Shruti Shivashankara

Head Of Brand at Curefoods (EatFit)

Great content must meet business goals, enrich consumers' life

The attributes that define a successful brand have changed, even though branding matters more than ever before in today’s world. The brands must symbolize quality and consistency while connecting with customers through various mediums in the digitally fragmented universe. Telling the brand story in a unique way that finds resonance with a larger audience is an attribute a marketer must have to create an image in the minds of consumers, especially in the FMCG segment.

In a wide-ranging conversation with us, Shruti Shivashankara, Head of Brand, Cure Food, shared her experiences and learnings from leading some of the Iconic brand campaigns.

Here are some excerpts:

1. We would love to know more about your journey in the field of marketing.

I started my marketing journey over a decade ago, and I've been fortunate to work with some exciting consumer brands. If I had to categorize my journey into three pillars, the first would be my experience at PepsiCo, where I gained an understanding of consumer brands, business, marketing, and operations. As someone who grew up in 13 different cities in India and has traveled to 11 countries, I have a unique perspective on the Indian consumer. I believe that to operate a brand at scale, it's essential to understand the nuances of each region.

The second pillar of my journey was building my merchandise brand, The Shroodle House, and consulting small and medium-sized enterprises. This was the most exploratory and fun phase of my career because I got to dabble in multiple industries, such as food and beverage, learning about celebrity brands, better-for-you brands, and beverages. I also got to explore my passion for art during this time.

Finally, I am currently the Head of Brands for Cure Foods, where our flagship brand is Eat Fit. I believe that this is one of the most exciting times to be a marketer, and the industry is constantly evolving. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had and excited to see what the future holds for me in this space.

1. Can you share some of your accomplishments?

When I think of accomplishments in my career, I have to say that there have been many moments that have stayed with me and given me a great sense of pride. One such moment was when I was a part of the PepsiCo IPL campaign. I was involved in the end-to-end planning and execution of the campaign, which we did in a record period of three months. It was an incredible experience to be a part of something so massive and to see the impact it had on people's lives. When I stepped out and talked to consumers, it was amazing to see the amount of chatter and conversation that was happening around the campaign. It made me feel like we were making a difference, even if it was in a small way.

Another accomplishment that I'm proud of is my venture, the Shroodle House. It was incredibly gratifying to see people wanting to buy the merchandise and make it a part of their homes.

Finally, I have to say that the love Eat Fit as a brand has received has been phenomenal. We did a lot of groundwork to refine the positioning and make it relatable to sports. The latest IPL and T20 campaigns were all about upgrading to Eat Fit, and it's been amazing to see people recognize the brand in its current avatar.

All of these accomplishments have given me a great sense of satisfaction and motivation to keep pushing myself. I truly believe that if you put your heart into something and work hard, anything is possible.

2. How important is content as a component of these campaigns?

Content is indeed the backbone of any marketing campaign, and it is not just a cliche phrase. We need to communicate with our target audience effectively; content is the tool we use to achieve that. The value of content lies in its ability to add value to the consumer's life, to make a place in their heart, and to become a part of their journey. By doing so, we become a part of their life, aspirations, and share of wallet.

“In today's information overload ecosystem, content plays the most pivotal role. It provides the vehicle through which we communicate our brand's message to the consumers, and it stands out when it provides value.”

Content is central to marketing communication, along with packaging, BTL elements, and other core product components. We need to create content that resonates with the consumers and adds value to their lives, thereby building a strong relationship with them. So, to sum it up, content is not just king, it's the foundation of any successful marketing campaign.

3. Can you share your thoughts on what you believe constitutes great content?

I believe there are two perspectives to consider: that of a marketer and that of a consumer. As a marketer, I understand the importance of having a clear business objective behind every piece of content created. Whether it's to raise brand awareness, drive sales, or educate the consumer, the content must serve a specific purpose and contribute to achieving the larger marketing goals.

As a consumer, however, I know that great content goes beyond just serving a business objective. It must be able to add value to my life in some way, whether it's educational, entertaining, or informative.

“Great content strikes the perfect balance between serving the business objective and adding value to the consumer's life. It's content that resonates with the audience, captures their attention, and compels them to take action, be it making a purchase or simply engaging with the brand.”

It's my job to ensure that every piece of content created is not only aligned with the business objective but also crafted with the audience in mind. It must be authentic, engaging, and relevant to the consumer's interests and needs.

In a nutshell, great content is the perfect blend of creativity, strategy, and empathy for the audience. As a child, I vividly remember the catchy Amul song that used to play on TV. It's amazing how a brand can create such a strong connection with its consumers that they become a part of their daily lives.

4. What is your success mantra at Curefoods?

When it comes to Eat Fit, it truly takes a village. As a marketer, I am just part of a large team working tirelessly to ensure the brand's success. From the founder's vision to the entire team's effort, every aspect of the brand is carefully crafted to stand out and make a difference in the next decade.

For me, it was crucial to have clarity on what the brand stands for and where it is headed. We had to set the tone for the brand and ensure that every aspect of our communication and content aligned with the brand's mission and vision.

But most importantly, we had to deeply understand our consumers. We had to know what their needs were, what they were looking for, and how we could add value to their lives. With all of these elements coming together, we were able to create a truly beautiful ideation process that resulted in the success of Eat Fit.

5. As a brand marketer, how familiar are you with AI and machine learning technologies?

As someone who has a background in computer science, AI and machine learning have always been fascinating topics for me. Back when I was studying in 2010, I was particularly drawn to algorithms and machine learning. While I may not be an expert in the field, I have always been exposed to the latest happenings and developments in AI and machine learning.

“The emergence of technologies like ChatGPT is going to revolutionize the way we consume and create content. AI can make things more convenient for us, and help with the scale of content creation, while the human element will still play a vital role in the overall process.”

So to answer your question, I would say that I am quite exposed to AI and machine learning technologies, and I see them as a daily segment of my work life. I'm excited to see how these technologies will continue to evolve and impact the industry.

6. What advice do you have for an entry-level marketer in the FMCG or direct-to-consumer brand space?

I believe that the most important thing for any marketer entering the field today is to stay curious. It's crucial to stay up to date with new technologies, media vehicles, and emerging trends, and to genuinely want to understand the consumer. By being curious, we can better identify what consumers want and need and find innovative ways to provide it to them.

I would advise any young marketer to explore as much as possible in their first five years, trying out different roles and functions to gain a broader perspective. For example, when I started at PepsiCo, I was like a dry sponge, eager to learn and absorb everything around me. By trying out different roles and functions and taking on as much as possible, I was able to gain valuable experience and build a solid foundation for my career. So, to any young marketer entering the field today, my advice is to stay curious, be empathetic, and explore as much as possible.

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