Soumya Saklani, Managing Director, Kantar, West, East and Central Africa

Soumya Saklani, Managing Director, Kantar, West, East and Central Africa

Soumya Saklani is the Managing Director of Kantar Insights of West, East, Central Africa. Having worked in the country, regional, divisional CEO rules, Soumya is extremely well-educated about the functioning and sustainability of the brands.

Podcast

Overview

Jeff Bezos has said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” A strong brand is formed and is sustainable only when it connects to people on emotional and rational levels. It needs to offer something unique to customers and not just focus on the product on a superficial level.

A brand manager’s role is extremely critical to build and maintain the reputation. Today, we have Mr. Soumya Solanki, a seasoned business manager, who discusses it at great length with us.

About Soumya Saklani

Soumya Saklani is the Managing Director of Kantar Insights of West, East, Central Africa. Having worked in the country, regional, divisional CEO rules, Soumya is extremely well-educated about the functioning and sustainability of the brands.

Today he discusses with us the critical role of brand managers.

DISCUSSION

Soumya discusses the importance of having a clear brand purpose. He talks further about a brand providing a meaningful benefit to the consumer. 

Soumya emphasizes the importance of the use of marketing for long brand life. He says, “A brand can survive if it maintains a presence in the market, ensuring they are not going light on marketing.”

He also talks at length about the mistakes that brands resort to which lands them in trouble. Soumya says, “Brands, today, are trying to do everything to everyone, which is a major problem.”

Soumya also talks about his role as a holistic brand guide. He calls it, “Next-generation framework of philosophy for measuring how a brand is evolving and tracking the health of the brand among consumers.”

Talking about the holistic brand growth approach, he shares how they help the brands to fulfil the meaningful emotional and rational needs of consumers. He talks about understanding the triggers and barriers in the market as a way of actualising the brand footage, and how based on that, brands can plan their short and long-term activities.  

Brand Management in Digital World

Soumya calls the digital world exciting. He compares the traditional era of brand management with today’s fast-paced approach. He shares about the increased competition even from small players that have come with e-commerce. 

Furthermore, he says, “There are many examples when we see small players on Amazon eating the shares of big players in the market. Earlier, the market and actions were static and predictable.”

Soumya also talks about the dynamic role that brand managers play now, balancing both short-term and long-term goals. 

He says, “Everything can be monitored in real-time. A brand manager, today, has to work with a lot of short-term pressures and inputs.”

With an overload of information, it becomes important for a brand manager to be in a mindset to monitor the everyday available information and plan actions accordingly.

Soumya also stresses the importance of innovation to survive in the competitive world. He says, “One needs to understand where consumers are going. Where is the future growth? It is important to maintain a point of difference from others.”

He also talks at great length about market analytics and how they have changed today.

Cultural Impact

Soumya agrees with the cultural impact of marketing campaigns. He explains how working in Africa, a certain campaign that works in one country might not work in another. He says, “What is humorous and relevant in the market is different from others. Ghan and Nigeria, for instance, are next to each other but poles apart in culture.”

He explains how local brands sometimes work well, a lot netter than international brands.

Profile

I am a proven business leader with an entrepreneurial mindset & a track record of consistently orchestrating, delivering multi-dimensional growth: I have held country, regional, divisional CEO roles with P&L responsibilities for over a decade. I’m equally adept setting up business units from scratch & transforming, turning around existing businesses & practices, leading teams, driving all round growth through diverse environments via market creation & strengthening market share, identifying appropriate strategies & executing with vigour.

I’m widely travelled & tested across geographies: My career journey has taken me to work & live in 7 different countries across Asia & Africa, travelling to & conducting business in many more. This has led me to develop a strong ability to understand diverse environments & adapt to create winning strategies & cultures with multi-cultural teams, strengthening resilience & transferrable skills.

I’m passionate about creating, deepening trusted adviser-client relationships: I believe the foundation of success is a strong client-agency relationship built on a bedrock of solid delivery, trust & invested in mutual growth. I have personally led & built over time, numerous key client relationships via deepening understanding of core client questions, orchestrating team & organisation resources to deliver with excellence, evolving relationships to a higher strategic engagement level.

I see my own success through enabling success of others: Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity & privilege to invest in, develop, grow & personally mentor several upcoming leaders, many of whom are now in senior leadership positions as country CEOs or other roles on client & agency sides.

I have a collaborative & influence-led approach: As member of regional boards, I am often sought & tasked to lead priority cross-unit, division assignments as I can bring diverse stakeholders onto the table, uniting & aligning a specific mission-led team towards a higher organisational goal.

Last not least, I am & will always remain a curious seeker of insights: Nothing excites me more than looking @ data, trends from all perspectives & uncovering an ‘ah’ insight, be that to advise a client on a marketing issue or indeed to make better decisions as a business leader. I’m passionate about thought leadership & often seek to get out of my introvertish comfort zone by sharing my perspectives, presenting in industry forums, conferences & events, ensuring I keep myself fresh & up to date.

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