As a kid, I never really paid much attention to the brand name for the various Fast Moving Consumer Goods that I was consuming. I always knew that there is this company called ITC India Ltd. that operated in this space, however it was in the Digital Transformation course that I first took a closer look at the company.
India provides a huge consumer base for the FMCG space. Not a surprise given a population of around 1.2 billion people. In such a huge country, with huge amount of competition at such low prices, it becomes a challenge to differentiate and stand out. ITC however has done that brilliantly by creating initiatives that have affected the general population.
One of their most famous initiatives is the eChoupal – a system where soya bean farmers’ lives have been completely transformed. The farmers were only able to sell their produce in over-crowded markets where there were no price guarantees. This caused a lot of uncertainty and unfairness leading to low quality of living for the farmers. By introducing the eChoupal concept, ITC provided villages with computers, Internet connection and training to know the rates and the prices that ITC would offer. No one was forced to sell the goods to ITC in return for the equipment. They just enabled to farmers to know what was the best price and sell to the highest bidder. Also, when a farmer came to the ITC factory, they were given the best of services with very low waiting time. In addition to this, ITC also provided advice on crops weather conditions and future price trends, helping the farmers know in advance how to maximize their yield. This ultimately helped ITC to gain better products and the ability to sell the goods at higher rates in the international markets. By having a social goal in their actions, they were able to tie their activities in a way that would create an environment conducive for all the stakeholders.
Another one of ITC’s new initiatives involves the use of Twitter, the social networking and micro blogging site, in order to revolutionize supply chain. ITC introduced a new brand of baked snacks called Hippo and asked its consumers – primarily youth with smartphones and data plans to tweet whenever they saw Hippo running out of stock. This helped a lot in identifying shortages in the highly unorganized and huge Indian retail market. By creating a new brand with activities involving all things that would create buzz among the young people – “Fight Hunger” motto, social media integration and newness, ITC was able to get their foothold in a hugely competitive space.
ITC as a company was able to understand what the market demanded and was able to customize their activities to make sure they were looking at the bigger picture. Similarly, by creating value for the society and by involving people in their decisions, they were able to create a brand that people can relate to and feel one with.
- ITC eChoupal Initiaitive, David M. Upton and Virginia A. Fuller, Harvard Case
- Managing your supply chain in Real Time: Hippo Case Study, Marissa McNaughton, http://therealtimereport.com/2010/12/03/watch-managing-your-supply-chain-in-real-time-hippo-case-study/