Prod­ucts that re­flect the qual­ity stan­dards and in­ven­tive think­ing of their com­pa­nies

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Front Page - By San­jay Ku­mar

Con­sumers are ea­ger for innovation when it comes to pack­aged goods and are in­ter­ested in try­ing new food prod­ucts at the gro­cery store. This shows im­mense op­por­tu­nity for man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­tail­ers to of­fer con­sumers some­thing fresh. Innovation and new prod­ucts spark ex­cite­ment in the con­sumer and gen­er­ate more op­por­tu­ni­ties for buy­ing re­gard­less of the shop­ping chan­nel or medium. New prod­ucts are the lifeblood of re­tail­ing – they in­fuse verve into ex­ist­ing lines, cre­ate com­pletely new cat­e­gories, and ful­fill un­met needs not pre­vi­ously on con­sumers’ or re­tail­ers’ radar. It is not sur­pris­ing that brands today are con­tin­u­ously look­ing to the wider food and drinks mar­ket to spot trends early on and pro­mote con­tin­u­ous devel­op­ment of more ex­pe­ri­en­tial, con­ve­nient and in­no­va­tive prod­uct propo­si­tions.

The food and bev­er­age in­dus­try in In­dia is cur­rently on the verge of mo­men­tous trends that are both trans­for­ma­tive and dis­rup­tive. The most pro­nounced of th­ese trends is buoy­ant growth of the con­sumer pack­aged goods (CPG) in­dus­try over the past quar­ter cen­tury, which has been noth­ing short of ex­hil­a­rat­ing. Rid­ing on the crest of suc­cess, CPG com­pa­nies have launched in­no­va­tive prod­ucts to meet an ever-grow­ing ar­ray of con­sumer needs and de­sires.

While prod­uct launches have been tak­ing place at a fast clip, com­pa­nies have also had to con­stantly in­no­vate to dif­fer­en­ti­ate their prod­ucts from oth­ers. In­deed, innovation is key when it comes to ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges in the F&B sec­tor. Th­ese in­clude hav­ing to cope with rapidly chang­ing con­sumer needs, short­ened prod­uct life cy­cles, mar­gin pres­sures, and ris­ing tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments. Innovation-led new prod­uct devel­op­ment, thus, plays an im­por­tant role and acts as a growth driver for the in­dus­try.

Innovation is viewed as the ap­pli­ca­tion of bet­ter so­lu­tions that meet new re­quire­ments, unar­tic­u­lated needs of con­sumers, or ex­ist­ing mar­ket needs. This is ac­com­plished through bet­ter prod­ucts, pro­cesses, ser­vices, tech­nolo­gies, or business mod­els that are read­ily avail­able to mar­kets, gov­ern­ments and so­ci­ety. Innovation is a wide con­cept which aside from cre­at­ing, launch­ing and mar­ket­ing new prod­ucts also in­cludes im­prov­ing shop­ping pro­cesses, pro­vid­ing con­sumers with a range of tools to pur­chase prod­ucts and en­sur­ing that the en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion is fo­cused on the sin­gu­lar goal of im­prov­ing the cus­tomer’s over­all ex­pe­ri­ence. As In­dian con­sumers be­come more global in their as­pi­ra­tions and de­sires, as they travel abroad and are ex­posed to global prod­ucts, their ap­petite to con­sume prod­ucts in their home mar­ket will only in­crease.

Newer play­ers are faster on food in­no­va­tions

As the con­sump­tion of pro­cessed food in In­dia is on an up­swing, the de­mand for healthy, safe, hy­gienic and convenience driven food is slated to in­crease at an even more sig­nif­i­cant pace in the fu­ture. Thus, food and bev­er­age of­fer­ings that are healthy, value added, safe and hy­gienic and pro­vide value for money, are the or­der of the day. A large num­ber of com­pa­nies are com­ing up with of­fer­ings in the healthy snack­ing cat­e­gory, in­clud­ing roasted makhanas in nu­mer­ous fla­vors, dry fruits/nuts with a twist, vac­uum fried veg­etable based snacks (palak, okra, kale snacks), freeze-dried fruits, smooth­ies, juices, cer­ti­fied or­ganic in­gre­di­ents-based snacks, indige­nous in­gre­di­ent-based prod­ucts, mil­let based cook­ies/snacks and tra­di­tional In­dian fla­vor-based can­dies.

To cope with the whirligig of change in the food in­dus­try, man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­tail­ers are adapt­ing to emerg­ing con­sumer trends to stay rel­e­vant and afloat in times of wide­spread dis­rup­tion of con­ven­tional business mod­els. In par­tic­u­lar, larger and more es­tab­lished com­pa­nies find them­selves en­cum­bered by less ag­ile innovation pro­cesses as they strug­gle to launch win­ning in­no­va­tions. This is ev­i­denced from their growth con­tri­bu­tion to the cat­e­gory, which has been sys­tem­at­i­cally wan­ing in re­cent years.

Cat­e­gory growth, which oc­curs when gamechang­ing prod­ucts at­tract new buy­ers to the cat­e­gory or prompt cur­rent buy­ers to ac­cept higher pric­ing, is a strong in­di­ca­tor of innovation suc­cess – and ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers are only driv­ing a small por­tion of it, ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous mar­ket reports. A Nielsen study finds that the top 25 food and bev­er­age com­pa­nies are able to gen­er­ate only 3-5% of to­tal cat­e­gory growth, de­spite ac­count­ing for 45% of cat­e­gory sales. In other words, de­spite main­tain­ing an enor­mous piece of the pie, th­ese large man­u­fac­tur­ers can only take credit for a mi­nus­cule share in sales from new growth.

In con­trast, hordes of new play­ers and star­tups are join­ing the fray and up­end­ing the game of innovation with new ideas and propo­si­tions in

The as­pi­ra­tion lev­els of cus­tomers are go­ing through an up­ward evo­lu­tion. Cus­tomers are be­com­ing aware of them­selves, of what they con­sume and the im­pact of the prod­ucts they buy on their health and the world. This is chang­ing the way they look at their lives and what they con­sume. — Ra­jeev Kr­ish­nan MD and CEO, SPAR Hy­per­mar­kets

the food do­main. It is easy to see the buzz and ex­cite­ment in the food start-up space. For starters, the big fast-mov­ing con­sumer goods com­pa­nies are ex­pand­ing to reach out to ru­ral mar­kets. As they go in for economies of scale, the con­sumers at the top of the pyra­mid are not be­ing ad­dressed. This top-ofthe-pyra­mid con­sumer is more at­tuned to spend­ing on pro­cessed food. Sens­ing this gap in the mar­ket, start-ups are throw­ing their hats in the ring.

Take the case of Nas­cens En­ter­prises Pri­vate Lim­ited, which op­er­ates baby food brand Happa Foods. Just a year un­der­way in its jour­ney as a baby food maker, the brand has set out to be a gamechanger in the baby foods in­dus­try by of­fer­ing or­ganic fruits and veg­gies blends as health­ier al­ter­na­tives for ev­ery stage of a child’s di­etary plan. “The baby food in­dus­try in In­dia is dom­i­nated by milk and grain-based prod­ucts with very few op­tions em­pha­siz­ing on the need to in­clude reg­u­lar fruit and veg­etable in­take in ba­bies. Our fo­cus, on the other hand, is on a range of fruit and veg­gie blends that are easy to con­sume and carry and need no prepa­ra­tion time. We dif­fer­en­ti­ate our prod­ucts on two lev­els: Good for your baby prod­ucts com­pris­ing of all or­ganic fruit and veg­etable purees, which are free of pes­ti­cides and other tox­ins in a blend that aids in the age spe­cific growth of ba­bies and Good for the planet prod­ucts, which are eth­i­cally sourced and do not gen­er­ate in­dus­trial waste. Our prod­ucts have no preser­va­tives, ad­di­tives, chem­i­cals, salt and su­gar. We have made our pack­ag­ing ‘on-the-go’, so ac­tive par­ents at a day­care, on an air­plane or at a wed­ding venue, don’t have to com­pro­mise on nu­tri­tion for their child,” says Pankaj Prakash, Founder & CEO, Nas­cens En­ter­prises Pvt. Ltd.

Emerg­ing con­sumer needs and de­mands fu­elling food innovation

Visit any modern trade out­let today and you will see a plethora of new brands in the chilled/frozen foods sec­tion, on snacks shelves or in the sauces area. Cus­tomers are now more aware about global cuisines and are grad­u­ally mov­ing to­wards global palates. Com­pa­nies need to con­tinue to keep up with the trends in terms of fla­vors and prod­uct range as su­per­mar­kets today stock a gamut of prod­ucts in each cat­e­gory, in­clud­ing the ones with global themes.

How­ever, health seems to be the big­gest trend glob­ally and is getting big in In­dia as well. New en­trants and start-ups are rid­ing this trend as well. It res­onates with con­sumers look­ing for food that is healthy, or­ganic, low calo­rie and preser­va­tive-free. Con­sumers need to be sure that what they’re eat­ing is good for them. They should trust the brand that they bring home. This is the kind of re­quire­ment that food com­pa­nies need to meet.

Brands and re­tail­ers that can un­der­stand and nav­i­gate th­ese trends will be able to se­cure a van­tage perch and reap the ben­e­fits of the highly at­trac­tive and fast grow­ing In­dian food mar­ket in the longer run. “The as­pi­ra­tion lev­els of cus­tomers are go­ing through an up­ward evo­lu­tion. More and more cus­tomers are be­com­ing aware of them­selves, of what they con­sume and the im­pact of the prod­ucts they buy on their health and the world. This is chang­ing the way they look at their lives and what they con­sume,” says Ra­jeev Kr­ish­nan, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and CEO, SPAR Hy­per­mar­kets.

The evolv­ing needs and pref­er­ences of con­sumers and their grow­ing as­pi­ra­tions have set in mo­tion a del­uge of new prod­uct launches, new food con­cepts, trends in convenience and cus­tomer per­son­al­iza­tion and a grow­ing aware­ness of the health & well­ness range – or­ganic, fresh and nat­u­ral prod­ucts. Brands, re­tail­ers and mar­keters need to reg­u­larly re­view all

It’s all about hav­ing an ap­petite for risk; if you don’t have that ap­petite, I think you will keep strug­gling as far as innovation is con­cerned. — Hari Menon Founder & CEO, Big­bas­ket

their cat­e­gories to look for new and fun ar­eas to ex­pand into, in­no­va­tive ideas to recre­ate what they al­ready have and, of course, main­tain high stan­dards in what does well in a dy­namic mar­ket­place.

Health & well­ness, convenience, life­style, food for­mats, home, mil­len­nial and fresh are all the ar­eas that pro­duc­ers and re­tail­ers need to look into to bring dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion within. Food oper­a­tors need to move fast to ride on the strong de­mand for nat­u­ral, clean la­bel in­gre­di­ents. Con­sumers glob­ally and in In­dia are de­mand­ing prod­ucts that have in­gre­di­ents which they can un­der­stand. They are skep­ti­cal of in­gre­di­ents that sound like they are man­u­fac­tured in a plant with no ba­sis of nat­u­ral ori­gin. In In­dia, con­sumers are in­creas­ingly look­ing at in­gre­di­ent pan­els to make in­formed choices. “Con­sumers are ac­tu­ally start­ing to fo­cus on health-re­lated prod­ucts, read­ing la­bels and spend­ing a lot of time on prod­uct im­ages,” notes Hari Menon, Founder & CEO, Big­bas­ket.

The baby food in­dus­try in In­dia is dom­i­nated by milk and grain­based prod­ucts. Our fo­cus, on the other hand, is on a range of fruits and veg­gies blends that are easy to con­sume and carry and need no prepa­ra­tion time. — Pankaj Prakash Founder & CEO, Nas­cens En­ter­prises Pvt Ltd

Build­ing trust in prod­ucts through their func­tional ben­e­fits

In­gre­di­ents with positive, func­tional ben­e­fits are more de­sir­able: Con­sumers are se­lect­ing prod­ucts that have func­tional ben­e­fits. This is am­ply demon­strated by the rise of value-added dairy, pro­tein mixes, cold pressed juices and prod­ucts with per­ceived holis­tic in­gre­di­ents like aloe vera, turmeric, ash­wa­gandha and sev­eral ayurvedic in­gre­di­ents. In short, con­sumers are look­ing for higher pro­tein, low fat, low calo­rie and ben­e­fits like an­tiox­i­dants, vi­ta­mins, etc. Food and bev­er­age mar­keters need to think be­yond prod­uct innovation and look at how they will mar­ket prod­ucts that of­fer new po­ten­tial ben­e­fits and help to boost con­sumer per­cep­tions around food and bev­er­age prod­ucts that con­tain spe­cific vi­ta­mins. As of now, th­ese trends are cer­tainly more preva­lent in SEC A and B but the buy­ing ten­dency, sooner or later, will per­co­late down to all con­sumer seg­ments even­tu­ally.

What is also ob­vi­ous is that re­cent sci­en­tific break­throughs about the po­ten­tial of vi­ta­mins to pre­vent and al­le­vi­ate se­ri­ous health con­di­tions can open doors to innovation for food and bev­er­age com­pa­nies. For ex­am­ple, while con­sumers may tra­di­tion­ally link vi­ta­min D to bone health, there is mount­ing ev­i­dence that vi­ta­min D may have a positive im­pact on a wide range of health is­sues, in­clud­ing heart disease, cancer and di­a­betes, to name a few. It is, there­fore, im­per­a­tive for food and bev­er­age mar­keters to stay on top of the lat­est break­throughs in health and well­ness in the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity, and then find ways to trans­late th­ese break­throughs into vi­able innovation and com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­forms.

What man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­tail­ers should seek to ad­dress are the is­sues around con­sumer education, rea­sons to be­lieve in the func­tional ben­e­fits of the prod­uct in ques­tion and preser­va­tion of the fun­da­men­tal at­tributes of taste and convenience. There’s also the is­sue of how the com­pet­i­tive set for prod­ucts with added vi­ta­mins and nu­tri­ents will evolve over time. Will such prod­ucts con­tinue to com­pete with other prod­ucts in the cat­e­gory, as they do today, but with the added proof of de­liv­ery of en­hanced health ben­e­fits? Or will there come a point when health ben­e­fits be­come the key driver of choice, and the prod­uct it­self is just a car­rier for th­ese ben­e­fits? In the lat­ter case, we can ex­pect to see prod­ucts with added vi­ta­mins be­come sub­sti­tutes for each other over time, even when the prod­ucts are from dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories.

Mar­ket an­a­lysts be­lieve that there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to mar­ket dif­fer­ent nu­tri­ents and sup­ple­ments to dif­fer­ent con­sumer seg­ments. For

ex­am­ple, the per­ceived im­por­tance of vi­ta­mins and pro­tein in one’s diet de­creases with age; on the con­trary, the per­ceived im­por­tance of Omega-3 and an­tiox­i­dants in­creases with age. Dif­fer­ences be­tween coun­tries ex­ist as well. Pro­tein is more im­por­tant to con­sumers in China, In­dia, Ja­pan, South Korea and Turkey than to con­sumers in other coun­tries. Min­er­als like cal­cium, potas­sium, zinc, and iron are more im­por­tant to con­sumers in Ar­gentina, Hun­gary, Poland, Rus­sia and Saudi Ara­bia than to their global coun­ter­parts. It is there­fore im­por­tant for com­pa­nies to look at de­mo­graphic seg­ments when in­no­vat­ing in the area of func­tional foods. Con­sumers have dif­fer­ent needs based on their life stage, cul­ture and en­vi­ron­ment as well as the nutri­tional prod­ucts cur­rently avail­able to them.

In­no­vat­ing to meet the chal­lenge of de­mo­graphic di­ver­sity

In­dia’s di­ver­sity is very well-known and the food habits of its peo­ple vary from re­gion to re­gion. For this rea­son, it is very in­ter­est­ing to see how the food and bev­er­age sec­tor will take on th­ese dis­tinct chal­lenges. To meet the chal­lenges aris­ing out of dif­fer­ing tastes, needs and other pref­er­ences cut­ting across the de­mo­graphic di­ver­sity, com­pa­nies should em­brace smart innovation and cus­tom­ize prod­ucts for younger con­sumers. This ap­proach can help sup­pli­ers and re­tail­ers to cater to the evolv­ing taste buds. At the same time, it’s also im­por­tant that the food in­dus­try in­no­vate on the foods that were there in the olden days and make them palat­able for the con­sumers of today by us­ing tech­nol­ogy. For in­stance, turmeric can be used as a medicine as well as food. De­pend­ing on how to use it, the prod­uct can be­come food or medicine. What should be un­der­stood is that the more we delve into what so­lu­tions we have to of­fer to the food in­dus­try, we will be able to find the so­lu­tions to a lot of chal­lenges. An im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for food com­pa­nies is that they must in­no­vate with­out dis­rupt­ing how con­sumers think about food and meals. Today, con­sumers are look­ing for au­then­tic­ity – they want to en­sure that their ex­tra vir­gin olive oil is from Greece or the bal­samic vine­gar from Mo­dena in Italy. In food, it is all about the place of ori­gin, how it is grown and pro­cessed to give you the real ex­pe­ri­ence. Although it is a small trend in In­dia right now, it looks like it will gain mo­men­tum and be­come a big op­por­tu­nity in the fu­ture. “Con­sumers want the af­ford­abil­ity, abun­dance and ac­cess of the ex­ist­ing sys­tem, but they also want au­then­tic­ity; food that has been the fruit of la­bor, and that ties into the culi­nary tra­di­tions of the past as well as of­fer­ing new ideas,” writes Teresa Novel­lino in the New York Business Jour­nal. Food is such an im­por­tant part of cul­ture and so­cial in­ter­ac­tions that stray­ing too far from the tra­di­tional can be overly dis­rup­tive and in­hibit con­sumer adop­tion of prod­ucts and ser­vices. Play­ers who want to be suc­cess­ful with their new prod­ucts need to tackle this chal­lenge by cre­at­ing a bal­ance be­tween innovation and tra­di­tion. Many com­pa­nies have come up with in­ter­est­ing brands and po­si­tion­ing strate­gies, and are try­ing to re­vive the old tra­di­tions of In­dia in a new for­mat, pack­ag­ing and taste, which the younger gen­er­a­tion ap­pre­ci­ates.

One of the key in­gre­di­ents nec­es­sary for achiev­ing the strate­gic goals of a com­pany and, more so, for the food sec­tor, is to have a beaver-like fo­cus on prod­uct innovation. As new lifestyles, higher in­comes and con­sumer aware­ness cre­ate con­sumer de­mand for a year-round sup­ply of high qual­ity, di­verse and in­no­va­tive food prod­ucts, food play­ers have no choice but to press the pedal harder on innovation. That could help com­pa­nies achieve sus­tain­able growth and prof­itabil­ity. So, com­pa­nies that align innovation ini­tia­tives with chang­ing con­sumer pref­er­ences and de­mands and de­liver ef­fec­tively on innovation ini­tia­tives – be it high­qual­ity in­gre­di­ents, in­no­va­tive pack­ag­ing, fla­vor, etc. – will get the right prod­ucts to the mar­ket with speed, be able to tap new mar­kets, in­crease sales and es­tab­lish a sig­nif­i­cant com­pet­i­tive dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion.

Jamshed Da­boo, MD, Trent Hy­per­mar­kets, fore­sees a par­a­digm shift in the de­ter­mi­nants of food habits and con­sump­tion de­ci­sions. He says that

The pack­age, the noise, the avail­abil­ity are not go­ing to be key driv­ers for con­sumers to take the de­ci­sions. The key driver is go­ing to be the au­then­tic­ity and per­son­al­iza­tion of the prod­uct it­self. — Jamshed Da­boo MD, Trent Hy­per­mar­kets

the 20th cen­tury and the early part of 21st cen­tury food habits and de­ci­sions have been driven largely by the strengths of dis­tri­bu­tion and ad­ver­tis­ing, which the pack­aged food in­dus­try lever­aged to in­crease con­sump­tion and pen­e­tra­tion. “The pack­age, the noise, the avail­abil­ity are not go­ing to be key driv­ers for con­sumers to take de­ci­sions. The key driver is go­ing to be the au­then­tic­ity and per­son­al­iza­tion of the prod­uct it­self,” be­lieves Da­boo. “Today, with the pen­e­tra­tion of Modern Trade and, more im­por­tantly, with the pen­e­tra­tion of on­line re­tail, the ac­cess par­a­digm that ear­lier was driven by the clout of dis­tri­bu­tion is go­ing to change. And once big seg­ments of con­sumers start gain­ing ac­cess to prod­ucts, the na­ture of prod­ucts now avail­able to them will not be driven by accessibility but by au­then­tic­ity,” adds Da­boo while drawing at­ten­tion to the rapid changes hap­pen­ing in the con­sumer land­scape and how in the next ten years the brand-prod­uct land­scape of the coun­try will un­dergo a sea change.

There is also a need for a new breed of In­dian en­trepreneurs that is will­ing to push the bound­aries to in­no­vate on In­dian food so as to make a huge im­pact on our palates or in or­der to launch prod­ucts abroad. “For a long time now, we have been tak­ing sam­ples from abroad and mak­ing them in In­dia. That has to stop. I be­lieve there are a lot of In­dian prod­ucts that we can take abroad and sell it large prof­itable mar­kets. The chal­lenge is to in­no­vate in the lab with that prod­uct to cre­ate a bal­ance be­tween taste and health and for that we need to at­tract the best brains and bright­est young­sters into the business to find an­swers to the chal­leng­ing ques­tion of ‘how to in­no­vate’”, says Piruz Kham­batta, CMD, Rasna. He adds that find­ing uniquely In­dian so­lu­tions to the chal­lenges of fla­vor and tex­ture can un­lock la­tent growth in the mar­ket.

How do we stack up on the innovation chal­lenge?

For­tu­nately, the food in­dus­try in In­dia is ris­ing to take on the innovation chal­lenge, spurred on by not only the big and es­tab­lished play­ers but also by sev­eral new en­trants and start-ups. Their new in­no­va­tions are al­ready be­gin­ning to dis­rupt the in­dus­try and are help­ing to serve the as­pi­ra­tions of the mil­len­ni­als, which have an in­creas­ingly dif­fer­ent out­look on con­sump­tion than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions. Mil­len­ni­als place in­creased fo­cus on con­sum­ing less junk and de­mand health­ful foods that are also ap­pe­tiz­ing. Com­pa­nies are in­creas­ingly en­gaged in de­vis­ing a host of ways to cater to their de­mand. Th­ese trends are pre­sent­ing enor­mous op­por­tu­ni­ties for food and bev­er­age com­pa­nies to lever­age their prow­ess in prod­uct innovation and sur­mount the chal­lenge of ever in­ten­si­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion in the sec­tor. Take the case of plant­based meat al­ter­na­tives like those in­tro­duced by quite a few com­pa­nies in re­cent years. Plant-based pro­tein like pea, lentils and cricket flours (yes) are ad­dress­ing the de­mand for clean la­bel and health-con­scious foods. In­ter­est­ingly, quite a few large com­pa­nies have de­cided to go for bolt-on ac­qui­si­tions or eq­uity stakes to ac­cess not only the suc­cess but also the en­tre­pre­neur­ial cul­ture of in­no­va­tive and niche com­pa­nies.

Prod­uct devel­op­ment fo­cused on pro­mot­ing nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents and for­mu­la­tions; innovation to lo­cal­ize the prod­ucts’ taste pro­files with the aim of win­ning over ur­ban In­dian con­sumers by em­brac­ing ayurvedic in­gre­di­ents; in­no­vat­ing on tra­di­tional juices to tap into the ex­pand­ing con­sumers’ pref­er­ences for more of juice drinks over fizzy drinks are some of the in­no­va­tions that man­u­fac­tur­ers are al­ready ex­per­i­ment­ing with. Un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of tech­nol­ogy, brands have de­cided to use it ex­ten­sively to of­fer in­sights into the medic­i­nal

There are a lot of In­dian prod­ucts that we can take abroad and sell in large prof­itable mar­kets. The chal­lenge is to in­no­vate in the lab to cre­ate a bal­ance be­tween taste and health. We need to find an­swers to the chal­leng­ing ques­tion of ‘how to in­no­vate.’ — Piruz Kham­batta CMD, Rasna

prop­er­ties of prod­ucts and to pro­vide cu­rated con­tent and con­sul­ta­tion as well as sell the prod­ucts on the web­site. “It’s all about hav­ing an ap­petite for risk; if you don’t have that ap­petite, I think you will keep strug­gling as far as innovation is con­cerned,” opines Menon of Big­bas­ket.

As a highly at­trac­tive emerg­ing mar­ket in the throes of ma­jor changes, brands and re­tail­ers today are more than will­ing to adapt and re­act to the changes on the ground. Adap­ta­tion re­quires not only an in­no­va­tive ap­proach to both prod­ucts and the business model but also a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion in mar­ket­ing. It re­quires part­ner­ing with sup­pli­ers and cus­tomers who in­vest in sus­tain­abil­ity, reg­u­la­tor and con­sumer lis­ten­ing, as well as un­der­stand­ing trends be­fore they be­come trends in or­der to cap­i­tal­ize on them bet­ter than their com­peti­tors.

“I think the decade in fo­cus will be marked by how food is farmed, cre­ated, mar­keted and con­sumed to bring a fresh per­spec­tive and help food in­dus­tries cap­i­tal­ize on the seis­mic mar­ket changes to bet­ter serve today’s dis­cern­ing cus­tomer,” ob­serves Sadashiv Nayak, CEO, Fu­ture Re­tail. His words find ready ac­cep­tance with man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­tail­ers who agree that new brands and prod­ucts are key com­po­nents of the growth strat­egy. The need of the hour is to keep their fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing new part­ner­ships at mi­cro and macro lev­els and sourc­ing lo­cally and re­gion­ally be­sides find­ing new ways that can help re­de­fine the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. One must in­no­vate be­fore it be­comes a ne­ces­sity.

The decade in fo­cus will be marked by how food is farmed, cre­ated, mar­keted and con­sumed in or­der to bring a fresh per­spec­tive. — Sadashiv Nayak CEO, Fu­ture Re­tail

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