Shreyas Subbaraya (pictured), former country leader for Gillette and eCommerce in the Philippines at P&G, has joined Merisant Company as regional marketing director, Asia Pacific. Merisant produces zero and low-calorie sugar substitutes and has flagship brands including Equal, Canderel, Whole Earth and PurVia.
Based in Singapore, Subbaraya will be responsible for shaping brand strategy, bringing consumer-focused innovation to market, developing insightful advertising and executing omnichannel plans to take the business to the next level. He will report to Mario Pascale, vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific in this newly created role.
In a statement to Marketing, Subbaraya said the role was created to tap the growth opportunity in the Asia Pacific region. According to him, Asia Pacific is an important region for the company, given the population and income growth potential in the markets. Weight management through active lifestyle and wise food choices is gaining traction. With people living longer due to advancements in healthcare and quality of life, it’s important to prevent, detect, and manage diabetes gracefully, he explained. Subbaraya added that consumers are looking for trusted sugar alternatives and natural substitutes to play a key role in this effort.
He looks forward to partnering with "an exceptional leadership team and a passionate marketing and cross-functional team", and is excited about his role because sugar accounts for 80% of sweetening consumption globally, so there is immense opportunity for category development.
"Merisant, with its flagship brands and superior innovation, is strongly positioned to ‘make sweet healthy’ and accelerate category growth in partnership with retailers and distributors," he said. Apart from sweeteners, Merisant also has adjacencies such as chocolates and jams.
"My vision is to accelerate category development and delight more consumers in Asia Pacific with our high-quality sweeteners and adjacencies. In doing so, we will drive profitable share growth for the portfolio and create value for our stakeholders," he added.
Prior to helming this new role, Subbaraya spent a total of 10 years at P&G, taking on roles such as country leader, shopper marketing and CRM analytics in the Philippines, global brand manager and digital transformation leader, Pantene for Southeast Asia and ANZ, and regional assistant brand manager, fabric care, Southeast Asia and India. He also had a stint at Johnson & Johnson's regional marketing department where he led a baby sleep study to capture insights, and partnered with health influencers to launch the customised sleep profile website.
When asked about his previous experience, Subbaraya said he has had the "tremendous opportunity" to build strong brands and deliver consistent business results over the last 11 years. He added:
I am a huge believer in shaping high performance teams and coaching my people and agency partners to bring out their best.
According to him, the population and income growth potential in Southeast Asia and broadly Asia Pacific is a long-term tailwind, in spite of the trade war impact and emerging markets’ currency headwinds currently making the airwaves. Consumers are increasingly looking for natural products and no added sugar offerings.
"Markets such as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia have a median age of 25 to 30 years, so its important for brands to appeal to Millennials in a digital-first world. In markets such as Australia, Thailand, and Singapore where the median age is much higher, the threat of diabetes to consumer well being and productivity is a crucial challenge," he explained.
From a channel standpoint, Subbaraya said Southeast Asia is the next hotbed of eCommerce after China, and a huge growth opportunity. Given consumers' busy lifestyles, there is also traction for convenience stores in the region.
He added that it is also important for brands to take a purposeful stance and demonstrate it in action. "I also see merit in personalisation and precision marketing for consumers; and leveraging shopper psychology and data analytics in partnership with retailers," Subbaraya said.