Interview with Dr Saiyid Khusro Iqbal — Head of HR, General Tyre & Rubber Company (Pakistan)
Dr Saiyid Khusro Iqbal is successfully managing the human resource and budgets of General Tyre & Rubber Company (Pakistan), which has about 2,800 employees; 12 billion rupee sales turnover; famous brand around the globe; market leader; 5 branches and collaborating with a German company Continental Tyre. He got an opportunity to work in three continents namely Asia, Africa and Australia. He has broad and successful experience in both local and international good HR practices. He has traveled widely and has experience of working with diverse cultures. His peers and social circles usually compliment him by saying that he naturally possesses distinctive ability to lead and balance strategic business initiatives with employee advocacy. He has solid knowledge in all HR areas including Performance Management, Training Management, Employee Relations, Talent Management, People Skills, Resolving Conflict, Employment Law, Pension and Government Regulations. He is very good with people…even those some might consider difficult or problematic. He identifies and looks for ways to build on their strengths and finds ways to enhance other areas, which has resulted in motivating his staff to work as a team.
ABOUT THE COMPANY:
The General Tyre & Rubber Company (Pakistan) is a tyre manufacturing company based in Karachi. The company was established by General Tyre International Corporation of USA with a total capacity of only 120,000 tyres per annum. The name ‘GENERAL’ carries the highest top of the mind brand name recall in Pakistan when it comes to tyres. The capacity of the company stands at 2.5 million tyres approximately meeting one-third of the country’s demand. General is producing tyre sizes and patterns that cover almost 85 percent of the sizes in demand in Pakistan.
PAGE: TELL ME ABOUT LEADING PRODUCTS OF YOUR COMPANY, PLEASE:
DR SAIYID KHUSRO IQBAL: General Tyre Pakistan is the first and largest automotive tyre manufacturer in the country producing tyres for cars, light commercial vehicles, trucks/buses, tractors, CNG rickshaw and motorcycle tyre plant has been added with the capacity of one million tyres per annum.
PAGE: HOW MUCH IMPACT DO THE ADVERTISING STRATEGIES HAVE ON BUILDING BRANDS IN PAKISTAN?
DR SAIYID KHUSRO IQBAL: The core objective of advertising is to pursue a well-defined target (i.e. consumer), which is always achieved through drawing attention, triggering interest, enticing desire and fueling action. A well formulated strategy provides an overview and broad direction for the advertising campaign and describes how to meet the objective. In Pakistan, like other world, it is a strategy that tells about building brand awareness through high levels of exposure, position the brand as a high-quality product and encourage retailers to stock the product. Simply creating advertising for its own sake, without a strategy, is unlikely to deliver the best return on marketing expenditure. In most companies, strategy is separated from creativity by a wide gap. When both sides work together, a charismatic brand brings into being. A brand for which people believe there is no substitute such as General Tyre Pakistan etc.
PAGE: WHAT ARE THE UPCOMING PRODUCTS/BRANDS OF YOUR ORGANIZATION AND WHAT KIND OF STRATEGY IS BEING FOLLOWED FOR SUCCESS?
DR SAIYID KHUSRO IQBAL: We are working to enhance our production capacity and are constructing a new plant in the vicinity of present factory where we are planning to bring new types of tyres for cars, light commercial vehicles, trucks/buses, tractors etc. We prefer to follow ‘Blue Ocean Policy’ and try to succeed not by battling competitors, but by systematically creating ‘blue oceans’ of uncontested market space ripe for growth. The strategy represents the simultaneous pursuit of high product differentiation and low cost, thereby making competition irrelevant.
PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON THE BRAND DEVELOPMENT IN OUR COUNTRY AND THE SUBSEQUENT BENEFITS OF IT FOR THE ORGANIZATION:
DR SAIYID KHUSRO IQBAL: I feel that in Pakistan, majority of the consumers don’t tend to buy brands using a structured decision-making process. Instead, selection is typically made sub-consciously from a small number of familiar brands in each category. For a challenger brand to interrupt, this sub-conscious brand selection process and force its way to the head of the consideration set it must first demonstrate high levels of consumer relevance and brand differentiation. This may be done via some combination of:
- Product proposition
- Marketing communication
- Product quality and performance
- Customer service support
- Physical availability
Brand development will help General Tyre Pakistan to build and communicate strong brand positioning, enhance awareness and quality associations and increase the probability of trial by lessening new product risk for consumers.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON BRAND COMPETITION IN PAKISTAN?
DR SAIYID KHUSRO IQBAL: There is an interesting process in Pakistan, which has to do with our brain. The human brain works in a certain way and knowing how it works is important not only to scientists but also to marketers. Ries and Trout challenged the way branding was done by stating that positioning does not occur in the marketplace but in the customer’s brain. Today, we are well aware that all branding occurs in the brain.
In the advertising paradigm we exist in. The key to a successful campaign is often considered to be the big idea or the high value idea. However, as research has shown, breaking the clutter and building associations will fail if the brand team focuses only on a big idea. Rather, they need to focus on a branded big idea.
In Pakistani market, it is quite easy to tell when a new brand manager or a new agency is hired. The next campaign, which companies produce usually inevitably discard all previous campaigns. And this I consider dangerous; in their desire to prove their worth, they are hurting the brand. Consumers are not computers; you cannot erase their memories. Residual ad value needs to be built on, unless it was completely wrong for the brand.
Brands in Pakistan looking for ways to stand out mistakenly believe that expensive media budgets, celebrity endorsements and catchy jingles are the key. They are wrong; only by embracing branded big ideas can Pakistani brands hope to smoke the global competition.