I have been fortunate to have had a diverse range of stints at respected & high-performing organizations, while contributing to building iconic brands in both digital & traditional ecosystems: VedAgarwal -True Elements
Ved Agarwal has over 11 years of experience, Ved has held key roles in Marketing and Sales across companies such as Amazon, Marico, ITC, Cadbury. Having previously worked on both digital & traditional ecosystems also worked extensively on category creation, product innovations, brand launches & management of large 1000+ cr brands, Ved comes with robust learning’s and skills that are pertinent to building the brand at True Elements. An MBA alumnus from FMS Delhi, Ved has a proven track record for delivering innovation and growth to the brands he leads.
Now as the Head of Marketing at True Elements, amongst India & first Clean Label nashta (breakfast and snacks) brand, this makes ‘Food that DOES NOT lie to you’. In addition to building a brand that customers trust and love, Ved will also fuel the demand-generation engine across online and offline channels.
On a personal front, Ved is a passionate long-distance runner and a certified scuba diver, an amateur paraglider and a backpack traveller. In today’s StraighTalk Ved Agarwal – Head of Marketing – True Elements talks about his journey and his role in True Elements…
A total of 11+ years across various brands, how has the journey been? What were the challenges?
My journey so far has been exciting and looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I’ve been fortunate to have had a diverse range of stints at respected & high-performing organizations while contributing to building iconic brands in both digital & traditional ecosystems. From working extensively in spaces such as category creation, product innovations, managing international markets, brand launches to managing large brands – these have come together to help me build a very holistic view. I have worked at Cadbury, ITC, Marico & Amazon prior to True Elements, and each of them is rather unique- whether it is their offerings, or their way of operating to deliver high performance, or how their culture unfolds to build their DNA. Been an active participant and observer, this exposure has helped me enormously to build my own worldview- handpicking elements carefully from each.
From big brands like Amazon/Cadbury/ Marico/ITC to a completely new brand True Elements, the reason for this shift?
While I truly enjoyed and value my time at my previous organisations, my core responsibilities and experiences at these large, organised organisations were preparing me for a transition into a larger role at an early-stage startup. I believe Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands are leading the next wave of value generation in the consumer space and I am thrilled to have moved from an observer to a contributor of this ecosystem.
How are you strategising in building this brand from the start?
Consumers today are looking for healthier&cleaner food options. They are also more informed & mindful of their choices and their implication- not only on their own health but also on the environment & society. There also exists a large trust void, between consumers and brands today, largely driven by convenient & false promises made by brands.
With True Elements, we will address all these mindfully&with 100% transparency. We aim to build a brand that customers trust. We will anchor around our promise of “Food that DOES NOT lie to you” and offer healthy breakfast & snacks without compromising on taste and with 0% Added Sugar, 0% Chemicals, 0% Preservatives and 100% whole grains.
Are traditional brands now increasing their spending on Digital?
Covid-19 impacted digital media the least, witnessing only a 2% contraction in spends, while Print, television, outdoor and cinema, on the other hand, declined by 43%, 14%, 73% and 83%- that says it. Digital media has become an important contributor to meeting reach/awareness objectives in a sharply targeted & data-driven manner, hence it’s safe to say traditional brands along with brands across verticals have stepped up their digital media spends significantly over the last 18 months. As per GroupM’s This Year Next Year (TYNY) forecast, it is reported that Digital Media spends will be the largest contributor to incremental ad spends in 2021 with a 28% CAGR forecast (vs FY20).
Today we are seeing a plethora of brands talking about natural, nutritional etc. What is the USP of True Elements?
True Elements truly lives by its philosophy of “Food that DOES NOT lie to you” and offers a wide range of healthy Breakfast & Snacks. We promise 100% whole grains, 0% added sugar, 0% chemicals, 0% preservatives in our products and ensure never to compromise on that.
What further makes us unique is our core ideology of being 100% transparent with our consumers by providing evidence for all the claims we make. One can access the minutest details of the products they consume, batch-by-batch on our website. Additionally, we promise not to use any jargon on our ingredient lists or our packaging, so our consumers are never misguided.
What will be the innovative strategies to market True Elements?
As we strengthen our omnichannel play& launch new products to drive physical availability, we’ll invest to fuel the demand-generation engine and build mental availability. Driving awareness for our brand, our promise and our offerings, leveraging traditional and newer digital media, innovatively& distinctly would be at the heart of our actions. Over indexing on digital platforms, we will build strong anchors around post-purchase engagement& advocacy to continue to drive higher retention and repeat rates with our customers.
What are some of the important lessons that you brought from the previous organizations that will help you in strategising for True Elements?
With over a decade’s experience across sectors, the number of important lessons moves beyond counting. I have been fortunate to work across great brands & wonderful teams and have every aspect of my previous work experience impact my current skillset.
While working with a tech giant like Amazon, I learnt newer lessons around data-driven decision making, working customers backwards & speed of execution. My time at Cadbury helped sharpen my understanding of the retail landscape’s working at a deeper level& the nuances of managing and delivering via large teams. Working at ITC and Marico was so similar yet diverse in its own unique ways, these stints taught me how to build a product from scratch and launch them in completely new ecosystems or markets.
These and more have influenced my overall outlook and it further influences how I navigate and strategise for True Elements.
Who was your first or most significant mentor or teacher in the professional space? What specifically did you learn that has held you in good stead throughout?
While it might sound cliched, I cannot point to anyone alone. I have been blessed with encouraging bosses, supporting mentors and guides right from the start. They collectively influenced my professional journey and shaped my current work ethic and ethos.
What are some other activities or hobbies that excite you? What are your weekends like?
I believe it is very essential to strike a good work-life balance. Outside of work I am someone with multiple passions and tend to deep dive into everything, figuratively and literally. I picked up professional scuba diving 10 years ago on one of my trips and it has truly stuck by me since. Outside of that, I enjoy long-distance running and playing shuttle.
Being part marketer at heart, I am an avid reader of most marketing narratives and am absolutely hooked on understanding the psyche of human behaviour. Another genre that keeps me engrossed is philosophy &humanities; I’m captivated with Rumi writings.
Long-distance running gives me my high and I make it a habit of indulging in it. On long weekends or holidays, I partake in going diving, amateur paragliding or backpacking across the world in the pursuit of discovering people & cultures.