Anuradha Bose

SVP of Marketing at JSW Paints

Anuradha Bose on Steering the Shift from Traditional to Digital Marketing

Get ready to delve into an engaging conversation with Anuradha Bose, a seasoned professional who brilliantly navigated the shift from traditional to digital in the marketing landscape. In this challenging odyssey, she constructed a brilliant team, embraced the power of unceasing learning, and fervently adapted to consumer trends. The interview unveils Anuradha’s distinctive two-phased journey, from dominating traditional marketing arenas like print and TV to harnessing the rapidly growing digital world with social media and SEO.

In conversation with Kunal Bajpai, Senior Associate Program Management at Pepper Content, Anuradha Bose, SVP of Marketing at JSW Paints, shares crucial insights about brand strategy, creating brand DNA, understanding consumer behavior, and the pressing need to continually learn, unlearn, and relearn are shared. Anuradha inspires marketers to anticipate their customers' movement, embody the brand's core promise, and stay true to its DNA. From redefining campaign strategies to engaging customer interactions, get set for a captivating exploration of the relentless transformation in the marketing world.

1. Please tell us about your journey.

I'm currently leading the marketing efforts at JSW Paints, and my journey in this field has spanned over 25 years. I started from the bottom, working in sales when I began as a management trainee. At first, I was an individual worker, not part of a big team. I thought selling products was as simple as knowing what they're good at, how much they cost, and any special deals, and then telling people about them. However, my first job at Philips taught me something important. Selling isn't just about discussing a product; it's about getting different people to work together to achieve common goals.

As I moved to different places for work, like Chennai, Calcutta, and Mumbai, I saw that people work differently in other parts of India. But no matter where you are, bringing everyone together is important to achieve a shared goal. I later got involved with a startup where things were uncertain, but it was exciting. We had to figure out how to make the company stable with limited resources. This taught me that marketing plays a big role in new and uncertain situations.

When I shifted to working in retail, I faced new challenges. I had to build teams from scratch and realized that skills are more critical than just qualifications. During this time, the way we do marketing changed greatly because of the internet and social media. Instead of just traditional ads, we created exciting content for websites and social platforms.

Through all these changes, I've learned that learning never stops, especially in marketing. People's preferences change, and technology keeps advancing. However, the main principles of branding and staying true to a brand's identity remain essential. My journey shows that marketing constantly evolves, and adapting to these changes is the key to success.

What really helped me was understanding a different kind of working culture. How to actually deal with people, navigate different functions, how to bring people together and make it happen.

2. Could you outline your current team's structure, its evolution, and any contrasting aspects compared to your previous team management experience?

In my current role at JSW Paints, I'm dealing with a well-established product category that has been around for a while. It's not a trendy, new-age product but rather something that holds a lasting value. With the changing times and the impact of the pandemic, people are increasingly looking to make their homes a reflection of themselves. This has given rise to a greater demand for products that help beautify living spaces. My role revolves around ensuring the right products are available to customers in the right locations and prices – a common goal across various organizations.

In this particular category, consumer involvement is relatively low. Thus, building brand appeal becomes crucial. Without a strong brand presence, people might not actively seek these products. We've made significant progress in this area, though there's still more to achieve. Over time, we've learned that balancing brand promotion and respecting consumer preferences is key.

Additionally, the role of influencers plays a vital part in this domain. Painting contractors, in our case, significantly influence customers' decisions. Historically, a couple of players have dominated this market. It's about establishing trust with retailers and building mutually beneficial partnerships. This approach has been a driving force in our strategy.

One of the distinctive aspects of our work is the emphasis on colors. When it comes to paints, consumers are more interested in the final look and feel than the technical aspects. We've focused on creating a range of shades and colors that captivate consumers. We've captured the attention and encouraged engagement through campaigns, digital presence, and a well-structured website.

If you have content, people will engage. If you don't have content, people will not engage.

3. As you move forward to elevate brand share, does content take a prominent driving role or a secondary position in your strategy?

At the heart of our approach, the consumer remains our priority. Understanding their behaviors, interactions within the category, and engagement with our brand sets the foundation. Once this understanding is in place, we define our target customer segments and establish our brand's essence – its DNA. These initial steps lay the groundwork.

Moving forward, the role of content emerges as a pivotal force. Content, in its various forms, whether it's a traditional TV advertisement or any other medium, contributes significantly to our strategy. In the modern landscape, the boundaries between different types of content are becoming less distinct. What truly matters is how effectively it resonates with our audience.

Today, media serves as a channel to share our content. However, the essence lies in the content itself. It's not just about disseminating information; it's about conveying a compelling message that aligns with our brand promise. As marketers, we constantly strive to create content that strengthens our brand's identity and resonates with our audience's values. Regardless of its form, this content becomes the foundation of our marketing endeavors.

4. Are you just starting to use generative AI, or have you advanced further in its implementation in your current role?

AI tools have found a place in our work, serving us primarily in two key domains. The first is in crafting content that springs from a central concept. The second entails our ventures into the realm of AI tools to enhance the array of colors we offer to our consumers. It leads us to ponder: What does a consumer truly desire when shaping their world? Delving into this query, we embarked on some experimental terrain. However, our initial step required a substantial dataset – a resource enabling us to decipher consumer behavior. This invaluable data then serves as fodder for our AI tools, enabling them to deduce the preferences of various consumer segments. The outcome? A revelation of the kinds of combinations or effects that might captivate the interest of a particular consumer demographic.

Keeping a level head is essential in the chatter surrounding transformative AI models like GPT-3 and other generative counterparts. While the allure is undeniable, I remain convinced that it will be a while before AI fully supplants the role of human cognition, particularly in the domain of strategic thinking. Strategy, ideation, and creativity appear firmly nestled within the human purview.

However, let's not underestimate the prowess of AI in handling repetitive tasks with astonishing efficiency. Content generation and routine reports – these are areas where AI shines. With time, the AI engine might evolve to unveil insights from the reports it churns out, resulting from meticulous training and calibration. Yet, the intricacies of a dynamic market characterized by ever-evolving consumer preferences suggest a gradual transition toward AI-led strategy formulation. It's a complex landscape where the baton of strategic foresight still firmly rests in human hands.

One of the key things for marketing is to keep learning. The learning never stops, and to learn, you have to unlearn.

5. What advice do you have for marketers, both current and aspiring, as they enter this evolving and dynamic field?

I'm no advice guru, but as a marketer, my mantra has always been "Stay curious, keep learning." Age and experience don't matter when you spot something interesting – embrace humility and learn from it. In the world of marketing, curiosity fuels my journey. It's not about having all the answers; it's about continuous learning.

Regardless of who brings a new idea, staying open to fresh insights is key. Imagine stumbling upon an intriguing concept, no matter who it comes from. Curiosity thrives here. Forget roles; focus on the lesson. The humility to learn from unexpected places is where growth happens. So, when that spark catches your eye, be open. Approach it, absorb it – the source doesn't matter. Unexpected corners often hold the best lessons. Stay curious, and not only marketing but life itself will reap the rewards.

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