Nirmalya Kumar Profile

Thinkers50 thought leader, Nimalya Kumar is changing the perception of the role of marketing worldwide. The London Business School professor and sought out advisor has attracted more than 15,000 citations on Google Scholar for his academic research in marketing and business strategy.

An in-demand consultant, coach, and conference speaker, Dr. Kumar teaches and advises the world’s leading corporate executives. He has worked with more than 50 Fortune 500 companies in 60 different countries and has been a professor in some of the world’s most famous universities, including Northwestern University and Harvard Business School.

Dr. Kumar has urged marketing and marketers to move beyond the classical tactical role in companies, and instead, engage with the CEOs and the boards in strategic conversations and transformations. With the rise of the BRIC countries and the increasing importance of emerging markets for the global economy, he has made the larger point through his many articles and books that the BRIC nations are not just markets for multinational companies, but an important source of innovation and future competitors.

Dr. Kumar is a recipient of the Thinkers50, 50 Best Business School Professors, and Global Village Award. Currently, he is a member of the Group Executive Council, Tata Sons, the largest Indian business conglomerate with annual revenues over $100 billion.

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    Professor Nirmalya Kumar is Professor of Marketing and Co-Director of Aditya Birla India Centre at London Business School. He is one of the world’s leading thinkers on strategy and marketing, and has also taught at Harvard Business School, IMD (Switzerland) and Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management).

    As an author, Nirmalya has written six books, five of which are published by Harvard Business Press: Marketing as Strategy (2004), Private Label Strategy (2007), Value Merchants (2007), India’s Global Powerhouses (2009), and India Inside (2011).

    Dr. Kumar is an outlier among marketing professors, having accomplished the rare feat of publishing six articles each in both the Journal of Marketing Research (the premier journal for marketing academics) and the Harvard Business Review (the premier journal for business practice). These, and other articles, have attracted 5,000 and 2,000 citations on Google Scholar and Social Science Citation Index respectively.

    As a consultant, coach, and conference speaker, Nirmalya has worked with more than 50 Fortune 500 companies in 60 different countries. He has served on several boards of directors, including billion dollar plus companies and companies included in India’s stock indices.

    Professor Kumar received his B.Com. from Calcutta University (graduating first in a class of 5,251 students), his MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (scoring a perfect 5.0 grade point average), and his PhD in marketing from Kellogg Graduate School of Management (winning the
    Marketing Science Institute′s Alden G. Clayton Award for his PhD dissertation).

    All of the above has led to more than 400 press appearances, six European case (ECCH) adoption awards, as well as several teaching, research, and lifetime achievement honors. In 2010, voted him amongst the top 5 marketing speakers worldwide; the Economic Times placed him 6th on the list of Global Indian Thought Leaders; whilst The Economist referred to him as a “rising superstar” in their cover story entitled “The New Masters of Management.”

    In his personal life, Nirmalya is a passionate supporter of the arts. He is the custodian of among the largest known private collection of paintings by Jamini Roy (1887-1972; the father of Indian modern art) and Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941; the first Asian to win a Nobel Prize).

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Nirmalya Kumar's Speech Descriptions

Leading marketing and strategy thought leader, Dr. Nimalya Kumar analyzes the evolving world of marketing offering his trusted perspective of how companies will change their strategies for the future. A seasoned advisor to some of the world’s most competitive companies, he provides insightful information on the rapidly changing business world – particularly in regard to the growing influence of emerging markets like India, China, Brazil, and Russia. Dr. Kumar maps out varying routes developing brands can take to boost their business and expand globally without racking up high expenses. For Fortune 500 audiences, he reveals what established companies can do to compete against competitors who aren’t even on their radar yet.

    Customer Value Management
    Today, marketers in Business Markets face tremendous price pressure from customers. The presentation will outline how to meet this challenge using an customer value management approach, based on a forthcoming book entitled Rare Commodity: Moving Business Markets Beyond Price to Value by Professors James Anderson, Nirmalya Kumar, and Jim Narus. The central argument will be that only by demonstrating and documenting value to customers, can firms be successful in business markets.

    Key points:

    • Creating customer value
    • Capturing the value of supplementary services
    • Designing attractive market offers
    • Pricing for profit

    Getting Closer to the Customer
    Increasingly, companies are serving multinational customers who are demanding in terms of service and prices. These customers expect a high level of service delivery across multiple, globally distributed, locations. Customer delight and customer retention are the key to success especially in the face of aggressive, lower priced competitors seeking to pry the account open. Companies are challenged to provide value added solutions to customers rather than simply selling products.

    The session will use the Tetra Pak case to highlight how a company embarked on a journey to get closer to its major key customers by providing solutions and increasing customer satisfaction.

    Key Points:

    • How to get closer to customers
    • From selling products to providing solutions
    • Managing customer satisfaction initiatives
    • Successful key account management

    Building a Culture of Innovation: The IDEO Way
    The session will examine how IDEO, a design firm, has built a culture of innovation to develop creative new products. A 20-minute video presentation will be followed by a discussion of how competences, processes, structure, people, and assets can help generate a culture capable of producing repeated innovation.

    Building Killer Brands
    The session will use the Black & Decker case to highlight the essence of successful brand marketing strategies. The case examines how to compete against an industry leader. The presentation will focus on the challenge of building killer brand strategies.

    Key Points:

    • How to develop a killer brand
    • Differentiating the brand from competitors
    • Overtaking industry leaders
    • Brand portfolio management

    Marketing Innovation
    The session will examine innovation from a marketing perspective. The presentation will use examples and videos from consumer products (e.g., Sony), services (e.g., easyJet), and business marketing (e.g., Dow Corning).

    Key points:

    • Marketing as a driver of innovation
    • Creating breakthrough customer value
    • Being market driving rather than market driven

    From Market Driven to Market Driving
    The session is based on the article by the same title co-authored with Lisa Scheer and Philip Kotler. It will examine the difference between incremental and radical innovation. How to create breakthrough customer value by being ahead of the customer? How to create radical innovation in established firms? The presentation will use examples and videos from consumer products (e.g., Sony), services (e.g., Zara, easyJet), and business marketing (e.g., Dow Corning).

    Key points:

    • Radical innovation in established firms
    • Creating breakthrough customer value
    • Being market driving rather than market driven

    From One store to Global Dominance in 40 years
    Firms today face the challenge of growth and profitability, especially in the face of emerging low-cost business models (e.g., Aldi, Dell, Huawei, IKEA, Southwest). Understanding the key success factors behind these low cost business models as well as how they operate and grow is critical, regardless of whether one wishes to join them or beat them.

    The session will use the Wal-Mart case to demonstrate how the company went from a single store in 1962 to the largest company in the world in 2002. A comprehensive approach will be adopted that examines the firm’s mission, strategy, operations, human resources, financial model, and marketing.

    Key points:

    • Understanding retailer strategies
    • Partnering with powerful retailers/distributors
    • Growth and execution as differentiators
    • Getting ordinary people to achieve extraordinary goals

    Creative Segmentation and Differentiation Strategies
    Increasingly, companies face competitors with much lower costs and prices. In response, differentiating one’s value proposition and creatively segmenting the market become critical to success. In addition, a disciplined approach to selling value requires documenting and demonstrating the value delivered to customers.

    The session will use the easyJet case to demonstrate how a new entrant can create value through creative segmentation and unique value propositions. The presentation will focus on the challenges of developing unique value propositions, competing against low cost players, and value based pricing strategies.

    Key Points:

    • Differentiating from competitors
    • Creative segmentation
    • Competing against low cost business models

    Marketing as Strategy
    The presentation will be based on the recently published book entitled Marketing as Strategy: Understanding the CEO’s Agenda for Driving Growth and Innovation. Marketing as Strategy is the first book to cast marketing strategy in terms of the CEO’s agenda. Based on more than fifteen years of researching, teaching, and counselling top executives at multinational organizations, the book outlines seven strategic, cross-functional, bottom-line oriented transformation efforts that address the burning issues on the minds of CEOs.

    Private Label Strategy: How to meet the Store Brand Challenge
    As retailers have become more powerful and global, they are increasingly focused on their own brands at the expense of manufacturer brands. Rather than simply selling on price, retailers have transformed their private labels into brands. Consequently, manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble, now compete with their largest customers - major retail chains like Carrefour, CVS, Tesco, and Wal-Mart.

    The growth in private labels, and its changing character, has huge implications for managers on both sides. Yet, brand manufacturers still cling to their outdated assumptions about private labels. Based on the new book, Private Labels: Competing With and Against Store Brands, this presentation describes the new retailer strategies for private labels, and challenges brand manufacturers to develop an effective response. Most important, it lays out actionable strategies for competing against—or collaborating with—private label purveyors.

    Strategies to Fight Low- Cost Rivals
    Based on the best selling article in the Harvard Business Review (December 2006). It′s easier to fight the enemy you know than one you don′t. With gale-force winds of competition lashing every industry, companies must invest a lot of money, people, and time to fight archrivals. They find it tough, challenging, and yet strangely reassuring to take on familiar opponents, whose ambitions, strategies, weaknesses, and even strengths resemble their own.

    CEOs can easily compare their game plans and prowess with their doppelgängers′ by tracking stock prices by the minute, if they desire. However, this obsession with traditional rivals has blinded companies to the threat from disruptive, low-cost competitors. All over the world, especially in Europe and North America, organizations that have business models and technologies different from those of market leaders are mushrooming. Such companies offer products and services at prices dramatically lower than the prices established businesses charge, often by harnessing the forces of deregulation, globalization, and technological innovation.

    By the early 1990s, the first price warriors had gobbled up the lunches of several incumbents. Now, on both sides of the Atlantic, a second wave is rolling in. These low-cost combatants are changing the nature of competition as executives knew it in the twentieth century. What should leaders do?

What People are Saying about Seeing Nirmalya Speak

Rating Entries

    Marketing as Strategy provides top executives with an excellent holistic framework, based on proven solid theory, for how to navigate in today’s fragmented, fast-moving, and digitalized marketplace. Professor Kumar transforms marketing into a strategy process that enables organizations to advance into unknown territory and serve consumers’ ever changing needs.”
    Matti Alahuhta
    President, Nokia Mobile Phones, Finland

    “Nirmalya Kumar sets out very clearly how marketing transformations such as focusing a brand portfolio can be a critical factor for creating long-term profitable growth and significant value for the business.”
    Anthony Burgmans
    Chairman, Unilever N.V., Netherlands

    “In Marketing as Strategy Nirmalya Kumar provides brilliant insights into how his strategic approach to marketing can transform corporations and enable them to build sustainable growth platforms. All marketers would do well to heed his insights and follow his sage advice.”
    Bill George
    Former Chairman and CEO, Medtronic Inc.

    “Kumar has succeeded admirably in opening up a new page in the theory and practice of marketing.”
    Philip Kotler
    Northwestern University

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