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Amitava Chattopadhyay


Amitava Chattopadhyay
Emerging Market Multinationals - Amitava Chattopadhyay


Amitava Chattopadhyay

Janani: The Rocky Road from Charity to Social Enterprise

Janani – an affiliate of the U.S.-based NGO, DKT International – offered reproductive health products and services to mostly low-income consumers from its base in Patna, Bihar. It had grown tremendously in the recent past, expanding its coverage from 8 to 25 states — almost the whole of India. Donor funding had been critical to Janani’s success, but donors were scaling back their funding in India as the economy improved and incomes increased. Janani still had three donors but funding from two of the bigger donors was expiring in 2020 and ongoing support was not assured. While Janani had made efforts to become a sustainable social enterprise, in 2019, 40 percent of Janani’s annual budget continued to be dependent on donor funding. Janani needed to figure out how to become a self-sustained organization by embracing market opportunities and achieving its mission of improving the reproductive health of lower- and lower-middle-income consumers in India.

Social Issue Based Brand Transformation: Strategies of the Luxury Beauty Brand SK-II

SK-II, a leading luxury beauty brand in Japan, was experiencing a decline. Its customers were aggressively courted by rivals, and changes in society made it difficult for the brand to stay compelling to its customers. SK-II must formulate a new strategy to fundamentally transform itself, bolster relevance and transcend the competition. The case describes the market landscape, economic, societal and technological changes, as well as SK-II’s prior strategies and their implementation. In developing the new strategy, the brand needs to decide:

  1. whether and how it should speak to social issues such as gender equality and incorporate those issues into its brand purpose;
  2. how digital technologies should be effectively integrated into every aspect of the brand experience;
  3. how it should synergistically leverage social media, metaverse and other media platforms; and
  4. how it should work with established celebrities as well as emerging influencers to create a prestigious and yet engaging brand image.

The brand needs to thoroughly assess the pros and cons associated with the potential options, craft its strategy and develop a detailed implementation plan.

Dilmah Ceylon Tea: Committed to Taste, Goodness and Purpose

The case describes the story of Sri Lanka based Dilmah Ceylon Tea, a company founded in 1988 by  Merrill J. Fernando. The company had pioneered the concept of ‘single-origin tea’ to its latest innovative Elixir range. The premium positioned tea was ‘picked, perfected and packed’ at origin with a brand based on three pillars: taste, goodness, and purpose. Present in over 105 countries, it had become one of the most well-known Sri Lankan brands worldwide. The group invested a minimum 15% of its pre-tax profits in humanitarian and environmental initiatives through the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation and Sustainability Unit (DCSU). However, the tea business was becoming increasingly competitive with the largest player, Unilever, about to sell its tea portfolio. The current CEO, Dilhan Fernando, needed to address several key questions, in this context: How could the Dilmah Ceylon Tea brand ensure the margins necessary to thrive and grow? Which customer segments and geographies should it focus on? Could it potentially leverage its investments in humanitarian and environmental initiatives to achieve better margins and

How Xiaomi Became an Internet of Things Powerhouse

When Xiaomi entered the fiercely competitive smartphone market in 2010, it did so without even offering a real phone. The company only offered a free Android-based operating system (OS). Yet, within seven years, Xiaomi became one of the world’s largest smartphone makers, reaching $15 billion in revenue. Accelerating its growth rate, Xiaomi transformed into the world’s largest consumer IoT (Internet of Things) firm by 2020, with its revenue surpassing $37 billion and more than 210 million IoT devices (excluding smartphones and laptops) sold across more than 90 countries.

How was Xiaomi able to grow so explosively and what lessons can other companies learn from Xiaomi’s rise?

Marketing Mania Talks: Episode 2–Talk with Amitava Chattopadhyay

Marketing Mania series talking to business leaders, marketing gurus, trend setters, experts in different areas of practice and knowledge.

Kolo Nafaso from a researcher’s perspective – highlights from Amitava Chattopadhyay

It’s been a long-standing interest of mine to understand how businesses can be a force for good. That desire stemmed from a conversation with a former classmate, a pioneer in social innovation, who cogently argued that there simply wasn’t enough money in the form of charitable giving to alleviate poverty on a global scale. Thus, the best way forward was for business to invest behind social innovation, also referred to as sustainability.
Kolo Nafaso – a new way of doing business in shea.

I was invited to give a talk at the executive committee meeting of AAK held in Singapore, in early 2018. In my conversations with senior sourcing representatives of AAK, I learned about the Kolo Nafaso programme and wanted to understand more deeply what AAK was doing in terms of creating a sustainable supply chain, working directly with the women from small-holder families in rural West Africa, who collected the shea kernels, the first link in the shea supply chain. My goal for learning more was threefold. First, there was my personal curiosity, the Kolo Nafaso programme seemed to be an interesting and meaningful initiative, that could impact poverty alleviation at scale. Second, I teach a class on strategies for social impact and profit, and this seemed to be an interesting example of just that, and I wanted to write a case study that I could use in my course. The third was that innovations like Kolo Nafaso pose challenges, since they require the balancing of two motivations: profit and social impact. They also require managing the differences in perspective across functions, within the organization. This hasn’t been studied in the management literature, and I saw an opportunity to contribute to the discussion of how to manage the balance by learning from the experience of AAK.

Transforming a Supply Chain Into a Social Enterprise

For conventional, profit-seeking companies, moving into social impact carries huge contradictions. An ad hoc, small-scale initiative is an inexpensive way to do a bit of good and receive a nice warm glow in the process. But any attempt to achieve more serious impact through scaling the initiative will likely trigger awkward discussions about how much that warm glow is worth to the firm. Thus, the ceiling remains low on social impact unless it can be justified in “win-win” terms. Needless to say, this is no easy feat.

My recently published case study[1] about Swedish oils and fats producer AAK’s “Kolo Nafaso” programme in West Africa describes how one company redefined “win-win” by creating a sustainable and scalable shea butter supply chain. In so doing, AAK was able to use business as a tool for maximising social impact, creating ripple effects with strongly positive implications for the firm’s most important stakeholder relationships and future activities in the region.

An Unexpected Product Benefit Can Be a Powerful Marketing Tool

As companies test a new product, they often learn that it can deliver unexpected benefits. This very famously happened in the case of Viagra, a product originally developed to treat cardiovascular problems. During the first human trials of the compound, a study nurse reported that male subjects would frequently lie on their stomachs on the examination table, trying to hide their erections. The compound did indeed dilate blood vessels, just not where expected.

It is common for companies to discover unintended benefits to their products after launch, once customer reports start flowing in. This is particularly true in the health and beauty industry. Just read online reviews for omega-3 supplements and you will find people claiming the heart health supplement helped them with a wide range of issues, from brittle nails to weight loss. Similarly, Botox was approved for cosmetic use in 2002, but users soon started reporting that the injections improved their migraines as well. It was licensed for this type of treatment in 2010.

Research has shown that consumers value a product’s benefits more when they believe a firm was intentional about creating them. For instance, if a company launches a programme that accidentally helps the environment, it is less likely to get praise than if the programme was expressly designed for that purpose. In law, premeditated crime is punished more harshly than an involuntary act that led to the same result. Intentions matter, because they are associated with effort, and effort with value (whether positive or negative).

However, another stream of research suggests that an unexpected benefit can pique consumers’ interest and lead them to anticipate other potential benefits from the product. This has a biologic basis: Studies on mammals (from rats to humans) have shown that receiving an unexpected reward (such as a squirt of juice instead of plain water) fires up neurons in the regions of the brain associated with reward anticipation and seeking. In a way, a nice surprise is perceived as a sign of more good things to come.

Busy people more likely to make healthier choices, study found

People who perceive themselves as busy are more likely to make healthier choices, a new study has shown. Although we complain about being too busy in today’s fast-moving world, it has some advantages. Individuals who perceive themselves as busy are more likely to delay gratification. They subsequently make decisions that benefit them in the long-term. This is what researchers from the global business school INSEAD, Temple University, and HKUST have found.

Regarding the choices we make every day, Amitava Chattopadhyay said:

“Every day, we make many decisions that involve choosing between our immediate and future well-being. For instance, do we go to the gym after work, or do we just go home to relax in front of the television?”

Building Sustainable and Socially Impactful Businesses at the Base of the Pyramid

Estimates suggest that four to five billion people live in poverty. Businesses engage with the base of the pyramid (BOP), typically through corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. Such efforts are laudable but are limited by their budgets. An alternative model would be to engage with the BOP as a sustainable business opportunity. The BOP can be customers as has been shown through the work of Unilever. The BOP also often own assets, such as small parcels of land or a few head of livestock. Likewise, the BOP has skills and labour. These can be sustainably leveraged to the betterment of the BOP. In this paper, I describe three initiatives that are profitably engaging with the poor as customers, providers of labour and providers of raw materials, while at the same time helping the target group lead better lives. Abstracting from these initiatives, I offer a framework for building profitable businesses at the BOP.


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Sun, 22 Jan @ 01:38 pm

Well put! My sentiment exactly. Spineless #Indigo. https://t.co/7CRiLKtToU

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Sun, 22 Jan @ 01:30 pm

#HimantaBiswaSarma is a funny guy. Hasn't heard of #iamSRK. Must be he lives on another planet or he neither sees n… https://t.co/3U3TfXFRsF

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Sun, 22 Jan @ 01:24 pm

So, a HC judge now knows more than the Supreme Court judges? How pathetic of #KirenRijiju; clearly desperate. "Kire… https://t.co/MQJQQWducJ

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Sun, 22 Jan @ 12:26 pm

@airvistara It would have been nice if you or someone had done something. Turns out, I was eligible to 20kg due to… https://t.co/8Pul8SvMEl

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Sun, 22 Jan @ 11:13 am

@airvistara Fix it with airport people. Not that hard if the company is honest.

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Sun, 22 Jan @ 11:13 am

@airvistara I call that theft, given my bad experience. Expect more tweets.

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