JK Cement is seeing good demand from rural areas as country is opening up: Pushp Raj Singh
Pushp Raj Singh, President Marketing, JK Cement Ltd. (Grey Cement Business)BI India
Pushp Raj Singh is optimistic that urban demand will also improve in the next few months

JK Cement is seeing good demand from rural areas as country is opening up: Pushp Raj Singh

Pushp Raj Singh is optimistic that urban demand will also improve in the next few months
  • The lockdown affected the real estate market, with constructions across the country coming to a complete standstill in the initial days.
  • However, with the country slowly opening up now, business is also slowly coming back.
  • Pushp Raj Singh, President Marketing, JK Cement Ltd. (Grey Cement Business) shares how the brand survived the lockdown days and how it made sure all its stakeholders were safe and taken care of.
  • He also tells us the growing relevance of digital for marketers like him to reach out to their target audience.
As the government announced the country-wide lockdown in March this year, to contain the spread of Covid-19, construction work across the country came to a complete standstill. Supply chain systems were disrupted due to movement restrictions between districts and states.

Moreover, over the past few months we have been watching migrant workers struggling to go back home. Most of the construction work is carried out by migrant labourers so even when the country is slowly unlocking, there is a shortage of workers in the sector.

However, there are early signs of recovery, as pointed out by Pushp Raj Singh, President Marketing, JK Cement Ltd. (Grey Cement Business). He shared with us that construction activities have slowly started and the brand is witnessing good demand from rural areas. While the urban demand and projects are still subdued, there is hope that things will improve considerably in the next few months.

Singh also talks to us about how the brand came up with strategies to keep its employees motivated during these adverse times when there was hardly any business.


Q) Since the lockdown led to a complete halt in construction projects, what kind of business impact have you faced since the lockdown started?

There has been a slowdown in the businesses all across. Supply chain system came to a standstill due to inter-district and interstate movement restrictions. Moreover, the movement of migrant laborers is a major concern from long-term business recovery point of view. It is also a reason the construction activities in urban and city markets have still not fully recovered even after the unlock process has started.

However, at a time of uncertain socio-economic conditions, we have been working on cost optimization by taking some healthy measures such as going paperless. At the same time, we also ensured that the morale of our employees remains high. We connected with our on-ground teams regularly through the online medium. Rather, we went one step ahead by making new employees join through e-joining.

Q) Have things now started coming back to normal in terms of business? What is your recovery strategy?

The lockdown period was definitely difficult for us. However with Unlock 1.0 announced by the government, construction activities have started and we’ve witnessed a good demand from rural areas. The urban demand and the projects continue to remain subdued, which we hope will improve considerably in the coming months. With the easing of the lockdown restrictions, the transport sector is also improving, and we hope that we are able to see a boost in our business in the upcoming months. Going forward, once the government push comes into effect and we see major activities in infrastructure, road projects, housing for the under-privileged (Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana), the consumption is expected to further go up.

Seeing the impact of the pandemic, we took some important decisions to make certain changes, both concerning our business and for our employees. It has been a learning experience for us and the journey of learning continues. Now, as the unlock process has started, we have been ensuring that our ground force team is taking all the necessary precautions while going to the market.

Q) How did you communicate with your consumers during the lockdown? What were the mediums that you used the most?

Today’s customers and clients look for an understanding of what a brand stands for. The only way to accomplish this is with a strategic and consistent representation of the brand in every channel. Having a positive impression in the minds of our target audience and businesses translates directly into stronger brand equity. To begin with, we already had a media mix consisting of, OOH, print media, electronic media, etc. However, with the lockdown, our efforts became more focused on digital media strategies. We have also focused our efforts greatly on rural marketing and identified the strategies that work well with the target audience.

We launched the #YehPuccaHai campaign to communicate with our audiences during the lockdown period, keeping our rural audiences also in mind. The message behind the campaign was to showcase how JK Super Cement as a brand always stands for building safe structures with a solid foundation.

Additionally, we also wanted to portray the toil of our construction workers who work day and night to ensure that we live in safe homes. With this campaign, we wanted to highlight the social and emotional quotient associated with laborers. Construction workers are the ones who are at the base of any construction cycle and often their work is not given the credit that it deserves. Workers are one of the major pillars of a safe nation and it is only their hardwork that ensures that all of us can live comfortably. This campaign highlights the strength and determination of these construction workers who are devoted to their work.

Q) Did you primarily depend on the digital medium, and increase your spends than otherwise? Do you plan to stick to this strategy even after the lockdown?

We did rely on the digital medium as our marketing strategy primarily. Brands are keeping digital at the centre of their marketing strategy during the COVID 19 era and have opened themselves to a host of platforms, tools, and communication channels. The new normal of marketing would include brands having wider reach across digital mediums and stronger targeting. Today, brands are mastering working on numerous platforms from messaging apps, social media sites, advertisement to search engine tools, influencer marketing and so on.

Among marketers, apart from the traditional ATL and OOH marketing strategies, digital marketing strategies such as digital promotion, conferences and campaigns are significantly rising. Hence, in the current scenario as well as post Covid-19, digital marketing will emerge as a strong contender amongst marketing strategies.

Q) As a leader, what have some of your key learnings been?

With the lockdown affecting our business, we made a COVID-19 response playbook ready for our stakeholders talking about our action plan ahead. We provided our employees with adequate PPE kits, sanitisers, monitoring mechanisms etc to ensure their safety. Hence, this lockdown period was a good learning experience for all of us. We were also constantly in touch with our on-ground teams on a weekly/ bi-weekly basis. As a company, we always take the best care of our people first. Employees are the bedrock for any company and this is a virtue that we firmly believe in.

We have also launched a campaign for our #SuperDrivers who drive miles to ensure that our raw materials are transported all across the country. Often, their efforts are not recognized in the mainstream discussion, however they are a valuable asset for all of us and contribute greatly to our nation’s development.

With the huge success of the #YehPuccaHai campaign, we also learned the importance of leveraging digital medium.

Q) What is your vision for the brand? What do you want to stand for in the future as JK Super Cement?

JK Super Cement as a brand strives to take care of the people at the bottom of the ladder. The company’s core value of keeping ‘people first’ makes us a promising brand. Our aim is to be the most preferred brand by the consumers for building safe and strong structures for generations to come, which is closely connected to the brand slogan ‘JK Super Cement – Build Safe!’