Future Group to challenge behemoths Unilever with FMCG expansion

Future Group to challenge behemoths Unilever with FMCG expansion

Indian retailer Future Group is set to develop its foothold in the Indian market by expanding out of its own formats and delving further into the world of FMCG, challenging the likes of market leader Unilever.

The company, which has formats such as Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Foodhall, KB’s Fair Price, Nilgiri’s and Easy Day, is hoping to challenge those that have already created their mark on the Indian FMCG market. And Neilson figures show that many others that have embarked on the task have failed; out of close to 17,000 launches from 2012, studied over a two year period, only 0.14 percent qualified as breakthrough innovations.

Future is hoping to break this mould. As modern trade only developed within the past two years, Future Group President Devendra Chawla believes there is a chance to take advantage of this. He says, “India is under branded and under penetrated. Retailers are in a unique position to take advantage of this scenario and build brands as well as categories.” And while food is a major strategic move for the company in pushing itself forward, it’s also placing emphasis on the personal care market by attempting to better understand the Indian consumer. For example, the company has launched a new offering into the somewhat sluggish bodywash market. Saturated by imported brands selling products priced between Rs 150 to Rs 200, Future has launched the Think Skin product priced at Rs 60.

Not only will the lower price no doubt appeal to consumers, it is said to work better with their lifestyle. While imported bodywash products are thicker and require more water to work, Think Skin was made with countries that wash less in mind. It’s a thinner formulation and is more easily washable for those that wash with mugs and buckets. Indeed, it is said to have been a market leader since its launch.

Many are sceptical that a firm so deeply rooted in retail can take on the FMCG giants, with distribution being a concern. However, the firm is confident that after serving 320 million customers a year, it can break through these barriers. Chawla said, “While we have to work on distribution, it shouldn’t take away from what already exists. One needs new outlets every year, but numerical counts can be misleading. Even a paan shop owner buying 6 bottles a month is counted as an outlet.” Indeed, it is hoped that Future’s insight into the Indian consumer can carve out a place for itself amongst the giants.

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