M-POWER 2016: Day 1: Panel Discussion – “Mega Trends impacting the Indian FMCG sector”

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Mr. Raja Chakraborty, Head Marketing – FMCG, Raymond Ltd:

Mr. Raja started the discussion by stating that we are all on a constant mode of self-discovery. Talking about technology, the most important mega trend, he stated that technology empowers us in a way that we cannot imagine. From a business point of view, while it is a boon, it also comes with a number of challenges. The FMCG industry is communication oriented and technology poses a great challenge in this aspect. With the advent of applications like Youtube, consumers now emphasize on content, taking away the visibility of advertisements. Technology also makes a great difference on the sales front. It enables microsegmenting of customers based on purchasing behavior in the place of carpet bombing, which was followed before. Another topic discussed was popular pricing with premium gratification. He spoke about the changing customer trends of rising quality aspirations.

Mr. Aditya Ahuja, Brand Manager Kurkure, PepsiCo India:

Mr. Ahuja started the discussion by stating that technology encompasses everyone and everything. It enables a more interactive approach, giving back power to the consumers. It also demands companies to be more responsible. Technology has impacted the sales force and distribution channel by paving the way for automation, making decisions more intuitive and suggested. He also spoke about how technology has revolutionized information dissemination. He stated that the biggest disruption brought about by technology is the advent of the age of success of faster organizations in place of bigger companies. Another topic discussed was the importance of balancing premium and economic brands. He stated that while Indians are the most value conscious consumers, it does not imply that there is compromise on quality. Consumers now look for emotional benefit together with functional benefits. Therefore, price is not the only lever. He stated that relevance and differentiation govern purchase decision and brand loyalty.

Mr. Amit Shanbhag, Sr. Area Sales Manager, Mondelez India Ltd:

Mr. Amit Shanbhag emphasized the role of technology in FMCG. Technology has been evolving to a great extent. He explained how technology is used to communicate with internal customers. He also said that the biggest decision that we have to make in the field of marketing is where to spend the money that has been assigned. The decision has to be made keeping in mind the best results that can be obtained from the same. Business for the FMCG sector comes mainly from modern trade. The differences in traditional and modern trade was also highlighted. It is important that that traditional and modern trade be looked at and handled differently. The opportunities in the market has also been expanding. Wants are now moving towards needs. Consumers are not restricting themselves to what they require. They are ready to spend beyond bare minimum to satisfy their wants as well. Rural areas in India is also now exposed to brands. Thus, there is so much untapped potential in these areas where the FMCG sector can make a mark.

Mr Shishir Mishra, Director, Kohinoor Specialty Foods, Indian  subsidiary of Mc Cormick, U.S:

Mr. Shishir Mishra focused on the transformation that the consumers have gone through. Unlike old times, Consumers are now more aware, more informed and more demanding. The technology available now helps us study consumers. Why they choose a certain product or a brand can now be understood better through various parameters. Commoditization happens at a very fast pace in this era. Companies will have to constantly add value. He mentioned the four main factors that determined the food industry- Quality, Health, Taste and Variety. He added that Health and wellness is one of the emerging trends in FMCG. The market demands organic and environment friendly products thus pushing companies to rediscover their products. He said that one can charge a premium as long as variety is offered. The focus should be on product innovation which will add value because of which one can sell the product at a premium and obtain the desired goals.

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