Tell us something about Rotomac.
Rotomac today is not only into writing instruments but has become a multi-commodity trading house. We’ve diversified into trading of various things like coal, iron ore, limestone, heavy melting scarp, etc. The group’s promoters and the senior management are focussed on raising the bar for Rotomac with its global presence. In 1992, Rotomac started its journey by manufacturing pens. In time, it has grown into a global enterprise, comprising six Group companies which deal in products and services, ranging from entertainment to real estate to food and fragrances.
What was the biggest difficulty you faced while establishing Rotomac’s brand name?
As a brand, we are not just buying and selling. So when someone else comes along with cheaper and better products, customers normally leave. You must earn the loyalty and trust of your customers. So, it is essential to understand your customers, give them what they want and be their friend. We have been in this business for over 20 years and to continue to get the consumers’ attention in the current scenario is very challenging due to shifting market trends, shifting lifestyle trends, shifting media trends and shifting sources of consumer insights. And all this has to be managed while keeping an eye on costs as well as quality. This makes us keep our four manufacturing facilities up-to-date with quality control as well as the latest technology.
What values does Rotomac as a brand represent and how do you manage to communicate the same to your customers?
People very strongly associate the brand with the very popular Raveena Tandon ad that had run on television 20 years back. Rotomac was the first brand that understood the importance of branding and promotions back then and this gave birth to the still popular catchy tagline, “Likhte Likhte Love Ho Jaye”. After doing a comprehensive survey that included the consumers as well as our channel partners, we concluded that Rotomac stands for uncompromised quality, innovation and the heritage of being the oldest pen brand. In every brand communication, we clearly state the innovative technology used and give the assurance of best quality to our consumers. For me, these pens are not mere writing instruments, they are instruments that inspire people to create.
What’s the annual turnover of your brand? Where do you exactly see the brand going in the next five years?
Today Rotomac is an $25 million brand, with approximately 13 per cent market share and an average growth of 25 per cent per annum. For the next five years, we will be focusing more on strengthening our presence in the rural and export markets.
We are planning to open a facility in Sri Lanka and are also looking at tapping the markets of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Male and Madagascar. Also, by opening some facilities in Brazil and Ethiopia, we see ourselves growing more in Latin American and African markets.
As writing instruments is a competitive industry where there are low consumer involvement products, we are more focussed on increasing consumer loyalty by providing quality products like we have always been doing
How important do you think has been the role of the employees at Rotomac in bringing success to the brand?
They are extremely important. Employees are like the fulcrum, they can have tremendous effect on sales and profitability, both positive and negative. Therefore motivating my employees is a very crucial part of my business. A motivated workforce means a highly productive staff, all of which will help us achieve our business goals. And this should be the main objective in every organisational and business plan. There have been times where, because the employees are closest to the customers, they have given us useful feedback about what they really value and whether or not there is a disconnect between our strategy and reality.
What kind of a leader do you think one needs to be in order to make a business successful?
Leadership is one’s capacity to translate his or her vision into reality. I firmly believe that effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results and not attributes. You lead by example, being able to not only use your voice, but also use your actions, to make people follow you as your lead. This is the ability to translate intention into reality.
It’s a taxing job no doubt, managing a brand and people. How do you cope up with the stress?
I tend to live a very busy life. Meditation and Yoga keep me focussed on what’s important.
The main reason why people must meditate is that if you can fully concentrate on the job, you will be more effective as a leader. You will make better decisions and you will work better with another person.
It’s about training our minds to be more focussed, to see with clarity, to have space for creativity and to feel connected.
India hasn’t seen the rise of many iconic brands recognised globally. Why do you think is that?
Most Indian brands follow local demand instead of innovating and inculcating global consumer insights into their offerings. We have some of the largest selling brands in terms of volume but merely volume doesn’t make the brand global. It is brands with a clear differentiation and deep-rooted insight that are truly global. Unlike their western counterparts, there is little innovation that Indian brands actually do. Reaching genuine global scales requires capital and resources that most Indian brands lack.
It is something that they will gather over a period of time. One also cannot ignore the fact that for a huge period of time, the Indian economy was closed to outsiders. It was only after the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation of the Indian economy in the early 1990s that Indian brands started harbouring global ambitions. Therefore, the global consumer understanding is not yet fully developed. You need an idea that is globally relevant. This means having a clear understanding of different markets, mindsets and abilities to deal with them. The Indian economy, the tenth largest in the world, accounts for merely two per cent of global trade. It will take time for us to churn out some really big global names.