Synapse 2005, the two-day annual marketing seminar of the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode (IIMK) was organized at the institute’s scenic campus in Kozhikode (Calicut), Kerala, on July 23rd and 24th, 2005.
The event was organized by MPower, the marketing interest group at IIMK, and was supported by CII, with ITC as the Platinum Sponsor. The online media partner for the event was Exchange4Media and Business Line was the print media partner. The event featured top marketing gurus expressing their views on the theme “The Brand New World: Local Competencies, Global Challenges”. The theme of the event was chosen keeping in mind the changing face of marketing, where the old rules no longer hold and new market dynamics evolve overnight.
The event was inaugurated by Dr DS Broca, Chairman, Post Graduate Programme who opined that seminars like these help students hone their management and leadership skills and provides them with an opportunity to get a dose of real industry challenges. He stressed the need for socially sensitive corporate citizens, one of the guiding principles of IIM K.
Mr Hemant Mallik, VP Marketing, ITC Foods, delivered the keynote address. He gave a riveting account of ITC’s foray into the food industry. He took the two case studies of Aashirvaad Atta and Sunfeast Pasta and explained how the company leveraged its considerable knowledge in areas like blending and supply-chain management. He highlighted ITC’s concept of ‘honest pricing’ and the rural initiative ‘e-choupal’.
Mr VK Chandrashekaran, VP Sales & Marketing and Regional Head (India & SAARC), Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, gave a comprehensive overview of the patents regime in the country, in light of the recent change in patenting procedures. He called this era a paradigm shift from the time when global organizations exploited Indian markets to now when the Indian organizations are going global. He attributed India’s favourable position in the global scenario to a large talent pool and Indian innovativeness.
An interesting first-hand account of rural marketing was given by Dr G Ravi Prasad, Vice President (marketing), Murugappa Group (Godavari Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd). He shared how the sudden shift from an urban environment to a rural one can unsettle a young marketing executive. He spoke about the importance of monsoons, the rapid growth of the market and the challenges of infrastructure and complexity in that sector. He pointed out that innovation in reaching out to the villages of India is the need of the hour.
The celebrated Mr R ‘Balki’ Balakrishnan, National Creative Director, Lowe, deconstructed some of his acclaimed advertisements and explained to the spellbound audience how the common thread that ran through these commercials was simplicity. He felt that advertising is not just about award-winning creativity but about getting rewards in the market for the client.
The second day began with Mr Vijay Balakrishnan, Principal Sales & Marketing Officer, Bharti Televentures Ltd, who spoke on the marketing of services and the innovations required in the fast changing, competitive market. He noted that, “our only source of competitive advantage is our people and the service they provide.”
Mr S Ramachandran, Principal Consultant, Littler Associates (Ex VP Sterlite Industries) drove home the point that most of the market research is not fully leveraged. Drawing from his vast experience in companies like Sterlite Industries, Pidilite, Exide and Amaraja, he urged on a more practical perspective on the field of Marketing Research. He noted that an understanding of the basics behind any methodology used for market research is essential.
The inimitable Mr Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc gave an entertaining and thought-provoking presentation on Rural Marketing, its potential, its idiosyncrasies and its peculiar position of suddenly being the ‘in’ thing in marketing. Mr Bijoor, interestingly held the urban market responsible for creating misconceptions and blamed it for the high-handed and secondary treatment of the rural market. “What has been tapped is just the tip of the iceberg”, he said about that sector.
Representing the Retailers Association of India (RAI) was the CEO, Mr Gibson Vedamani who spoke on in-house brands. For an in-house brand to succeed he felt that there must be a brand vision and transparency in dealings. “Keep thy store brands and thy store brands will keep thee”, he remarked.
From the marketing research space, Mr Sandeep Budhiraja, Associate Director, AC Nielsen ORG-Marg, talked about the making of cult brands. Backed by radical examples from both the national and international arena, he emphasized how cult brands dare to be different and don’t sell a product or service, but a lifestyle.
The seminar concluded with the vote of thanks delivered by Prof Sunil Sahadev, the Area Chair of the Marketing Dept, IIM Kozhikode who also complimented the student organizers for their excellent event management skills. “It’s only when one listens to such people does one understand that classroom learning must be seen from a real world perspective,” said Miss Ritamoni Boro, a first year student. Pranay Rao, a co-coordinator of the organizing team was happy at the successful conclusion of Synapse and added, “We always try to get the best people to come to campus and share from the wealth of their diverse experiences. The knowledge-gain that accompanies the presentations given by such top minds is incalculable.”
Synapse provided the students with a platform to interact with the stalwarts of industry and get insights into the dynamics of the Indian market. Terming the event a grand success, Media Cell Co-coordinator Vijay Ramani said, “Two days of interactive sessions during Synapse has been an experience that left the students enlightened”.
The business case contest based on a live social marketing situation featuring former Olympian PT Usha’s athletics training academy, USHA (Usha ScHool of Athletics), remains open till 31st July, 2005.