ITC Executive Director: Leveraged synergy of brands with partners’ reach

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September 3, 2020 3:40 AM

Some of the unconventional tie-ups for delivery of our products to consumers included diverse companies such as Dominos, Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo, Amway etc.

ITC was a first mover in entering into innovative collaborations with service delivery partners. ITC was a first mover in entering into innovative collaborations with service delivery partners.

ITC was a first mover in the FMCG space in entering into innovative collaborations with service delivery partners and leveraged the synergy of the availability of its brands with the reach of the partners direct to homes, says executive director B Sumant. In an interview with Mithun Dasgupta, Sumant says the trends of increasing demand and preference for staples, wellness, nutrition, hygiene and in-home convenience products are likely to continue post the pandemic. Edited excerpts:

Market research firm Nielsen finds India’s FMCG industry during April-June had slumped 17.1% year-on-year as Covid-19 led to huge disruption. ITC’s non-cigarette FMCG business, however, registered 10.3% y-o-y growth. What were the factors that contributed to this kind of growth?

The FMCG businesses have effectively leveraged our institutional strengths, including deep consumer insights, agri sourcing strength, cutting edge R&D and product development capabilities of the ITC Life Science and Technology Centre (LSTC) in Bengaluru, agility in launching a slew of first-to-market innovative offerings customised to address consumers’ evolving needs particularly in the hygiene and wellness space, as well as robust supply chain and distribution network.

The company expanded presence in the emerging channels of modern trade and e-commerce during the April-June quarter. Will it continue to focus more on these two successful channels?

ITC was a first mover in entering into innovative collaborations with service delivery partners. We leveraged the synergy of the availability of our trusted brands with the reach of some of our partners direct to homes. Some of the unconventional tie-ups for delivery of our products to consumers included diverse companies such as Dominos, Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo, Amway etc.

Distribution innovations including ‘ITC Store on Wheels’ to ensure direct reach to consumers in residential agglomerations, enhanced availability in e-commerce platforms, direct store deliveries to modern trade and substantially expanding presence of its product portfolio in alternative outlets, were some of the measures deployed to ensure easier access to our products. Our products also continue to be available across a large number of kirana stores.

The company has launched several formats of Savlon in a very short span of time. Has this exercise helped it gain market share?

In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, we witnessed robust growth for Savlon and Nimyle, driven by heightened awareness and demand for hygiene solutions such as hand sanitizers, handwash, antiseptic liquids and floor cleaners. The personal care products business demonstrated a high degree of agility and responsiveness by rapidly expanding manufacturing capacity and availability of ‘Savlon’ antiseptic liquid, soap, handwash, hand sanitizer as well as ‘Fiama’ handwash and other hygiene products in the market. Savlon, which has gained repute and has built strong equity over the years for its effectiveness in protection against germs, grew manifold, driven by significant surge in demand and backed by a slew of innovative first to market product launches in record time and rapid scale-up in capacity.

After acquiring Sunrise, ITC is looking to scale up its spices business significantly across the country. Do you plan to come up with more products under ‘Sunrise’?

Sunrise is a clear market leader in eastern India in the fast-growing spices category with a rich heritage and brand legacy of over 70 years. The substantial consumer connect of sunrise in the focus markets, together with synergies arising out of the sourcing and supply chain capabilities of ITC’s agri business, deep consumer insights, pan-India distribution network, cuisine knowledge and packaging know-how will provide significant value creation opportunities for us.

What are your views on the growth prospects for both branded packaged foods and personal care products categories going ahead?

A lot will depend on how the pandemic situation evolves and when the infection curve begins to flatten. However, as of now, we believe that the trends of increasing demand and preference for staples, wellness, nutrition, hygiene and in-home convenience products like frozen foods are likely to continue post the pandemic. Consumers are also seeking indulgence products which will get scaled up over time.

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