Benita Chacko

afaqs! CMO Dialogues with Poulomi Roy, CMO, RSH Global

In our weekly series, we interview chief marketing officers to find out what influences their strategies and how they navigate the ever-changing marketing landscape.

Poulomi Roy, chief marketing officer at RSH Global, has over 18 years of experience in the media and marketing world. Starting her career as a reporter, she worked at ANI, Alliance Media and Fashion TV, before switching to media planning with Mindshare and Madison. This is her second stint at RSH Global, where she handles brands like Joy Skincare. Her years of experience on both the media and brand side help us get an in-depth understanding.

Excerpts from the interview:

Most memorable campaign

Throughout my 17-year career, if you asked me about the most unforgettable campaign, it would be the one in 2020. It marked a turning point for us at Joy Skincare. We delved into our purpose: why we exist in the skincare world. We realised our strength lay in manufacturing quality products at affordable prices, making them accessible to India. This realisation sparked a desire to manifest our purpose.

I vividly recall pitching the idea of creating skincare products for extreme skin conditions like acid attack survivors. It wasn't about a cause but a purpose-driven campaign. Collaborating with NGOs like Atijeevan, we developed a range of sensitive skincare products, ensuring quality at an affordable price point. 

The campaign, Skin of Courage, was deeply impactful. It wasn't just a marketing endeavour; it became a part of our lives. This led to subsequent cause-driven campaigns, transitioning from Skin of Courage to Just Hire One and finally Just Empower One. Each step aimed to amplify our message and engage more people in our cause.

Despite limitations in budget, these campaigns resonated deeply, making us relevant to many. It's been one of the most fulfilling journeys for us. We took a leap of faith, believing in something bigger than ourselves, and it paid off.

A campaign that taught you something

This dates back to 2015 when I proposed featuring Bharti Singh. Suggesting an oversized woman for our campaign raised eyebrows. People questioned our decision, wondering why we didn't opt for a traditional celebrity endorsement. I believe it was ahead of its time. I cherished that campaign, especially as it challenged the norms of the industry, which at that time was creating lotion bottles in the shape of a woman.

Working for a challenger brand taught me to embrace pushing boundaries without the fear of losing market share. Unlike leading brands, challengers have ample room to innovate and grow. I realised the importance of PR and organisational structure, noting their long-term impact. While some consider our approach avant-garde, I thrive on taking calculated risks, knowing that sometimes you have to lead rather than wait for the right moment.

Why does Joy pay attention to impact?

Despite being a 35-year-old brand, our marketing efforts only took shape in 2015. Before that, sporadic advertising existed, but we were mainly trading. This makes Joy a relatively young brand in terms of marketing strategy. However, our goal is clear: to ensure Joy is recognised as a skincare staple in every Indian's life, regardless of age or gender.

Our journey differs from established brands, requiring adaptability to evolving consumer lifestyles. We prioritise understanding how our brand influences consumers' lives and aligning our ambitions with business goals. This approach ensures we remain relevant and impactful in an ever-changing market landscape.

Joy’s television spends

Two to three years ago, we shifted our focus towards impact properties. We recognised a need for heightened awareness and reach in our growth trajectory. Consequently, we redirected our spending towards impact properties rather than traditional television plans. This deliberate shift has proven beneficial, with approximately 65% of our budget now allocated to impact properties. These include properties like IPL and WPL.

Shah Rukh Khan as brand ambassador

Shah Rukh Khan became the face of our face wash category. The question was why not? Traditionally, we've seen men endorsing products like edible oils, but skincare remained largely untouched by male influencers. With a desire to elevate awareness, especially through events like IPL, we sought a voice that commanded attention. Khan's reputation and appeal made him an obvious choice. 

Additionally, his alignment with our mission to challenge beauty stereotypes resonated deeply. Over the past decade, we've worked to dismantle these norms, recognising the role of the cosmetic industry in perpetuating them. We've been responsible for creating all the wrong standards of beauty. We've done that for years and at a larger frequency because ads play so many times in a day.

Competition from D2C brands

Facing heavy disruption from startup brands, especially challenger brands in our category presents a fascinating challenge. We learn a lot from them. They push boundaries, experiment with new products, and create innovative categories. This dynamic landscape has traditional brands exploring unfamiliar territory, like serums and Ubtans, spurred by the success of these newcomers. 

As both worlds collide, coexistence is key. Legacy brands bring distribution power and resources, while startups offer fresh ideas and agility. Rather than viewing them as threats, we see them as catalysts for industry disruption. We recognise the need to adapt, innovate, and stay true to our core strengths. Clarity on our business pillars guides our strategy, allowing us to observe, learn, and implement necessary adjustments for sustained growth.

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