In an informative interview Mansoor Ali, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Hamdard Laboratories shared his thoughts and perspective on digital transformation and  new product launches that has transformed Hamdard Laboratories even in the time of Covid 19.

Mr Ali also discussed marketing strategies used nowadays and the effects of Covid-19 on production. .

Hamdard Laboratories India has a legacy of more than 100 years and is one of India’s largest and most trustworthy names in the FMCG and foods sector. The company is expanding its product portfolio with the launch of ‘ready to drink’ products. The brand is taking their widely loved and recognized RoohAfza into two new extensions – RoohAfza Fusion and RoohAfza Milkshake.

Hamdard is an old brand. Could you share with us its legacy?

Hamdard holds the heritage of being a proud Indian brand for 114 years, instilling trust in consumers minds. The company was established in 1906 in Delhi, by Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed with the purpose of creating an organisation that would stand to benefit society through the Unani system of Medicine. An year later, the iconic Roohafza was launched which has since continued the lineage of being the most popular Indian beverage, enjoying the loyalty of millions of consumers. Aptly called the ‘Drink of India’, the brand is a market leader in it’s category, and is now seeing a variety of extensions being launched in the market. We are also on the verge of launching a continuous array of exciting new products in the foods category. As a trust, the organisation also does far reaching charity work in the areas of education, feeding and helping poor in times of crises, art and culture.

How is the brand placed today in the times when there is a two way communications with the customers?

Brand Hamdard has seen a journey that has charted an evolutionary path. Consumer trust, communication and engagement are the most critical elements for us. While Hamdard and it’s brands enjoy a huge number of loyalists in the consumers, it is crucial for us to keep the youth and millennials engaged. Our essential task is to build bridges with these consumers, by engaging with them on the platforms they interact on. Social media and digital marketing, influencer based campaigns and insight based communication are our focus areas, and it is through these that we build communication paths with the youth. Our brand positioning and packaging is also done through extensive consumer research, to give them aspirational products that have the unbeatable combination of heritage, health and modernity. 

How has COVID 19 affected the pace of digital transformation in your company?

Communicating with consumers digitally had started some time back for us, but Covid has definitely accelerated this process. Media and content consumption habits have compeletely turned digital, and traditional media vehicles had seen a slowdown. Search, social media and video display alongwith e-commerce took the largest chunk of share. Our spends too, in this period grew substantially on digital and social media platforms, including engagement through influencers and user generated content to keep our consumers connected, and to acquire new ones.

What are your marketing strategies right now? How is your communication different from the Pre-Covid times?

Our overarching marketing strategy, as I mentioned is to keep building bridges with the younger consumers, while keeping our loyalists close to us. The transition of heritage brands to be relevant and exciting to the new generation is an exciting journey. It entails us to keep the brand lineage intact, while creating aspirations to consume and adopt through delving into insights of consumers, and creating communication that connects with the way they think. While this is happening, our new product launches are designed to acquire new consumers through convenenience based formats&packaging, and by being present on the platforms they engage on. The discerning consumer of today adopts brand philosophies that connect with their values and beliefs system, rather than being led away by flashy over the top communication. Our endeavour will always be to delve into the insights that drive people, and engage with them at that level. Building trust and aspiration is also done through carefully nuanced influencer marketing and insight based advertising.

What has been the impact of COVID 19 in your production line?

While there was initial disruption, we managed to very soon get resources in place and mobilised our production. The entire value chain from raw and packaging material had been planned in advance for the season, and the onward supply chain was quickly put in place. The inventory already present across various stock points in the country helped keep the consumer supply intact. Our ultimate objective of being accessible to consumers across markets was quickly put back in place after a few weeks of planning.

What is your revenue expectation from the second quarter?

The second quarter has been good so far, and our beverage products have done well. The newly Tetrapak products – Roohafza Fusion (a unique blend of Roohafza and fruit juices), and Roohafza Milkshake (a delightful mix of milk and Roohafza) have done very well, with consumers loving these unique and exciting offerings. Our latest launch, Hamdard Honey is just getting launched and we expect this product offering to delight consumers at first go. So, this quarter is getting it’s due share of excitement, and our new product pipeline is heavy, with a slew of new launches every quarter.

What is the percentage revenue from the export market out of the total turnover?

The export market is approximately 6% of our total turnover, and is expected to grow exponentially, as the covid impact reduces.

What is your message to CMOs of food companies? 

My message is simple. Covid has created an unprecedented disruption to people, processes and the overall fabric of existence. The new normal has made people think differently, adapt and adopt newer ways of consumption – be it products, media or services. While businesses have seen huge disruption, it is the marketers who think ahead of the curve that will see success. Do not fly blind, and reframe uncertainity as an opportunity. Disruption needs to be dealt with disruption. The brands which stand apart, create differentiated reasons to buy and are able to sync with the consumer in her current state of mind, while capitalising on digital and e-com platforms are the ones that will rise above the current crisis.

What are the challenges that you will face in next six months because of this crisis? How will you overcome them?

Challenges have been many, and will continue for some time to come. The most critical impact has been the hit on cash flows, whether it is the consumers’ or a for company. As loss of revenue sunk in, marketing budgets were slashed. in a time where it is all the more critical for trusted brands to engage with their loyalists. Disruption of physical retail due to lockdowns continues and has reduced consumer footfall. Overcoming such challenges will be through recognising each of these deep impacts as opportunity. Buiding strong e-commerce relationships and platforms will be one of the major recovery strategies for any consumer company. Keeping the consumer continuously engaged through cost effective digital and social media strategies will be the other.

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