After a series of marketing stints and a stint as a brand consultant, Vani Gupta Dandia has launched CherryPeachPlum Growth Partners, a marketing driven management consultancy tuned to deliver business growth solutions. Gupta is a former marketing director for Indian foods at PepsiCo India. Most recently, she has been credited with the Cars24 brand proposition relaunch and the following campaign. Apart from her role at PepsiCo, she has had stints with Leo Burnett, Henkel, RB and Unilever in the past. She recently moved on from Benddit, her previous venture.
The services of CherryPeachPlum cover the end-to-end gamut of execution through a network of 12 partners, led by Gupta. "They’re young, small (teams of 15-30), hungry for good work, and can deliver to the demands of the entrepreneurial world. These are agencies that I have worked with in the past and personally know the team members. I also work with freelancers depending on the nature of work needed," Gupta says.
The network covers services such as creative, design, digital marketing, packaging, PR, content marketing, BTL activations, e-commerce specialisation, performance marketing and website development among others.
“While I call myself a consultant, I do so for lack of any other commonly understood descriptor. I, in fact, loathe the word, 'consultant'. I take pride in working directly with the client, in their office, not just to craft the solution but also execute,” Vani Gupta.
On being asked how she differentiates her venture from the lot of other consultancies, Gupta responds, "While I call myself a consultant, I do so for lack of any other commonly understood descriptor. I, in fact, loathe the word, 'consultant'. I take pride in working directly with the client, in their office, not just to craft the solution but also execute. Along with a part variable fee, I also work with start-ups as an ‘external co-founder’ — meaning I take business targets, while my remuneration is a cash and equity combination.”
We asked her how the landscape has changed in terms of brands outsourcing strategy work since her time as a brand marketer. "When I worked as a brand manager, the role of a chief marketing officer (CMO) was far easier. Today, the world is very different and requires new skills and competencies," she says.
She mentions that earlier a CMO worked with a small clutch of agencies that acted as a one stop shop for all marketing requirements. "Today, when media is far more proliferated and old world agencies are struggling to acquire new skillsets, a CMO must work with several partners while ensuring that the brand doesn’t get fractured between different entities," Gupta explains.
Next, she mentions the range of wide cross-category competition. "A co-working company is also competing with Starbucks or hotel lobbies, besides its immediate competition. Homegrown Indian startups raised about $5 billion in funding in just the first half of 2019, with larger deal sizes and far greater investor confidence, across all sectors," she adds.
“Today, the consumer is happy to buy basis the first Instagram post he/she sees from a new brand! This tells us that anyone today can build a business with small or no spends on media. This is also why brand building is such a thrill today!”
Elaborating on the consumer front, she says, "Consumers are no longer looking for big brand assurances. At one time, brand trust was won on ‘salience’ alone. Hence companies spent big bucks on prime-time television to win trust. Today, the consumer is happy to buy basis the first Instagram post he/she sees from a new brand! This tells us that anyone today can build a business with small or no spends on media. This is also why brand building is such a thrill today!”
But when and why does a brand approach a consultancy?
Gupta says that consulting is a personalised business and there are several reasons for outsourcing work. Elaborating, "Each business has a unique set of challenges and one cannot apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Even when founders are merely looking for agencies, few understand what they really need or how they should get work done. Often, start-ups lack the marketing world view that comes from years of training at the likes of Unilever or PepsiCo, but they value that competence. Or it could be that even while they have a seasoned marketing resource in-house, they’re simply looking for a fresh perspective. Or it could be that they’re looking to move with greater speed.”
CherryPeachPlum has already on-boarded a global MNC for a project along with a couple of start-ups. "All of these have come through references from previous clients or past colleagues. In this business, one’s reputation can be built on a single project, because it’s a small lot, and word gets around very quickly. It's best if one’s work attracts more work — this way, one also attracts the right kind of work and the right kind of people," Gupta signs off.