“When I used to work in a commercial bank in the late 1990s, the bank’s marketing department used to handle a very routine and administrative work, mostly publishing interest rate and auction notices,” recalls Abhaya Gorkhalee, Additional General Manager at Dabur Nepal.
Gorkhalee now leads Dabur Nepal’s marketing department which has a 360 approach to marketing. As one of Nepal’s leading FMCG companies, Dabur Nepal has organized many trendsetting marketing campaigns over the years.
In today’s world, marketing and promotional activities have become crucial for companies to stay ahead of the competition.
“Every company now tries to convince customers that their products and services are the best. This has helped usher marketing as one of the key areas of any business. The domain of marketing offers lucrative opportunities to professionals to develop their careers,” said Sanjay Rajbhandary, Deputy General Manager at Dish Media Network Limited.
Having spent over two decades of experience in the realm of marketing, both Gorkhalee and Rajbhandary have closely observed the evolution of marketing in the domestic corporate sector and have seen a paradigm shift in the way marketing is perceived in Nepal.
Professionals say that today’s marketing is not just limited to activities such as advertisement. With the expansion in scope, marketing departments of organizations have become one of the major pillars of their organizational structure. The marketing departments now have multiple engagements and duties, ranging from handling/managing branding, corporate affairs, consumer research, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns to digital marketing. The departments play crucial roles in areas including product development, understanding consumers’ needs and designing products after receiving market insights.
A Paradigm Shift
According to marketers, the proliferation of social media has forced companies to change their marketing approaches and strategies and deploy new tools. “Nowadays we have to design our strategies and campaign in specific ways targeting niche consumers,” said Awashis Ojha, Marketing Manager at Siddhartha Bank Limited. Ojha, who has spent 15 years in marketing in sectors including automobile and media and advertisement, observes that organizations today take a focused approach to effectively execute their marketing plans and strategies.
Raju Paudel, Spokesperson and Head of Public Relation at IME Group agrees with Ojha. Paudel says that when he started his career some two decades ago, the marketing profession was completely different from how it is being practiced today.
According to him, the massive use of social media platforms has changed marketing strategies, and corporate organizations are finding newer and innovative ways to reach out to customers to sell their products and services. “With technological advancement and growing internet penetration, it is next to impossible for the corporate sector to survive with the traditional marketing tools. Realizing the importance, the corporate sector is adapting to the changing scenario and investing more in marketing,” said Paudel.
With the access to the internet growing massively and social media becoming the biggest platforms for information and entertainment in recent years as a result of the growing use of smartphones, companies are more focused on promoting products and services through digital platforms. “The emergence of new technologies and platforms has forced marketing professionals to be tech-savvy and understand the evolving market properly,” said Madhav Kafle, Head of Sales and Marketing at Worldlink Communications.
According to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, internet penetration in Nepal stands over 100 percent at present which means the majority of the country’s population is online. Realizing the potential and efficiency of shifting to digital platforms, businesses have moved to digital marketing to reach their goals.
“The popularity of social media and other digital platforms has made it easier for companies to reach out to customers. So, organizations are investing more in digital marketing hoping for good returns. On the other hand, the popularity of traditional media platforms has also waned. Many people are online 24/7 and this is where the companies are cashing in,” said Kafle. He is of the view that looking at the current trends, offline marketing will be obsolete in the next 2-3 years.
According to marketing professionals, people use social media for at least 2-3 hours every day on average. Recent reports show that almost 13 million Nepalis are on Facebook, and 1.7 million are on Instagram.
“You can reach a larger audience in a short period. You can choose your customers according to their age. Conventionally, we had to advertise for the masses, and in many cases, people used to ignore it. Now with technological advancements, we can choose the location to advertise our products. It is also cost-effective and helps to reach out to a large consumer base almost instantly,” said Keshav Aryal, Deputy General Manager-Marketing at Shivam Cement.
All professionals who spoke to the HRM agree that cost-effectiveness is one of the biggest advantages of digital marketing. This cost-effectiveness is particularly using social media as advertisement platforms as companies can create content to promote their products and services at a relatively low cost.
Lately, companies have also started investing in marketing campaigns collaborating with celebrities and other influencers who have a massive fan following on social media. Celebrities post the products of the companies on social media pages and huge their huge follower base translates to reduced cost of advertisement for companies, say advertisers.
Knowing the Consumers
With increasing market intricacies due to the wide use of technology, determining the behaviors of consumers has also become an important aspect of marketing in recent years.
Unlike in the past when marketers had to visit door-to-door to meet customers to know their needs and requirements for products and services, marketers can get positive or negative feedback almost instantly from consumers through the internet and social media. This has helped companies to respond and resolve problems quickly, according to marketing professionals.
With platforms like Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, companies have the easiest way to promote their products and services to specific users at any time. For instance, companies can run a Facebook advertisement campaign identifying the consumers’ age, location, and interests.
Collaboration with B-schools
Realizing that fresh marketing graduates need to be trained within the office setup, companies have started collaborating with business schools to provide internships and on-the-job training.
“Many corporate organizations have been providing internships to undergraduates and fresh graduates. However, companies are focused more on management than on providing skill-based training. Having said that, if companies directly provide skill-based jobs to interns, results can’t be seen,” said Aryal, adding that companies need to balance it, and provide skill-based on-the-job training to freshers.
According to Paudel, most b-schools have made it mandatory for their students to work as interns for a certain period before graduating. “We have been training interns in the office set up, and this global practice is beneficial for both freshers and companies,” he said. According to him, the number of fresh graduates interested in developing their careers in marketing is overwhelming at present. “The reason behind their interest is that the marketing job is versatile. You get a lot of exposure from networking and personal relations,” he said.
Ojha of Siddhartha Bank says that organizations these days have started to bring marketing experts to train their staff. “This boosts the confidence of freshers as they get a chance to learn from experts. As organizations are more focused on the digital front, those having expertise in digital marketing are in demand today,” he said.
“A successful marketer must understand the market, competitors, and customers.”
Sanjay Rajbhandary, Deputy General Manager, Dish Media Network Ltd
How have you observed the evolution of marketing as a career in the Nepali business sector?
Earlier, marketing was merely related to advertisement and promotional activities involving traditional media platforms. With increased competition, consumption, and awareness of customers, the scenario is different now. Every company now tries to convince its prospective customers that they have the best products and services. This has made marketing a popular career choice for professionals and fresh graduates. The way corporate people see the students who are studying marketing has also changed. For the skilled and deserving candidates, there’s attractive remuneration and facilities in every business, which shows how far Nepali companies have reached in marketing. The demand for qualified marketing professionals is increasing. Businesses are also becoming increasingly aware of digital marketing which has created another new segment in marketing. This has generated more opportunities for the new generation seeking a marketing career.
How is the attraction of fresh graduates towards the field of marketing?
The way corporate organizations have prospered, we can see that students are looking forward to developing their careers in marketing. The top business focuses on getting graduates for their marketing department from the popular b-schools. This link between b-schools and business also signifies the attraction of a marketing career from the students’ point of view. On the other hand, organizations are also eager to develop and strengthen their marketing departments.
What skills and qualities are necessary to become successful marketing professionals?
As marketing has evolved into a specialized job, one needs to have the skills to analyze the data and interpret them. A successful marketer must understand the market, competitors, and customers. He/she should have the ability to communicate and make a connection between the brand and the users. Sound interpersonal skills, and the ability to work on a team and lead the team always help.
What opportunities marketing sector offers for professionals in terms of progress in their career?
Marketing is a holistic procedure from finding the market to supplying the need of the potential customer, from generating the demand to managing the stuff, whether service or commodity, in the marketing research process. Hence it can produce professional people from scratch to deliver to the need of the marketing sector. In between, people can be knowledgeable about the market and its strengths, communicating the market’s needs; hence they will get a better idea about the market and develop their communication skills. Besides, the marketing professional gets different training on self-development, skill development, and trips to expand their knowledge.
How are organizations focusing on enhancing the capacity of their marketing staff? How much emphasis do they give to learning and development (L&D)?
They give current scenario training and soft skill coaching. L&D is essential in every field, and the marketing department is equally emphasizing L&D as well.
“It is next to impossible for organizations to survive with traditional marketing tools.”
Raju Poudel, Spokesperson & Head of Public Relations, IME Group
The use of social media and other digital platforms has helped companies to change their marketing strategies and corporate organizations are finding newer and innovative ways to advertise/promote their products and engage with prospective customers. It is next to impossible for organizations to survive with traditional marketing tools. This is why organizations are investing more in marketing these days.
The use of the internet and social media has helped customers to get quality products and services. Both satisfied and dissatisfied customers tend to share their experiences with the products and services hence forcing companies to focus more on quality.
“Looking at the current trends, conventional marketing will be obsolete in the next 2-3 years”
Madhav Kafle, Head of Sales and Marketing, Worldlink Communications
The emergence of new technologies and platforms has forced marketing professionals to be tech-savvy and understand the evolving market properly.
The popularity of social media and other digital platforms has made it easier for companies to reach out to customers. So, organizations are investing more in digital marketing hoping for good returns. On the other hand, the popularity of traditional media platforms has also waned. Many people are online 24/7 and this is where the companies are cashing in. Looking at the current trends, conventional marketing will be obsolete in the next 2-3 years.
“Organizations have realized the need for stronger and bigger marketing teams.”
Abhaya Pd. Gorkhalee, Additional General Manager, Dabur Nepal Pvt. Ltd
How has marketing as a career evolved in the Nepali business sector over the years with the country’s economic growth and increase in business activities?
When I started my marketing career in the mid-1990s, the areas of marketing and sales used to be overlapped. Very few companies used to have a separate marketing department. But, now with more companies and more brands, the market has become more competitive. As the behavior of consumers has changed significantly, marketing as a job has also become more and more complex. One requires more complex analytical skills and tools to understand the consumers. Companies have to satisfy customers in order to be in the business. In the good old days, basic marketing was sufficient to sell the products. But nowadays many aspects are needed to be considered. This is why marketing departments of companies today comprise various verticals including brand, market research, media, digital and activation.
How marketing has become different from the earlier days? How much importance Nepali corporate sector gives to the marketing department?
I also worked in a bank for 4-5 years in the late 1990s. While the banks had a marketing department in those days but the jobs of people working there were very routine and administrative kind of thing. The marketing department then used to publish notices related to interest rates notices and auctions of collateralized assets. Today, all banks have proper and dedicated marketing departments that work in including product development, understanding consumers’ needs and designing products after receiving market insights.
Many organizations have realized that with increased competition, they need stronger and bigger marketing teams. I believe it’s the marketing that drives the business. Gone are the days companies manufacture the products and consumers would just buy them. Now, we have to manufacture only such products that the consumers are looking for.
How is the attraction of fresh graduates towards the field of marketing?
Last year we went to two of the best b-schools in Nepal for recruitment. There were around two dozen students interested to apply for the job in Dabur Nepal. Dabur Nepal, for the first time, rolled out a Young Management Development Program (YMDP) last year. It’s like a management trainee program.
The kind of learning the fresh b-school graduates can have if they are in the right organization and with the right people who can groom them and teach them will be an asset for them.
Looking back on my own career, I had an opportunity to work in one of the best MNCs in Nepal. I am really thankful to my all former employers who taught me a lot of things including consumer insights, processes and systems, corporate culture, discipline, and work ethics.
Sometime back, I had the impression that most young graduates are more attracted to banks because banking was flourishing. Currently, there are sizeable b-school graduates attracted to marketing.
What skills and qualities are necessary to become successful marketing professionals?
Marketing is art also. You need to have an inclination to understand the consumers. A lot of people think marketing is all about making advertisements, doing promotions, giving discounts, and organizing events. But marketing is beyond that. You have to understand your consumers and constantly upgrade your consumer insights.
A good marketeer must visit the market as lifestyles is changing, preference is changing, and the competitive landscape is changing. For this, you need to keep your eyes open. The trade can give you a lot of information. We spend millions of rupees to understand the consumers.