We are looking at driving penetration in rural India

Written by Lalitha Srinivasan | Updated: May 30 2014, 11:03am hrs
Colgate-Palmolive (India) managing director Prabha Parameswaran is betting big on innovations to drive growth and penetration in the branded oral care industry. With a 57% market share, Colgate currently leads the pack in this sector. To woo new consumers, the company has built a strong pipeline of innovations this year. As part of the growth strategy, it is setting up two manufacturing facilities at Sanand in Gujarat and Sri City in Andhra Pradesh. In an interview with Lalitha Srinivasan, Parameswaran talks about the companys strategic plans. Edited excerpts:

With the entry of Procter & Gamble, competition is hotting up in the Indian oral care industry.

How does Colgate plan to sustain its leadership

We are looking at innovations to drive consumption, to increase penetrations and to drive growth. We have a strong pipeline of innovations to be launched this year.

With innovations, we bring in differentiated products in competitive markets. We are very focused on consumers. And we are focused on what is required to win them.

What are your organic growth plans this year

We are setting up two manufacturing facilities one for toothpastes that has already come up at Sanand in Gujarat. We are building the second plant in Sri City in Andhra Pradesh which is dedicated to the manufacture of tooth brushes. We have increased our distribution network to reach out to a wider audience. Our products are now available in 4.6 million outlets across the country, the key pillars of our strategy include: accelerated penetration, drive premiumisation, expand consumption and create new benefit space.

With the rise in commodity prices, is Colgate revising its pricing strategy

We have taken price increases as and when we needed. Yes, commodity prices have gone up. We have taken price increases judiciously so that consumers can bear it. But we focus a lot on cost efficiencies as well. Although the costs have gone up in FY14, we have improved our gross margins by 90 basis points.

What are Colgate Indias growth drivers in the coming months

We are looking at driving penetration in rural India, which has 63% of oral care penetration. This will be our major growth driver. We are increasing our distribution in rural India to reach out to more and more villages directly. Another growth driver is driving into premiumisation judiciously. We have launched Visible Whitening a premium brand that is doing very well. To promote this new launch, we are focused on top metros and modern trade.

Are you increasing Colgate Indias research and development spends to drive innovations

Thats part of our growth plans and it will continue. With research and development, we have a strong pipeline of both global and local innovations. Technology plays an important role in our innovations.

Tell us about Colgate Indias rural initiatives.

We are building awareness for oral healthcare. For the purpose, we are talking to school children, primary health workers and communities in rural belts to communicate the benefits of oral healthcare.