Berelentless. It sounds so simple ‘good to great’, but in reality this is by far, the most challenging thing to do. You have to go from redefining good to mediocre and redefining great to being good. You have to be absolutely intolerant of anything that is mediocre and be relentless in not giving up on your vision. That could get extremely frustrating, exhausting and tiresome but you have to really fight for greatness and redefine all your standards to be able to achieve it.
As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nadia Chauhan, Joint Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer of Parle Agro.
The word ‘youngest’ has long been used to describe Nadia Chauhan’s achievements over the years. Well, that was bound to happen because Nadia took her first steps in the corporate world when kids her age were busy playing hopscotch. She was the youngest brand manager, the youngest sales and marketing head, the youngest CMO and amongst the youngest JMDs in India when she took on the role at Parle Agro.
Since joining in 2003, she has taken the company from INR 300 crores to almost INR 7000 crores delivering double-digit growth every year. She has driven Parle Agro from a single brand dependent organization into a multi brand organization which now leads various beverage categories. With the goal of always being future-ready, Nadia brought in significant changes with a massive scale up in the company’s infrastructure, systems and processes. She pushed for a digital transformation to a more data oriented and analytical organization in order to extract the maximum possible out of the market. She also optimized manpower to bring in scale — today Parle Agro has over 4000 employees.
But, numbers aren’t what deconstructing Nadia would leave you with. It’s the way that she goes about her business that’s most inspiring. She’s progressive in her thinking and never takes up anything that doesn’t make her nervous. She has a simple formula when it comes to marketing: work without a formula.
Nadia’s ambitions are clear. She wants to make Parle Agro the №1 beverage company in India and a leading player overseas. Her vision has been the force behind Parle Agro’s presence in over 45 countries today. Her passion for business is unwavering, and her commitment, unquestionable. Her plans are in place too. Innovation is what she believes drives Parle Agro and gives it the status it enjoys today. Innovation is also what drives her own self. She’s constantly looking to change things around and do the un-thought of.
On the personal front, Nadia is married with two children and three dogs. She has many other passions which include horse riding, reading books and traveling all over the world with her family. She also supports her daughter in her endeavor towards building a foundation that cares for abandoned and homeless animals.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I’d love to. I was born into a Business Family where I was the youngest of three sisters. The age difference between them and me was almost 10 years, so they were always away, either in boarding school or in college. As an outcome, you could say I grew up as an only child and I got to spend a considerable amount of time with my father, watching and listening to him talk about his business, something that he dedicated his entire life to. It was always intriguing and exciting when he brought home products from work, talked about new launches and shared new ideas that he was thinking of. It’s safe to say I’ve been a foodie since then.
Also, having two elder sisters (who I Idolised) meant that I was always in a hurry to do what they were doing, a big hurry to grow up. I would spend my summers and most holidays at office, even if it was just sitting in my father’s cabin while he worked. Back then there was no world wide web. We just had one MAC at a corner table with the software called Encarta, an online Encyclopedia, and I would simply go through that and keep myself entertained.
I was 11, growing up in an Indian family that unlike most were very open minded & encouraged growth & learning in every way. My father decided it was time to get me to attend some meetings & spend my time, even as a 11 year old, more productively in office. He would always say that even if I understood just one percent of what was going on at the meetings, it was good enough. And just as he said, the one percent of understanding and knowledge kept adding up with every meeting and soon I was able to grasp the workings of the business. Attending the meetings allowed me to understand all the emotions of what we had gone through as a company, the journey and the difficulties. So even when I did finally join in an official capacity at 18, I wasn’t there to change everything — I was there to build the business further and build together. Perhaps that might have been different if I didn’t have that early induction into the business.
I was very young when we sold our largest & India’s most iconic brands to Coca Cola and I saw the kind of pressure it put on our father. We had to really work hard to gain back the strength and scale of our business. Seeing such major events in my childhood got me involved into the business at a very young age, albeit emotionally — but sometime those emotions are what drives some impactful creative thinking & leadership.
I was always entrepreneurial, just growing up around all of this perhaps does that to you. At the age of 13, I started my own venture. I started baking brownies-on-order called Just Divine. (I think I still have those posters.) Since we didn’t have social media at that time, I used to make sales calls and go to sports clubs and little cafes to sell the brownies. Then I ventured into making tie and dye T-shirts that I sold door to door in our entire neighbourhood. After that I started to have garage sales & I had all my friends join in. One of my friends sold Sports Events that her Dad had recorded on VCR. But there was no doubt in what I really wanted to do, and where I felt most at home — I wanted to be back in my father’s office and take forward the business that he and my grandfather had built.
When I officially joined the company, I didn’t begin with the intention of changing things right away. I wanted to appreciate where we came from and continue in the journey that had already been set. My goal was only to charter ways to speed up the momentum and achieve the vision that my father had set for the company.
I started as a brand manager for Frooti, which at that point was almost 90% of our business. Eventually I worked my way up. As I gained more experience, I started heading the marketing division and gradually got involved and took over sales. I also started leading the R&D department and set up an entire business strategy department. I slowly created a longer term vision for the company and worked hard toward a lot of transformational initiatives to drive and achieve this vision.
It’s been an incredible journey since 2003 with several good as well as challenging times. The challenges have always energised me and given me the gusto to go forward with a bigger push. We’ve grown from INR 250 crore company in 2003 with Frooti contributing to 95% of our business, to an almost INR 7000 crore company with Frooti contributing to 50% of our business. We have been able to build Parle Agro from a single brand organisation back then, to a multi-category, multi-brand beverage behemoth today and there’s still more to come. We are much larger today than what we were when we sold our carbonated soft drinks portfolio to Coca Cola. It’s been a phenomenal journey so far but we still have miles to go.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When I started my journey, the only difficulty I had was putting together a strong team of people who were willing to get passionately and emotionally involved with our vision and support the journey of achieving it. Which by no measure would be an easy one. We went from being the largest beverage company in India, to having sold off our brands to the largest beverage company in the world, to once again rebuilding from scratch, with a clear vision to climb our way back to the top. This needed a team with serious guts, with strong intuitive leadership skills, with passion & talent. Putting this team together was hard. Even harder to get them to trust me. But the thought of giving up never crossed my mind. That would have been very irresponsible. On the contrary, like I said earlier, challenges always fuel me. So when I did face restraint from a few team members, I worked hard to lead by example. I showed them how a different approach could help achieve the desired result and eventually everybody was on board. As a person who believes that there is an opportunity and learning in every challenge, I used this experience as an opportunity to build a core team. While we had a lot of functional leads, I decided to build a core team to take things forward. It is a matter of great pride that the team I recruited in my first year of joining the business, continues to be my core team even today, almost 18 years down the line. I truly value their contribution, their commitment and their unwavering trust in me.
I would say that the root of my drive through all hard times has been the confidence of my father in me and my capabilities. He has always shown complete faith in me to overcome and resolve all challenges that come my way and in staying focused on the collective goals of the company. His trust has been the biggest driver for me in the last 18 years and it is this trust that has driven me to take the company to newer heights. I know that abled children can only be fuelled by their parent’s trust and I can only hope that I am able to be equally trusting and confident while handing over the reins to my children. I’m sure it must have been easy for him.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I am a perfectionist to a large extent. But I’m not too proud about that since most perfectionists are the hardest on themselves. So it’s difficult for me to think of a mistake from the past that I would consider funny.
But I do have one funny memory to share. Years ago we launched a product called Jolly Jelly, a jelly based drink in a tetra pack that you could drink through a straw. The ad for the drink was also ‘Jolly Jelly the drink that jiggles’ which was quite funny. We launched the drink at different places around the beaches of Bombay. Beaches are always a hot spot for people to hang out with family or friends and at the point in time, there were many local eateries all around the main parts of the beach. I was very young then and I remember while promoting the product, I was put in charge of yelling, ‘Jolly Jelly 100% vegetarian jelly drink’. Since majority of the people in India are vegetarians, it was a notion that a jelly drink would be non-vegetarian made out of gelatin and hence were skeptical about jelly. Today jelly products are available at every nook and corner across the country but back then, most people were unaware. While participating in the promotions, I hadn’t realised that I had nominated myself as one of the promoters. So I had to have a life size carton of Jolly Jelly put on top of me. I was mounted on top of a camel (back then we had camels and horses on the beaches of Bombay), and made to go across the length of the beach promoting Jolly Jelly. That was an extremely funny experience that always makes me laugh just thinking about it.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
There are numerous things that make our company stand out. The Founder, that is my great grandfather, was actually a tailor in Gujarat. He ran away from home and came to Bombay and that’s where the seeds of the business were actually sowed. He sent his kids abroad to learn and understand about machines and manufacturing technology and bring that knowledge back to India. That’s really how it all started and that itself is a very special story. The fact that we are so proudly and completely Indian and have been dominating the Indian market since we got into the beverage industry is very special. Inspite of having sold off to Coca Cola, we are again back to being larger than what we’ve ever been and aggressively competing with multinationals in the market with much success.
We are also the one company in India and most definitely the only company in the beverage industry, that does not develop products on a ‘me too’ philosophy. We have a mandate in our R&D system that every new product that we introduce into the market, is an original product offering and has a story to tell. It has to be innovative — we either create a new category or create a completely new product experience that is new to the Indian taste palate, but at the same time made for the Indian taste palate. It is this unique approach that has allowed us to make very niche product concepts into mass product categories in India. This quality seen right from Frooti, the first Tetra Pak packaged mango drink in the country, to Appy Fizz, the first sparkling apple juice drink in India which continues to dominate with over 97% market share in the fruit plus fizz drink category it created.
All Parle Agro brands are also extremely unique and stand out from a product, packaging and design perspective. We work very hard and have a complete hands-on style of working when developing new products. This allows us to have a strong connection with our consumers and a deep understanding of the pulse of the market to know what appeals to the masses as well as identify the right time to introduce it to the consumers. This approach has helped us gain success and acceptance of our products in the market. The number of imitations of our brands is a great sign of our success.
Another thing that makes us stand out is that our largest most successful brands have been an outcome of absolute zero investment in any kind of traditional market research. Our decisions and our estimations of how our product will or will not perform in the market, is based on our own deep understanding of the market. We take pride in making sure that we stay connected with our consumers across the country and know what will work. I think that this is a very unique aspect and considering the size of the products we launch and the investments we put into the new products as well as into advertising and marketing, we do not spend a single rupee on conventional market research.
I would say that all of this is core to our DNA and core to what makes us stand out. We have grown to become the largest Indian beverage company and perhaps the largest Indian beverage company to go beyond borders to different parts of the world. We export to over 45 countries and we continue to grow at a very aggressive pace. And like I said before, the journey has only just begun.
If I had to share a story, I remember during one of my early days in the company, I was conducting an induction program for a group of new recruits for our brand, Bailley. Bailley is our packaged drinking water brand; not a mineral water brand that’s sourced from the mountains. During the induction, I did not differentiate our brand well enough. My father, who was present at the meeting, took me aside after and told me my presentation was terrible and that I had no idea about our product and that I needed to understand it much better. A large part of my responsibility today, and back then as well, has been to handle product development. After that incident, I went back and tasted every single brand of water that existed in India. I did multiple tasting sessions and finally, towards the end of my palette training, I was able to distinguish our bottled water from 20 other different brands of bottled water. In a blind test I was able to point out which bottled water was ours and what made our brand so special and unique. That’s what makes us stand out, whether its water or any one of our more sophisticated products, we work hard to make it relevant and acceptable to the Indian palette. We take our products so seriously that it’s not just about launching a drink in the market, it’s about working to that final moment when that drink that you’re launching is absolutely the right one, even if it’s (not) just water.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Do What You Love. I think that it’s very rare that anyone who is truly engaged in building a business that they are deeply passionate about, would ever burn out.
While I say this, I would like to add that it’s important to know you can only deliver exceedingly well at work only if you take care of yourself as well. It is really important to take that break to unwind and relax so that you can perform better. For someone who had never taken time off, not even after my marriage, I find great joy in taking weekends off every few weeks, and taking shorter, more frequent breaks and without a doubt, I come back feeling refreshed and renewed with a lot more ideas that I want to drive. So I recommend that. To take time off to reflect and revive yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It must be a part of your success Mantra.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Without a doubt, the one person who has been my constant support in achieving success has been my father. I was very young when I stepped into office and it was his trust and belief in what I had to say and in my commitment towards his vision in building the company that has been the largest factor for my success. Because when you do have that kind of trust, you feel a lot more responsible. You want to make sure that you do everything you’re capable of and more to achieve the goals.
If I was to share a story, I remember when I was very young and had just joined the company, I attended a meeting where a representative from the research team was sharing insights on Frooti saying it had reached a point where it was becoming irrelevant to the consumer and was being perceived as a traditionalist brand. This bothered me immensely because when you hear harsh truths at the start of your journey in the family business, it’s tough to take in. But for me, even today, challenges fuel me. I sat down to think of strategies to revive the brand and shared a proposal with my father. He had, and still continues to have, this approach where he’ll ask ‘why’ a number of times until he feels convinced that you are clear in your head about what you want to do. I think that as long as he saw my conviction, he was convinced and that was perhaps the biggest factor driving me and my will to succeed. I have to say that was my first ever project in the company and one that no one will forget, because since then to now, Frooti the brand that the research company said was going to die — is thriving, is growing, is eating into market share of every other brand every year, and has grown to become the number 2 brand in the country, and don’t worry, soon enough we will rank number 1.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
I can’t define what a good company is and what a great company is. I can only define what good or great means in context to Parle Agro.
If I look at our journey from 2003 to now, we’ve always been an organisation with a very aggressive vision. This is a very core part of who we are. We’ve never dreamt small and we’ve never feared to dream big.
In the last 18 years that I’ve been part of the organisation and leading its growth and vision, I would say that what makes us a good company is the fact that we have our business objectives very well defined. We are a company that is future oriented, that likes to introduce products that are innovative and not just another ‘me too’ product. We don’t like to take the easy route in our approach. Brands take time to build, categories take time to build and businesses take time to build and we always aim for sustainable and long life in all our areas of work. Hence, we don’t take the shortest path; we take what we would define as the right growth path towards building our brands, categories and our business.
Another factor that makes our organization good is our culture. We’ve always had a very transparent and open culture. We don’t believe in being hierarchical. Decision making is not complicated or political. It’s clean, it’s straightforward and it’s quick. The focus is on the market, the consumers, on doing what’s right and hence we’re able to move quickly and compete effectively in the market. We’ve also focused on empowering our people and that is very important. Without a strong and open culture, without complete alignment of what the company stands for and empowering its people to do what’s right for the company, choosing the right growth path won’t matter.
Being a family led organisation, almost every single person in my core team has been there since the day I formed the team almost 18 years ago. If you ask why they’ve been part of the organisation for so long, I’d say it’s because the vision of the company and the passion for our brands is not just amongst the owners. The vision is owned by our people, the passion is ignited in our people and that is not something you can buy or define. Empowering our people and nurturing passion in them is part of our culture, it’s how we believe in leading and that has a significant impact on how we drive our business forward. So if one wants to transform businesses and grow at a pace not believed to be possible in the industry, nothing can drive that more than empowering and nurturing passion in your people and through your people.
I think that all of these things is what makes us a really good company, it makes us a company that can really push and drive our goals.
What does a great company look like? Parle Agro could be called a great company when we are able to sustain the same level of connection and emotion even after growing two or three times our current size. Having that real connection with your people and consumers gives you an edge. In all honesty, I feel we can still have that connection even after becoming three times or four times larger and that would make us a really great company. Continuing to stay focused on an aggressive vision but also creating larger number of enablers to achieve that vision whether it is in terms of technology or culture can help achieve this goal.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great?
There are four points I’d like to share based on my experiences. The first and most important point is question everything; not just what’s going wrong but more importantly, what’s going right. You have to raise your standards and aim for superior level in what you do if you want to transform from good to great.
The second most important thing is change, being adaptive. Businesses that fail to embrace change can easily wind up being out of touch and unable to compete in the market and meet the ever-changing needs of the customers. While change is inevitable, it is something that is hugely resisted in general. To drive change, you need to work with a team that is open minded and willing to change. But change cannot be achieved through top-down mandate. It’s a movement. When transforming a system in the company, or getting people to adopt a new practice, you have to be able to implement that by influencing them in the correct way — by demonstrating the idea in action, by inspiring them and making them see the need for it and then taking it forward.
The third important thing is to be relentless. It sounds so simple ‘good to great’, but in reality this is by far, the most challenging thing to do. You have to go from redefining good to mediocre and redefining great to being good. You have to be absolutely intolerant of anything that is mediocre and be relentless in not giving up on your vision. That could get extremely frustrating, exhausting and tiresome but you have to really fight for greatness and redefine all your standards to be able to achieve it.
The fourth very critical element is being flexible. To transform from being just a good company to becoming a great company, you have to be flexible in your methods. You have to be flexible with the overall approach because not everybody can work with a certain level of rigidity, not everybody can just switch from one to the other overnight. Hence being flexible and remapping the road towards achieving a level of greatness is vital.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
We live in a highly competitive world. Having a definitive purpose makes you stand out from others brands or businesses, it is a core differentiator. I feel purpose does more than making a brand unique. It defines a business’ evolutionary path and highlights how the company aims to progress and transform itself. Purpose also make us ambitious towards a goal which the organization, its employees and its customers can strive for together. This boosts passion, drives more innovation, and is more energizing for all connected to the organization.
What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Every single company is at the risk of going stagnant, no exceptions. But one has to sense the early signs of this standstill or stagnation. In different businesses and different industries, the signs are going to be different, but you have to program it into your analytics, into your studies of your business performance to actually identify any hint of these signs
Sometimes, standstill is also out of a certain level of complacency that sets in within the organisation. So it’s not just about looking at the performance of a brand or of a business, but also looking at the performance of your own people and the attitude of your people towards the business as that can also lead to standstill or stagnation.
In terms of restarting engines, that is a subject that’s very close to my heart. There was a time when our largest selling brand, our flagship was being questioned. It had become “fuddy duddy” and had started stagnating, losing relevance. It was the toughest task I’ve had to do, because Frooti wasn’t one of the brands that I had conceptualized. It was one with a huge history, it was as old as I was then, and it came with a lot of baggage. But at the same time I knew that I had to be brave enough, bold enough and convinced enough to really shake off the old and build in a strong new vision, new identity and almost renew the brand altogether. I worked with many companies in India to try and renew the brand. But every company I worked with also came with as much history — every single company who spoke to me started their conversation with — I remember Frooti from my child hood. And that’s when I decided that I needed to break out of all of that. I stepped out of India and engaged a company that had no experience working with us, had no idea how large a part of India Frooti was, or the fact that it was our largest beverage brand. I briefed them and six months later we introduced a whole new Frooti with a brand new Marketing Strategy that took Frooti from being a sluggish brand to becoming the 2nd largest fruit drink brand in the country, that’s still working its way to the number 1 spot. The revival of Frooti was like the revival of our entire company, and this growth impacted the entire organisations growth.
So you have to find ways to break all the barriers. And often there are imaginary barriers that are put there in front of you — You have to question everything and go that extra mile until you achieve what you think is right for your business and brands.
I believe that sometimes the level of success is strongly linked to the level of risk you are willing to take. Or on how far out of your comfort zone you are willing to explore.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
There are numerous points that I could share in response to this question but honestly, I would say that what has helped us through the tough times is the fact that we are extremely cautious during the good times and that is really critical. We don’t lose control during good times. This isn’t to say that we don’t take risks, or that we are very conservative in terms of how we expand on our spending structure for our business. We are very aggressive. But at the same time we are aware and cautious of what we are doing. We think things through. The more careful you are during the good times, the better are your chances of survival during the bad times. The difference in approach is in short term vs long term success.
Another big factor for our success is that we always strive for scale and efficiency. Even when we associate with different partners for our various business divisions, we look at people who understand and appreciate the fact that we are focusing on building scale and efficiency.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
In my experience, I think the most underestimated aspect of running a company is empowering people. For me, in my own personal-professional journey, nothing has been more satisfying than hearing your own vision and your own voice through others who own it as passionately and are able to drive it probably as aggressively or even more aggressively than you yourself. I think that is one of the most satisfying results. And that is when you as a leader, are able to expand your business and focus on larger areas that need your attention.
I also believe that organizations can grow exponentially by empowering their people, much like what Barack Obama spoke about in his book, ‘A Promised Land’. His presidential campaign was led by the motto “Respect. Empower. Include” — just three words, so simple yet so powerful. When employees feel empowered at work, it benefits both the people and the organization. It leads to stronger job performance, higher job satisfaction and deeper commitment to the organization. The corporate vision becomes their own vision and for them to know that they have the opportunity to further build on that vision together, that changes everything.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Conviction and Passion are the. two biggest enablers towards higher conversions. Conversions happen when others know and see ‘why’ you do what you do and not only ‘what’ you do and that only comes to the surface when there is passion and conviction in you. It’s what makes you credible and help builds loyalty. It’s what keeps you moving forward despite any obstacles and challenges.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
To start with, we’re an Indian company. I remember a lot of our own people comparing us to “MNCs”, Multi-National Companies and believing in their minds that there was a superiority attached to them. At that point in time, I did road shows, I went with every single one of our sales teams and to every one of our distributors only to build a greater conviction in Parle Agro, to build greater belief in Parle Agro and greater love for Parle Agro. We have actually broken the myth, walked the talk and taken MNCs head-on and that has allowed us to increase our conversion rate to a large degree. Through our relentless efforts, we got the people to believe in the value of our brands, the power of our brands and in our company mission and vision. And most of all, to feel proud of our Indian Origin.
To earn the reputation as a trusted and beloved brand, you have to deliver every single time. There is nothing that can compare to that. I think reputation and being a loved brand requires a different formula across different categories, different businesses and different industries. For us, it has been about being extremely quality conscious with our products, being extremely connected with the market to know what the market needs and having the speed to deliver as per the needs. It’s been about servicing all our channel partners, our retailers and our consumers efficiently.
We all know that the supply chain in India is very complex. FMCG as a category caters to more than 9 million stores across the country and that is very challenging when it comes to building trust and delivering across such a vast expanse of retail space. That is really what the heart of most FMCG companies in India is. The ability to service your retail service network across the country efficiently and being reliable in your methods in doing so.
Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
For our brands, customer experience starts with the product. It starts from the moment customers are exposed to the packaging, experience the marketing and even when they’re buying the product. Customer experience is multi-dimensional. The way they consume the product, the ease at which they purchase the product and the price that they pay for it, all contribute to the overall experience of the customer. But most important of all is the moment they consume the product. The first feeling they experience when they actually drink your product accounts for one of the most crucial customer experiences. Thus, every aspect of the consumer’s exposure and interaction with the product adds to the overall experience of the customer.
In terms of service, for brand like ours, a large part of our customer service is to make sure that our product is available at every place where a customer would want to access our product. Thus, our brands are available in multiple SKUs and in over 1.9 million outlets across India to cater to different occasions, needs and demographics of the consumer.
What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Social media has grown to become a very powerful tool, but at the same time a very dangerous tool as well. I do agree that it is a tool that can risk impacting a brand’s reputation tremendously. In our case, we also associate with large celebrities who endorse our brands and when events happen in their lives, that too quite often, has had a direct impact on our brand and the liking for our brand which is expressed on social media. So yes, it is extremely sensitive.
But at the same time, social media has delivered a lot of value to brands, to people and to businesses of all kinds. Over a period of time, perhaps with more regulation on social media and possibly a code of conduct, things could get streamlined. Additionally, social media is a constantly evolving medium for brands. A smart integration of advertising and marketing to the platform is the best form of social media presence you can have for a brand. When you are integrated into the platform, you are integrated into the consumers’ lives seamlessly versus constantly hammering the consumer with communication and information. So a lot of engagement and activations through social media can work really well for brands.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
The most common mistakes I’ve seen that CEOs and founders make when they start a business is being short sighted. Perhaps one of the easiest things to do is to start a business, but the most challenging part is to actually build it for the long term and ensure that you can sustain the business growth, sustain being relevant to the market and keep growing for many years to come. Most often people start businesses based on trends or so called trends which could simply be a fad at that moment and may seem as an opportunity. But most often they are short lived. They say it takes just an idea to start a business, but to know how to build a business and run operations effectively is very critical too.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger
Recently, I had an opportunity to interact with a few people who are part of the UN ‘HeForShe’ movement. I think that it is one of the most powerful movements out there and it is perhaps a movement that could trigger so much in so many different ways and have a huge impact on our society. I wish there was a way to scale up the movement and see more of it in action and I would love to be a part of that. I do believe that even if I look at our own family, we are three daughters who have taken over the business and in the absolute truest of sense of the term, it is HeForShe. Our father, the He for us, the She and that’s really what has enabled the successful continuation of his business.
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!