Adgully Exclusive | Future Group's Damodar Mall predicts 25% growth in 2011

The experience of shopping for day to day products is a family affair. It may be a weekly or a monthly episode but a carefully planned and much awaited episode none the less. The food retail industry is predicted to grow exponentially. According to KPMG, a global audit and advisory firm, the food retail industry is currently at US $ 70 billion and is expected to grow more than double to US $ 150 billion by 2025. Aspects like innovative food processing capacity and the emergence of organized retail contribute to the all time high in the food industry. Also with the changing consumption patterns and dynamic demographics and habits, this growth is further fuelled.

Damodar Mall, Director, Food Strategy at Future Group, elaborates on this space in an exclusive interview with Adgully. Having had a wide experience in this space with Future Group and previously with HUL, Mall has seen this space evolving.

"I think everybody in modern retail is discovering by working with the consumer to find out what model is suitable for a country like India. Small town and large town have different unique requirements. We are not serving the customers as they used to be, because the customer herself/himself is evolving as we go along and therefore the challenge would be to attract a moving target," Mall said.

The habit of eating out which had been mainstream about ten years back is now changing. People are conscious of health and eat more at home now. "When the food is prepared at home, it increases the room for marketers and retailers to participate in the process. When South Indian homes prepare north Indian dishes they require help and vice versa," he further added.

India is a high growth market and thus very attractive for all players including international marketers. The group had recently launched Japan Mela towards the end of last year. This enabled the consumers to purchase authentic Japanese food items under one roof like the Big Bazaar.

"We are expanding quite effectively. We will have a multiple format approach in our food super market offerings," Mall further stated.

Mall further goes on to explain that before any kind of innovation is introduced in the market, first a survey is undertaken to find out the preferences of the consumers. "The feedback of our consumers is important. We don't need simulative market research as this is live research," he said.

Mall said that the Future Groups is looking at about 25 percent growth in the next financial year. "We believe in consumption and creation. We believe Indians respond to occasions and special days. They are occasion driven. So we strategize our marketing initiatives around these periods to reach out to our consumers," he added.

The retail world is also conscious of the digital revolution and the group has undertaken various initiatives within the domain. Mall went on to state, "Our brands like Big bazaar and Pantaloons are on the social network platform. For selling we have a brand called Future bazaar which currently does electronic and general merchandise and such categories. We are not using e-commerce for our food business as of now."

The experience of going to a supermarket is a fond memory in every child's mind. No matter how challenging and technologically advanced we get, marketers will key in on this factor and make the experience most of what it can be. | By Janees Antoo [janees(at)adgully.com]

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