Wednesday, 2 October 2013

My Internship at Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd.

After a year of theoretical training, MBA program gives us a chance to embark on internships in different companies. These internships are very imperative in nature. Especially for students like me, with no corporate experience, it gives us a very good opportunity to implement our classroom knowledge on the field.

I wanted my first taste of the corporate world to be challenging and there could be no better company than HCCBPL to provide that for me. Coke, as it is popularly known, is one of the biggest FMCG companies in the world. Getting to work for this company for two months was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

It started off well. I received an innovative project for market development. My work was to open a new channel for distribution for HCCBPL. The new channel was the distribution on tricycles, just like the channel used by ice cream vendors.

It sounded rather easy in my mind. Understand the ice cream model, make the model compatible for Coke, get a distributor to work for the company and start the test run. Well, within a few days into the project I realized how wrong I was.

Understanding the model was easy. I surveyed 30-35 cycle walas along with 10 odd distributors to know how they go about their work. Their margins, how they procure the product, how they maintain the stocks, average sales et cetera.

But now was the tough part. I realized that there are numerous bottlenecks to get this done. The margins were the biggest, the availability of distributors, the weather, stock outs were other issues.

Coca cola in itself is an institution of learning. Their success lies in their ‘constructive arrogance’. They don’t compromise and while negotiating, one will never find them bowing down. They will however, go out of the way to take care of their partners i.e. the distributors as they are their most important ‘customers’. They will make sure the stakeholders are happy but on the back of their minds, they never forget the points that differentiate them from their nearest competitors.

I learned immensely from my industry mentor there. He gave me full power to negotiate and make offers to the distributors on behalf of Coke. I was lucky enough to be present at meetings and learned a lot about distribution networks, hidden costs and most importantly, how to make business partners.

At the end, the test run was successful and hopefully, my project will come into implementation soon.

At last and by no way least, I would like to thank International Management Institute, Bhubaneswar to provide me with such an opportunity. I could not have asked for a better start to my corporate life.

2nd Year, PGDM

Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Now that we have got your attention, here’s our product.

The above lines are from a print advertisement from a certain company. Is it too out there? Is it too bold? Or is it just plain and simple weird?

Whatever people might call it, the line grabs attention. Sex and humor are considered to be the best forms to attract customers towards a product through advertisements and has become a thumb-rule in recent times.

An analogy can be derived through this in video marketing as well. Video marketing is often considered as the best form of showing your product to the end-consumer and thus increasing website traffic and lead generation. Some research show that lead generation can be increased through video marketing by as much as 70% if you have the right content, right medium and just the ‘coolest’ video.

So how do you make your video interesting? Well, here are a few points that can get you started:
1.      Have a simple idea: The video should convey a very simple idea. Don’t try to mix several concepts in a single video. A video should convey a single message and that’s about it.

2.    Story-telling: A story is what engages your audience. Keep the flow of your video smooth and in a certain direction, leading somewhere. Dis organised content or graphics may give hazardous results.

3.     High Production values: Even though your idea is beautiful, engagement of the target audience will not happen unless the video is good on aesthetics. High quality video, shot by a professional and properly edited and designed, will inevitably get more attention than a simple-dull video.

4.   Disruptions: Lastly, a few disruptions in certain videos may create interest in the customers’ minds. Be cautious of when and where to use them. You don’t want to change the mood of the audience through it, you want to make the video compelling. A disruption in graphics, music etc. in a power packed action video seems interesting but the same may cause bad results when used with an emotional message.

This must be enough to get someone started. Let’s make some videos now!

Saturday, 20 April 2013


IPL, for the last 6 years,  has been a phenomenon. We love it, and this 'Indian' league is a 'global' affair.

But what has amazed me is the outstanding response from the sponsors  A company has literally painted the whole nation blue by sponsoring this yearly extravaganza. Companies rush in and shell out crores of Rupees to get their name up there, to earn a 20 second ad space for themselves.

What really makes an event so huge? Why while some events, even if big, don't really have that rush of sponsors?

I guess the answer lies in the fact that the mileage given by events like IPL can not be given by many others. How many of us really remember an ad, or a logo unless and until it is shown to us day in and day out? IPL does that. 50 odd days of 'some brand sixer' and 'x-brand fours' and 'catches brought to you by x' etc etc. make us at least remember that brand.

And yeah, the power of storytelling (my previous post) always gives that advantage. Driving the incidence and making the population aware about you can be done by sponsoring such events. But I still wonder how sustainable is that when people remember so little about yesterday?

Friday, 19 April 2013

A moment to cherish, a time to remember.

The first time you got selected somewhere, the first time you kissed her, the 'only' time your teachers praised you are the times you remember, we like to remember and cherish.

Many marketing greats have identified the importance of 'storytelling'. There are products which are absolutely not a necessity. We can definitely live without them, but still we need them. And not just need them, they have become an integral part of our lifestyle. There are products, which, by connecting with the lives of people, make us believe that they are worth buying.

That's the power of storytelling. A logo tells a story, an ad tells a story, we often tell stories and make analogies to make some theoretical concepts clear to our peers.

Food and beverages companies have made a market just by telling stories. Companies are doing this more often now (seen the latest Godrej ad?). And why not? It works. It has worked for so many companies, so many times.

The empirical evidences clearly state that storytelling has become a necessity now.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Employees first!

I wonder if the things we read during our MBA are actually implemented by companies, managers and employees.

I went to a company's office and the talk of teams, culture etc. etc. seemed bull****. You go out there and they mean business. Sales, sales and sales. How to expand in the market and create new ones.

But we never seem to notice any talk of culture, preserving it and making the employees productive. Money seems to be the only motivating factor.

Well, it's good to say all this is wrong and culture does matter and is being talked about. But 'many' (surely not all) companies are only and only sales-strategy minded and still give customers priority over the employees.

BOTTOM LINE: Managers should always, and always give priority to their employees no matter what. You don't sell if you have dissatisfied employees. But I doubt many companies follow this model. Well, we know the ones which follow and they sure are on top of the charts as far as the sales, after sales and customer satisfaction is concerned.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Empty spaces!

A company like HUL, well, only HUL has a presence in 80% of the market in North-East India. The next best are some food and beverages giants with 18-20%.

There are few issues with food and beverages that stops their market to grow. Refrigeration and storage needs are the biggest and then, of course, convincing the happy bigger brand distributors to sell your product.

Whatever little knowledge I have gained by understanding the FMCG industry, I can say with decent enough confidence that two things are necessary to fill up the empty spaces of the market, to increase your penetration- innovation and distribution.

With innovation I mean out of the box thinking. Doing something that has never been done before. Generating weird ideas and making them productive.This can be done by inspiring, pushing and giving your employees the 'power to fail'. Ideas can only be generated in a free and open culture, rest assured if the ideas are weird.

And yes, distribution is the biggest tool for the FMCG industry. Safe to say a FMCG company can not survive unless there is a strong distribution network. Its importance can not be emphasized more upon. Other than the DSD and indirect distribution, we have been unable to find out ways to distribute.

If only we could mix innovation with distribution and get a new, improved way to keep cold drinks 'cold' in deserts, the empty spaces can be filled!    

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The paan-wala knows best!

It's amazing how whatever management grads learn sitting in the classroom is practiced day in and day out by the people selling vegetables and sutta on footpaths.

I was having a juice at a corner shop and the dressing of the shop made me wonder how they go about their business. Sustainability is such a big factor there. Thin margins, cutting-edge competition and the desperation to sell your product due to its life cycle. 

The shop is dressed in such a way that MBA grads take millions of classes to understand. Products are displayed for activation and of course, for letting the people know it's there. The shops are in a congested area, taking help from the competition and supporting products.The shelf spaces well occupied, the margins well taken care of, the finances being managed carefully.

It's amazing how much we can learn and understand just by understanding a corner shop's model of working. Well, classes are necessary, I believe. They make us understand how to look at things and understand them. Going in the field gives us a practical, hands-on experience of what is being done.

Monday, 15 April 2013

The power of NO

And finally, I bumped into a very meaningful and very insightful article: Check it out here.

The answer by Oliver Emberton gives a near point-by-point mantra of going about starting your company. The bottlenecks you have while going through the tough phases and the reason these bottlenecks are important, are well articulated in the article.

It emphasizes on the fact that we want to do a hundred things. As the ones just entering the field, we are tempted to do million things at once. Apple understood the power of saying NO, of keeping it simple. It's best when you are the "jack of all trades, master of 1". While starting your business, one should not focus one's energy in multiple fields. Start simple. And do, whatever small you do, in a very unique way.

As truly stated, there is a great power in the word NO. One will be tempted to do lucrative things. Will try to jump into all sorts of businesses. But one should understand his/her calling and the divident NO gives.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Permission vs. Interruption Marketing

I was wondering which one is better for you? Should I ask for your permission to send you the mail? But what if you say no?? What about my product?

There is an ongoing conflict between Permission Marketing and Interruption Marketing. Permission Marketing, as Seth Godin puts it, is not for mass. It's one on one, it's customized and people get to choose what they want to hear.

Whereas, Interruption will 'interrupt' you, makes you see the ad you never asked for while watching your favourite daily soap.

But is Interruption Marketing not important ( or effective)? Brands use the interruption marketing model to much success. It's irritating at times, but it works.

So what should a marketer do? Well, go for a good blend of both the worlds. Show you care but in doing so, don't forget that you have a solution to sell.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Create or Wait??

So what is the right thing to do? Acquire knowledge and then go into the field or go and have an on-the-go experience?
I often wonder how I wanted to start my own company and how I am waiting for a right moment. Right moment? Yes, so that I have the proper knowledge and skill set. So that I become self sufficient first.
On the other hand, why wait? Greats in the business are not all MBA grads, they never had the proper knowledge, they never waited!
A constant tussle in the mind. To complete the backlogs, to bury the burden or to just go with it leaving everything aside. Seeing off the loan is an agenda whereas to own a company is a dream. Guess will have to wait for the 'right moment'.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Everything happens for a reason!

I was reading about the dot-com bubble, the fibre optics revolution and so on. While going through them, I bumped into a statement made by Bill Gates in early 90s.

He accepted that dot-com innovation was just a bubble and so was the revolution by fibre optics companies. But, as he said, all these innovations gave individuals and companies more power. This power was recognised after the bubble blew away. Although the burst was short, it gave way to seamless and cheap communication.

Today, companies might win and lose in the battle of technology. It might happen that we, in 15 years down the line, don't even think about technology. But whatever we may talk about, the road to that is certainly made easier by the efforts of this generation. The generation of innovators.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

To whom to sell??

The market is full of choices. You go to buy a TV and you end up buying a 5.1 along with it. So how does a marketeer decide who to tap and what products to sell him?? The scenario has changed from 'everything that is supplied can be sold' to 'everything that can be supplied to the right buyer can be sold'.
You need to make solutions and not products. The the solution should not be for everyone.. It can not be for everyone. Tap the right crowd, the right tribe and sell your solution.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How much time do you have?

One fine day we think we have enormous time in our hands and the next day, the deadline is on your head.
We think the rise of IT has reduced the time we spent on a particular job. But are we really utilizing the time it has given us?? The time flies. Dawn to dusk is no more a 24 hour concept. Why? Is technology able to really increase our productivity or is it just taking over the 'manual' era without improving much on it??

Monday, 25 February 2013

Why businesses fail?

While going through several management articles, books and blogs of eminent business-men, 'strategy' seems such a small word. It's so darn easy.. isn't it?

Align your goals to the organizational vision and eureka! You get a sustainable business. Make your customers happy ( delight seems a better word), market and deliver what he wants and you get a loyal customer base (as if it is really a thing but.. later!).

Then why do businesses fail? I wonder why 95% of the start ups are unable to make it big? I wonder what does lean mean to companies which implement it wrongly? I wonder whether Utopia is the only place where these concepts are applicable?