Lavesh Dewangan

Ex-Group Brand Manager at Dabur India Limited

Revolutionizing Tea and Navigating Marketing Challenges With Lavesh Dewangan

Dive into an electrifying dialogue with Lavesh Dewangan, a key contributor in the uber-modern sector of AI technologies, deep-rooted Ayurvedic practices, and powerful marketing strategies.

In this dynamic exchange, Lavesh unravels the journey of crafting a product that revolutionizes traditional tea with more than 30 Ayurvedic herbs while maintaining its beloved taste. He reveals the marketing challenges faced, the complex process of consumer understanding, product strategy formulation, and breaking through media clutter.

Lavesh Dewangan, Group Brand Manager at Dabur India Limited talks about intriguing prospects posed by AI technologies like ChatGPT-3, the future of copywriting, design, and its inevitable impact on decision-making.

1. Please share your career journey with us.

Originating from a small town, my academic journey led to computer science engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology. Following years in IT, I pursued an MBA from IIM Calcutta in 2011. IIM Calcutta honed my skills, and in 2013, I joined Nestle for almost four years. Starting in sales, I delved into ground realities before transitioning to brand management, overseeing Nesty and Nescafe Ice.

The startup buzz beckoned, pushing me to Healthcut for around two and a half years. Guiding diverse categories and launching a health food brand, the experience was enriching, despite the pandemic's negative impact on a content platform I created.

In 2021, I joined Dabur, where my fresh responsibilities included overseeing tea launches, glucose, and smaller segments.

2. What are your experiences and strategies for launching new categories and attracting customers to try your products?

Reflecting on Dabur, the esteemed company where I play my part reveals an array of products spanning varied categories, from home essentials to personal care and even nourishment with familiar names like Chyawanprash, honey, and Real. Amidst these achievements, a vast landscape remained untapped—the realm of tea. The tea market stands at an impressive 20,000 crore yearly, solely for packaged tea. The loose tea market boasts equal stature. This landscape beckoned us, urging us to explore uncharted territories.

With over 95% embracing tea, this tradition was deeply rooted. Yet, it was dominated by heavyweights like Tata and HUL. The challenge arose: how do we carve our niche? The meticulous groundwork was key. Analyzing the market and consumer insights, we found our foothold—healthy tea.

Focusing on a healthier tea was our answer. We weren't just introducing a product; we aimed to redefine tea's perception. Our journey wasn't about mere market entry; it was about rewriting tradition. The resolve to secure our "right to win" propelled us, shaping every move. This journey wasn't about adding to options; it was about creating a solution aligned with a saturated market's needs. The pursuit of a distinct value proposition fueled us, reshaping tea's landscape.

It's supposed to be a healthy tea, right? And if you look at tea drinkers also, the insight was that people generally say that drinking tea is not good for them they would want to consume a product which is healthier, which gives them the same taste."

3. What are your daily marketing challenges and how do you tackle them?

As a marketer, I grapple with a range of challenges, that span the vast landscape of our field. First and foremost, understanding consumer desires emerges as a formidable hurdle. The process involves pinpointing the right audience, posing relevant inquiries, and decoding their responses—a task easier said than done. Often, consumer research may indicate a certain inclination toward a product based on stated benefits and pricing. Yet, the translation from research to reality doesn't always align seamlessly.

The next challenge looms when crafting a product strategy tailored to meet consumer needs while maintaining a broad appeal. This duality demands a careful balance—developing products that cater to specific demands while ensuring they enjoy widespread acceptance.

Communication is yet another mountain to climb. With a multitude of media channels vying for attention in the digital age, it's increasingly difficult to reach consumers. The challenge extends to grabbing their focus amid the chaos of information bombarding them from all directions. Additionally, crafting impactful advertising materials is a tricky feat. While a creative piece might resonate with the creator, it doesn't necessarily guarantee the same impact on distracted and multitasking viewers.

Navigating the ever-evolving sales landscape adds its own layer of complexity. The days are gone of limited sales channels; now, we must allocate efforts across numerous platforms, each with distinct demands and dynamics. Distributing resources effectively across these channels becomes a juggling act in itself. Lastly, fostering loyalty amidst a sea of choices proves to be a constant struggle. As consumer preferences shift and new players emerge, maintaining brand allegiance is an uphill battle.

In addressing these challenges, traditional tools in the FMCG sector often focus on performance metrics. Assessing product sales across diverse channels and monitoring stock situations are vital tasks. Yet, these analyses are often reliant on manual collation and assessment by an MIS specialist.

Consumer feedback remains invaluable, but capturing it effectively is a challenge. Online reviews and commissioned studies offer insights, but there's room for more comprehensive tools to gauge real-time sentiment accurately. While technology offers pre and post-campaign reports for media campaigns, the arsenal of tools remains somewhat limited. The key lies in adapting and innovating strategies to navigate this dynamic landscape successfully.

Understanding what the consumers want, right? That is a challenge in itself, right? So going to the right consumer, selecting the right consumer, asking the right questions, and then getting the right response.

4. What are your perspectives on the current AI revolution and its potential to replace humans in the future?

The AI conversation has escalated significantly in recent years, particularly following groundbreaking advancements like ChatGPT. What once circulated as theoretical discussions has crystallized into tangible realities. An evident example is copywriting; the AI-powered ChatGPT effortlessly generates multiple copy options in response to prompts, a role traditionally fulfilled by human copywriters. This domain showcases AI's potential to swiftly replace certain tasks, as it efficiently produces anticipated outputs with direct inputs, sidestepping the human factor.

As we move forward, AI's realm might extend to creative processes, potentially encompassing aspects of creative production. For instance, the automation of website design could potentially encroach upon the roles of designers, specifically within the UI/UX domain. While this evolution sparks uncertainty, a facet where AI may not entirely replace humans lies in the arena of decision-making. Although AI can propose numerous options, the human touch remains indispensable when it comes to selecting the optimal choice. This dynamic blends emotional nuance and consumer understanding, facets that AI is yet to seamlessly encompass.

I think what AI cannot replace is the eventual decision-making, right? If you want it to generate a copy, it did it. It gave you multiple options, but you're the person who's deciding which copy to eventually use, right?

5. If granted the superpower to design a comprehensive marketing tool, what would your all-encompassing solution look like, from ideation to analytics?

If granted the ability to shape an all-encompassing marketing tool, my journey would start with an unwavering focus on consumers. I'd wish to decipher their desires and expectations—unveiling the essence of their experience with existing products. Venturing across diverse geographies, akin to a continent of nations, this tool would transcend the limitations of traditional research, allowing for a holistic understanding of intricate consumer behaviors.

In my quest to optimize product offerings, quantifying the significance of individual benefits would become a pivotal feat. Envision a dynamic scale, attributing percentages of importance to various benefits within a product. Armed with this insight, decisions to refine, enhance, or introduce novel features would be backed by concrete data, ensuring precision in catering to consumer preferences.

Moreover, this extraordinary tool would unravel the mysteries of consumer engagement. It would tell the prime time to reach the target audience, decipher the most effective content type, and determine whether a direct, emotional, or offer-centric approach garners the best response. This insight would pave the way for pinpoint communication strategies, magnifying the resonance of our messages.

The best part of this innovative tool would shine when it comes to analyzing campaigns. Think of it like this: there's a smart system that can carefully follow how much sales a particular campaign brings in from different places. It doesn't matter if it's online or on TV – it can connect each effort to how much money it makes, showing exactly how things are connected and what's making an impact on our results.

But this tool's abilities don't stop there. It would start learning on its own, using what it learned from the past to predict what might happen in the future. This super-smart system would make our campaigns even better. It would figure out who is most likely to buy our stuff and focus on them, taking out the guesswork and making a bigger impact.

While parts of this idea are like things we already have, the dream is to bring all these aspects together into one amazing tool. The AI revolution has been impressive, but the real magic happens when we put all these skills together, creating a powerful tool that changes how we connect with customers and make smart choices for our marketing strategies.

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