A five-pronged approach keeps HUL future-ready

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Jul 2 2014, 04:31am hrs
At Unilever, the approach of developing innovations with consumer price as the starting point is at the heart of our inclusive innovation strategy, said Harish Manwani, chairman, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), as he addressed shareholders at the companys 81st annual general meeting in Mumbai.

According to Manwani, HUL has institutionalised a challenge cost mindset where the target price for consumers drives innovation in each segment and category. ''This has helped us to develop new market segments in home care, personal care and foods, he added.

With net revenues of R28,019 crore in FY14, HUL is sharpening focus on its key priority areas that include, innovation, rural distribution and digital media.

To build a future-ready organisation, HUL has opted for a five-pronged approach that includes embracing technology and inclusive innovation, building future-ready talent and capabilities, values-led and purpose-driven leadership and creating an agile and inclusive work culture.

While technology and innovation will be the hardware that drives future ready organisations, it is a values-led and purpose-driven leadership that is the software that must drive sustainable and responsible growth. This combination will shape the corporate winners of tomorrow, he said.

In its annual report for FY14, HUL, which sells Dove shampoos and Lux soaps, has said an increased number of innovation networks were executed in 2013-14 and touched about 60% of the company's products portfolio. The company has increased its distribution network by 50 % in the last two years to reach out to a wider target audience.

Replying to an investor query at the AGM, Manwani said in the last 18-24 months HUL had a capex of R500 crore per year to build capabilities.

Stressing on the importance of nurturing a continuous learning environment that builds talent and new capabilities, Manwani said the most important asset of any organisation was reputation.

For future-ready organisations, leaders need to not only build the organisational capabilities to harness technology and new ways of working, but also instil values to build sustainable and responsible models of growth," he added.

According to Manwani, in a world with easy access to information and rapid changes, companies need to move fast to keep up.

At Unilever, we have ingrained agility and speed in our work culture. Equally, diversity and inclusion is an important aspect of our sustainable business growth agenda. In HUL, we refer to this as Winning Balance, he concluded.