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Spirit W | Observing the unsaid is the strongest skill: Shell's Mansi Tripathy

Mansi Tripathy, a business leader with more than 17 years of experience in the areas of marketing strategy and brand building has spent 15 years at Procter and Gamble across various roles and brands. Some significant ones include leading CMK (Consumer and Market Knowledge) function for Global Shave Care (Gillette, Venus, Art of Shaving) and brand building on diverse product categories like Pantene, H&S, Olay, SKII, Vicks, Gillette, Pampers, Whisper, Ariel, Tide, Crest, Gillette, Braun and Pringles.

Her biggest learning has truly been to listen to the end consumer and design propositions that delight them. It has been a rewarding strategy. She is of the belief that more a brand tries to just “sell” the product without fulfilling the needs of the market, there will be only shallow and short term benefits but not sustainable brand equity and profit growth.

A strong believer of the maxim, ‘It is always your competence, empathy and vision that make a difference,’ Tripathy bets big on her ability to identify insights from living with consumers, walking the shops with them, understanding roles of influencers, and considers observing the unsaid the strongest skill to possess.

Mansi holds a B.Tech degree in Electronics and Communication from National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra and has an MBA in Marketing from S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research.

Adgully caught up with Mansi Madan Tripathy, Chief Marketing Officer, Shell Lubricants India, to get an understanding of the lubricant industry that she is in and a lot more.

Giving an overview of the industry, she said, “Indian lubricants industry is one of the fastest growing lubricant industries in the world. The overall lubricants industry in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.5% in the next couple of years in context of the current economy.”

She believes that there are two sides to the above mentioned state. On one hand there has been an impact of global slowdown in automotive lubricants category and in sectors such as logistics, construction and mining. This in turn has been driven by India’s widening current account deficit, rising inflation and consumer choosing to defer automotive purchase. 

However, on the other hand there are rising disposable incomes, soaring population of automobile users and rising industrial activity which has resulted in increased spending on lubricants in India. Strong demand from power generation, automotive manufacturing sector and construction companies generates excellent demand in machinery manufacturing, metals and other core industrial segments.

Adding further, she said,  “Role of lubricants in shaping future trends – be it more sustainable energy options, increasing fuel efficiency, enhancing performance of the machines –continues to be a success and hence despite short term softening lubricant market, in the long term India is a growth bet market for lubricants.”

Defining her journey, Tripathy shared, “My journey from FMCG sector to oil, gas and lubricants industry has been very exciting and challenging at the same time. The lubricant industry poses a unique set of challenges and opportunities, however at the heart of it, it is always understanding and reaching out to a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders and making propositions that “delight” them.”

What makes Tripathy committed to being a passionate marketer, is her ability to connect needs of the consumers/stakeholders and the technology strength of the product in a manner that creates win-win solutions and creates a brand which is loved. She also believes in identifying problems/needs that people have and providing a solution thus making small but meaningful positive difference in the lives of those touched.

She then went on to explain how she has contributed to the growth of the brand since joining the company. “First I want to acknowledge that this has been possible because of the work and passion of truly multifunction, global-local, agencies coming together to make a difference,” she said

“My key contribution will be in terms of a) fostering vision of what brand Shell can and should be in the market b) focusing on trial as a key variable in value chain for us c) igniting spirit for the brand internally and externally,” she added.

Well, every industry is facing a lot of competition day in and day out, hence standing ahead of the curve is what is a matter of concern for all the brands. So when asked how Shell Lubricants stands ahead of the curve in terms of competition, Tripathy said, “Our foremost competitive advantage is our technical supremacy. Our engineers research and develop lubricants that can add value to customer operations by fuel savings and lowering cost of operations. An example to cite is our focus on synthetic lubricants that have been developed with the objective of safeguarding capital investment by protecting customer’s equipment from wear and corrosion even under the most severe conditions.”

In terms of marketing, they understand their consumer’s needs and work towards fulfilling them. For e.g. the Shell Helix range has been restructured to make it easier to choose the oil to suit the customer’s needs. Product specifications across the range have been upgraded, and exceed some technical requirements fulfilled by the current portfolio and packaging has been redesigned for clarity.

Some of the works which have been very fulfilling for her till date include the launch of Pantene Black line which was created on an insight of “hair fall being #1 reason for concern” and no shampoo was addressing it. This resulted in growing the business by +15%. Their ‘Creation of “Foresight” capability which helps build future scenarios and make decisions today to be future protected and lastly leading a new business model for Gillette to delight more men via addressing unique needs of consumers globally and also expanding it to larger grooming space thus leading to incremental 40%+ profit model over 5 years.

“We operate on the model of ‘delighting the complete value chain’, ensuring that each member of the value chain (distributor, retailer, mechanic, consumer for indirect part of channel and key stakeholders in direct part of our business) has a rationale on why Shell is the best product and are able to pass it on to the rest of the chain as brand ambassadors,” Tripathy stated. 

Recounting some of the best campaigns from Shell she said, “One of the campaigns which is very close to my heart is the Shell Rimula –Mera Mehnati Humsafar where we launched a TV campaign first time ever in India. This was made across-borders in collaboration with Pakistan. It was indeed very interesting and the full production, along with cast and creative, was carried out in Pakistan.

Through this campaign they were able to establish brand superiority by reiterating the proposition of ‘the hardworking engine oil that works as hard as you’. The campaign achieved the dual purpose of delivering their claim ‘35% better wear protection’ and establishing strong emotional connect for Shell Rimula as the trucker’s hardworking partner.

The TV campaign went live with 14 top national channels and 21 regional channels with approximately 16,000 spots across 4 weeks. “We were present across top movies and news channels - national and regional that resonate with our core audience’s preference,” she added.

In line with their 360 approach to amplify the brand campaign a print, OOH and mobile IVR was activated along with activation led radio campaign and initiated engagement at transport hubs. The radio activation contest was based on the best story contest played with truckers in seven states and 17 cities at 27 transport nagars and 87 dhabas. They interacted with 16,000 people among which 3000 were truckers and were able to record 1200 stories. This radio contest was extended to all Tata Workshops nationally.

The campaign was supplemented with a two month long contest, ‘Mera Humsafar, Meri Kahaani’ where the truck drivers  participated and shared their interesting, hardworking stories revolving around their truck (their ‘Humsafar’).

“Through this campaign we were able to build the business and grow brand equity leading to some prestigious awards and recognition for the campaign,” concluded Tripathy. [By: Aanchal Kohli | Twitter: @aanchalkohli]

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