Escalate

Complete each task with full conviction

Rupesh Pandey made his foray into the retail business soon after graduating from Thakur Ram Campus in Birgunj in 2001. Today, he is associated with several well-known international brands like Celio, Indian Terrain, Louise Philippe, Da Milano and others. In this interview with The Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Pandey talks about why investing in seemingly expensive brands pays off in the long term and shares some of his dos and don’ts of marketing and branding. Excerpts:

You have 13 well-known international brands under your fold. How do you manage to maintain their brand images?
It is a tough ask to be handling such well-known international brands in Nepal. There is a huge responsibility because these international brands already have a high value in the market. Also, these brands are very particular about their franchise owners. Recently, there was this whole fiasco over fake brands in the country and many people started doubting the brands our company runs. Thankfully, we have been able to build a rapport and goodwill with the customers and we are still here to serve them. Currently, Nepal is going through phenomenal changes. Due to globalisation, customers in Nepal have now become brand conscious and the clothing industry has seen a big boom in the last decade. The retail owners need to understand that customers are much smarter than the vendors these days. 

While the market is changing, there is still a perception that international brands are expensive, even overpriced. What are you doing to encourage customers from making the switch?
It is actually a bit misguided that people think that branded items are not affordable. Branded items maybe a tad more expensive but they are good investments. Why buy cheap products and regret later? Paying a bit more additional money for a branded item will make you spend once but you’ll be happier about it later. 
I am glad that our company has been slowly changing the image of international brands. I believe that to run a business, you need to be brutally honest. If you’re not honest with the customers, employees or yourself, your business will eventually suffer. Also, more importantly, to attract more customers, we mandatorily have to maintain the quality, quantity and the standard of the brands. Under our company we are already running 23 international outlets. Our stocks are checked and re-checked over and over again during the quality check process. 

Today brands are considered to be one of the primary assets of a company. How important is it for a company to maintain its brand through customer service?
Customer service is important if you want to turn a product into a brand. We offer the best services to our customers, not only while they purchase an item but also by maintaining a strong connection after the sale is completed. As we import branded items from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Taiwan, India and China, and the international brands itself ensures that our employees are well trained. Hence, our employees are sent to these countries for better sales training. You have to invest on your employees because they are the ones who will face the customers daily. When talking about maintaining a brand through customer service, it is the minute things that matter. Just a smile can help change the brand image of the company. 

What are the key things that a brand manager or a business owner must think about when advertising their product?
To become a proficient brand manager, one needs to stay on top of their game and remain well informed. Brand managers are basically a guardian to the company. They need to foster strong relationships and network with the employees. A brand manager needs to train their employees well and be able to take criticism for wrong-doings. When you are introducing a new product in the market, you need to be well aware about how, where and when to advertise the product. Consumers need to be introduced and informed about what kind of products you are selling. It is impossible to create awareness for your brand just by starting a store. Before you advertise your product, you also need to know and work according to the targeted customers. This boosts the confidence and morale of both the customers and the sellers. 

What are the dos and don’ts of advertising?
You need to find your own formulas for success and break down your vision into simple plans. You cannot be imitating and competing with other products to gain profit for your own; you need to have originality. When planning to advertise a product, you need to build your own brand. When doing business, don’t be anxious about profit or loss. Just do your work. Hurdles will come but if you panic things can get worse. Business is like running a show in a theatre; if you are in it, you need to complete it with full conviction. You need to be well aware of each and every single detail. You need to monitor your employees and maintain the stocks. You always need to think of building and maintaining your customer relationships. 

Published: 2018-02-05 09:05:22