Lessons from My Journey – Peshwa Acharya, Marketing Guru

This article is my live capture on word doc of the session, “Insights for Marketing / Sales/business professionals in the POST-COVID context“, that Peshwa Acharya did for the Sales and Business Development Team of CL Educate.

Mr. Peshwa Acharya, President – Group Strategy Brightcom (Lycos) | Director on Board | Digital Transformation Expert | Startup Mentor | Ex-P&G, Ex-Reliance Retail, Ex-Housing.com |

The session was a live session with Peshwa logging in from Mumbai and the participants were in Delhi HO of CL Educate. Loved attending the session as Peshwa made the session very engaging and involving every participant individually. He compelled people to participate and also paid individual attention to pull one person or other to pay attention to the session…..

My journey – I shall talk about my journey and this had a lot lessons for me, sure you too will gain

  1. 10-12 years were FMCG – my learnings – P&G, Reckitt, Balsara
    • Some best practices of customer interactions come from FMCG
    • Sales distribution (Fulfilment) and marketing (generating)
    • In life common sense is not common, simple things are not made to be simple
    • Difference between brand and commodity, happens due to marketing
    • The importance of brand emerges there
    • Brand managers are considered important, they are groomed as BRAND CEOs
    • All P&G brands are built
      • Dettol brand manager is like a CEO of Dettol
      • So are for every brand at P&G – Everything for the brand he is responsible
    • Holi grail of marketing
      • Structured Process, defined and followed
      • Packaging and PR comes next
      • Writing creative brief
      • “If you are not able to put a process in one page, you cannot exist”
      • Ability to convert thoughts into one sheet of paper is very important and key to execution
    • Writing an inverted memo
      • In schools, we write composition, starting with introduction, explanation….
      • In P&G conclusion will always on the top
        • Say, The budget has to be on the top….
        • Why you need it, will follow…
  • SALES – in FMCG
    • How many started with Sales
      • HDFC Bank – Morning huddle every day (Navneet Anand)
        • Numbers chasing
        • Who are the ones we are chasing
        • Where are we in each case
        • Do you chase the end-customers of intermediaries?
          • Chase the targeted market – product centric? Geography?
    • FMCG retail sales at P&G used to happen as follows
      • Cover 50 outlets every day in a market (Beat of 30-50) outlets
      • Have the (PJP) permanent journey plan
      • Define every day – PJP – everyday plan – 5 W 1 H defined for every day
      • So, you have structured approach to sales
        • My son is FMCG does same in Pune
        • Same thing he is doing after 30 years…what I did then… the process are so sound
  • Balsara was taken over by Dabar

The brands include….

  1. Babool and promise, Meswak
    • Odonil, Odopic, Sanifresh
    • Portfolio planning is very important
      • We had a 40-50 crore of marketing budget
      • Typically this was divided equally among all the brands
    • I changed it
      • Focused on Babool, then odonil and odomus
      • Babool moved from 2% to 8% of the market share
      • Sometimes you have to focus on one brand and pump money to gain larger share
    • In those days we spent a lot on advertising on TV
      • TV viewing goes to all neighboring countries
      • Why don’t we sell the products in SAARC countries
      • Recruited a sales head for SAARC
        • Bangladesh, Myanmar, Srilanka, Maldives, Nepal
        • Pakistan sold through Dubai
      • From these countries, we got 20-30Cr from very quickly, of the 200 cr turnover; almost 10-15% of the topline
  • Question by SUNIL: Any strategic Alliances to increase the distribution…?
    • National sales head is responsible for India
      • Why do not we capture new Geography was the thought
      • Two of us travelled to set up distribution network
        • At one or two places, we need to tie up for manufacturing (Bangladesh)
        • In Sri Lanka, we did strategic tie-up with biggest distributor
        • Eg. R J Corp in Delhi – Pepsi bottler becomes a big brand from being a distributor in their earliest avatar (Study about them)
      • Strategic happened when Dabur acquired Balsara
        • I was reporting to the CEO, 12 years my senior from IIMC
        • I was the COO, I became point man for integration
      • We integrated with having the best interests of the both integrating companies companies
          • I was junior
          • I had two offers from both, Dabur (Delhi) and Balsara (Mumbai)
          • I took Mumbai job…
      • Brands might get sold, but essence of brand remain same
  • In FMCG, brand must be occupying the mind space and not shelf space (SUNIL questioned)
    • According to me 2-3 things we need to do, for any brand
      • What the insight is – good quality comes from insight
      • Must be consistent to address the needs
        • Babool was poor mans Colgate (1+1)
        • They did not have reasons for buying
          • People want to feel fresh, that becomes the key
          • The communication got created around it
          • Prasoon Joshi did it
          • Insight – Toothpaste means morning freshness
    • A lot of products get built on packaging
    • Dettol – Anticeptic 100% bath was the value proposition that catapulted the brand
      • Now it has become fragmented due to too many variants emerging
    • Daughter brand became bigger than mother brand
      • Mother is 200cr, the Dettol antiseptic liquid
      • Daughter, Dettol soap is now 3000Cr
      • Reckitt became successful because of Dettol soap
      • Savlon has not become that big…
  • Question by Anita: Speed of execution is the key
    • FMCG or Telecom, mindset changes quickly
    • During the COVID we need to be quicker to claim the market…
    • ANSWER
      • IN FMCG marketing speed can be 1 month
      • IN Telecom it was need to be done in one week
      • In a few industries the turnaround needs a few hours
        • PAYTM came up with an ad having the PM pic, within hours of Demonetization
      • Quickly we need to respond to the shifts and changes
      • As things are going, we need to do quickly
  1. From a product to another product, mindset changes quickly
    • We need to give information quickly
      • Wife needing to buy a Washing Machine
        • Asked her to do research
          • Washer and Drier
          • Front loading
        • Samsung and Voltas Beko shortlisted
          1. Sent messages to the CMO of both companies
          1. Whoever responded quickly, I will buy, I thought
          1. Voltas responded first and went for it..
    • FIFTH P of marketing is PACE
      • Lot of companies changing
      • TATA Harrier (I bought for power)
        • Took various test drives of various makes
        • In the process, they do not have process of whatsapp etc for prompt exchange messages and responses , they use landline…
        • The large companies do not have it….are archaic
        • They want everything NON-VOICE…they do not want to talk…
  • TELECOM (Orange-hutch-Vodafone; Reliance Communication)
    • Biggest learning in Telecom (Hutch)
      • Strategic planning cycle moved to six days from six months of FMCG
        • Hutch bought over eastern India circle..
          • Integration to be done
          • In telecom planning construct was just seven days
        • Every circle has 2-3 players
          • How to decide on tariff
          • How to launch – speed of execution critical
      • How to do packaging
        • Pre-paid product helped to increase tele-density
        • Banking people has not been able to do
        • Hopefully the fintech will convert banking into such a space
      • Telecom thus became FMCG like
    • At Reliance
      • Worked with both brothers, Anil and Mukesh,
    • Question: ANY change that you made in people’s mind in Telecom
      • Answer
        • We understood that people buy telecom network because of quality of network
          • The Hutchinson Pug campaign…where ever you go we are with you…came from that insight
        • In reliance communication          
          • One decision I took was
            • 2011 – Advertising point of view
            • Communication perspective
              • Brand ambassador – Hrithik Roshan
              • He was being paid 15Cr for 1 year endorsement
            • I wanted to get one
              • Anushka and Ranveer – Band, Baaja baraat released
              • Both came for 1.5Cr
              • Interview with Ranveer went bad…he wanted to sign on every advertising campaign brief.
              • We got Rann Vijay…paid 20 lakhs…got both in 95 lakhs
              • It became a big success..
              • At the time, for one movie wonder – Anushka..
            • You must take the call with belief that it will work
            • It is like a stock…
  • Reliance mobile was stagnant    
    • Was considered poor man’s brand
      • Used by economically marginal families
      • Anushka brought younger crowd, it rubbed on the brand


  • First employee of Reliance Retail
    • Started by building Reliance Digital
    • Modern retail was built
    • Reliance did not have any idea of consumer business, as they were in B2B, Petro-centric
    • First thing was to get B2C mindset
    • We need to add SME – Subject Matter Experts – to be added from various companies
    • I was doing the role of knowledge transfer – from westerners recruited from Walmart, …
    • It was very hard times, doing 72-80 hours in a week work
    • Unlike Reliance, DMART built everything bottoms up
    • PER cycle
      • Planning
      • Execution
      • Review
    • In Indian companies, very little time is invested on Planning and Review, more on execution
      • One of the most important thing, invest time most on planning
      • As CMO 1500 stores across 10-12 formats
      • All non-lifestyle formats I was handling
      • Complexity was very high
      • Supply-chain teams, Store-managers were to be facilitated
      • Uniformity and standardization important
      • Promotions were standardized
      • Pricing for same product across the geographies was different due to procurement; but process were standardized
    • Planning is important
      • Event related sales very important – Raksha Bandhan, Dusshera, Deepawali..
      • Months ahead of the event all negotiations happen with likes of Cadbury, Frooti.
    • We will have only a few black-swan events

2015 – Fairfax, Thomas Cook, sterling Holidays

  • Sterling – Overhaul of the offerings
    • I changed the model into time-share and hotel mode
      • 45% resorts – 55% hotels : Business model change
      • Diversification of portfolio
      • During COVID time share paid off, as people were fed up of being at home and came to work from these properties
    • Previously our resorts were green field, we moved to asset-light
    • Sterling was positioned as experiential holidays
      • For Discoveries and Experiences, Come to Sterling Holidays
    • In a services marketing, it is about the last mile service, not just marketing..
    • Travelled to all the Resorts and hotels, where everyone knows me
      • Chefs must create great quality dishes…
  • You must give a lot of attention to people – services part
    • Every person must know everything about the brand
    • A lot of training – it has a very big role to play in
  • 2020 to now…
    • I have been in education space …
    • COO and CBO –
      • Vibgyor schools
        • Funnel -à Leads à appointments à enrolment
        • PreCovid – 100 leads
          • 40 from digital
          • 60 non-digital
        • We moved to 80-20 now
        • Changing money allocation to make it happen – April 2000
        • What is your cost per lead? Need to know
          • Cost per lead
          • Cost per acquisition 8%
          • RPU for product?
          • FOR MBA product –?
            • COST per acquisition…
            • Marketing acquisition cost, is it 8-10%
        • Cost per lead for school – Industry analysis
          • Cost per lead is 500-600 Rs for school
          • I wanted it to happen at 300
          • Simple – Cost of acquisition is important, as much as Cost of Lead
          • We tracked it every week…
          • We spent on those that gave most return
        • Any tips and tricks that you use to get
          • Product is closest to real CAT
          • Use google and facebook,
          • On facebook
            • Geo-targeting
            • Most specific “Best CAT”
            • Document it to transfer to all
        • My learning SPECIFIC
          • Adwords – Vibgyor –
            • Found that “Best K12 school in Airoli”, “Best K12 school in Goregoan”, such keywords gave better results…
          • Lot of searches happen after office hours…
            • So on Google we changed “School open till 12pm, even though school closes at 5”
          • Searching of where the school is….
            • Name the road as Vibgyor road
              • Aeroli Vibgyor road on google
  • Social media and search important
  • Friends everything will change every year. Change is constant
  • Google reviews –
    • Individual school team has to get 100 google reviews every month
    • Get the parents to put the review..
    • School is very engaged product….
    • The Google Reviews help the brand percolation
  1. Check on YOUTUBE vibgyor channel…
    • 45 videos were made for every process…
      • Bus systems better
      • Security
      • Canteen system
      • Portability of the child (all 45 schools, same curriculum same day)
      • Between Pune and Bangalore – seamless transfer…
      • The chairman and vice-chairman
    • Make the sales standardized
      • Feature – A – B – C – D…

POST COVID scenario

  • Growthshyft.com that I am now involved with
    •  Personalize mentoring – with battery of industrial gurus, many from My institutional and Work world fraternity
  • 3 things
    • Your communication skills must be very good
    • Power of Videos – Videos impact hugely
    • Using all types of technologies
    • Process – Send me on Whatsapp, before we talk so that I do the homework
  • It puts a little bit of burden on management
    • TRUST needs to be high
    • Reason for using the brand has to be compelling

I am with BRIGHTCOM now….

  • Fastest growing digital advertising company
  • On Board of a few NGOs
    • MagicBus – education and life-skills

Three most important things for the nation to work upon, looking forward….One of my friends in politics is working in Delhi! 😊

  • Building HEALTH INFRA
    • Building EDUCATION INFRA


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