INTERVIEW WITH MANMEET VOHRA

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manmeet-vohra

Director – Marketing and Category, TATA Starbucks Private Ltd.
Alma Mater: MICA – Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad
Ethnicity: Indian

It takes effort to identify a vision that your customers will find credible and aligned with their values. How have you been crafting such a vision for your company? 

Tata Starbucks Private Limited is a partnership between two strong companies that are committed to building the Starbucks brand and delivering the unique Starbucks Experience to customers in India.
We constantly endeavor to deliver the unique Starbucks Experience and our brand promise to our customers – every day. Our partners (employees) are at the heart and soul of our signature Starbucks Experience, and the passion they demonstrate about our coffees and our stores every day and with every cup is what enables us to create a consistent, welcoming environment so our customers can enjoy their daily cup of coffee, exactly as they want it. This is what our customers come back for and this requires an unwavering commitment, strong brand values and responsible business practices. We are focused on a long-term, disciplined and thoughtful growth in this dynamic market, and shaping our partners’ success and growing together with them, while balancing the cost of doing business.

What role is social media platform playing on today’s marketing standards?
Due to the sea of change in consumer behavior, the challenge for any company is to continually create relevant and meaningfully engaging customer experiences online while staying true to the company’s values and historic brand promise. The power of digital media and social networks is something all businesses must accept, understand and embrace. The seismic shifts in how our people and our customers communicate using digital communications defi nitely have heightened the need for more constant, interactive dialogue. Our fi rst digital brand campaign ‘Meet me at Starbucks’ is the celebration of a simple truth that ‘Good things happen when people get together.’ To bring this to life, we encouraged our customers to share their #HowWeMet moments across various platforms including our stores and microsite. The campaign was hugely successful and we managed to gather over 5000 #HowWeMet stories in a matter of two weeks.

What would be your prime focus for retaining customersadvertising new products or launching service oriented campaigns?
We have never made a passive marketing decision. It has always been taken with a view to engage with our customers and our store partners. Some advertising is important purely from an awareness creation point of view. For us, 95% of our focus is on engagement marketing, not on passive, one-sided communication. Our constant endeavour is always on how to create experiential marketing programs for our customers to enable meaningful engagement and moment of connection with them.

“Money coming in says I’ve made the right marketing decision”- till what regard do you observe this quote? Also, is true that marketing itself requires a mammoth budget?
For us at Starbucks, our 4 core pillars of Coffee Passion, being our customer’s third Place, Partners elevation and Community are the cornerstones. All our efforts are directed towards these. Money is a by-product. For me, the success of any marketing campaign lies in being able to deliver the unique Starbucks experience to our customers – when they experience the essence of Starbucks and the philosophy.
Our campaigns also involve our partners who are the heart of everything we do. Our success lies in their smiles.

How did you develop your passion for marketing?
I chose to specialize in ‘Brand Management’ at Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad since I have always found it fascinating how to communicate and build meaningful connections with consumers through your products and services. In today’s world, where product standards and features are comparable and at times even interchangeable, it is up to the marketer to create an ’emotional connect’ with the brand. My time at TAG Heuer was a vital cog in my journey as a Marketing Professional and I was deeply inspired by the brand’s values of passion, precision, perfection, performance and prestige.

Which is your favorite book on marketing?
There are quite a few which had much learning to offer. ‘Tipping Point’ spoke about how it is critical to understand that every idea needs to gather critical mass before it can explode. ‘Art of War’ is applicable in almost any corporate situation. ‘No logo’ conveyed the essence that responsible brands/brand values are critical to galvanizing consumer sentiment – consumers are willing to walk an extra mile for a brand/company whose values that believe in.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
A large part of my personal and professional development can be attributed to my boss for seven years at TAG Heuer – Manishi Sanwal. He is a great leader and has an incredible and positive approach to problem solving, being composed in diffi cult situations and bringing out the best in people.

Be your own fortune teller and tell us where do you see yourself in next 5 years?
Being part of a dynamic global economy means making assumptions and predictions over a 5 year period seem both presumptuous and overly optimistic. What I can say is that I will continue to try and connect with consumers, engage with them and as we say at Starbucks ‘inspire and nurture the human spirit’.

Which is your quote that inspires you and enlightens your heart?
In the 90’s, there was this iconic brand campaign launched by TAG Heuer called “Don’t crack under pressure”. The campaign left a deep impact on me and I remind myself of it when faced with tough situations in any area of life.

P.S:- One message you want to give to the women at large
I would just like to share a philosophy that has held me in great stead throughout my career is that success requires an almost obsessive quest for perfection, the ability to withstand pressure and not crack under it as well as the urge to pre-empt every possibility. This has been my mantra for a fulfi lling professional life.

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