While word of mouth is important for every business, it has taken a digital form now, enhancing its reach manifold, said Frederic Widell, VP and Head of South Asia & Managing Director India, Oriflame. During a fireside chat at BT MindRush 2021 on Saturday, Widell noted that for business leaders, 2021 is going to be the same as 2020, yet different.
On the question of most prominent changes that he observed during the pandemic, Widell first pointed out the receding importance associated with offices. He added that the capital saved from office infrastructure needs to be invested in other aspects of business.
"Some of the changes that we have noticed are that there is significant reduction in the dependency on office centricity. Before that was an image thing - to be present and have your logos in physical locations, etc. We have closed 11 offices during 2020. We have realised those offices are no longer needed. There is a different need for investing same money that went perhaps towards these offices into different aspects of the business, digital, of course, being one," the Oriflame India MD said.
Pointing out another prominent change, Widell exclaimed, "Working from home actually works. I never expected that. In that essence, I am probably a traditionalist. I didn't like people working from home. I didn't like working from home pre-pandemic. And now I think it actually is a very, very good combination. Not 100 per cent, but one or two days a week. Work from home and be quiet and work on the things that matter, etc."
The Oriflame VP further said that travelling will be a lot less important in future. "We have already said that nobody will travel in the future for the purpose of reviewing numbers. We will travel to build culture, but not to review numbers, that is easily done on Zoom, or Teams, or whatever platform you prefer."
Widell also emphasised on the difficulty in creating "culture" while business and work move into the virtual realm. "Another thing that we have learned, but which is more of a challenge is how do you build the culture virtually. That is much more difficult than physically of course. As we go along we need to figure out how we drive culture virtually as well."
On reformed marketing strategies, Widell pointed out that they too have gone digital with the changing times.
"Direct selling has evolved over the past decade, and it has evolved significantly in the past couple of years, and of course, enormously during the pandemic. Today our industry is referred to as social selling. The word of mouth is equally important of any business regardless of industry. In our business, it's super important too. This word of mouth is the same; it's digital now. You can reach out to many more people with what you want to talk about. From that aspect, that really and truly goes in our favour," he said.
"From the leadership point of view, 2021 will be similar to 2020 yet different. As a leader, you need to truly focus on a couple of attitudes and attributes in your organisation going forward. Innovation must be at the forefront. Innovation not only when it comes to products but all around. Then you need to have guts to implement those things and things that might be scary to you. And lastly, you need empathy. I hope that the '20s is the decade of empathy. Empathic organisations build and cement culture," Widell furthe