Introduction Some decades ago, anyone who was familiar with the context for branded drugs in India, would have never given an organization called Himalaya Drugs even the remotest chance of becoming a success in the over-the-counter product category. It has systematically built a superb platform for itself through branded products that could build resistance power in individuals or help them minimize infection or even cure a common cold and the like. It also has a number of FMCG products like soaps and shampoos. Himalayan Drugs is the best and typical example of an organization that is always pro-active.
While the aforesaid example stands out, some conceptual ideas that can be distilled in this respect pertain to a) Clearly understanding boundaries of particular markets and customers b) Being cost-effective at all times c) Maintaining positions already established d) Making inroads into competitor markets and e) Evolving strategies to be far ahead of the competition.
Clearly understanding boundaries of particular markets and customers The best of Strategic Management experts always advise that it is vital to have a focus in business and not attempt to be everything to everybody. It is also unwise to be present in too many markets as the debt position will ultimately weaken the entire group of organizations. This is now true of even the Mukesh Ambani group that is saddled with a large debt of over two lakh and eighty thousand crores. This can happen to any organization. The Anil Ambani group is another typical example. It is now struggling to even survive.
The owners of Zee TV were making good money. Their laminated pack businesses were also giving them handsome returns. If only they had not diversified into other businesses, their pro-activity would have become an ideal case-study in many B schools. Today, they are just not able to even survive.
The aforesaid examples illustrate the need to focus on just one line of business and keep on perfecting the rules of the game in it. Any intelligent strategy adopted will form a strong basis for conceptual inputs. Take the example of Big Bazaar. It had a shrewd owner called Kishore Biyani who understood many lessons from the Chennai-based Saravana Stores, that primarily catered to the lower middle classes and the class normally placed in the middle of the pecking order. Today. Big Bazaar has a model that caters to the middle classes and the rich and it is, of course, a discount model that is based on the maximum volumes that the various product segments garner from the huge footfalls in each of the stores of Big Bazaar, across the country. Hence, learning the boundaries of particular markets and customers is a vital step in being pro-active at any point in time.
One can also learn from the smaller brands that survive on word-of-mouth publicity and have their target customers in focus at any point in time. Recently, this author came across this brand of what is called "paneer soda" from a retail shop at Ranipet, a small town in Vellore District of Tamil Nadu. A little walk around the place indicated that at least ten shops had stocked this product that sells like hotcakes. Customers ask for this product and are happy with the product and the quality. The customers in most small towns of Tamil Nadu are impulse buyers who go by word of mouth. They would ask the retailer if there is the product category. In this case, it is called "paneer soda" and it so happens that this product comes from a company called Podaran Foods India Pvt Limited, the bottling unit being situated at Kankeyam, a small town in Tiruppur District.
While Tiruppur is one of the fastest growing towns in India. no one would have even heard of this small brand called Tilo. Yet, it goes on selling in an "either-or" market as the customers often have a soft drink to quink their thirst and do not necessarily go after only the MNC products.
Here is a photo of the product. It must be noted that there is no high decibel advertising at all. The same company also manufactures a few other flavors and the 200 ml paneer soda product is priced at Rs.12/-.This tastes sweet and is good for digestion. The game is on. Hundreds of small brands have their task cut out. They survive on lower overheads in semi-urban and rural areas.
Similarly, in our lives, it is essential that we are pro-active by having a crystal clear idea of what we are going to do, when, where and how. For example, it is pointless to go on doing any correspondence or distance education course, only for the sake of acquiring an additional qualification. That will satisfy the individual's ego but nothing else. A clear focus on careers, followed by meaningful action is what is required in a changing scenario. Being pro-active demands crystal clear clarity on career goals.
Being cost-effective at all timesThe Japanese have made deep inroads into what can be called pro-active manufacturing practices. For example, it has now become a way of life in the TVS group, M&M, Tata Motors, the Rane Group of Chennai, Sona Steering Systems, Suzuki Limited and a number of other manufacturing organizations to adopt Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) and Total Quality Management (TQM), both of which eliminate waste, bring down cost of re-work and rejection and ensure global quality of products and services. Prof Tsuda, one of the big Gurus of Quality, has always taught the TVS group and guided them so well. Result? The group is always cost-effective.
The other organizations have also adopted such pro-active practices and have now come a long way in being pro-active in this respect.
Maintaining positions already established Dabur is the best example. Its high decibel advertising to reinforce the already good positioning of two of its toothpaste brands, Meswalk and Dabur Red toothpaste, only show that Indian organizations can also adopt all pro-active practices.
Even Cavinkare, which is one of the leading FMCG players with strong positions in particular markets keeps on advertising its products. Smaller brands like the Power soap from Tamil Nadu also do the same. They are small players but keep on advertising and reminding their customers with "we are there for you" messages. As far as individuals are concerned, even a small slip in the learning process will mean that pro-activity is a total miss. For example, no HR Manager can exist without knowing the practice of Mentoring. If his role does not allow him the exposure he should rather quit and join an organization where such an experience can be easily possible.
Making inroads into competitor marketsHero Motor Corp not only remains the market leader but keeps on banging the market with new products that are too good. The customers who would normally be happy with the TVS Motors or products from Bajaj Auto would transition towards the Hero products and such results were often seen in the past. Any organization that is powerful would always be aware of competitor moves and would do everything to make things happen. It will simply nullify the competitor markets or make them small.
Two deemed Universities called the VIT University and the SRM University, from Vellore and Chennai respectively, have managed to do this in education as well. The best of students do not go to the competitor institutions such as the Vels University Chennai or the MGR University. They always choose the best and the two institutions are right on top. They are always pro-active.
Evolving strategies to be far ahead of the competition The smaller brands mentioned in this article actually create "entry barriers" for new small brands. Similarly, we often notice that Hindustan Lever comes out with product improvements and packing differences that keep on reinforcing the value of the brand. Hamam soap is the best example. It is always pro-active.
The KPN bus service, that operates comfortable bus services to many towns of Tamil Nadu from Chennai and also to neighboring States, keeps on improving the quality of its services. Barring a single accident a few years ago, it has an accident free record. Its internal facilities are also good. MRF tyres is one organization that keeps on improving product quality and reducing cost. It is always ahead of the competition. This is the pro-active strategy always adopted.
Such examples abound in India. Every individual also needs to keep on innovating to succeed. For example, those with some good speaking skills have taken to YouTube. They are now laughing all the way to the bank.
There is no limit for pro-activity. Newer models will keep on emerging at any point in time.
ConclusionBeing pro-active is a huge task. Some dimensions of the concept have been discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs. The scope for innovation is large and every organization or any individual needs to innovate as they keep going ahead.
In the changing scenarios of the market, it is always advisable to be proactive and one should analyse the market condition, customer's need and provide customers such products which could fit in their pockets and at the same time, there is no compromise in respect of quality. The companies would require to do a lot of homework so as to retain their positions in the changing market scenarios.
A very good article from the author. One should be proactive. Then only he will be the front runner. If one can identify the need of tomorrow today itself and start taking steps for that, he will be the winner of the game.
There is a company called Solar explosives Ltd, in Nagpur. The promoter was a dealer initially and used to purchase material from other manufacturers and sell. But in a short period, he started his own company and that company is the number one company now in the whole country in that field. How he has done it? Just by purely being proactive. He identified the opportunities and converted them into realities for his company. He started analysing the requirements in advance and established the facilities to manufacture those products and introduced them in the market at a very reasonable price and at the same time, he ensured that no other person can supply that material at that rate. Now it is a multinational company with unique facilities to manufacture products required for defence department also.
His expansion also was restricted to the same product line and he never went to any other area. Working on a known devil is easy than working on an unknown ghost. This is his principle and he never deviated from that.