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BW Businessworld

“Finding Opportunity In Crisis”

Jayen Mehta reminds that his company, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, has ‘marketing federation’ in the company name itself, a feat that several Fortune 500 companies cannot claim. If anything, this is a clear signal that all top leaders in this cooperative are “hard-nosed marketers, aiming to sell the product not only in India, but around the world”. Excerpts:

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Amul has changed with time to stay relevant. How has marketing changed over time for you?

Given the sheer nature of the company, which is a cooperative body representing 36 lakh farmers, marketing plays a core role in Amul towards identifying business opportunities and bringing value to the federation. We have undergone transformation several times, right from when India was liberalised, from when marketing definitions were undergoing change to when there was accelerated digital and technological growth. Transformation can be in multiple forms, but the core need is to understand consumers.

Amul did not pause during the crisis. How did you approach it?

Dr Verghese Kurien (Amul’s founder) taught us to find an opportunity in every crisis. During the pandemic, our office was open for 365 days, and I have attended office every single day. More importantly, the 36 lakh farmers, from 18,500 villages, 85 dairy plants, more than 25,000 col- leagues, 5,000 tanker drivers, 10,000 distributors and a million retail out- lets were all up and running during this time. This gave us an opportunity to highlight and showcase the strength of the brand and build consumer trust.

The country was in lockdown, but it needed milk. It was a necessity. We realised this, and hence we knew we had to be available and visible.

Was this the reason why you were so aggressive also in your advertising in the last year?

We were the largest advertiser on TV on genres such as news and general entertainment. We were the only ones to begin print advertising, when no one else was doing it. We were on radio, and even out of home. We sponsored Ramayana and Mahabharat the day they were launched.

And the metrics we got was equivalent three years of GRP in a third of the spend. This was 10 times the viewership of the IPL at a hundredth of the cost for full three months.

On digital platforms, we created about 90,000 minutes of original content.

There are 10 million people coming to the show, making it a platform in its own right and continues to be so even now. We went any place that the consumer went by being present, and by bringing our voice. This helped us in not only further building brand trust but also in creating more meaningful relations with our consumers.