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BW Businessworld

“Meeting Consumer Needs Profitably”

Marketing is business, asserts the General Manager of Oral Care at Hindustan Unilever, Ashwath S. “Many a time, people tend to define marketing as making ads” he explains in this interview with BW Businessworld, advising that marketing is about “meeting consumer needs profitably”

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What are some of the biggest challenges that you see ahead for marketers and mar- keting professionals?

We need to stay real, have authenticity in everything we do. We need to keep reminding ourselves that after all, we are people serving people. Have a purpose that fits your brand and category because it is the right thing and not because it is fashionable. It is better to not have a purpose than to have an inauthentic one. Building sustainable businesses is a big need – do it honestly, make small starts but eventually make it a part of the business model.

What would you say have been the biggest lesson in a post crisis world?

To double down on basics. This includes creating winning products for people love, pricing it right and building brands that people cannot live without. Irrespective the market volatilities we have experienced or the challenges that categories has faced, it comes back to these basics. These, along with consistently building mental and physical reach while leveraging all the new channels and mediums that are emerging, are in my view the recipe to long term success.

Where do you place digital or data in this?

Sometimes I feel that digital and data are either overhyped or undermined without understanding the context. Can digital, big data and tech play a role in the marketing funnel? Yes. Can they work equally across all categories or brands? No. We should leverage digital for what traditional mediums did not allow us – to be less interruptive. We should use big data for understanding behaviours we could not earlier – like building a sci- ence around how trends travel across countries. And use tech to do things faster – like having multiple sources data analysed in seconds.

What is your own mantra, as a marketer, to stay ahead of the changes around you?

By staying curious about the people we serve, the changes in the environment and constantly experimenting with new things. It is fine if everything we try doesn’t work but at least one learns what not do again or what to do differently. As business leaders, our main aim is to solve real consumer problems.