Lion’s new Marketing Director returned to Sydney last year after a three-year stint in Chicago where she worked for Mars. Three months on the ground in Sydney and Anubha Sahasrabuddhe is still settling back after twenty years leading marketing teams in Asia/New Zealand for Wrigley and The Coca-Cola Company, in addition to her time with Mars in Chicago.
“It’s fantastic to be rediscovering my home,” she says. “So much has changed and yet so much has not. So, as a marketer I am really curious as to what the fundamental cultural changes that have taken place are. And how we sense make of that for the modern Australian consumer.”
Sahasrabuddhe was lured back to Australia by the “dream scope” of the role at Lion which encompasses a mandate for change, an opportunity to build on Lion’s legacy and establish its position amidst the “enormity of the shifts happening culturally, generationally and within the alcohol industry”.
Sahasrabuddhe takes a long term view of her role, leading marketing across Lion Australia as well as the consumer centre of excellence across Lion Adult Beverages. She says:
“I am so privileged to be leading a team who share the vision to be hungry agitators striving to deliver on our collective purpose – ‘Be Sociable. Live well’. Never has that sentiment been so acutely relevant as we all navigate a post-COVD world. That is what we strive to achieve for Australian consumers every day. I am excited to be building that vision and reimagining what that looks like for the next generation of Australians,” she says.
Sahasrabuddhe is also Lion’s Alternate Director on the Drinks Association’s Board. She says, “I hope I will bring a global perspective from other categories facing similar challenges to the table, which I hope will facilitate the sharing and exchange of ideas on how to future proof our industry and work together to ensure a sustainable and vibrant future.”
While her position at Lion marks her first experience in the drinks industry, Sahasrabuddhe says she is on a new and “fantastic learning journey” but suggests that marketers in the FMCG and liquor industries share a singular purpose.
“What is similar between the two sectors,” she says, “is that we all need to be obsessed with anticipating consumer needs and delivering on those better than anyone through the power of brands that bring meaning, difference and ultimately value to our consumers.”
One of the greatest appeals for anyone working in this industry is that it celebrates together, is interconnected, collegiate and sociable. Sahasrabuddhe says, “At its heart are people, and the uniqueness of the on-premise sets [the drinks industry] apart from the standard FMCG company. Being an integral part of so many moments of connection and sociability and the numerous ways of how that plays out is indeed to have a view that is not a ‘typical FMCG’ experience.”
The on-premise presents an exciting space for creating opportunities and collaboration, even with the challenges of working in such a varied landscape of operators. She says, “Being able to develop relationships with publicans and venue operators creates a unique ability to understand their business and to co-create the bespoke experience a consumer is going to have in those moments in that place. I am loving discovering the possibilities that this type of collaboration and co-creation can bring.”
Lion’s National Local Day perhaps exemplified this collaboration.
“National Local Day is a true reflection of Lion’s purpose in action. It was a way for us to recognise and appreciate the role that our locals play not just for our industry but as a cornerstone of our community and their vital role in enabling the connections we sorely missed during the challenges of 2020.
“We are genuinely humbled by the resilience, spirit and hope that each operator embodied and to be able to mark the occasion and really give back – is what is wonderful about our industry and the consumers we serve,” she says.
The Drinks Association welcomes Anubha to the Board and is looking forward to hearing the perspectives and insights her extensive global experience and marketing expertise will bring to the table.