Learning By Doing is important, execution is key: Sanjay Khosla , Former President, Developing Markets, Kraft Foods

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Sanjay Khosla, Former President, Developing Markets, Kraft Foods

Sanjay Khosla, Former President, Developing Markets, Kraft Foods

Overturning orthodoxies on its head and stressing on the importance of  execution, Sanjay Khosla, held the large audience of CMOs in rapt attention at the Pullman Hotel in Gurgaon. It was the third edition of the CMO League organized by exchange4media group and the theme for the keynote was “Fewer, Bigger, Bolder: From Mindless expansion to focused growth”.

Khosla  opened his ninety minutes of session by saying, “It’s not about how many things you do but how can you do a few things  really well by keeping focusing on them.”

Khosla went on to share his opinion about the importance of risk taking abilities of a marketers citing examples from his own experiences. He said, “The decision of acquiring $20 Billion Cadbury in 2010 was a very brave decision by Kraft. But it paid off.  In 2006, Kraft was giving low gross margins and an investment as big as $20 million was a risk and Cadbury paid it back as it became a $ 16 Billion brand from $5 Billion in five years.”

He mentioned that the era of command and control had died. He also explained the ‘5 Categories, 10 Brands and 10 Markets’ rule which he had espoused all along.  Khosla cited the example of Cadbury’s campaign ‘Shubhaarambh’ which was all about focusing on Dairy Milk. The campaign today is the backbone of Cadbury’s business in India.His seven step framework which he believes worked in this case as well included discovering what works, focusing on it and then executing perfectly at various levels with the right people.

Khosla advised marketers not to fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis, as he  said, ”Often marketers get so involved in analysis that by the end of it they don’t know what needs to be done”. Citing the example of the 100 years old brand Oreo which was not doing well outside the US, he mentioned how  Oreo had made $200 Million in 95 years and crossed $1 Billion in the next 5 years. He said, “Oreo’s growth was a result of execution, adaptation and collaboration.. We kept the balance between being mindlessly global and hopelessly local. The brand’s global essence of twist, lick and dunk remained the same but execution in terms of price points, packaging etc adapted to the demands.”

He also warned that risks and failures came together.  He said, “Failures are bad but doing nothing is sin. We can afford to maintain a hit to flop ratio of 7 out of 10.” Advocating the blank cheque concept, Khosla shared his experiences of giving a blank cheque to the authorities and trusting, holding them accountable . He said, “Being a marketer if you think you know everything, it is a matter of concern. The concept of Blank Cheque has worked for Cadbury as it doubled its revenue in an year’s time in 2011. Shubhaarambh was an outcome of the Blank Cheque concept where you encourage and make the local talent accountable for what they do.”

Khosla ended his session by indicating that focus did not mean a brand could remain isolated from the competitive environment and other brands.

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