In Conversation with Prashant Verma

Head of Marketing, VLCC Group
Wednesday, 12 Apr 2017
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Prashant Verma is the Head of Marketing, VLCC Group since April 2016. Prior to VLCC he was the Associate Director,  Vyome Biosciences, Pvt. Ltd. from 2013 to 2016. Prashant has spent 6 years at Unilever, which he joined as an Area Sales & Customer Manager in 2007 and got promoted to the Senior Global Brand Manager in 2011. He has also worked with the ICICI Bank and Dainik Jagran in the past.
About
Prashant Verma is the Head of Marketing, VLCC Group since April 2016. Prior to VLCC he was the Associate Director, Vyome Biosciences, Pvt. Ltd. from 2013 to 2016. Prashant has spent 6 years at Unilever, which he joined as an Area Sales & Customer Manager in 2007 and got promoted to the Senior Global Brand Manager in 2011. He has also worked with the ICICI Bank and Dainik Jagran in the past.

What's been the overriding reason for the success of VLCC in the last several decades?

VLCC is guided by the motto of ‘transforming lives’. The brand seeks to spark self-transformation, spread happiness and imbibe every individual with wellness. This motto is combined with a healthy mix of nature and science in our products and services, thereby, helping us to deliver the best results.

Could you talk about how you plan your campaigns before rolling them out? Case in point: The Beauty-Full Month campaign that took place just last month.

We work on annualised marketing calendar for different categories, keeping in mind a varied range of factors including customer interest, topical challenges as well as business focus. Accordingly, different campaigns are planned and executed around different time frame across the year. Since VLCC is a pioneer in beauty and wellness services, we design our campaigns with a clear focus to allow our services to resonate with our customers. Though we are known for our slimming services, our beauty services has started contributing significantly to the overall business of the group after we have started focusing our campaigns on it.

Last month, for instance, we pegged one of our campaigns to coincide with International Women’s Day. Called Beauty-Full Month, it was rolled out on social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, supported with consumer engagement initiatives on-ground and in print media. While our campaign offered discounts, the essence of it was in effectively communicating with our customers.

Is digital media important or will the focus still remain traditional media for the brand’s advertising?

Digital is rapidly establishing itself as the lead, if not primary medium for us. We have made a strategic shift by moving our investments from traditional media to online media. A case in point being the online #VLCCStyleStatements series and hosting a Facebook Live session every week to connect with our customers digitally. With higher penetration of television and digital in our target group, we have tweaked our media strategies to be present on digital platforms. Additionally, we continue to drive tactical initiatives through strategic alliances and tie-ups, basis the needs of the consumer.

VLCC has been growing exponentially, spanning 330 locations in over 150 cities and 14 countries across South Asia, South East Asia, the GCC Region and East Africa. While there must be several strategies to propagate its growth, could you share something more about the brand’s marketing strategies?

VLCC manages one of the largest chains of slimming, beauty and fitness centers across Asia, running one the largest networks of vocational education academies in beauty and nutrition, offering courses in streams like aesthetics, makeup, hair design, nail art, nutrition, skin and spa therapy. Our products are manufactured in Switzerland, Singapore and India with treatments to help our customers. That said, we believe in adapting to local culture. Our marketing strategies look at multimedia marketing campaigns to communicate effectively with our customers. Our campaigns are conceptualised in-house with thorough research and insights to back them. Our endeavour is to reach out to women across all age groups. We celebrate the distinctiveness of women through our brand and our campaigns reflect that sentiment. The Beauty-Full Month campaign, for example, was supported by online promotions and contests, on-ground activations, bloggers and influencer engagement and on multiple digital formats using native stories, banner advertising, video promotions etc. Additionally, Facebook Live sessions were being conducted to increase consumer engagement.

Campaign strategies don’t always work. What should be the trigger for brands to junk or reinvent their marketing strategies?

I believe a brand should tweak their marketing strategies basis any new opportunities and looking at white spaces in consumer needs. We need to stay relevant in the mind of our consumer and any decision to tweak or pull back marketing strategy is basis that only.

What will be the top two-three marketing strategies for VLCC to move ahead?

Keeping the core of our brand intact, which is slimming and weight loss, in our case, we will build our equity in the body contouring domain. Another focus area will be beauty as a category, which will be led by aesthetic dermatological procedures. We will look at minimally invasive and non surgical solutions for to skincare and establish our supremacy as a serious beauty brand.

What will be the brand’s marketing strategy for domestic and global markets?

Like I said before, although we are a global brand with operations across countries, our overall marketing strategy has always been to adapt to local culture. We define India as our domestic market because of our origins from here. In India, focus will be towards continuous innovation in different product and services to expand the consumer base. We are doing a strategic shift by focusing more on digital as compared to other media. 

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