Developing outstanding brand experiences is perhaps what best describes Dev Amritesh’s professional achievements. Designated as President and Chief Operating Officer of Dunkin’ Donuts Division at Jubilant Foodworks Limited since March 2011, Amritesh holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Bangalore University and a post graduate diploma in management from IMT, Ghaziabad. And it was at the latter that he — accidentally — found his path.
Legend has it that Amritesh, in almost fairytale fashion, was illuminated on his calling in life after attending a class conducted by branding and marketing guru Santosh Sood at IMT.
Until 2011, Amritesh had been serving as Senior Vice President of Marketing of Jubilant Foodworks Limited, a company he had joined in November 2005, after stints in Cadbury India and Whirlpool. By now a specialist in consumer marketing, he was involved with marketing strategies that won the Domino’s Pizza International Marketing Excellence Award (2006) for best product launch and advertising campaign, among the many other achievements India’s first publicly listed foodservice company gathered in the years following.
[“We have a value that we call ‘Break what you build’. You will continue to see us doing more and more of that; so expect innovation and new news in product, design and all touchpoints.”]
“One of the first things that I understood at IMT Ghaziabad – and one that I never forget – is that the lives which consumers are living are what drive their consumption behaviour the most. Various influences like culture, tradition, roles and responsibilities are important factors that brand managers should understand. But what does not change much is the basic method of winning with customers; which is of scratching below the surface, unearthing real consumer insights, building differentiated propositions and executing to perfection,” he says in an alumni interview posted on the IMT website.
So far, he certainly appears to be winning with customers; Dunkin’ Donuts India — now a 55-outlet-strong chain, with its latest territorial expansion being into Hyderabad — was conferred with the titles of ‘Most Admired Foodservice Chain of the Year: Cafes and Bars’ as well as the ‘Most Admired Foodservice Retail Innovation of the Year’ at the Coca Cola Golden Awards 2015 earlier this year.
For Amritesh, the challenge at Dunkin’ Donuts ranged from landing the brand in not just the strong donut familiar territories – Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Goa – but also the unknown to the donut-vocabulary towns of North India – Jaipur and Kanpur. Over the course of the past year, his team has deployed a 360-degree marketing plan for complete mind dominance. Via the ‘More’ add-on in ‘Dunkin’ Donuts & More’, product innovation was identified as the strongest driver; as a part of the marketing calendar for 2014, all the three categories – Beverages, Donuts and Food – got strong anchors in the new product innovation emanating from the new brand promise. Importantly, all products were constructed on a consumer-led concept — based on the core insight of the brand idea: GET YOUR MOJO BACK.
Leading from his highly-visible marketing gameplan to popularise the Dunkin’ Donuts brand — via customisation — in India, Amritesh has earned the tag of a ‘creative marketer’ in some sections of the media. But there is much more to effective marketing than imagination and innovation, he points out. “Analysis, synthesis, conceptualisation, articulation and perception, among other abilities, are also required. In short, both left brain and right brain need to be switched on.”
And what is he conceptiualising these days? “We have a value that we call ‘Break what you build’. You will continue to see us doing more and more of that; so expect innovation and new news in product, design and all touchpoints.”
The chain will also continue to expand into new territories, he adds. “Over the past six months we have entered many major cities — Pune, Jaipur, Kanpur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and most recently, Hyderabad. This will continue.”
I ask mentor Santosh Sood if he’s happy with how Amritesh has tweaked the Dunkin’ Donuts brand experience for India. “He did not let the brand’s point of uniqueness / superiority become a constraint in defining its basket of offerings. Donuts ring Dunkin’ but, thankfully, do not limit Dunkin’,” he notes. “Thus, Dunkin’ is unique, yet accommodating of local tastes.”
Any red flags for Amritesh in the brand’s India customisation strategy? “Well, in the zeal to accommodate the local tastes, do not bury the brand’s uniqueness – rather reinforce it,” Sood says. “Smart brands always gently ‘lead’ their consumers, not follow them.”