With challenges facing the manufacturing and selling of essential food products during the lockdown period, and now with the increase in COVID19 cases, FMCG companies have been forced to respond with agility, come up with innovative strategies and take appropriate measures to stay in the game. While some have struggled to deal with the crisis, others have found out ways to turn crisis into an opportunity.
One such company that came up with an innovative strategy was Baba Ramdev-led Patanjali Ayurved that launched an exclusive eCommerce platform OrderMe.in to promote the use of swadeshi Patanjali products, just within a few hours after the speech given by Narendra Modi announcing Lockdown 4.0. Just like Patanjali, companies like Marico and ITC that were already amping up their digital assets saw this as an opportunity to it with a whole lot of speed and rigor.
There have been several steps that have been taken by companies to maintain operations at plants and warehouses. One such beautiful example is of the company Amul where adequate precautionary sanitation measures were taken at every part of its supply chain to ensure the safety of both their employees and the customers during Covid-19. In addition to this, all staff members were being educated on ways to implement social distancing and maintain sanitization in everyday operations. Moreover, Amul was also providing incentives and free meals to all employees who are responsible for maintaining a smooth supply of Amul products all over India.
When it comes to last-mile delivery, various companies struck unique online and offline partnerships with distributors and retailers to stay resilient. Whether it be a partnership with national players like Delhivery, Shadowfax and Lalamove, to ensure products are being delivered from factories to depots and thereafter to distributors, or introducing tele-servicing and an app for retailers, Marico did take good steps to maintain an abundant supply for all their user base.
Amping up the supply chain
ITC, on the other hand, worked on its D2C strategy consisting of itcstore.in and food trucks. By partnering with community-centric companies like Agzo, My gate and many more under their initiative Store on Wheels along with Swiggy, Zomato and Domino’s for a better supply chain, they did their bit to ensure their supply in over 6 states in India.
While the competing brands were partnering with companies to maintain supply chains, Britannia too partnered with concierge startup Dunzo to deliver its essential products amidst the lockdown as a response to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials in major metropolitan cities around India. Interestingly, Britannia also launched a GPS based chatbot which publishes a list of consumer stores near them in response to the surge in requirement of products in association with Whatsapp.
Expanding the portfolio
ITC Ltd. introduced low priced units in the form of Savlon hand sanitizers sachet for 50 p whereas Marico launched Mediker hand sanitizers and was the first to venture into the vegetable and fruit hygiene category with Veggie Clean. The Marico Innovation Foundation (MIF) even launched a nationwide initiative, #Innovate2BeatCovid , to bring together innovators and corporates and come up with innovative ideas to solve the real problems faced by the medical fraternity during this crisis.
With most companies returning to their normal production levels owing to the increase in demand, in general, FMCG companies today have become more active in their direct to consumer outreach believing that this pandemic will leave a long-term impact on consumer behaviour. Not only this, but moving forward the food giants will also need to devise strategies to adjust to the new normal. Solving current problems like labour shortage and the introduction of large scale automation practices along with the retention of new tie-ups will be the activities that will enable smooth production and supply for many FMCG products post-COVID crisis.
The new normal will demand companies to innovate aggressively, be on top of their consumers’ needs and build robust supply and sales channels to stay ahead of the curve. This, in turn, will help them build trust and build a long term relationship with their customers.
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