- Dr Ananta Singh Raghuvanshi, Executive Director-Sales & Marketing, DLF Universal Ltd
She has been listed among the top 100 world marketing leaders by the World Marketing Congress 2014. With 24 years of experience, Dr Ananta Singh Raghuvanshi has been instrumental in sales, marketing, advertising, PR, dealer relations and new product launches for landmark residential, retail and commercial projects. An alumnus of Miranda House, Delhi University, BSc, MBA, MA, BEd, PGDCA and PhD in Management, she is a gold medallist from YWCA, Delhi, in Marketing Management, PR and Advertising. Further, she is on the advisory council of the Asia Retail Congress 2015 and a technical session chairperson for various seminars.
Dr Raghuvanshi´s ¨extremely enjoyable, exciting and educative¨ journey in the real-estate industry began on June 17, 1991. She worked with DLF for 16 years (June 1991 to March 2010) and worked as Chief Executive-Retail & Residential, Corporate Sales of Emaar MGF Land Ltd from July 2007 to March 2010. Since April 2010 to date, she has been heading Marketing Pan-India and is Executive Director-Sales & Marketing, DLF Universal Ltd. Today, she is responsible for sales, customer services and marketing for flagship residential projects like King´s Court, Queen´s Court at Greater Kailash-II, Capital Greens; Prime Towers, Okhla, in the commercial segment´ and townships in Lucknow, Indore, etc. Dr Raghuvanshi believes her aspirations and ambition û to join one of the biggest real estate company, and the iconic DLF Centre have probably led her to where she is today. Ask her about her role model and she replies, ¨I don´t think that anybody who has a role model can achieve their dreams because you tend to put yourself insomebody else´s shoes. Every individual must write their own script and chase their own dreams.¨ Optimistic about learning more and achieving new heights, she shares her journey, applied marketing strategies and her secret to understanding buyer preferences in conversation with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
Where does the real challenge in the real-estate industry lie?
Streamlining of transactions in the secondary market, certification of agents, ease in documentation related to buying, selling, mutation, registry... all of it is challenging. It has indeed been an exciting journey because when I started working in the real-estate sector, Delhi was literally bursting at the seams and Gurgoan and Noida were coming up. There was expansion in the channel management and real-estate advertising was also evolving; the new customer was much younger. There was also a huge paradigm shift - senior citizens invested in homes when they retired and younger MNC executives created a trend of purchasing homes even before they invested in their first car. A lot of corporate sales took place and international sales were witnessed as well. The mall age came in, which by itself was a great learning. Then, there was a whole pan-India story, a beautiful opportunity across 16 cities for 64 projects. If you enjoy your job, it is the fun and challenges that keep you going. And, in real estate, you are learning every day.
What are the recent trends adopted by real-estate firms for brand building and marketing?
While brand building and marketing exercises like celebrity endorsements, events, advertisements, etc, help in the long term, generating sales requires brilliant teams, patience, perseverance and a well-thought-out product strategy. Real estate is a sentimental market and closures depend on the end users along with investors.
Please highlight some landmark projects you have worked on along with the challenges involved.
Some landmark projects that I have worked on include luxury holiday homes in Shimla, where the challenge was to make buyers experience that lifestyle. Another landmark project that was interesting in the retail segment was the leasing of Promenade at Vasant Kunj in Delhi. At that time, the city´s retailers preferred to buy space and own their shops. Also, Aralias Phase-V, Gurgaon, was launched as the first warm shell residential condominium, where residents could opt for interiors of their choice. This was a new concept a decade back.
As you operate in the residential, commercial and retail spaces, how do you determine buyer preferences?
The residential segment is a major focus area for our townships. Commercial and retail are designed to support it. Commercial projects on sale in the NCR are mostly part of district centres like Jasola, Saket and Mayur Vihar. Most of these decisions come from experience and, fortunately, DLF has been operating in all these segments for over 60 years. We try to know our buyer as much as possible. Even in new geographies like Lucknow, Indore, Chandigarh, Chennai, etc, we have been operating for many years. So the understanding comes naturally from the connect we establish with customers and brokers and most of our products are designed based on market feedback.
Which segment has maximum potential, and why?
All sectors are equally important. However, ´affordable luxury´ seems to be a popular mantra going forward. There are two aspects to this concept. First, when land has been acquired at a reasonable rate and a luxurious product is made. The cost of construction may be high but the customer is offered an affordable product. The other aspect to ´affordable luxury´ is that you make the most luxurious houses but you reduce the size. So instead of doing a 5,000-sq-ft house, the builder can opt for a 2,500-sq-ft house. And by being a little innovative and adapting to the customer´s needs, the product can be made luxurious, yet affordable.
You are involved in various activities apart from your core commitment to DLF....
I am extremely passionate and committed to real-estate sales and marketing. For me, it is not just about performing a role but is an integral part of my life. Hence, I am part of various activities related to the industry.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
I am a strong believer that in life, we should do what we enjoy, and are good at. Then it is not work at all but achieving joy in life. Life beyond work is totally dedicated to being with the family, self-development and pursuing hobbies like music and travelling.
In the kind of profession you operate in, what would you determine as your strengths?
I am probably not even aware what my strengths are! But perseverance goes a long way - if you are really committed to something and serious about it, enjoy it, work becomes an integral part of your happiness in life. I would like to quote Anuj Puri, Chairman and Country Head, JLL India: ¨This is not a game for those who are prone to motion sickness.¨ Our industry is most affected by VUCA - Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity - and, therefore, it is important to be resilient, courageous, determined and clear-headed. I love challenges and enjoy the adventure this industry offers.
In what way does the marketing division contribute to the overall business success of the company?
Marketing has two aspects to it. One is about pushing the stocks and converting them into sales, which contribute to the bottom-line and image of the organisation. The other is the regular surveys, research and data you keep gathering. We work closely with international property consultants (IPC) and conduct consumer behaviour survey, market feedback, etc, on product type. For instance, in the heart of Lucknow, we launched studio apartments. Back then, everyone thought this concept would not work in a city like Lucknow. But in a very short time we got stupendous success.
How have you seen woman rising in this industry? What would your ´statement of encouragement´ be to women entering and working in this industry?
Women make excellent property agents, customer service executives, architects, marketing professionals and researchers. Women are also important influencers in the buying decision. My statement of encouragement is: Enter this sector with a commitment to remain a student of real estate for life. There is so much to learn that the journey goes on. I have practised this and recently completed my doctoral thesis on marketing management in the real-estate industry.
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