No need to spice it up: a product that sells itself
posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2008 11:47 AM
Fancy landing a job marketing a product that you admire and that already walks off the shelves? Sanjay Kumar of IndiaOrganix did. So what does he do all day?
Sanjay, 32, came to the IndiaOrganix job from a family of spice merchants in North East India. He also came armed with a portfolio career that embraced sales & marketing roles at blue-chip companies and organisations such as SPG Media Group, Cannon UK, Cable & Wireless PLC, University of London, Pell & Bales, American Express, Labour Party, and LTco.
His enthusiasm for Asian food marketing began at SPG Media Group, he says, and his new role gives him a chance to build on this 'but on a brand I can be truly passionate about'.
'I was already a loyal organic spice consumer before joining the IndiaOrganix team,' Sanjay insists. 'My access point to the brand was my year old neice Kushi, when we were looking for organic sweet spices for her annuprashan ceremony, which is a Hindu baby-naming ceremony. It just grew from there.'
Now his three year brief as marketing manager is specifically to 'increase awareness, trial and household penetration' of the IndiaOrganix food brand in Brighton.
IndiaOrganix is a traditional British Asian family food business based in India and the UK. The spice company works in partnership with small-scale spice producers and Indian farmers groups in South India.
The business, based in Brighton, was born out of a passion for the produce cultivated in India's's first organic spice gardens set up in the 1920's by the Spice Board of India and the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council which has it head-quarters in Khumulwng, Tripura.
Perhaps rather fittingly, a day in Sanjay's life since relocating to Brighton has contrasted dramatically with the corporate style of working life in London. Instead of driving to an office he now works from home in Brighton. The reduction in each employee's carbon footprint is part of his agenda to formulate a green policy to match the IndiaOrganix ethos of supporting development projects within India's organic spice producing communities. IndiaOrganix management meetings are held via conference call each Monday, while most logistical and distribution conferences are also held remotely.
'I rely heavily on email and phone to stay in touch with my collegues in South India. Like most Indians we communicate in 'Hinglish' - a strange mix of English and Hindustani. All the India-based management and sales team work remotely. I also travel a lot - you have to get about in the food business because of visiting retailers and UK curry house owners. Other work might involve reviewing artwork with the designers, then heading out in the afternoon to agency meetings or meetings with the catering team in Brighton,' he says.
Initially, Sanjay had serious misgivings over being based at home but now claims it works perfectly. 'I thought it would be less social and hard to get motivated, but the reality is very different,' he says. 'You get things done because there are fewer distractions. I do feel that I now have a better work-life balance with no pressure from a commute and more chance to spend time with my partner.'
While promoting spice products might not be the toughest brief in town, IndiaOrganix does have rival brands, such as Pathak's and Sharwoods, as well as own-label organic ranges. Nevertheless, Sanjay remains bullish about his specific mission and the growth of the UK ethnic and organics sector in general.
'There are not that many big Indian food brands to brag about, but I think that will change. My job is about converting people to the taste, nutritional and environmental benefits of Indian and South Asian spice products, and getting people to buy and eat a great premium product. In many ways it is a dream brief for me,' he says