Ashwini Gangal
Interviews

“I look at a challenge directly in the eye and give it a wink”: Nadia Chauhan

A quick interview with Nadia Chauhan, joint MD and CMO, Parle Agro.

Edited Excerpts

In what way have your expectations from your agency partners changed of late?

Two years ago, after talking to every single large, mid and small-sized agencies in India and around the world, we opted to work with a boutique design firm based out of New York, called Sagmeister & Walsh.

We had the choice of working with the largest, the most 'successful' agency here, but we opted for this agency instead. They are as passionate, ambitious and bold as us.

I had never considered working with an agency from a different city; I was biting my nails as I finalised one from a different continent. They are up when we sleep, and we had to make many changes to make this relationship succeed.

It's been a great relationship.

How have the last 12 months been for your company and the category? What challenges do your foresee for the next 12?

Parle Agro grew by over 16 per cent last year.

Category growth has been negligible over the past year. Government regulations, consecutive droughts and demonetisation, all led to the cutting down of consumption across categories. Some of the old established beverage categories are becoming less unique and consumers are looking for newer and products and brand experiences.

In what ways are changing urban lifestyles and changes in technology affecting your category?

Consumers are gravitating towards products with natural fruit content. Consumers are also willing to try out new products and offerings.

We are investing heavily in state-of-the-art facilities and modern machineries. At our newest manufacturing facility at Sitarganj (Uttarakhand), we have introduced robotics systems into our plants with fully automated material handling systems, involving minimal manual intervention.

Has there been a geographical/demographical shift in the demand for your product/s?

There are different product skews and patterns that are always seen across the country.

Within the beverage category, consumers are willing to opt for healthier, natural and fruit-based drinks. We're leveraging this shift by continuing to provide high quality products at price points suitable across demographics.

Where will your next million/5 million/10 million consumers come from?

Frooti Fizz is specifically launched towards building market share within the mango-flavored beverage space, to gain our next 10 million consumers.

We created this category with the launch of Appy Fizz in 2005. Today, Appy Fizz holds maximum market share in its category.

The launch of Frooti Fizz is a step towards taking this category to the next level... Our vision is to grow this category to Rs. 4,000 crore in the next five years. (Today the business is over Rs. 3,000 crore).

How is the role of the CMO/marketing head changing?

There is a fine line between the role of a CMO and overall business leader. A CMO no longer oversees just marketing, but is responsible for the overall impact on the business and organisation.

I look at the role of a CMO as working hand in hand with other leaders. Once responsible for managing the brand, today’s CMO is responsible for achieving objectives far beyond traditional marketing.

Tell us about one recent 'OMG' moment, say, an intense professional challenge you faced...

During my initial years in the organisation there would have been many 'OMG' moments. However, now that I have grown, I look at a challenge directly in the eye and give it a wink.

In what way has the information you receive about your consumers changed in the recent past?

Earlier, we were generating a lot of independent and isolated data sources. Now, we have completely integrated our sales force and other functions into a one data system.

This data is real-time and is part of a large pool of data points, including retail. It is accurate and is not based on small sample sizes and extrapolations.

What is your lead medium of communication today?

While various new media have emerged in our marketing mix, the TVC remains to be the most cost-effective and impactful medium because of the nature of our business.

Due to our focus on design, OOH and print have also evolved as a strong part of our media mix.

Marketers today deal with way too many external brand custodians - agree?

We feel lucky to have so many brand custodians from all over the world working with us. The power of collaboration is a strong tool and it is not driven as much as it should be.

Our ability to build a passionate network of external brand custodians is a very large USP for us.