Introduction The marketing management profession has acquired a status of its own in the past thirty-five years in India. It is a fact of life that there is cut-throat competition in every segment and in every market. Though the markets have also exploded, so have the challenges. This is one main reason why Marketing remains the number one choice of an MBA. Marketing and Fiance are the only two major specializations taken up by most MBAs who are actually required to specialize in more than one specialization. It is called dual specialization in the MBA language.
The interest in Marketing pertains to a) huge scope for excitement b) The Action-orientation: the marriage of theory with practices c) Quicker recognition and quantifiable results d) Empowerment in roles and e) Scope for further expansion of markets.
High scope for excitement Marketing Management is always exciting. One can quickly see the results. The rewards are always immediate and are directly related to the results achieved. Marketing Managers are given get superb roles where they can decide many things within a given framework.
A fact that need not be emphasized is that the MBAs always want this sort of excitement. They cannot be expected to play second fiddle or just please the bosses as it still happens in most Public Sector Organizations and even some family managed companies. The excitement is in conquering new markets, controlling the entire distribution, enabling the spread of the products to the remotest areas, coming out with innovative sales campaigns and so on.
Around nine months ago, every single Tamil newspaper carried a very catchy Tamil slogan "Passport illamae foreignna?". This literally meant "gong abroad without a passport?". The idea was to create excitement in a market for a particular brand of packed dal, sold under a famous brand name. The advertisement also carried an invitation to a simple contest, provided one purchased one kilogram of the particular product. There were frequent announcements of winners of scooters and other prices too. This pushed up sales to record levels. Reportedly, it was confined to Tamil Nadu, but it had its own effect. The excitement was palpable. It was very interesting. The advertisements for any product are always so interesting and become talking points among customers.
Just imagine the guy in Marketing who come up with this idea in the branded dal company. It was a heavily localized advertisement. But the emotional connect and excitement was simply superb. Saravana Stores in Chenna has three or four branches. It is a discount model. However, even for branded products, the savings is quite huge and one can easily save around 9% on such products. The advertisements have the middle class connect and are always in Tamil. The guy who appears in the advertisement is the owner of the shop itself, and the advertisement proudly claims, "the legend".
Rs.3600 crores per annum ( estimated by trade sources) from a single store in the prestigious Ranganathan Street in T.Nagar of the metro city is no easy joke. But that is exactly what marketing is all about.
The Action Orientation: the marriage of theory with practiceIt is a fact that in fields like HR, there are too many complicated variables. Most of these are directly under the control of top management.
It is always the professionals who carry everything on their shoulders in Marketing Management. It is totally unlike HR. There is a good amount of theory surrounding Market Research, for example. This is done religiously in companies like Unilever through their India outfit. There is not a single product that does not follow research.
The action orientation is simply excellent and a big thrill in Marketing Management. The excitement is even more interesting in the case of totally new products. Take the new ayurvedic toothpaste from Colgate. Housewives proudly claim in the advertisement that the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda has been married with the latest advances in dental treatment. The message is subtle but very clear: our product will meet the best of both worlds. This is the kind of advertising that will work. It reassures the effectiveness of the product with an emotional connect. Marketing experts call this "positioning". The learning is through hundreds of case studies. This success story will also find its way to some book on Indian case studies. The field is an absolute thriller.
Niche marketing. Market Penetration. Brand Extension. These are not jargons. These are part of what is called Marketing Management. When these concepts get played out in practice, the learning is perfect. Marketing professionals in most FMCG companies are thorough professionals with the PGDM from world-class institutions such as the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. They are highly action-oriented.
Quicker recognition and Quantifiable resultsIn Marketing Management there is always quicker recognition for the top-notch professionals who do wonders. This is particularly true of the FMCG companies. When the market share increases day after day, it is the Marketing wizards who get quickly recognized. Jealousy that comes along with such recognition is a temporary occupational hazard. The Marketing Professionals cannot be taken lightly. They are always well known among competitors. They just get picked up by such competitors for superb salaries and perks. Since the results can be quickly quantified, the recognition comes in the form of big salaries and higher responsibilities.
Empowerment in rolesMarketing Management professionals are normally vested with huge powers. They have big teams at work in the field. The accurate feedback about products in the real world in terms of sales will help them finetune Marketing Strategies. However, there is no scope for any sluggishness in work. Results always count. Marketing is akin to a war. If the enemy is alert, the country defending its territory is in danger. There is a big risk. This is exactly what will happen if there is a slip in Marketing efforts. There are some reports of several efforts being made by companies to know about competitor strategies. This is not an easy task. Many companies always take precautions to keep the Marketing strategies a total secret.
That is another reason why smart companies like Unilever have soaps with different attributes for different customer segments. Hamam is advertised as a family soap for killing bacteria. It is also tagged with the subtle message of woman empowerment. Lux is a beauty soap. Ayush is from the Ayurveda table. The net result is that one single company has several products for the same product category.
There are products that sell only on the basis of price. These are the lower prized detergents and soaps. Shampoos. Food products. The list goes and on. The Marketing effort through advertisements is generally put in place for major brands. In Tamil Nadu and in parts of South India, there is this soap called "Ponvandu", which is a detergent soap. It is much cheaper than RIN. It is widely popular in the rural areas. There is advertising too. However, the product sells only on the price equation.
Scope for further expansion of marketsEvery adult Indian might be worried about the very big population. But the marketing WizKids in the FMCG companies and in the private sector insurance companies might as well celebrate every new child in this country. Reason? Every new child means business for them. There are branded soaps for infants. There are products from Johnson and Johnson and other companies that cater to infants. This is a big plus. There is always a scope of expansion of markets in India. KFC is the perfect example. High prices do not matter. Even vegetarians are becoming non-vegetarians after visiting KFC once. The Management of this global multinational will always laugh all the way to the bank. Just look for interviews from the India Marketing Chief. This guy would be gunning for more market share, with some tinkering in the offerings. Such tinkering will suit the varied tastes of the Indian customers.
ConclusionWhether it is ISB or the IIMs or the leading B schools or the B class PGDM business schools, the MBA s will always prefer Marketing for their specialization. This craze can never ever go away.
For good reason. The aforesaid discussion has pointers to this effect.