HLL, ITC draw up two-pronged strategies to woo customers

Mumbai, Aug 31 | Updated: Aug 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
Indiaa largest FMCG company Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL)is gearing up to launch its rural initiative Project Shakti in Bihar and Jharkhand very soon.

With this, Project Shakti will be operational across all states in India. The company also plans to cover 5,00,000 villages with 1,00,000 Shakti Ammas (women entrepreneurs) in the next two years. Competitor ITC Ltd is also planning to set up 50 Choupal Sagars (rural super stores) by the end of this fiscal year.

Clearly, Indias two major FMCG players in rural markets are now extending their reach to woo new consumers.

On HLLs rural strategy, Dalip Sehgal, executive director(New Ventures & Marketing Services),HLL, said: To support Project Shakti, we are now launching value-added services in rural belts. With Shakti Vanis, we are educating villagers on health and hygiene. Also, we are running campaigns on ORS (Oral Rehydration Solutions)in villages."As part of the strategy, HLL has tied up with Skojo Foundation to offer spectacles to villagers at low price points.

As for ITC, S Sivakumar, chief executive, agri business, ITC, said: "We have introduced Choupal Prathishtan Keth to showcase the best farming practices to farmers. At present, we have 10 Choupal Sagars spread across nine states, and nine more Choupal Sagars are under construction." Interestingly, ITC and HLL are also beefing up their marketing efforts to gain market share in urban India. For instance, ITC has just launched Choupal Fresh in Hyderabad. "Its an urban initiative on retailing rural produce like vegetables and fruits. After Hyderabad, we will launch this urban initiative in Pune," explained Shivakumar. To woo urban consumers, HLL is also extending the services of its Ayush Therapy Centres(ATC) from 26 to 40 by the end of this year.