Welcome to the Real Life Series. In this section, GlobalMBAcareer brings you real life experiences of various MBA professionals who work across various roles from around the globe. Through this series, we intend to share with you what it means in real life to have a certain role and what it takes to be successful in it.
In our first ever series, Jaime – Regional Brand Manager of Avon shares what it takes to be a International Brand Manager through a 2 part series.
International Brand Manager – Jaime Liriano (Part 1)
I´m Jaime Liriano, Regional Brand Manager in Avon. I did my MBA from EADA Business School, Barcelona. I am from the Dominican Republic – a wonderful country next to Haiti in the Caribbean. I´ve been living in Spain since 2008 where I’ve had the opportunity to discover and work in many European countries. I´m passionate about marketing and international business and have more than 6 years of FMCG experience in multinational companies with specialization in Marketing (Brand Management and NPD) and Trade Marketing in Europe & LATAM. I love traveling, art, history, cooking and F1.
In this 2 part series, I would like to share my real day-to-day experience of working in an International Brand Management role, its challenges, the aspects I enjoy the most and what I think about the skills and capabilities required for being successful in this role.
My Role/ What I do
As an international brand manager I´m responsible for setting the strategic direction for my brands in a region and develop regional and local plans to be or become the consumer´s preferred option. I’ve been working in this environment for more than 6 years and I can’t recall a day looking similar to any other.
On a daily basis, I’m shaping the tangible and intangible aspects of the brands I look after in order to build strong connections with consumers through an evolved marketing mix that has grown from the traditional four P’s ( product, place, price and promotion) to a holistic consumer experience.
Also, I work closely with many teams to bring the product to customers, but now it´s not enough with the traditional channels, you need to be everywhere and this everywhere can change in minutes. For example, a couple of weeks ago, Amazon launched a service that customers could shop while using Twitter – and for some business/categories more than others- this changes the rule of the game opening a completely new way of shopping and amplifying the threats and opportunities to many brands.
At the end of the day, brands have two moments of truth with consumers: While purchasing and while using the product – this sounds simple but, touches departments right from marketing to supply chain, sales and finance.
Interesting Aspects of my Role
During the day, I need to be able to adapt to multiple tasks. Every day, I have interactions with multiple teams such as New Product Development, Commercial, Consumer Research, Finance, Supply Chain and Demand Forecasting. I also handle many KPI’s that may vary from brand awareness, profitability, gross margin, service levels or obsolescence. But, this is what makes my work so interesting. It´s similar to running your own business – in a big corporation. And this is one of the things I enjoy the most of being a brand manager – the possibility of being an “Intrapreneur”.
Challenges in my Role
Managing a global brand or category today, implies dealing with many challenges such as
- Consumer’s ability to switch brands faster than ever before
- The need to build a consistent Global brand with consumers and channels that are looking for the maximum customization
- The need to evolve from a local-limited marketing scope to what I define as unlimited brand responsibility
To be a successful international brand manager marketing knowledge alone is not enough.
You also need to understand multiple fields and be aware of the impact marketing decisions may have on the consumer’s moments of truth: both while shopping and while using the product that goes beyond the tangible and intangible traditional brand attributes
For example a “cute bow” on a Christmas gift set packaging may delay the production lead times and if your demand exploits the nice Christmas pack it should be available for Valentine´s Day; An awesome and brand enhancing wrap that is not “eco-friendly” may lead to a reputation crisis for your company or a wrong forecast can drain your margin or erode your relations with customers. It´s very critical to understand the business, but you always have to keep in mind that you’re the consumers voice within the company and your “reason to be” lands in customers satisfaction.
Also you need to become a “legal stalker”, which means to closely watch your customer’s movements, be there in the place they are and more importantly, be relevant. During my experience in brand management, I’ve faced many “challenging” cases. For example, how to grow the shaving brand when consumers are starting to have beards because it´s the trend? Or how can we activate a tea brand in a “coffee country”? For these kind of issues, you need to use your creativity, have courage and understand your consumers better than they do. But these same issues lead to the greatest possibilities. What if all the world drinks as much tea as the British? Or the whole world cleans their hair as much as a Brazilian? The value of those categories will grow exponentially.
Opportunities in International Brand Management
Having the opportunity to work in both, local and international marketing, allowed me to develop and execute a wide range of marketing plans from completely different approaches. For example, currently I’m working on developing a strategy for a mass fragrance brand in a region dominated by Premium brands, where we will be focusing on gaining brand penetration. Of course, this regional strategy needs also to come down to a local plan custom-made for each specific market, channel and culture and there lies the importance of being culturally aware and being able to challenge your customer experience and watch it from different angles. Prior to this, I worked for a leading personal care brand, where the focus was on market development while educating consumers on increasing the moments of usage of the category.
Building Global brands is a must since a consolidated regional leadership is not enough to be a Global player. Companies are forced to expand to new geographies and customers as the predominant way to grow the business and protect their position. These expansion strategies will require that we, marketers, develop a stronger cultural awareness, a strong bias for action, commercial awareness, exceptional communication and negotiation skills and growth mindset to be prepared for all the challenges markets will bring us or that we will have to proactively go out and seek for.
Continued in Part 2 – International Brand Manager – Jaime Liriano (Part 2)