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Fabindia Overseas Pvt Ltd: CMOs must reskill and abandon the familiar Fabindia''s Karan Kumar

In this edition of CMO Slambook BE gets up, close and personal with Fabindia’s chief marketing officer Karan Kumar to share his journey from working across categories at one of the largest Indian conglomerates, ITC, before taking charge of the newly created role.Having spent over 16 years in an ecosystem that was now very familiar, the time was ripe to challenge myself one more time  to now perform in a completely new environment, experience cultural pluralism, leading change while working with a completely new set of people.

The opportunity came as a surprise – quite literally over a phone-call out of nowhere one evening. The engagement process was a prolonged and by the end of it, I was more than convinced that it was here that I wanted to begin the next phase of my professional growth. The creation of a brand and marketing department clearly outlines the importance that the organisation accords to this area.The brand stories and journeys are different. Fabindia has put me right in the middle of change management like never before. The brand is transforming and structures evolving. Managing change in this transitional stage is truly exciting and fulfilling.

To withdraw support from a fashion apparel product line that we had built and furthered very painstakingly. I learnt from that experience that personal passion can sometimes consume you and make you overlook the change in operating context. A context where the opportunity did not exist anymore and where the reasonable option was to respectfully withdraw.For a particular business or brand, 4 years. If it is at a group position, I would say 6 years. CMOs must continue to re-skill. A change in their context – one that forces abandonment of the familiar - is essential. That’s also a good time-period for a CMO to mentor and prepare his successor.

At a recent consumer immersion exercise, I was asked about how despite the rapid growth in our footprint, our products continue to represent our commitment to India’s craft and artisanal traditions. The answer lies in our commitment to both quality and scale of engagement with artisans and crafts-persons. Our relationships with our supply partners coupled with the supply chain organisation ensures that the mouth of the funnel always remains full.

The most amazing requests we have received is for our customers to visit our craft clusters and actually engage with craftsmen. What’s the biggest challenge at Fabindia? Brands are dying to get original stories to make themselves memorable. We have a story. We need to tell it more. Consumers have a right to know how and why we are different. We have to connect the brand’s rural ingenuity and brilliance of craft to the emerging set of urban consumers while ensuring that heritage not become a niche social conversation.

And what is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought online? I often purchase online for sheer convenience. But I only buy the brands that I know and trust – brands that are a part of my usual repertoire and the same ones I would have bought even while I would be in conventional retail environment. So in-house or “store brands” are not my thing. And massive dis- counts don’t make me alter my preference and consideration. I honestly can’t remember what my first purchase was - maybe it was a pair of socks, where it would have mattered even if that experiment went completely south! But from there, I have come to buying even a laptop online which I think speaks a lot for my shopping journey.Conviction and perseverance from Margaret Thatcher, audacity from Charles Darwin, ability to visualise and breathe life into a massive canvas from Michelangelo, communication and change from Barack Obama, and finally, superlative execution from Jack Welch.





Source:Et.retail.com,India


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