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Interview: Ramesh Chembath, AVP - Sales & Marketing, Godrej Appliances

“Contextual advertising riding on innovation along with co-creations will be the drivers for Godrej home appliances”

Surbhi Chawla | Delhi | January 5, 2012

The home appliances segment in India was under some pressure all through 2011. Increasing input costs and the depreciating rupee are indicators that this year too may not be one to look forward to. However, Godrej as a brand has continued to stay on the growth path and is confident of riding the storm. In an interview with BestMediaInfo, Ramesh Chembath, Assistant Vice President - Sales and Marketing, Godrej Appliances, explains how innovation is at the heart of all that the company does. And how this DNA helps the brand to stay relevant in the market and give stiff competition to the multinationals.

What are the marketing innovations that Godrej has adopted in the recent past?

There are a couple of things that I would like to point out. If you look at our tagline, which we had adopted recently, it says “designed by curiosity”. So, we want to bring in innovation in the DNA of the organisation and it stems from basic fundamentals. Actually, innovation has been in our DNA right from the 1950s when we made our entry into appliances. The idea is not just to have innovation in our tagline but we should be able to answer the questions that our customers ask us. When you try to answer the question that a consumer has in terms of his needs and wants, one basically gets curious and starts innovating so as to fulfil his needs. So, through both conventional and unconventional routes we always try to do something new.

We were the first in film branding. We started with ‘Luck by chance’. We brought in Hrithik Roshan and built a whole concept around that. We had launched consumer promos around the same time. Alladin was our next movie, and of late we have done some promotions with Ready, Ra.One and Mausam. In terms of innovation, contextual advertising is an approach for us. Secondly, we believe in co-creation and brand buddies. There are opportunities for everyone to work together and for that, we try to work out what is the twist that suits you and me. So it can be Jagran and Godrej coming together and targeting the same audience set. Co-creation is something that we very strongly believe in and are working on.

Going forward, are we going to see a lot of promotions for Godrej products in movies?

We have not really planned it that way. Ultimately what has to be kept in mind is that the attention span of the consumer is decreasing and he is not spending too much time looking at advertisements. We need to identity opportunities where we can talk to him in a manner where he’s much more receptive to our communication and does not find it intrusive. If one talks about television today, the consumer has the opportunity to swap channels. The consumer today does not want to be told, he wants you to listen to what he wants. So we have to figure out mediums and develop communication to which the consumer will be receptive. The communication should be something that he’s interested in and makes him feel different. So, when you do something with movies, then he feels that this thing is done differently. For example, what we did with Ready was all about music. When we did that, we created an entire proposition around Ready. It is an interesting way of putting forward that you have a music refrigerator. Right now movies are working for us and are a cost-effective means, so we are talking it as a platform. But when IPL came as a platform, we were the first to get on it because we wanted that kind of reach to happen. We are looking at possible platforms that will help us fulfil our needs.

Godrej is one of the few brands to try an innovative approach in the online media in the form of GoJiyo and has been quite an active brand in the social medium. How are you using these right now to connect with your target group?

Today, India is one of the youngest countries in the world. A good 44 per cent of the population is in the age group of 15-30 years, and that is the TG that we are targeting right now. So, this is also contextual. When one is talking to a customer, the messaging has to be contextual and should be available on the platform that he likes. Most of our consumers today are spending a good amount of time online through different mediums like Facebook and search. That means that even I need to be present there. The consumer will see me as a part of his life only if he sees me there. We do have a heavy presence on Facebook and we engage our customers continuously on this platform.

Godrej also had come out with an AFP (advertiser funded programme) in the form of ‘Godrej Khelo Jeeto Jiyo’ on Star Network. Any plans for another AFP or the second season of the same in the near future?

We had done ‘Godrej Khelo Jeeto Jiyo’ to have heavy engagement with consumers. This was done last year. This year we came out with Godrej Cricket League. There was an engagement exercise during the IPL wherein consumers could participate and earn points. Today, the consumer connect with the brand is not just in terms of an advertisement. We are creating platforms where we can engage with our target groups and we create our strategy based on that.

Going forward, what can we expect from Godrej, in terms of the product launches and marketing?

As a company our endeavour is to ensure that the consumer believes that he has a stake in the brand. Today, a consumer should be seen as a part of the brand and not a buyer with a relationship. We do a lot of research to understand what the consumer needs and based on these we are coming out with products that offer convergence. We see a big opportunity in convergence products. We had launched a refrigerator that had music, a TV set which has built-in motion sensing games, a washing machine that can even clean your leather boots, and we also brought a steam microwave for the first time in India. The idea is to delight our customers through these products.

There is plenty of competition in the appliances market. How is Godrej pitted in terms of the competition?

It’s a fiercely competitive market that we are in and the opportunity lies in giving customers a value proposition. There was a time when people used to talk about value for money. Today, the consumer has reached a stage where he wants money for value, that is, you give me value, I will give you money. So, we are looking at giving that opportunity to our consumer and we have seen that consumers are willing to splurge a little extra money if they see value in it. Our objective is to come up with products that excite them and that also differentiate us from the marketplace. `This is why we are growing at 29 per cent while the market is growing at 14 per cent. In refrigerators we grew by 8-9 per cent, in air-conditioners we are growing at a CAGR of 35-40 per cent, in washing machines we grew last year at a CAGR of almost 45 per cent. So, in all segments we are ahead of the market.

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