Dec 26, 2020

The hunt for growth



 Growth drives profitability.

Especially in FMCG companies, where the margins are relatively low, the only way to achieve growth targets is to increase sales.


How to achieve growth targets? 

At a higher level, brands adopt one of these three strategies

(1) By increasing the consumption of existing consumers

(2) By increasing the pool of new consumers from the identified target segments

(3) By repositioning the product (or creating a slightly different product variant) to newer target segments


For strategy (1), brands use promotion tactics that encourage consumers to buy more. "Buy 3, Get 1 free", "Buy 3, Get Rs.100 off", etc

For strategy (2), brands use multiple tactics in the retail space - free samples, combining complementary products, small pack sizes, discounts, etc


I mainly wanted to talk about strategy (3) in this post as this is becoming more and more prevalent these days.


A few days back, I was listening to this talk by Mr.Sanjay Singal, COO Dairy and Beverages, ITC. He shared his experiences from Dabur. In this video (from 16th min onwards), he talks about how niche products are becoming mainstream (Honey, Hajmola, Chyawanprash, etc). 


Instead of positioning a product using a problem/solution message ("if you face this problem, take this solution"), brands are taking a broader approach to attract a new audience. 

Hajmola has moved from a "pet dhard ka dhawa" (medicine for stomach ache) to a more candy-like product.

Honey which used to be an Ayurvedic medicine carrier product has been positioned mainstream as something that helps to stay fitter, lose weight, etc, to attract a larger audience base of health-conscious individuals.

The core strategy suggested was to take categories and figure out ways to unlock growth.


For a marketer, this suggestion might be useful BUT for a consumer, this creates a huge problem and that's exactly what I wanted to highlight here.


Newer and newer products are getting added to our shopping cart. Let's do an exercise - go around your kitchen, pantry, and fridge and note down all product categories on a sheet of paper. 


Ketchup,

Salad dressing,

Cheese spread,

Muesli,

Oats,

Green tea,

Chilli sauce,

Rice,

Dals,

Sugar,

Tea/coffee,

etc


How many of these categories have we been using for the past 3-4 decades? 

How many got added to our kitchens in the past 1-2 decades?


Are these new categories improving the quality of our health or degrading it? Have we taken the efforts to answer this question?


For eg, artificial sweeteners were earlier prescribed ONLY to diabetic patients. But these days, we find artificial sweeteners being added to most "health drinks" targeted at "health-conscious" individuals regardless of whether they are diabetic or not. 


For businesses, unlocking growth might be the key to increase profitability, but is this strategy in alignment with the well-being of consumers? Something to ponder over.

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