You are your own competition

Feb 12, 2018-

Antim Ranjit started his career as a photographer at Himalayan Colour Lab (Hicola) in 1991. After working at Hicola as its chief photo technician for 13 years, Ranjit joined the Vishal Group in 2004 as a marketer and distributor for photographic equipment and materials.

After making the switch into the corporate sector, one thing led to another and Ranjit was eventually appointed the brand head for Vishal Group’s soon-to-be launched Big Mart store in 2009.

Reluctant at first, he decided to gamble and take up the challenge and has held the position for the past eight years; overseeing the brand grow from one store to 30 different locations.

In this interview with The Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Ranjit talks about building a brand identity from scratch and shares a few tips on becoming an efficient brand manager. Excerpts: 

It is quite unusual for a person engaged in a creative profession like photography to switch to the corporate sector. What prompted you to take up this challenge? It must have been difficult starting out.

It is definitely unusual for somebody who comes from a creative background to suddenly switch to the corporate sector. After spending 13 years at Hicola as its chief technician, I wanted something more challenging. Fortunately, I got that opportunity while working with Vishal Group. Initially, I had to market photography equipment and materials, which I was quite comfortable doing. Then one thing led to another and when Big Mart was launched, I was picked to become its brand manager. Now, looking back, it was quite the journey. If it wasn’t for the experienced colleagues who helped me in every step of the way, I might not have succeeded as such. For a beginner like me, I knew I had to stay calm and composed because even a small mistake could have adversely affected the newly-launched brand. 

When it comes to supermarkets, there already is a big brand that is a household name in the Capital. How did your brand, Big Mart, approach the market given a well-established company was already dominating it?

At Big Mart we focus on providing items that are exclusively needed for people’s day-to-day needs. We don’t sell garments, furniture, kitchen appliances and the likes. We have both local and international brands and we offer hygienic items and guarantee the best services. Also, Big Mart tries to cater to neighbourhoods and communities. We want to be visible in places where they lack marts with high standards. That is what sets us apart. Our motto is to reach to every community, and it was worked out rather well in our favour. 

Over the past eight years, Big Mart has already opened 30 stores across the Kathmandu Valley. How do you ensure consistency in all the stores so as to maintain the brand image that you have?

Consumers earlier had this misconception that only rich people could afford to buy items at a supermarket store but I am glad that Big Mart has played its part in shattering that perception. Over the past eight years, what I have realised as a brand manager is: You need to provide best of the best services to your customers; sometimes, even beyond your capabilities. If you give an emotional touch to your customers, your brand will definitely prosper. Until and unless you offer service with a smile, even TV commercials, radio jingles, print ads cannot help you gain the brand image that you are looking for. It is all about the service your employees provide—and training our employees uniformly across the 30 stores has been key. We try to get in touch with our customers on a regular basis. We provide them discounts and we regularly come up with various prize offers. The other interesting thing about our brand is that we have a unique colour and display, which gives a certain charm to the store. Also, we often hear from our customers about how Big Mart has changed the aura of their entire neighbourhood. Such appreciation definitely encourages us to do better. We, after all, believe in winning hearts. 

What can organisations do to ensure better quality and service to customers?

For an organisation to ensure better quality and service to customers, it needs to first identify its customers. The team needs to research the feasibility of the brand and the products that are being sold in each of the outlets. I think to ensure better quality and service, the organisation needs to also understand what the consumers want. What kinds of brands are most wanted in this neighbourhood and what more can be done to attract such customers? At Big Mart our employees are well trained and we have extensive training programmes. If it wasn’t for them, we would not have reached the heights we have. 

Today, supermarkets are a dime-a-dozen in Kathmandu. How do you tackle competition?

We don’t consider other stores as our competitors. We are our own competition; we want to get better every day. If we start envying other stores’ success, we will never grow. To prosper, you need to concentrate on yourself. 

Can you give us few tips on how to become a better brand manager?

If you want to become a brand manager, you need to go in-depth of the company’s brand value and work towards it. If you cannot work towards that, it is impossible for a person to become a successful brand manager. Until and unless you have a target and your goals set, you cannot achieve anything in your career. A brand manager needs to be patient. You cannot fulfil all your goals in one day; you need to take baby steps. 

Published: 12-02-2018 08:50

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