What, according to you, is the essence of being a business leader?
Leadership is all about creating a meaning. It is all about creating a larger sense of purpose for the team or the organisation. Leadership is about individual ability to influence, motivate and enable others to create or achieve success. In today’s world, the environment in which a business operates is becoming more and more complex and uncertain. It is the job of the leader to create, to transform thinking of their team by giving it direction and clarity, and to learn to accept that change is the only constant. What works today will not work tomorrow.
What are the business challenges you face today?
The recent challenge that the brand is facing regarding a government regulation on condom pricing (Drugs and Price Control Order) has probably been the most difficult one. This decision of the government has completely changed the way we have been looking at our business model. This will impact innovation and discourage investment in developing or launching new products and will only look at cost efficiencies. As an organisation, we are looking at growing the business in new categories and new markets.
How central are people or employees to a brand?
People are the most critical resource and are the key levers that manage the business. An organisation, which is happy and engaged, will always give better results. It is extremely important to have people on the flow, get them to do what they love to do. It is up to the leader to ensure that he is deploying the best skills of the employees by allowing them to do what they like doing. The leader must also try to enhance their competence as this will ensure good results.
What is the first thing that strikes a consumer’s mind when he thinks of the brand? How do you make this clear through your brand communication?
The first thing that strikes a consumer’s mind is the relevance of the brand to the consumer. We use the 4R method to clearly communicate the brand message. The 4Rs are reality, relevance, resonance and reaction. Our brand message touches the deep consumer reality which is relevant to the consumer. This should resonate, positively enabling a reaction in terms of brand purchase. Building positive brand imagery by relating consumer insight with product proposition is achieved through brand communication.
What’s the annual turnover of the brand and where do you see things five years down the line? Please throw some light on the market share too.
KamaSutra is one of the fastest growing brands in the country and is now available in several product categories – condoms, deodorants and energy drinks. We have a respectable market position. KamaSutra is the second largest player in the condom segment with a 16.8 per cent market share while KS Deo is amongst the top 5 players in modern retail.
Leading and managing brand operations are extremely taxing roles. How do you work on your concentration levels? And what do you do to relax?
I work on my concentration levels through exercise and meditation. A regular walk in the morning does a world of good. For relaxation, one has to learn to ‘let go’ things in life. Managing operations demands extreme interpersonal skills. One has to appreciate that every person has his/her own strength and weakness. No one is perfect so one has to appreciate these universal realities. Recognising them can help one relax.
Although we have the talent and wherewithal, Indians have not managed to create an iconic brand like Google or Apple from the scratch. Where do you think we lose out?
In the west, failure is not blasphemy. However, the Indian ecosystem is a little less forgiving. But things are changing rapidly. We have home-grown brands such as Infosys, TATA, others who are making an impression globally. Constantly encouraging innovation and celebrating failure will help us get there. The US magazine FastCompany has ranked IPL 22nd among the list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies and businesses for 2010.