AFBL, Communication, and Life: An Interview With Hindol Roy, Head of Marketing, Akij Food and Beverage Limited

AFBL, Communication, and Life: An Interview With Hindol Roy, Head of Marketing, Akij Food and Beverage Limited

Dhaka Bank GO Credit Banner
Hindol Roy is the Head of Marketing at Akij Food and Beverage Limited. Prior to joining AFBL, Mr. Roy worked in a diverse set of organizations including TATA AIG Life Insurance, Pepsi, and Kohinoor Chemical Co (BD) Ltd spanning multiple countries.

Future Startup recently sat down with Mr. Roy to know more about his journey to what he is doing today, trials, tribulations of and education from his journey, his thoughts on communication, marketing, and strategy, his work at AFBL as Head of Marketing, challenges and future plans of AFBL, how marketing works at AFBL, how autonomy and mutual respect and customer obsession shape its internal culture, the new world of advertising and marketing, his thoughts on management and life.

This is a brilliant read in its entirety, immensely insightful and intellectually satisfying. Happy reading!

Future startup

Please tell us about your background and your journey to what you are doing today.

Hindol Roy

I am from India. Perhaps, you are interviewing the first Indian person who is working at a senior position in Bangladesh, that too in an organization like Akij. I am a very small town boy, born and raised in Asansol of West Bengal, the birthplace of Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Being a 70s person, I have got the chance to see the world before 2000 and also after 2000. I think we are the last generation that has seen the both rise and eventual fall of Radio and CRT and also the iPhone X. While this kept our value system strong, we also had to endure the struggle of coping with technology.

I started my career right after my graduation. I graduated from University of Burdwan in Accountancy in 1996 with Gold Medal. I did my MBA from IICT Lucknow on Marketing in 2009 and then M.Com from Periyar University in 2010. I did my Ph.D. from CMJ University of Shillong in Green Marketing concept. Afterward, I did some certified professional training on Market Research and Advertising.

I have been an FMCG guy throughout my career. I started my career at Payal Food Products Limited, a small biscuit factory, based in Asansol back in 1997-98. When I started it was a small company and was not a brand yet that people knew and cared. It was not even on the highway as Asansol is quite far from Calcutta! Even though I was an accounting graduate, I had to oversee sales, production, tax authority and even the banks for credit. It is a very common thing. When you work at a small company you end up doing many different things.

There are a lot of upsides in working at a small company largely because there are so many challenges that you need to endure which makes you strong and resilient. For instance, nowadays, when I visit or our representatives from Akij visit retailers they welcome cheerfully and treat with respect because Akij is a brand. But at Payal, we did not have a brand to talk about or a brand that people wanted or a brand that people had known that much. Retailer visiting would usually look something like this: we had to wait outside the retail shop for a few days in order to have a meaningful conversation with the retailers. Most days, it would turn into a futile exercise because retailer would not show any interest in talking to us because they don’t know much about us. And after a few days of persistence, the shopkeeper would show us some favor and finally call us for a short conversation. After that comes the question of doing business.

When you grow up in such a challenging environment, you develop one thing: patience. And patience will help you throughout your life. You will see that things are breaking apart but still, you will stand firm on your ground as you know that the situation will get better. You will not give up when things get tough because you know the most important skill in life and work is the ability to endure.

I worked there for almost 10 years and when I left Payal I was a General Manager of Sales and Marketing. It was a wonderful experience of learning for me, more so because I got to see the entire operations of the business closely. That’s the beauty of working at a small company – you learn a lot.

I have also gained some valuable insights. I started my career at a small company where I did not have the strength of a brand to take advantage of and make sales, despite that I managed to survive and do well. We did not have enough budget for marketing, instead, we had to use our persuasion skills, influence, local contacts and everything that we had to make the sales. If I can do well there, I can do even better with a brand.

In 2008-10, the financial industry was a fast-growing industry in India. It offered good career opportunity. After leaving Payal, I joined TATA AIG Life Insurance Company in 2007 as a Senior Branch Head. I was responsible for 3 branches. But it took me less than a year to realize that insurance was not for me. To be very honest, I could not tell lies and make fake promises. I was not very comfortable with these practices in the industry back then. One of the reasons I had joined TATA AIG was a big salary. This taught me another lesson, often money is not as critical for our fulfillment as we think it is.

I worked at TATA AIG for 1.5 years before leaving it in 2009 to join Pepsi as a Territory Development Manager looking after the West Bengal region except for Kolkata.

Pepsi was an incredible experience for me both professionally and personally. I learned about structured sales, structured marketing and the ins-outs of distribution. I had the privilege to be trained by the worldwide training head of Pepsi who had a lasting impression on me.

After working at Pepsi for 2 years, I moved to Parle Agro Pvt Ltd. I joined Parle as a Business Manager responsible for Eastern India. Within 6 months they transferred me to Mumbai as the Business Head for India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. That’s how I first came to know Bangladesh.

At Parle, I had to visit Bangladesh for at least once in a month which gave me the opportunity to learn more about the country and understand it. Surprisingly, even though I do not have any roots in this country, I feel a strange connection to this country and people. We had launched a product at that time called ‘Appy Fizz’ in Bangladesh. It was a good product and was accepted positively by the people. Many people still remember that. However, due to some complications with the local franchisee, we had to stop the operation.

There is a problem with many Indians that whenever they step out of the Bangladesh airport, they think themselves as an expert on Bangladesh affairs. Many companies tend to compare Bangladesh with a province or state of India in terms of demography which is an absolutely wrong understanding. Bangladesh has a culture, language, population, and taste of its own which is markedly distinct from any region of India. Companies need to understand that and work accordingly.

After Parle, I got an offer from Kohinoor Chemical Co (BD) Ltd to join as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing in 2014 which gave me an opportunity to understand Bangladesh more closely from its core. It offered an opportunity to explore and come closer to Bangladeshi culture, people, and everything. There is a poem of Jibanananda Das that says “I have seen the Bengal’s and that is why I do not seek the beauty of earth anymore.” This was my case. While working at Kohinoor, I traveled extensively all across the country. I traveled around 10 to 12 thousands villages. I have gone to the length and breadth of the country and tried to see it, experience and understand it more closely – diverse local culture and different dialects, the way of life and living, consumption habit and more.

Last year, I started working at Haque Group of Industries. Adam, Managing Director of Haque Group, is a very special friend of mine and he had requested me to oversee the Brand and Marketing. I told him that I would be able to stay for one year at best. I stayed there for exactly 365 days only.

I joined Akij Food and Beverage early this year as Head Of Marketing, since then I have been working here. This is a happening company and we are doing a lot of new things which I’m enjoying enormously.

A Message From Dhaka Bank Limited

Dhaka Bank Go Contextual Native Ad BannerINTRODUCING DHAKA BANK GO – LET THE BANK MATCH YOUR DAILY SCHEDULE

Dhaka Bank Go gives you secure access to your Dhaka Bank Accounts and Credit Cards and other exciting facilities from your mobile devices anytime, anywhere. Explore and enjoy the infinite opportunities. Learn more here.

When you grow up in such a challenging environment, you develop one thing: patience. And patience will help you throughout your life. You will see that things are breaking apart but still, you will stand firm on your ground as you know that the situation will get better. You will not give up when things get tough because you know the most important skill in life and work is the ability to endure.

Future Startup

You graduated with a degree in accountancy and then worked in marketing and sales. Why did you choose marketing as a profession? Were you always passionate about marketing and sales?

Hindol Roy

I came from a business family. My family had interest in retails, petrol pumps and many other things. Sales and marketing have always been in my DNA.

Marketing is an inter-disciplinary role. It demands an understanding of cross-functional affairs of a business. I believe that unless you have a sound understanding of commercial parameters, sales, analytics and behavioral science, you would not be able to deliver at your best as a marketer.

People often make a mistake when they choose to confine them within a particular subject. This happens mostly when you are studying BBA and MBA. It results in a lack of comprehensive understanding of the overall business affairs. For instance, I was good at accounting and I love the sales and marketing. Now, whenever I take on new projects, I can always act a step ahead of my colleagues as I know how to calculate the feasibility, do analytics and evaluation of the project than only thinking in terms of marketing strategy and sales.

Today’s world of business is unbelievably dynamic. Things are changing all the time which demands an ability to look at things from multiple perspectives which a diverse educational and work experience enables you to navigate. My education in accounting helps me in making the better decision at my work. I also studied marketing including a Ph.D. in green marking later in my career to develop a better understanding of the affairs.

Marketing is an inter-disciplinary role. It demands an understanding of cross-functional affairs of a business. I believe that unless you have a sound understanding of commercial parameters, sales, analytics and behavioral science, you would not be able to deliver at your best as a marketer.

Future Startup

You have decades of experience in marketing and helping companies to grow spanning multiple countries and industries, what are the biggest lessons from all those years?

Hindol Roy

One of the most important lessons for me is that the only constant thing in the world is: change. This reality has made relying on experience alone in decision-making process more complex than ever. I have come to realize that experience can give you a guideline but if you are only relying on experience to make decisions, your chance of making an unsound decision will be intolerably high.

Because of its constantly changing nature, the market often invalidates many of our past experience. To deal with this new reality, you have to understand the changes in the market and be mindful of them while making a decision.

It is also unwise to try to find similarities among different markets and treat accordingly because no market is similar. It may look so from the outside, but if you dig deeper, you will find a different picture.

Each market has to be understood individually with its own characteristics and demography. What is good in India may not be good in Bangladesh. As long as you are not in that market, you should not comment based on your current market or experience. Just because you have worked in Nepal, does not mean that you already understand Bangladesh. You have to make your decisions and design your strategy on individual case basis.

You need to understand the pulse of the market and its people. For me, whenever I go to a new geography, I go to their local area market. I go to the fish or vegetable market just to see and understand what kind of fish or vegetable is sold there. That will give you the perfect picture of the strength of the market. For example, consider the fish market of Dhanmondi area. Its fish quality, fish price, and the customers’ purchasing behavior are different from that of a Savar fish market. By doing this we can divide the market and prepare our positioning strategy, pricing strategy, product design and quality. In short, we can define our 4Ps.

The times of advertising is over. Now it is the time of communication. Now people do not care if you just sing and dance and tell people to buy your product. You have to communicate them the utility of your product or at least give them something that they should feel that they need to buy. Now, people think before purchasing that if I spend 10 Tk on a product whether the product or service gives me the utility of 10 Tk. If not then they would not buy it.

Bangladeshi companies are growing bigger and bigger. That is why the companies need more people with multidisciplinary experience and expertise. Since this is a growing phenomenon in Bangladesh, there is a natural lack of local talents which will take time to grow. This has created opportunities for foreign professionals who have experience of working in big corporations with large turnovers, which in a sense an opportunity for Bangladeshi companies to develop local talents through training and experience sharing. We, foreigners, are seeing this as a skill development scheme for the corporations.

Bangladesh has a lot of young, energetic and proficient entry and mid-level managers but there is a lack of top order management for strategic decision making and transforming organizations. The Indians, Srilankans, and Europeans are here to fill that vacuum of top order management and nurture the middle management to equip them with the required skill set. As per my observation, there will be local top order management in the next 4 to 5 years as there will be skilled Bangladeshi people by then.

This is not a country specific phenomenon. This has happened in India and in many other parts of the world where foreign experts led local and multinational conglomerates and then when local talents grow they replace the pattern.

Marketing is about understanding your consumers. The better you understand psychology and behavioral science, the better you will do as a marketer.

You need a keen sense of observation. It does not matter whether you are a BBA or an MBA. There is no fixed book of what will work or what will not work. You have to understand that through your observation. The former president of FORD, Le Iacocca, has said, “If only 15% of my decisions were right, I would have been very happy.” That indicates how hard it is to make good decisions in a changing environment. You should invest in developing your observation power.

Thirdly, you should develop a strong foundation in mathematics, accounting, and planning. As the role of marketing is changing, in the future it will be about strategy building. It will not be just about advertising or designing a product, it will be more than that. This is a market of more than 160 million people. They all have different tastes and priorities and capabilities and biases. It requires more than an understanding of communication and advertising to make a difference in this market.

You have to treat people with compassion. That means when you are marketing a product you have to ask yourself about whether you would buy that product yourself at the first place or not. You have to put yourself in the position of your intended customer and think whether that makes sense for you. If you are not comfortable with your products then you should not go forward with it. Compassion is about understanding the other person who sits on the other end of the transaction. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers.

Last but not the least, as a marketer you have to develop patience. It is not like that you will come up with a product and the next morning people will stand in long queue to buy your product. You have to think realistically. This is not an iPhone, this is an FMCG market where sell depends on many things. Without patience, you will not be able to survive the competition in the market.

One of the most important lessons for me is that the only constant thing in the world is: change. This reality has made relying on experience alone in decision-making process more complex than ever. I have come to realize that experience can give you a guideline but if you are only relying on experience to make decisions, your chance of making an unsound decision will be intolerably high.

Future Startup

Can you please describe your work at Akij Food & Beverage Ltd (AFBL) as the Head of Marketing?

Hindol Roy

Akij is one of the most respected business conglomerates of the country and AFBL is one of the most important and prestigious portfolios amongst the group in terms of importance and turnover. It is known all over the country for its premium quality of products.

Ever since I joined AFBL, I have been working hard to make sure that we deliver the value proposition that we promise to our customers. Here I am playing more of a strategic role in the sense that Akij was a family run business that is now taking a shape of a corporation. When there are a lot of changes going on in an organization, there has to be an active change management strategy. My biggest role is to drive this transformation as I have seen this kind of transformation in Pepsi and Parle. That experience has come handy here at AFBL.

About marketing, we have a wonderful team and we are trying to make a difference with our work. If you had seen our last couple of advertising initiatives, you would see that rather than dancing and singing, we are trying to create a value through our work. We are trying to say that Akij as a brand is with you and we are the reflection of you. We feel very proud in this instance that Akij is a strong Bangladeshi brand fighting with the multinationals for 24*7 with each of our categories. We are fighting to earn our livelihoods and our daily bread. That feeling of proudness of being a Bangladeshi needs to be transmitted through our communication to the customers.

Our ambition is to become ultimate people and customer-centric company. Our communication strategy is designed according to the way our target customers want. We portray that our product can add value to your life in such a way that does not feel like pushing rather educating and inspiring. This is the basic change that we are putting in work from our end.

We are also doing a lot of activities in the digital space. We have increased the presence there. We are doing activation campaign and social awareness campaign. Recently, we had done a campaign about the Eid-ul-Adha and an anti-suicide campaign.

As a corporation, we believe that we have a responsibility towards the youth and the people of Bangladesh who like us for who we are. As the Head of Marketing, I am responsible for addressing my customers and fulfill our social responsibilities towards them. The anti-suicide campaign that we ran is something we feel deeply about. We are aiming to do more in these areas. We are coming up with radio programs where people will be able to speak up about their problems and share their issues and get help.

Rather than running an advertisement that asks people, regardless of what they feel, to buying my products, we are saying that we will be by your side every time and all the time whether you buy our products or not. Because Akij is you and your reflection.

I believe that this is the process Akij should follow now to have a sustainable impact and share on the market. If we can not associate ourselves with the target customers now, we will lose to the competition. The target customers should feel that Akij is associated with them and care about them. And that’s how you build a great brand.

Future Startup

That’s an interesting shift. How does marketing work at Akij? I mean as a team, how do you collaborate, work and make decisions?

Hindol Roy

We have a fantastic team comprising of our 2 AGMs, Brand Managers and we have a digital section as well. One thing that I prioritize in my team is the autonomy of decision-making. I have cut down the layers of decision-making and made the decision-making and communication more swift and fast. As a leader, I believe that you should give your team room for growth. And if you don’t allow them to make decisions, make mistakes and fail, growth will not happen. Without failure, there is no growth.

On the very first day of my joining, I had told my team that “all your success is yours and yours only but all your failures are mine.” I told them to work freely and take decisions independently. I believe that a wrong decision is better than indecision. If I do not make them decision maker, they will not grow and will always depend on others for decision-making. This will not create the next CMO or the next AGM or the next brand manager. I have to push them to equip them with the right skill set and expertise for growth.

It will give me the utmost pleasure if I can help someone grow up to my level because if I can make bring someone to my level then I can go to the next level. The hierarchy and structures work like that in the society and in Bangladeshi corporations this should be the practice.

One of the key value of our culture is autonomy. People operate independently and we encourage independent thinking and way of doing things. We do not interfere much in other’s work. We have meetings, discussions, and workshops but still, at the end of the day, we are not interfering in the works of others unless it is very important to do so.

We maintain a seamless communication mechanism in order to ensure consistency across the board which ensures that the digital segment, trade marketing, and all other segments are working independently and in perfect harmony.

One thing that I prioritize in my team is the autonomy of decision-making. I have cut down the layers of decision-making and made the decision-making and communication more swift and fast. As a leader, I believe that you should give your team room for growth. And if you don’t allow them to make decisions, make mistakes and fail, growth will not happen. Without failure, there is no growth.

Future Startup

In terms of marketing and communication, what are the channels and mediums you are using? Also, how does your distribution of marketing budget look like across different channels such as TV, digital and others?

Hindol Roy

We use the traditional channels like TV, Radio, and Newspaper. On the other hand, we have perhaps the best BTL team in the country. We do a lot of activations, campaigns and outdoor initiatives in the fairs, carnivals and other places with our brands Mojo and Clemon that expresses freshness and energy.

In the recent time, we have consolidated our focus to the digital marketing space. Our target group is mostly young people, from 13/14 years to 25/28 years for most of our products who are more active online. It is only logical to follow them where they are. We have shifted some of our attention and budget to this channel. Internet and mobile penetration are growing rapidly across the country which has unleashed a new phenomenon. In the future, this will grow even further as the data price continues to fall.

Moreover, the traditional platforms like TV have become flooded with so many channels and communication efforts that their effectiveness has materially declined. With so many channels and media, marketing return is hard to identify and naturally we would always invest in places that will give us the highest return with the most accurate results. We are now teaming up with agencies to grow our activities in the digital space.

Future Startup

What are the most important metrics for you as a CMO? What matrices do you look for when you are running a campaign or planning one? How do you ensure that those matrices are achieved?

Hindol Roy

Traditionally, we draw up a KPI sheet to monitor the activities. However, even before that, we ask ourselves why do we want to do this? For whom do we want to do this? What do we want to convey through this? How would our audience benefit from the campaign?

In short, we use a drawing board and we write the questions of how, when, who, where, what etc about our marketing activity. When we find the answers to these questions only then we move on to the second part of the activity and we push forward step by step. We then integrate all the ideas with each other and the planning team takes over to plan the execution and metrics are drawn for each task and activity.

Moreover, we have a monitoring team who document and keep track of learning from each project and campaign along with its success and impact analysis. After every campaign, we sit to understand what we could learn from this one and we apply the lessons in designing the next project. We do not consider any of our campaigns as a failed project or unsuccessful, rather every campaign is considered as an opportunity to learn regardless of result.

Future Startup

Can you please give us an overview of Akij Food & Beverage Ltd?

Hindol Roy

Akij Food and Beverage Limited is one of the most respected brands in the country. We have our brands like Speed, Clemon, Frutika and Mojo that are very well-known in the market. We have also interest in other food categories like milk, chips, and water. We are a 1600 to 1700 crore Company yearly and we are targeting 5000 crore turnover by 2021.

We are going through a major internal as well as external transformation phase from a family-managed business to a professional corporation. We want to be the largest FMCG brand in Bangladesh not just in monetary terms but in value terms as well.

Akij is a value-driven organization. We make sure that we deliver quality and value through our brands and products. We offer the best quality juices in the country with the technology that not everyone in the world can afford and use. We have been investing heavily in improving the quality of our products and this where we want to differentiate ourselves from other FMCGs in the market. We want to be the role model of value-driven and ethical business in Bangladesh.

Apart from our existing products, we are also planning to come up with unique products such as food based beverages and healthy beverages that is unheard of in this part of the world.

We have come to realize that healthy food is becoming a matter of increasing concern among consumers. We want to serve our customers in this space. The products we are working on are the products of tomorrow.

We are investing in innovation and searching for new products and ideas from all over the world to give the best value proposition to our customers here in Bangladesh. This market has a lot of potentials as it is still in its growing phase. So, you have to be concerned and vigilant about the products and offerings that you want to deliver.

Traditionally, we draw up a KPI sheet to monitor the activities. However, even before that, we ask ourselves why do we want to do this? For whom do we want to do this? What do we want to convey through this? How would our audience benefit from the campaign?

Future Startup

What are the challenges for AFBL now? What challenges do you see in the future, say next 5 to 10 years?

Hindol Roy

The biggest challenge is around price sensitivity of the market. People would move on to the cheaper product no matter what. There are people who would produce cheaper products just to attract customers regardless of the safety and quality standards. This a challenge we need to deal with on a regular basis, offering the best product at the best possible price.

Another challenge is the lack of education on quality among customers. People do not think and do not know much about the quality. As a result, many people do not show an inclination to pay more for higher quality products. People sometimes trade quality with price and it brings harm to the people in the end. Educating people about these safety and quality standards is a constant a challenge.

Moreover, our economy is growing at around 7% per annum. So, keeping up with the aspirations and needs of the people is becoming a major challenge. We are living in a different world today. The access to anything and everything has become relatively easier. It does not matter where you live if you pay you will get the product no matter what. This has created a new kind of challenge.

Keeping up with customers habit, taste and need will be a challenge that any FMCG will face in the future. They have to be swift and vigilant about the changes in the market. That is the future challenge for AFBL or any FMCG for that matter.

Consider the lifespan of different TV products. The CRT technology was in the market for around 60 years. The LCD was for 2 years whereas the LED was for 1 year and the HDD LED and other technologies are having an even shorter lifespan.

The consumers have become very demanding and their needs are changing on a daily basis. What I see in the USA, I desire it in Bangladesh. This has created a new type of challenge for brands across the board.

Apart from our existing products, we are also planning to come up with unique products such as food based beverages and healthy beverages that is unheard of in this part of the world. We have come to realize that healthy food is becoming a matter of increasing concern among consumers. We want to serve our customers in this space. The products we are working on are the products of tomorrow.

Future Startup

You had mentioned about the intense competition in the FMCG sector. At the same time, buying behavior and consumption pattern of customers are also changing. How do you think about competition in your sector?

Hindol Roy

There was, there is and there will be competition in the market. The only measure that can save you from becoming obsolete is delivering value through your product.

If you had given value to the customer yesterday, you had survived yesterday. If you give it today, you will survive today and if you will be giving value tomorrow then you will survive tomorrow as well.

Our philosophy is to give the highest value for the money a customer is spending on our products. We ensure that the 4Ps are in place and in the best shape possible.

Surprisingly, these basics of marketing are still the winning ideas that companies can take to flourish in this difficult space. We are the proof of that. We believe that in the near future this will still be useful for our business. My two cents about competition is that obsessing over the competition is that last we want to do, we rather obsess over our value and product.

Our philosophy is to give the highest value for the money a customer is spending on our products. We ensure that the 4Ps are in place and in the best shape possible. Surprisingly, these basics of marketing are still the winning ideas that companies can take to flourish in this difficult space.

Future Startup

How do you design a marketing strategy that works? What are the things that a company or manager should keep in mind when designing a marketing strategy?

Hindol Roy

The first thing is: you have to understand and define what are the problems or needs of your customers that you want to address. Then you go forward and find out how you can satisfy those problems or needs which is called a strategy. A strategy is the decisions you make about the way you choose to achieve your goal.

When we plan there are controllable variables and there are uncontrollable variables and there are externalities. The other most important part when designing a strategy is having contingency plans. You must decide what to do when things go south or something extraordinary happens. There are people who think that having a plan B means that you are not confident in plan A. I beg to differ because the world is not ideal, complexities are endless and dependency are also endless. There has to be some contingency plan in order to deal with unexpected events.

Moreover, there has to be room for improvising in your strategy. Once you have set your goal and path, a lot of things can happen along the way which you have to decide on the go. You might see a new opportunity or get a new idea that you have to work on. So keep an option to tweak your strategy as you go.

The first thing is: you have to understand and define what are the problems or needs of your customers that you want to address. Then you go forward and find out how you can satisfy those problems or needs which is called a strategy. A strategy is the decisions you make about the way you choose to achieve your goal.

Future Startup

The marketing and advertising industry is going through a major shift globally. We are seeing, for the first time in decades, the great unbundling of TV, thanks to Netflix and relentless pursuit of TV ad dollars by major social media networks, slow death of advertising as we know it, a handful of alternatives to banner ads and more. There is mobile as well that keeps us busy all the day. As a result, communication has become a challenging affair. As a marketer, what major challenges are you facing due to these changes in the communication landscape?

Hindol Roy

Communication itself has become a challenging affair. We have seen a fantastic evolution of communication channels and mediums over the past few years which continues and has given birth to a new reality.

The most critical challenge, though, is patience level of people. The new generations ‘generation Z’ have less patience. The length of our attention span has declined. Many young people today do not even watch anything that is longer than 2 mins. It is hard to keep the attention of people for a longer period of time. They are always multitasking.

The other challenge is the shift in the nature of the brand-consumer interaction. With the advancement of social media, consumers now have a voice and are empowered. They can now talk back when they feel like. People now ask ‘WhIIfME’ that means ‘What’s in it for me?’ Some people would say that directly to the face of marketers. This now demands a new level of professionalism and dynamic response from the brands.

Today, it is impossible to get away with doing something wrong. One single social media status or comment can wreck havoc your brand image. The customers will come back right at you for giving them wrong information or low-quality product. This has become a delicate challenge that brands need to deal with compassion and deeper understanding.

The other challenge is around endless choices that customers have now. Now if you want to stand out, you have to build lasting connections with your consumers through authentic and value-driven communication. You have to connect from your heart.

The consumer consciousness has played a significant role in this change of communication. Today, consumers are more educated and aware of environmental and social impact of a business and its product. They now choose to buy products of companies that are doing ethical business. This has unleashed a shift in how businesses operate across the world. They now try to be a consumer friendly and consumer conscious brand. British Petroleum has become BEOL Petroleum and the largest solar power producing company. Only because that’s what consumer demands now from a brand.

In today’s work, it is important for companies to be good corporate citizens with the consciousness of the customer in order to thrive. They have to show that they feel, they understand and they are here to solve the problems of customers. Then and only then customers will hear about their product and try it. This is the challenge with the new generation and in communicating with them.

Today, it is impossible to get away with doing something wrong. One single social media status or comment can wreck havoc your brand image. The customers will come back right at you for giving them wrong information or low-quality product. This has become a delicate challenge that brands need to deal with compassion and deeper understanding.

Future Startup

What are the major trends that you see in the marketing and communication space in the next couple of years?

Hindol Roy

With the invent of digital, the prediction about the future has become a risky business because it is always changing. For example, who would have thought about the present digital trends just 3 years ago? The technological advances have made obsolescence so easy that it is hard to predict things for sure.

Looking at the existing pattern in the market, the trend, we can safely say that dominance of digital in communication will continue to grow. The role of the smartphone will also increase in how we live and operate. Similarly, the risk of existing technologies like smartphone becoming obsolete remains there. Some more advanced innovation may change how we communicate and all that. Additionally, we are at the nascent stage of artificial intelligence. The iPhone X has a face recognition technology and that is the implication of artificial intelligence. On the tech end, I see endless things will happen many of which I don’t understand yet. Moreover, marketing is increasingly becoming tech dependent.

The consumers will not only ask about the product, they will also ask about the activities of the company and its responsibility and viewpoint on different issues. They will ask about your contribution to the global problems and solutions, women empowerment or environmental problem. Value will overtake the idea of profit-based marketing. As a result, the future will come with a lot of CSR activities, social campaign, and donations to the volunteer organizations.

The tone and voice of the brand will surely change over the years. The advertising will no longer talk only about the product. The communication will happen based on social issues, problems or needs and the consumers will choose what to select and what not to. It will be more about creating social awareness than the product promotion tool.

The consumers will not only ask about the product, they will also ask about the activities of the company and its responsibility and viewpoint on different issues. They will ask about your contribution to the global problems and solutions, women empowerment or environmental problem. Value will overtake the idea of profit-based marketing.

Future Startup

You have mentioned about the importance of data in decision-making. How are you managing and using data in your marketing decision-making process?

Hindol Roy

There are two aspects to any decision-making. One is qualitative and the other is quantitative. In the qualitative form, you will make decisions based on judgment and in the quantitative form you have to back up that qualitative decision with data, facts, and numbers. Now, data does not mean anything until and unless it can be understood or used in the decision-making. Data have to be turned into insight before using it in the decision-making process.

There has to be quantitative data behind every planning to check and balance where you are going as well as to understand cost and benefit of your decisions.

We are extremely data-driven in our decision-making. We are constantly collecting data through our CRM and other more specific and function-wise data tools and as well as research. We understand unless something is measurable, it is not controllable. We make sure that the quantitative aspect is the driving force of how we make decisions and execute.

Future Startup

What is your management philosophy? How do you manage your team and other things?

Hindol Roy

I always believe in empowering people and helping them to grow. My approach is more around building lasting bonding with my people so that I can understand them better and inspiring and motivating them to perform at their best. I will keep doing that until the last day of my service in wherever I stay.

Respect and love is a two-way process. A person can only love and respect you if they feel that you do the same for them. It is never a one-way process.

Unless and until I am genuinely interested in you, your success, your growth or your problems, you will not be interested in my well-being. When I can express my concern about the interest that I have in your life and in your career and make it felt, my work is finished. The rest of the work will be done by the people out of love and respect. They will become self-driven and continue to push forward. That is the most authentic way of leading, loving and genuinely caring about your people.

At the end of the day, life is finite. We will leave with nothing but our heart and soul. Not the money nor the fame will come with us to our death bed. Our satisfied heart and satisfied people will be there. It is about how your good values are passed down the line. I am always trying to be a friend, a guide and beacon of hope to my people rather than being a boss. I always try to empower people and help them to grow and achieve what needs to be done.

I always believe in empowering people and helping them to grow. My approach is more around building lasting bonding with my people so that I can understand them better and inspiring and motivating them to perform at their best. I will keep doing that until the last day of my service in wherever I stay. Respect and love is a two-way process. A person can only love and respect you if they feel that you do the same for them. It is never a one-way process.

Future Startup

How do you deal with stress and challenges that come with your profession?

Hindol Roy

If I say that I have a certain and secret stress handling mechanism then it would be very far from the truth. Moreover, stress is an essential part of our life which has its own learning and knowledge for us. But then again, we are all humans and we are all emotional. Sometimes, we get very stressed and get exhausted. It is natural and there is nothing unusual in that.

But still, in order to operate at our best, we have to get over it. If I feel stressed about some large decisions, I calculate about the worst case scenario and then try to compare it with the real world. This gives me a solid backup for my mind.

Future Startup

What books have you been reading lately?

Hindol Roy

I was reading a couple of good books. I have interest in metaphysics, aliens, history, geopolitics and mystery fiction. Currently, I am reading a book on Parvez Mosharrof and another book Khalid Hussain. I finished reading Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick about North Korea which I enjoyed very much. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. I love non-fiction but I do not read for motivation.

I think life is about creating value.

Future Startup

What do you think about life?

Hindol Roy

One of my teachers at school told me that, “Eat, sleep and be merry and one day you are going to die.” To be very honest, I think that doing nothing is also doing something. Time is a great healer for everything. 90% of all your problems will be healed by time. At times, proactively doing something may spoil the whole thing.

I think life is about creating value. I will be happy at the end if I could participate in creating value rather than just earning some more dollars. Money seldom motivates me, I am motivated by the joy of creating something.

Future Startup

What advice would you give to the people who are just starting out?

Hindol Roy

I have found that people are usually confused about what they want. It can be business, it can be career or anything in general. I always advise people to do a self-SWOT analysis. No one knows me better than myself – my strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats and options that I have. It helps to devise a strategy that helps.

I believe that if you are logical to yourself, the world will be logical to you. If you start illogically then your whole life will be illogical and random for you.

Everyone has a specific strength. You have to work on your strength and match it with your responsibilities. If you play on your strength, you perform better, deliver better ad it will make you happy as well as increase your chance of moving forward.

So, whether you start a business or career, think about it. Ask yourself whether it is suitable for you? And why is it suitable for you? Will you be able to do justice to it? If your inner-self says that yes you can, then go for it. Otherwise, do not.

Don’t ever cheat on yourself. Once you start cheating on yourself then the world will start cheating on you.

(Interview and edits by Ruhul Kader, Transcription by Md. Tashnim, Image Courtesy, AFBL, and H/T for Intro: Lutfi Chowdhury)

The following two tabs change content below.

Ruhul Kader

Co-founder at Future StartUp
Ruhul Kader is a co-founder at Future Startup. He writes about business with a specific concentration on strategy, technology, and society. He can be reached at [email protected]

We Recommend

Type to Search

See all results
Shares