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“All C-Suite Executives Need To Be Marketing”

MTR Foods’ Sunay Bhasin is a firm believer that the current times call for “collaborating and driving a company’s growth agenda together”. In this chat with BW Businessworld, he states that not only the CEO and the CMO must partner to co-own the growth agenda, but that all C-suite executives need to be marketing officers, focusing on customer centricity. Excerpts:

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How should CMOs look to drive growth in tough times?

Any leader, including marketing leaders, have to become very practical and real when businesses come under pressure. All costs must be evaluated to meet objectives. You have to really understand what can drive growth when business dynamics change rapidly. Last year, for example, reality was redefined many times over. In the food category alone, every week brought a new trend. When you are in such a fast moving world, it would be foolish to go all guns blazing. MTR is a multi- category company. We realised it was relevant and important that we continue talking to our consumers, whether digitally or traditionally. Consumers were seeking reassurances on safety and security.

And to continue to build the trust factor, we needed to be salient. At the same time, organization resources also had to be protected. The result was that we created a plan to channelise all our resources.

Do you mean when you deployed the ‘one MTR’ campaign?

Yes, this was in the initial part of the crisis. The ‘one MTR’ campaign combined our might in similar markets and different categories, while playing efficiently. By July, we had clear consumer trends, and we shifted our focus to innovation in order to address consumer gaps and strengthen our product portfolio. Then some form of normalcy returned later in the year. So, while there were highs and lows through the year, in the bigger picture, we were back on growth agenda. Our long-term strategy has still not changed, and we are driving our core competencies. As people came to terms with the pandemic, so did the marketers by embracing the shifts in consumer behaviour.

What advice do you have for marketers that are still looking to get on the growth agendas?

Be the voice of the consumer and solve for everyone as true partners. Every marketer is part of an ecosystem, and they must understand what they need to solve for. Marketing objectives are linked to organisations’ objectives. There is a guardrail and if you achieve within that, then half the battle is won. The whole concept of partnership is to add value to every function. At MTR, we at marketing pride ourselves in understanding the consumer pulse better than anyone else. Our consumer connect exercises help us to know what consumers are looking for, and the clear opportunities these bring,


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marketing mtr magazine 20 April 2021 digital