THE CUSTOMER IS NO LONGER THE KING, HE OWNS THE BRAND


vyasIn an interview with WCRC Leaders Asia, Bedraj Tripathy, Senior General Manager, Advertising & Communication, Godrej Interio, shares the brand’s plans and his take on life
with Viral Vyas

It has been a few years now since Godrej Interio was established. How has the journey been so far?
Ever since its inception in 2008, it has been interesting. The thought process behind forming Godrej Interio stemmed from the fact that we used to have two businesses: one was dealing purely in office furniture and the other one was of storewels which is storage for homes. Then, both of them were merged as a furniture group. Luckily, it has not been a story of ups and downs but one of just ups as the market has grown. Almost 87 per cent of the market is unorganised while 13 per cent is controlled by branded players. Thus, the market is very large and the oppor39tunity to grow is large as well. In fact, until five years back, the unorganised market was as large as 93 per cent. So this growth is a good sign and the market will continue to grow.
What has led to this growth?
There have been a couple of factors at work. Cheap imports from outside have played a role. So people have moved out from carpentered to cheaper furniture which is available readymade, have burnt their fingers and then said let’s buy a product that offers quality. The other aspect is changing lifestyles. People today don’t have the time to spare months for a quality piece to be built. This is where quality readymade furniture helps.
What are the challenges that you face while dealing in both B2B as well as B2C products?
The challenges for both are completely different. The challenges for B2C are distribution, brand differentiation and customer service. Customer service is the key. If we sell a product and if the installation guy comes after a month, then we have lost the customer. Some customers prefer that their product is delivered on a Sunday. So, that has to be taken care of. We simply can’t say that we don’t work on Sundays. We have to because in the customer’s mind it is service. From the customer being the king, we have moved a step forward. Today, the customer owns the brand, owns the product. We need to identify customer voices and their demands and requirements on a continuous basis. In B2B, the biggest challenge lies in distribution serviceability to the sector. You might have a small requirement like two chairs for an ATM but we have to deliver. Sometimes, you have to reach places where connectivity becomes an issue but you need to find ways to make sure you deliver. Thus, this becomes a big challenge in B2B.
A part of the budget goes into experimental marketing. Can you share some details with us?
Approximately 40 per cent of the budget are kept for experiments. Experiments are important because some products are required not just to make money but to build your image. We also have an app on Google Play that can be downloaded and a customer can see how a particular product will look at his home in a particular place. It works on augmented reality.
With all the challenges that
corporates face today, stress levels are at an all time high. How do you manage to de-stress yourself?
What is important is to deal with it rather than running away from it. It’s a choice you make wherein you decide if you want that stress or you don’t want that stress. Planning your schedule helps in a big way. You need to plan things and figure out your schedules well, because at the end of the day there will be stress in every industry. This has more to do with the choices you make and how you deal with it. Personally, I like to meditate. It helps me. Cooking is something that I feel is a great stress reliever. Sometimes the stress is also out of your control. If a customer demands something, you have to give it to him. You can’t say, “I am on a vacation” or “I am not working today”. Emergencies or some situations may arise that may be out of your control but you learn to deal with it. You have to figure out ways to deal with it.
What, according to you, are
hallmarks of a good leader?
The biggest hallmark of a quality leader is in setting an example for
others. If a leader only speaks through words but his actions do not back them up, it won’t help in the long run. A good leader must also have a bird’s eye view. He must look at people who are contributing in small ways but are able to think big and beyond. Lastly, a good leader should be able to monitor without getting involved in it. The moment he gets involved in the process, he is working on it when he is not supposed to and at the same time he is not letting the other person learn. Thus, he has to be able to monitor without poking his nose in the process.
Speaking of leaders, who are some of the leaders in and outside the corporate world who have really inspired you?
Nandan Nilekani is someone I admire. The fact that he was thinking about the social security number and working towards implementing it was commendable. Mr and Mrs Ambrose, a teacher couple who taught me in school, have also influenced my life a lot. I learnt a lot from my father J. N. Tripathy who worked for the state electricity board in the power generation department.
His ability to deal with stress and his commitment towards his job are a few things I always admired and learnt a lot from. He also taught me how to cut off from work which is something that people in the corporate world really need to figure out. You need to have time for yourself at the end of the day. You need to rejuvenate after finishing your work.

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