver ask for the exact nature of your trip to decide if he should give you the ride? If you think this is absurd, imagine if you were running away from a crime scene or going to one – he did play a central role without really meaning to do so. Some versions of this are becoming real issues that businesses are facing – from banking, to technology and internet companies. Should HSBC  have a view on how its customers acquired their money, or should they just focus on providing the best service to anyone who seeks their advise? Should Youtube  offer a video platform to anyone who wishes to express themselves, or should they turn into a moral policeman too? Should Facebook block a hate group on its social platform, or should it focus on building the best social networking functionality available to all?

Till now, businesses had a single focus – deliver shareholder value, which was typically just about enhancing profits and ROC. The only rule they had to keep in mind is that they  break no law. But now businesses are facing much more complex issues – the unintended consequences of the services they offer, and their impact. Should businesses have a view point on freedom of expression when the local government wants to curb it? At what point does tax efficiency become tax evasion? Wage arbitrage comes with its own moral dilemmas of what benefits do you want to extend one set of workers vs another. Continue reading

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Brand Leadership in Volatile Times – K. Ramakrishnan, President Marketing, Cafe Coffee Day

“Someone once said, that coffee is a serious man’s drink.”

We, at Café Coffee Day believe that the café culture is inherent and so is the need for people to connect. We saw the opportunity to humanise the affair and that’s why we went ahead and added a smile to it. Talking about challenging conventional methods, we often hear people stating, “I have 25 years of experience”.

One needs to understand that what matters more is wisdom and not the number of years, unless things are done differently.

Talking about challenging conventional methods, Social Media has been a great revolution and we as a brand have adopted it in a big way. It has been the cause, catalyst and outcome of challenging convention. The core of this medium is that it catalyzes change and that’s the first step in challenging convention!

We believe that simplicity is of utmost importance and it is critical to ignore the noise around you. Further, it’s not necessary to re-invent the wheel all the time.

I would like to share some examples from our own experience back in 1996, when Café Coffee Day started its first CCD in Bangalore. People, at that time couldn’t imagine paying more than 3 rupees for a cup of coffee. When we launched, we started with a cup of coffee for 25 rupees and with the concept of providing cyber cafes where people can manage to carry on their work using free Internet while enjoying a cup of coffee.

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