2020 has been one of the most volatile and challenging years in our 136-year-long history. It transformed the way we live and work. But more than that, it became an inflection point and a reason for strategic transformation at Dabur.
Turning a crisis into an opportunity
I am of the firm belief that every crisis is an opportunity that should not be wasted. It is, in fact, an opportunity to work harder, strengthen the business with new capabilities and innovations to emerge stronger and further entrench our leadership position in the marketplace. That’s exactly what we did with COVID.
While the COVID crisis came as a big shock initially, we were quick in responding to the emerging situation. Our top-most priority was ensuring the health and well-being of our employees, vendors and business associates; this is a core value for us. We were the amongst the first companies to announce Work-From-Home, way before the lockdown. We also quickly triggered all safety protocols and rolled out a special medical insurance scheme for our frontline salesforce.
Prior to COVID, most of our products were discretionary in nature and the sudden lockdown brought the entire business to a grinding halt. This made us realize that we needed to rethink our portfolio approach to, not just address the current crisis, but also prepare ourselves for any such Black Swan event in the future.
The crisis was also an opportunity for introspection and to challenge some of the established norms and ways of working. COVID taught us the need to remain fluid and agile. We have transformed ourselves as an organisation, become more aggressive and fearless.
We have also enhanced our risk-taking ability, encouraging our employees to become more entrepreneurial. To support this attitude, trusting people and accepting failures is also important – which is what we are doing.
Innovation is critical to our sustained success. To support this, we not only increased our R&D spends but also ensured that innovations are targeted and quick to market. This shift in our innovation strategy is the reason why we have been able to roll-out more than 50 new products within months of the COVID outbreak. We are planning to continue adding more products and offer age-old Ayurvedic remedies in convenient and modern formats which will not only increase our repertoire but also, going forward provide a better connect with Millennials and Centennials.
Technology has been a big enabler. During the COVID-induced lockdown period when physical order-booking had become difficult, we leveraged technology to make the process simpler and seamless for our partners. We rolled out a mobile app for retailers, commenced order-booking on WhatsApp and activated our Call Centre to take orders from retail outlets across the country. These initiatives continue even today and are an integral part of our GTM strategy now.
In these unprecedented times of the Corona pandemic, rural India offered the much-needed beacon of hope. And Bharat will continue to be the big growth engine in the coming year too.
For Dabur, rural has always been key growth driver, and this is a result of our strategy of investing ahead of the curve in expanding our rural footprint. Alongside, we are expanding our product basket in the rural market by way of newer affordable packs across categories to feed these markets and push demand growth. Similar initiatives will continue in the coming year.
In urban India, e-commerce has emerged as the big growth engine. With the fear of COVID infections prevailing, it emerged as the most-preferred contactless method of making purchases among consumers.
The result: Dabur’s e-commerce business grew by almost 3 times to gain a saliency of 6 percent of turnover, up from just 2 percent a year ago. In the normal course of time, this growth would have taken 2-3 years. Targeting this emerging trend, we have already started launching a series of new products exclusively for online markets and this will only accelerate in the coming months.
The year 2021 will see Dabur drive business by investing aggressively behind our brands, staying focused on Health and Hygiene, driving innovation, broadening our play in select segments, leveraging the new-age channels of e-commerce, Cash & Carry and Modern Trade, besides expanding and enhancing the efficiency of our distribution network.