"We won’t get into something we know we don’t have the right to win"

Every year, India generates 3.5 million tonnes of plastic waste. Because skin and body care products feature a high water content, tonnes of water are sent before manufacture, making the completed product heavier while being transported.

In keeping with its core objective of ‘Putting Planet First’, Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL) launched Godrej Magic Bodywash, India’s first ready-to-mix bodywash priced at under Rs 45. This innovation promotes the habit of reusing and reducing waste, allowing individuals to make sustainable choices in their daily lives.

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Godrej & Boyce Bodywash uses just 16% of the plastic in packaging and 19% of the energy to produce when compared to ordinary bodywash, and only 10% of the total energy necessary to generate a soap bar. Because gel-based sachets are compact and light, more sachets may be delivered in each vehicle, resulting in 44% less diesel usage and 44% fewer carbon emissions as compared to shipping a normal bodywash.

In conversation with Adgully, Somasree Bose Awasthi, Chief Marketing Officer, Godrej Consumer Products, speaks about Godrej’s move to promote sustainable choices in consumer products, and more.

What were the key high points and observations from this quarter for the company in the Indian market?

From a consumer point of view, what we have seen is that not just this quarter, but across the last few quarters, we have faced inflationary pressure, but having said that, people do have their aspirations and they want to live by them. I mean, sometimes they are forced to leave something because something comes along that they would love. Everything has sort of become costlier. Hence, that has been one observation.

The other piece is, of course, their media consumption behaviour, where we have seen a change from the COVID days – with people starting to use more and consuming more and more digital media, etc. We have been seeing the ever-evolving aspirations of consumers. For everything they want to upgrade, if yesterday I was using a powdered hair dye, tomorrow I want to use a trim, which will soften my hairstyle, my hair, etc. Today, if I am using a manual spray, tomorrow I want to use something automatic, which will make me look amazing and house proud in front of my guests. Everybody wants that upgrade. The question is at what point and at what price will you upgrade?

So, at Godrej, the philosophy has been to cater to the needs of all segments of the society, and that’s what we have been abiding by – either by making things accessible or by innovating, so that you upgrade the same product at the cost of your current product. These are the things that we have been doing, or even reaching out to the consumers, even with super premium products like Aer Matic.

What kind of performance have you see from your presence on online platforms? What percentage of your sales comes from e-commerce platforms and what are the prospects for that?

The percentage of sales coming from each of the channels varies from category to category. For example, general trade or rural contribution for a category like powdered hair dye will be far higher compared to a rich crème or, let's say, for aircare kind of category. Overall, I would say that there has been an interesting shift towards e-commerce, but the Indian consumer is still Indian. They want to touch and feel the product when they are buying something. And always remember that the friendly Kirana is always the trusted guy who will give their opinion. There is a movement towards more organised trade because of the discounts or towards e-commerce. Having said that, it is still a journey. In India, it's still the general trade that rules. Approximately 70% will come from traditional sources, with the remainder coming from alternative channels. E-commerce in modern trade ranges from 25% to 50% depending on the category.

What is your prognosis for the domestic Indian market and the international markets, and what trends do you see?

The aspirational level of consumers is going up. It's interesting how some of the products we expect much from, but the rural penetration of those products has really sort of gone up. For example, Goodnight Liquid Vaporizer. Rural penetration has also started to move up on that. As a result, many aspirational products have begun to emerge, with a significant shift into rural markets. There are spaces where rural markets also sort of drive the growth. Let us just say that it is possibly that time when consumers, due to the reach of media, particularly digital media, are becoming more and more aware, and right now, with some of the market players providing data, awareness about the products that are available has significantly increased with these consumers, who are even in far-flung villages, where they are requesting products that retailers are forced to give them. We are always sort of surprised that these categories can even sell over here, like an air care product, which, technically, you believe, is a very urban kind of product. It actually sells pretty well. Decent sales come from rural markets as well. Some of the products that you would believe would have a very strong metro, you would think 70% of business comes from metro. It does not work like that. It actually outnumbers Tier 2 towns in terms of population. in rural markets are going up.

What is your product strategy in terms of new products, segments where you see an opportunity and want to enter a domain where you are not yet present?

We are trying to understand consumer needs at this stage. And with that, we are trying to see where our expertise is. So, for example, when we looked at this whole soap market, we said that this is a market which is 100% penetrated. So what is it that we can do differentially? This is where innovation comes in. It came at the right time where the price of soaps is also sort of inflating. So we said that if there is something different we can do, we can change the habits of people to sort of come into our brands, and actually not just for the sake of coming in for our profitability, but also do something good for the environment. If you look at our product strategy, we will be in those categories where we know that we are strong and we have the right to win, or if we have a very strong innovation that helps us differentiate what the competition has and enter there. We will not get into something we know that we do not have the right to win.


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