The FMCG division of Allana Group of Companies, Allana Consumer Products Pvt. ltd. is one of the leading food companies in the country. Starting from Edible oils and fats, premium Ice-creams, Bakery ingredients and fats, the brand offers a wide array of products for customers. In an exclusive interaction with MI Milind Pingle, CEO, Allana Consumer Products Private Limited opens up about their marketing strategies post-pandemic and the growth drivers of FMCG industry.
Read the full interview here:
Q) What are the key marketing strategies that were adopted by you post-pandemic?
Milind: Consumers are becoming digitally savvy, and that shift hastened during the pandemic. To cater to our consumers in a much better way, we have become digitally-first in our approach.
There is greater adoption of E-Commerce and Quick Commerce. The shift has inspired us to build a robust E-Commerce capability. We are investing in Performance marketing across all E-Commerce platforms.
In the B2B space, we have invested in Innovation and Renovation to develop suitable new products for our customers in Industry and Food Services. In the Bakery business, we have developed suitable packages to cater to the emerging home bakers.
Irrespective of the pandemic, consumer centricity continues to be a way of life at Allana Consumer Products and the fulcrum of all decision-making. We are constantly looking out for emerging trends in the B2C space and investing in market research. In the B2B space, we identify need gaps of our customers that we can service well.
Our team of sales personnel, on-ground promoters, and distributors are the eyes and ears of the company providing us with regular feedback on what’s in and ticking. Our Marketing team is also scanning the markets for opportunities in which we can play sustainably.
We use consumer insights to develop new products, brand communication, and hone our Marketing programs. Our well-equipped R&D system is always on the lookout in both domestic and international markets to develop products that are differentiated and address new emerging needs of the consumers and customers.
Q) What measures have you taken to overcome the pandemic?
Milind: We viewed the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen our business whilst taking care of our people.
Being in the essential category of edible oils, Allana Consumer Products plays an important role in meeting Maharashtra’s demand for edible oils through Sunny & Priya refined oil brands. We served tirelessly against all odds to several biscuit manufacturers, snacks industries, and other food companies whose operations depend on us for their produce. We helped them to maintain their supply chain in the toughest of times. We also promoted Pristine cake mixes to thousands of consumers who took to home baking. As consumers expanded their culinary skills, we saw significant growth for Allegro Olive Oil and London Dairy.
We kept our people motivated throughout this journey and in our best assessment, served our customers extremely well amidst the several odds in these tough times.
Q) What were the major effects on the FMCG industry?
Milind: The last 2 years have been challenging, but the industry has put its best foot forward and has emerged stronger.
The sudden, first lockdown taught us resilience and the need to prepare ourselves with contingency plans. When the second wave struck, the industry was responsive to the consumer needs and with an agile Supply Chain, managed to service the consumer demand with much better preparedness. By the time Omnicorn made its presence felt in the third wave, the operations continued to run normally without any hassles.
For companies that worked in essential categories like us, we had to keep the business going uninterruptedly in Oils & Fats amidst pandemic-induced disruptions and volatility in commodity prices to serve our consumers.
The last couple of years has taught businesses to adapt to uncertainty and ambiguity. The experience has increased our resolve to succeed despite challenging scenarios by staying nimble-footed, determined, and responding to challenges with a positive attitude.
The nature of the pandemic also induced a few shifts in consumer behaviour. We have seen consumers becoming increasingly health-conscious which has made it imperative to work on product compositions with natural and eco-friendly ingredients. Health awareness, focus on immunity and sustainability were the major trends witnessed. The resultant consumer behaviour also influenced a boost to digitization and innovation in-home delivery.
We are looking to the future with optimism and are confident that the FMCG industry will continue its growth trajectory well in the future.
Q) What is Allana Consumer Division’s take on sustainability?
Milind: At Allana Consumer Products, we understand that sustainability is a key strategic pillar. We have taken several measures for the conservation of water and energy (carbon footprint) in our plants. We are investing in solar panels to meet our energy needs.
Our plant at Khopoli is a Zero Effluent Discharge Plant. The company is also accredited with a 5-star rating for maintaining air pollution norms as prescribed by MPCB (Maharashtra Pollution Control Board). We are working towards becoming plastic neutral. We discharge our Extended Producers Responsibility by collecting and recycling plastic that we consume to save the environment.
We are a proud member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and have also won the first prize at the Excellence in Energy Conservation and Management by Maharashtra Energy Development Agency.
Q) What are the growth drivers in the FMCG sector?
Milind: Today’s consumer is more inquisitive about the origins and environmental impact of the product. They are more discerning about claims made on authenticity and health and would want reasons to believe. These omnichannel consumers are comparing features and evaluating products from multiple platforms – starting from in-stores to official online websites to multiple e-commerce platforms. Consumers now have multiple touchpoints to engage with the brands and the onus is now on FMCG companies to have all their functions in sync to create a delightful experience for their consumers.
Moreover, digitization, improvisation, and innovation in-home delivery system is ever-evolving and will continue to undergo further changes. Quick commerce i.e., the e-commerce portals that ensure quick delivery are growing and brands are willing to tie up with them for the last mile connectivity. Even within those portals, there is stiff competition as to who will deliver faster to the consumer.
Many brands also are accelerating the development of Direct-To-Consumer channels to cater to consumers by offering customized experiences. If the E-Commerce infrastructure was in nascency at the onset of pandemics for a lot of organizations, it has been streamlined and made robust to cater to any challenges in near future.
Sustainability is another area that merits our attention. Consumers are becoming more and more evolved and expect brands that they consume to contribute to a sustainable ecosystem.
We have also realized that to flourish, we will have to accelerate innovation across all areas of business– product development, marketing, manufacturing, supply chain, and talent management in this new normal. This will enable businesses to combat challenges and continue creating value for customers and the economy.