Digital – an Adjective Converted into a Noun

Digital – an Adjective Converted into a Noun

September 10, 2017

Insights from Debabrata Mukherjee

Debabrata Mukherjee is the Vice President – South West Asia Operations at Coca-Cola India and South West Asia. Mr. Mukherjee joined the company back in 1998 and donned a series of marketing and general management roles. Prior to returning to India in 2011, he headed marketing for Coca-Cola in Korea.

With 20 years of professional experience in a diverse set of roles spanning marketing and sales operations, he has been successful in sustaining high growth for robust businesses and in turning around vulnerable ones. Mr. Mukherjee is a seasoned leader who can direct an organization in the vision setting and crafting of a marketing strategy, development of an economic business case and execution of an aggressive project plan.

His specialties include Leadership and Change Management, P&L Management, Category Strategy Development, Consumer Marketing, Brand Equity Management, Media management and IMC, Sales and Customer development across markets.
Mr. Mukherjee was one of the keynote speakers at BBF Seminar 2017 that held in March. The seminar, in its sixth edition, upheld the theme ‘Branding in Digital Age.’ Here is a part of the conversation he had with Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF) in an exclusive interview.

BBF: How do you feel visiting Bangladesh?

Mr. Mukherjee: Fantastic, for me Bangladesh is home and homecoming always is a special feeling!

BBF: In your key-note, you mentioned that the definition of digital is not consistent throughout the organization hierarchy. So how do you think that particular problem can be solved?

Mr. Mukherjee: See, I think it’s the point that I made about mindset. And articulating what problem will digital solve. In my mind if you have a digital approach to your business, you will become more productive and productivity is not just marketing. It goes across the ecosystem. So if you are able to create a digital mindset, if you believe that digital truly changes the way that you look at productivity and you have shared KPIs across the organization, only then you will be able to get everybody together; otherwise it will be a great marketing campaign, a superb recruit through LinkedIn and a fantastic ERP but getting it altogether is one seamless productivity. And productivity is not just saving stuff. It’s forward looking. If saving was the only objective then the best fielding sites would have won the world cup. You need to put runs on the ball and that too is productivity.

BBF: What are the things that brands in APAC are doing different compared to Western world that is actually differentiating them or proving to be successful for them?

Mr. Mukherjee: I don’t think there is any eastern world or western world in digital. There are great examples everywhere. Look at Japan, Japan is as East as it can get. Korea, I lived there for four years. You could order stuff in the platform. There was a screen, you order your stuff and it comes home. In Bangladesh I have seen lot of such examples. So I don’t think it’s the Western or Eastern world, I think the technological ecosystem, the infrastructure is very important. Today your computer shows 100mbps but your speed is actually 3. So if you are able to put the technological ecosystem in place, when the intellectual bandwidth is there, the portfolio is there then you will be great. So West and East is not the issue, I think, the infrastructure, the capability is what keeps me awake at night, not the geographical divide.

BBF: So you put up the example of share a coke campaign which leveraged hugely on social media in Australia for success. And you said in Bangladesh we had a similar campaign with the names printed in Bengali on coke labels. So would you say the campaign was similarly successful in Bangladesh as it was in Australia?

Mr. Mukherjee: Absolutely! In Bangladesh we used the television more, we used the print or the outdoor a little more because that’s how the communication span out but it was as successful. And that is my point. In Bangladesh 65-70 million people, I think, use internet on a daily basis and as that number goes up, as people start using internet on their mobile – it will be easier for me to run campaigns like that digitally. It is just that the back end will not allow me to go full digital but the success of the campaign was as good in Bangladesh.

BBF: Coca-Cola relies heavily on social messages of creating emotion when it comes to selling their products. So how can the same strategy or the same tactic be implemented through much more traditional products in the context of Bangladesh?

Mr. Mukherjee: I go back to the original starting point. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Are you trying to sell more products? If that be the case, what are the ways to sell more products and what role does digital have? Are you trying to communicate a message around the company? Are you a responsible social citizen? Are you a responsible economic corporation? So that is a separate approach. If you are very clear as to what is the problem that you are trying to solve then digital becomes the means to an end. The challenge is people look at digital as an end in itself. And therefore strategies go all over the place. So to answer your question, as long as you are clear about what the objective is and what is the problem you are trying to solve, you can harness digital in the appropriate manner.

BBF: Do you have any last words for the brand managers and the marketing managers in Bangladesh?

Mr. Mukherjee: The real message is “nobody knows, keep experimenting and stay curious and stay thirsty”. That is the only message that I have.

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