SAUMITRA PRASAD – Chief Marketing Officer, Kokuyo Camlin
For a business how important is marketing and how have you been contributing towards the next level for growth of Kukoyo Camlin?
Stationary industry, especially when I joined KukoyoCamiln, i.e. three and half years back was very trade oriented. In the history of Camlin, we used to invest very less on consumers and we were extremely trade oriented except for some of our properties like Camel Art contest which was world’s largest art competition to connect with children. Later a lot of new age players like ITC joined and their approach was like FMCG players and then there were international brands coming in like Faber Castle and against brand Camlin, which was the oldest stationery brand in India. Also today’s children are quiet powerful in the choices they make. So our orientation has changed while we have not moved away completely from being trade on trade to consumer oriented but actually have invested a lot in consumers. We believe it is a healthy balance between the trade push and consumer pull which is going to help us fight the competition at large.
How has marketing changed over the years like when you started off probably as a marketing manager to your role as a CMO? How has industry transformed?
In the last 15 years every category is becoming clustered with too many players. 15 years back in an industry there might be 3 key players per category, today there will be 10 players. Therefore, competition is drastically increasing both nationally as well as internationally. The category is becoming clustered and everyone is looking at innovative ways in media to actually gain the preference of the consumers because the shares of expense are not increasing but the task on getting the shares of market is increasing. So in such a scenario actually marketers are trying to redefine the markets.
One thing in your industry you want to change and one thing you don’t want to change?
One thing I want to retain is that cost of entry is very less because of which you can get as many innovative products as you want from china or any other market and of course make it domestic as well. And this is very good for the industry because consumers at the end of it get to experience the most innovative and most exciting products. The thing I would like to change is the unhealthy balance in the investment of what goes from the consumer spending to the trade spending. I think lot of marketing pandits and lots of business gurus have said that if in any industry margins on trade are more than 20%, that industry is looking for a big transformation and in our industry sometimes it is as high as 40% – 50%. So I am sure this industry is definitely looking for a transformation.
What is a Sunday to you?
Answer: Sunday is not completely deprived of work. I always look forward for that Sunday when I don’t need to touch my laptop. But that’s very rare. There are so many things happening, so many challenges and the life as it goes, so it’s about working the work life balance and trying to find the misbalance.(Laughs)
You are in a creative industry, you need to churn out of new ideas, so how creatively inclined you are yourself?
I used to have many hobbies even earlier, both in school level and college level for writing, little bit of sketching and painting as well. It definitely helps me when we are looking at creative solutions to lot of new problems. In my own team as well as in the partners with agencies we try to create culture that is very creative and often meet to share creative ideas to create occasions so we should not lose out creative vigor in ourselves.
Are you a follower of traditional media or the modern age media?
My answer might look very cliché when I say “a good balance of both” because while I have been a FMCG marketer so I have always invested a lot on television and I have also been open to social media which is been emerging in the recent years. I definitely find that not only in adults but children have also surprised me because when we started our Facebook page, in one year we had enormous fans considering other brands of the country for the adults.
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