RS Sodhi, who recently stepped down as the Managing Director (MD) at Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Amul), thanked the dairy giant for providing him with the opportunity to serve for over 40 years.
In an exclusive conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, Sodhi shared his memories and journey at Amul.
"I was already on an extension for the last two years and there was a mutual agreement that I can leave whenever needed. So, I had a discussion with the board and it was decided that I can leave, so I resigned," Sodhi said.
With Sodhi’s exit, Jayen Mehta has taken over the charge temporarily..
Mehta has been associated with Amul for the past 31 years and is currently its chief operating officer (COO). Earlier, he had served as the company's brand manager, group product manager and general manager in marketing functions.
Upon being asked for his views about the next line of leadership at Amul, Sodhi said, "Jayen Mehta is a veteran at Amul. He is very experienced and capable. So, Amul is in very good hands."
Sodhi said it was not at all a difficult decision to leave Amul as he will be working on assignments for the federations and organisations he is associated with.
RS Sodhi's tenure at Amul
"I was born in a village in Punjab and nobody can get the type of responsibilities and independence I got at Amul. Whatever recognition and fame I have earned, I owe it to the farmers of Gujarat," Sodhi said.
Furthermore, he went on to state, "When I joined Amul, the turnover was Rs 121 crore and in 2010 when I became the Managing Director, the turnover was Rs 8,000 crore. This year, on the basis of nine months, I can say that the turnover will be around Rs 71,000 crore."
Major highs and lows during Sodhi’s tenure
Amul did a major expansion outside Gujarat. Otherwise, the milk procurement and processing were done in Gujarat majorly, Sodhi stated.
"Three strategies helped us achieve what we are today - Expansion in procurement, processing and distribution," he added.
Sodhi also highlighted that during Covid-19, only Amul was procuring, processing and distributing milk with an uninterrupted supply.
"We keep on facing challenges very regularly but the biggest challenge for us is how to balance the demands of farmers for high prices and consumers' expectations for low prices. This will continue to be a challenge for Amul," Sodhi said.
How has Sodhi’s experience in marketing helped Amul expand?
Sodhi said that Amul's media is unique and the type of creativity the dairy giant does in the media selection is also good.
"Our investments in sports events have given the brand a totally different image. Covid-19 was the best time for the brand building when we doubled our budget and it was only Amul which was visible across all the media," Shodhi stated.
"We have sponsored many cricket teams as well. We have always been at the forefront in such events and we'll continue doing this," he added.
Family-oriented advertising by Amul
Sodhi said that Amul targets adults, youth, housewives and children as well. Hence, its advertisements have been very family-oriented.
"It is very difficult to position a brand across not only age groups but also socio-economic sectors," he added.
Upon being asked about Amul's investments and how Sodhi's association with the dairy giant fed out for him, he said, "Our media agency has done a wonderful job. Whatever investments we have made in various events and properties, I think what we got is much more than what we invested."
Sodhi on Amul’s relationship with IPG
"When you work in a creative agency, they become a part of the family. It's not that you keep on trying new things. Somewhere you may find some deficiency is there or improvement area is there. So, just like you do in families, you discuss and tell them about these things," Sodhi said.
Sodhi highlighted that Amul is a brand that is now catering to the fourth generation of consumers.
"It is a premium but affordable brand and Amul has shown that you don't need deep pockets to build a brand," he added.
One mantra for Indian brands and new-age marketers
Sodhi said that firstly, consistency in your communication has to be there. Secondly, brand building is a continuous exercise so never stop during that process, Sodhi stated.
“Brand building is a brick-by-brick exercise. You cannot build a national brand overnight. Have patience and persistence," Sodhi said.
Sodhi’s 40 years journey at Amul
Sodhi said that job satisfaction and the kind of respect he received while working at Amul made him stay for all these years.
"Besides money, you also feel that you are working for somebody who really needs you, trusts you, respects you and values your contribution. Also, you are directly working for somebody's livelihood," Sodhi added.
Sodhi also pointed out that now that he has stepped down as the MD, he does not have any plans to become an investor.
"All these 40 years have been a memory for me as a whole. I joined at the age of 22-23 in Jaipur to take over marketing at Voltas till today when I am retired, this journey has been like a movie," Sodhi said.
Sodhi had first joined Amul in 1982 as a senior sales officer. From 2000-2004, he served as its general manager (marketing) and in June 2010, he was elevated to the MD.