The CMO’s MO: Today’s CMO must be both a data scientist and a storyteller – Pooja Baid | Marketing

The CMO’s MO: 9 questions with dynamic marketing leaders, insights and personalities revealed. 
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The CMO’s MO (modus operandi), spotlights some of India’s top CMOs and gives the readers a chance to learn about the challenges they’re facing, plans to tackle those, what keeps them up at night and fun trivia. The idea is to highlight the person/ personality behind the title.


In this column, Pooja Baid, chief marketing officer, Versuni India Home Solutions, (formerly Philips Domestic Appliances), discusses how the industry needs to change its working culture, why she loves a good campaign that challenges stereotypes, the evolving role of chief marketing officers to chief growth officers, and more…   


What are the three biggest marketing challenges for your brand right now?


In a highly competitive industry like ours and with numerous brands targeting consumers at various price points, the market is saturated with marketing messages. To address this challenge, we need to continuously innovate and find unique ways to cut through the noise and reach consumers with the right message at the right time. 


Secondly, the evolving consumer needs and preferences present both a challenge and an opportunity. To stay ahead, we must be agile and adaptable in tailoring our products and marketing strategies to align with these shifting trends.


Lastly, with our diverse portfolio, coordinating and streamlining our marketing efforts across different product lines can be a logistical challenge. Implementing a cohesive cross-channel marketing strategy and ensuring consistent brand messaging across all touchpoints is essential. 


We constantly conduct market research to understand these evolving needs to personalise our messages and target the right audience segments effectively through our cross-channel marketing strategy. Our recent campaign ‘What’sNewOnTheMenu’, challenges the common misconception about the limited usage of the air-fryer when it comes to creating Indian recipes. The campaign emphasises on appliance’s versatility in the Indian setting, showcasing a variety of traditional, everyday dishes that can be expertly and easily prepared using the Philips Airfryer. The campaign, highlighted by three films is currently live on digital, TV and OTT, supported by social media activations across Instagram, YouTube and Facebook Groups with influencers, tech reviewers and communities.


Taking marketing to new heights, just like this ziplining adventure

What needs to change in your industry when it comes to working culture?


In our industry, a significant transformation is required regarding the working culture, particularly during the festive season. The festive period is pivotal for our business, representing a peak time for consumer engagement and sales. However, it’s equally crucial to acknowledge that this period holds immense personal and cultural significance. Employees need the opportunity to take leaves and spend valuable time with their families, aligning with the spirit and traditions of these festivities.


To strike a balance, we must institute policies that allow for flexible work arrangements, ensuring essential business operations are maintained while accommodating employees’ need for time off. Encouraging advanced planning and transparent communication about workload expectations during this season will help mitigate stress and enable a harmonious blend of professional commitments and personal celebrations. Ultimately, fostering a culture that values employees’ well-being and acknowledges the importance of family time during festivities will enhance morale, productivity, and overall job satisfaction.


Marketing maestros or growth gurus: Are chief marketing officers, the new chief growth officers?


Chief marketing officers (CMOs) have always been at the forefront of driving growth for businesses. While the title chief growth officer may be gaining traction, the essence of what CMOs do remains intrinsically tied to growth. Marketing, at its core, is about creating value, connecting with customers, and generating demand for products or services.


CMOs are responsible for long-term business demand generation through branding, customer acquisition, and retention strategies. They shape the brand’s identity and reputation, which is arguably the most valuable asset a business can have. A strong brand not only attracts customers but also builds trust and loyalty over time.


In today’s dynamic business landscape, CMOs continue to evolve their roles, incorporating data-driven insights and technology to drive growth. So, whether we call them ‘marketing maestros’ or ‘chief growth officers’, CMOs have always been central to a company’s growth, owning the vital asset of the brand and driving long-term business demand.


What do you feel separates your brand culture from others?


It would be our commitment to foster a balance between structure and autonomy. We believe in promoting a culture of freedom within a well-defined framework. Our employees enjoy a high degree of ownership and accountability, with complete autonomy within defined parameters. This approach empowers our team members to take initiative, make decisions, and innovate, all while adhering to the overarching framework that ensures alignment with our brand values and objectives. It encourages creativity, responsibility, and a sense of ownership over their work.


By allowing this degree of freedom and autonomy, we create a dynamic and agile work environment where employees feel trusted and valued. It not only fuels their personal and professional growth but also drives innovation and a strong sense of collective responsibility towards our brand’s success. In essence, our brand culture promotes both individual empowerment and collaborative excellence.


Cooking up a storm: With culinary maestro and brand ambassador, Chef Ranveer Brar


Complete the sentence: “Today’s CMO must be ….”.


A strategic visionary, capable of seamlessly blending data-driven insights with creative storytelling to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of marketing and communication. They should possess a deep understanding of digital and traditional platforms, leveraging emerging technologies and trends while staying true to the brand’s identity. Adaptability, agility, and a customer-centric mindset are essential qualities, enabling CMOs to anticipate consumer needs and drive impactful strategies that resonate across internal and external channels. In essence, today’s CMO must be both a data scientist and a storyteller, guiding their team to deliver memorable and measurable marketing experiences.


What kind of a CMO are you? Answer using a maximum of three adjectives. 


I am a passionate, innovative, and collaborative leader.


What keeps you up at night as a CMO?


As a CMO, I must stay ahead of the fast-paced changes in the digital landscape as it is ever-changing, with new technologies, platforms, and consumer behaviours emerging regularly. I also lose sleep over the challenge of effectively measuring the ROI of our marketing efforts. Demonstrating the tangible impact of our campaigns and initiatives on the bottom line is crucial, and it requires robust analytics and attribution models.


What’s your favourite brand campaign that you participated in or wish you had?


I am proud to have been part of two memorable campaigns in the past year: Philips Kitchen Appliances #TasteOfLove and Thumbs Up #PalatDe. These campaigns challenged the stereotypes that still exist in our society and moved beyond the stereotypical roles to create a more inclusive home through everyday tasks like cooking. The Philips Kitchen Appliances #TasteOfLove campaign showed that cooking is not just a woman’s job and that men can be just as involved in the kitchen. The Thumbs Up #PalatDe campaign showed that people from all walks of life can enjoy the same things and that we should not be afraid to try new things.


What are the three biggest opportunities for your brand?


Emerging markets offer significant growth opportunities for Versuni. These markets are experiencing rapid urbanisation and rising disposable incomes, which is leading to a growing demand for consumer goods, including domestic appliances.


Premiumisation: Increasingly, with more exposure and more disposable income in their hands, consumers are looking to upgrade their lifestyle across all dimensions including the home. There is a decisive movement from unbranded to branded products, and an upgrade even within branded segments, which presents a wonderful opportunity for brands like Philips to gain share rapidly.


We are accelerating our digital transformation by investing in new digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence to improve our customer experience and develop new and innovative products. We are also expanding our presence on e-commerce platforms and building a strong social media presence.


Tell us one personal thing about yourself that others might not know.


One of my passions is working with and mentoring startups. I find great joy in helping these businesses grow and succeed. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see the impact of my guidance and support on their journey.


Savouring sweet success, one cotton candy bite at a time

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