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:
- whether and how it should speak to social issues such as gender equality and incorporate those issues into its brand purpose;
- how digital technologies should be effectively integrated into every aspect of the brand experience;
- how it should synergistically leverage social media, metaverse and other media platforms; and
- 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.
Market Disruption Strategies: The Transformation of Xiaomi
After breaking into the smartphone market in China and becoming a leading brand, Xiaomi saw its sales stagnate and then decline. The market disruption strategy that empowered Xiaomi’s rise was losing momentum. Competitors aggressively countered its every move, targeting its core consumer segment. Xiaomi urgently needed a new strategy to reignite growth and develop a sustainable competitive advantage. The case describes the changing market landscape, its product portfolio, distribution systems, partnerships, brand architecture, promotion and pricing. Xiaomi has to decide whether to remain focused on smartphones — on which its success and its reputation have been built — or transform itself into an IoT ecosystem encompassing a variety of product categories. The firm needs to thoroughly understand the pros and cons of either path, and formulate a detailed implementation plan for the chosen strategy.
The AAK Kolo Nafaso programme – Securing an alternative shea supply chain
AAK, a Swedish company providing vegetable oils and fats for various industries for more than 140 years, has been a dominant player processing shea since the 1950s. In 2009 in Burkina Faso, AAK started a project to work directly with West African women with small farm holdings, to improve their productivity as well as pay them fair prices. This project evolved into an alternative supply chain. The shea nuts through this programme – called Kolo Nafaso – were traceable to the women’s group level in West Africa. Kept segregated, the shea was not blended with AAK’s conventional shea supply, such that clients could lay claim to having sustainable and traceable sourced shea, when using Kolo Nafaso shea in their products. This was becoming increasingly important, as focus on sustainability grew among end-consumers, employees, as well as investors. The Kolo Nafaso programme expanded to Ghana, as AAK realized the potential of this alternative supply source, especially in 2018 when there had been a global shortage of shea. The issue was how to significantly grow this alternative sourcing programme, and how to realize its value
Perfume Branding: Strategies for Succeeding in India’s Fragrance Market
After examining numerous bottles of imported perfume, executives at Titan Company Limited (a Tata Group company) were challenged to devise a strategy to develop a perfume brand that could break into India’s fragrance market. A top Indian firm with leading premium wristwatch and jewellery brands (Xylys and Raga watches and Tanishq jewelry), Titan had no experience in the fragrance category, where international brands reigned supreme.
The executives at Titan needed to develop its strategy from scratch: Which segments should it target? What should the new fragrance be called? How should the brand be positioned and how strongly should it be linked to the Titan brand? What should the fragrance smell like? Where should it source the product and packaging from? How should it be priced, distributed, and promoted? Each and every decision needed to be carefully thought out, if Titan was to succeed.
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 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, , creating ripple effects with strongly positive implications for the firm’s most important stakeholder relationships and future activities in the region.