Lado Tsimakuridze: "Today's Marketing Approach has Changed Completely"
Interview with Lado Tsimakuridze, Master of Social Sciences, Head of the Marketing Department at “Khareba Winery”
Tell us about how you got into the field of marketing, and what factors played an important role in choosing this profession?
The marketers of my generation can be considered pioneers, because we are one of the first generation of marketers in Georgia to enter the marketing and PR industry in the early 2000s. To be honest, the beginning of the 2000s in our country can be considered a landmark in terms of the introduction and development of modern marketing and PR in Georgia. I started my PR career in 2000, and my professors were internationally experienced and qualified PR professionals Ms. Marika Darchia and Mr. Nika Makharashvili, who were probably two of the first to introduce PR in Georgia.
After completing my PR degree in 2004, I continued to study for a master's degree in the social sciences and received a master's degree in social sciences, traveled to Romania for one year to pursue qualifications in marketing, and completed a marketing course. Later, I received a Marketing Certificate in the Eastern Partnership, Culture, Science and Creativity Program, and then with EBRD funding I went to Austria for a Management Certificate course at the Joint Vienna Institute.
Why I chose marketing and PR, I can say a lot about it, but the main thing is that both of these specialties combine very interesting and attractive aspects for me: art in its very broadest and most versatile sense, psychology, sociology, and many other scientific fields. Marketing and PR is a distinctive, wide-ranging and specific professions, which evenly cover the arts and science as well.
What challenges do you face as a leader in marketing, during a time of technological change?
The 21st century is indeed full of special challenges. In this era of digitalization, the forms, means and capabilities of communication are remarkably diverse. Consequently, modern marketing, too, is showing the world its full range of opportunities, from the creation of the product, to the birth of the brand, to the establishment and further development of its market. At the same time, enormously increased competitive environment, accelerated communication, decision rates and communication with customers are so diverse, direct and strong so as to keep them in touch with a challenge to a marketer, and has to carefully control their attitudes, reactions, feedback, behavior, general market volatility and tend.
This is good on the one hand, since in a short period of time, with diverse marketing communication, tasks can be effectively resolved, goals can be reached quickly, but on the other hand, as such a pace also presents other challenges, involving an active, massive and continuous cycle of marketing and PR events. A significant increase in expenses, as well as increased risks, responsibilities, workflow, agility and responsiveness required to manage various marketing processes. Marketing has, in the last 15 years, added a new and very powerful field, such as digital marketing, which provides endless opportunities for direct, effective communication with customers and their behavior, interests and feedback analysis. A consumers' daily, close proximity and communication, combined with control and analysis of their reactions, emotions, feedback, satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, allow for precise brand auditing and higher-quality management than was possible 15-20 years ago, and consequently one of the main challenges is to learn more about your customer; their proximity, their expectations and a behavioral analysis, and most importantly, continuous communication with them. On the other hand, the main challenge of marketers themselves is that modern marketing does not forgive even the smallest professional mistake, which can lead to irreparable results, thus requiring high qualification, professionalism, attention to detail, creativity and catchip up with modern trends.
What has changed in the field in the last 5 years, and what changes are expected?
The field of marketing is constantly evolving and, as I mentioned above, it offers new trends and tendencies. Many details determine its development and advancement. Marketing has generally undergone numerous developments and conversion phases in the last century, amid changing technological and consumer behaviors. If Dominion was a product that consumers were looking for in the 20th Century, due to relatively low competition, today's marketing approach has absolutely changed, as today the brand is looking for its niche and customers. There are not many such free niches left, thus marketing has to create innovative, exciting and attractive brands, and then find and retain customers, win over loyal segments of the competitors, and also attract neutral, new consumer groups.
What do you think are the most important traits a marketing manager should have, and what is his or her role in the organization in general?
I will focus on some important features and try to explain why I think they’re important:
- Freedom, boldness, creativity, and openness- because thinking within frameworks, dogmas, and stereotypes can never be effective, and as I said, marketing is largely an art that demands an inner freedom, lust, beauty, and creativity. Consequently, the implementation of conspicuous, creative and revolutionary ideas for an ambitious brand definitely needs these qualities.
- The constant search and learning about novelties - as marketing itself is developing so fast and offering new challenges, it's hard to get ahead without these features.
- Most importantly, professionalism, analytical thinking, risk-taking and self-belief - without these qualities, it is impossible to achieve results and achievements!
What do you do to keep the organization from falling behind on new trends and to keep applying innovative approaches to marketing?
Wine is a product that sets trends, norms and standards that have characterized it around the world, for centuries, both in terms of company performance and in terms of consumer behavior, expectations and attitudes. However, with these standards, of course, there remains plenty of room for other actions and modern approaches. First, if we look at the fundamental standards that form the basis of many years of historical experience, it is the brand's platform; for example the country of production, its historical experience in wine production, and its association with consumers, whether it is a leading wine-producing country or not. By the way, one of the strongest and most effective platforms in this regard is Georgian wine, which reinforces any brand presented by our country on the international market, as the world of Georgia is known as the homeland of wine, which has recently become a slogan: 8000 years of continuous Georgian tradition of wine, confirmed by the vine seed found during excavations. The second and most important one is the recognition of wines from around the world; for example, we can bring the wines produced from Georgian native vines - Saperavi, Khvanchkara, Rkatsiteli, Tsitska, Tsolikouri and so on. Wine awareness, along with the reputation of the specific wine-producing country, certainly plays a major role in the international market to meet growing demand and interest in it. Third is the awards and recognitions at international festivals, product quality, branding and more…
International exhibitions and their participation is an annual, essential marketing event, supplemented by integrated marketing communication in each export market, including a wide variety of ATL and BTL activities. So, if you look at the scale of the work, you are likely to agree that the role of marketing in the wine industry is quite responsible. For example, Winery Khareba is represented by a wide range of wines in more than 20 export markets worldwide, where active marketing activities are held to promote the wine, which of course also promotes Georgian wine in general. It is also worth noting that since its inception, Winery Khareba has received more than 200 international awards at festivals and exhibitions in various countries around the world, with more than 60% of them sampled. At present, Winery Khareba produces 45 varieties of wines, and such a wide range tells us about a brand’s strengths, 1500 hectares of vineyards and enterprise also contributes to find rare, unique Georgian vine varieties, and eventually restore and introduce into production.
What’s your organization’s business model, in terms of marketing?
Nowadays, for modern marketers, customer satisfaction, loyalty and constant growth are the primary concerns. Customers can instantly elevate or subvert the brand, its popularity, its demand, its public opinion. Consequently, customer-focused brand communication first and foremost reflects its high credibility, fair and competitive pricing policy, superior product quality, and constant control, distinctive and sophisticated branding and visualization, high social responsibility of the brand and accumulated brand experience. It is in these contexts that the marketing strategy of "Winery Khareba" is engineered for today, the end result of which is to achieve the highest goals and results.
One word that describes your job.
Pleasure - This is probably one of the most important things in the process of working and doing your favorite activities. Feeling pleasure in the company and field you work in, the environment in which you face challenges, the sense of pride in associating yourself with the brand, the success of which you are constantly thinking about, daily, and with which you must make your background strong.
The most useful advice you’ve ever received in your life?
I can think of several of them, which have subsequently shifted my qualities that have helped me to this day. But the first and most important, is a piece of advice, and a constant instruction to myself, which I received as a child from my parents: you can do it yourself. It was a phrase that probably created a sense of self-confidence and self-dependance while facing life challenges.
Think of a person who inspires you, professionally.
Seth Godin, a famous marketing guru all over the world, is an exemplary professional who, to me, is distinguished by his knowledge and practical experience, his interesting writing and storytelling, his consistently original and innovative approaches. His companions, and followers of his ideas, are continually inspired by his originality, revolutionary and very modern thinking, his daring, the search for new, original paths, constant development and purpose, as well as the different and unlimited marketing inspirations and creative ideas: walk steadily, even if it’s at a slow pace, you will move forward and relentlessly, as the path to perfection goes through constant striving, hard work and stubbornness. "Seth Godin advises.