Consumer Goods to Consumer Centricity: Not Easy to Navigate for HUL

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It’s lunchtime at the sprawling campus – the walk through inside the corporate nerve centre of India’s largest FMCG Company – the Rs17700 crore turnover (March ended 2010) HUL. The campus is crowded with employees taking their post prandial walk, some using WiFi to work out of their work stations and some milling around the branded food court from the company stable.

So there’s Swirl Parlour, Bru Cafes and the latest addition Knorr Food Kiosk. It’s at the Knorr Food Kiosk that one finds Shrijeet Mishra, ED – foods, HUL. Mishra is with a group of senior managers at Knorr encouraging them to try out the soups and other offerings at the recently launched kiosk. Mishra incidentally doesn’t have lunch. He doesn’t need to, he says. “The business that I am in requires sampling and tasting food all the time. So I keep having small meals throughout my stay in office,” he says.

It’s not just Mishra who loves to be on the street soaking in customer reaction, but even Gopal Vittal, ED – Home & Personal Care (HPC) likes to spend a disproportionate amount of time on what he calls tender love and care (TLC) businesses. “Businesses like Lakme salon call for a different business model mindset. Add to that skin care as I am most excited by the potential of the category in the next five to ten years,” says Vittal.

Both Vittal and Mishra may be handling a diverse set of businesses, but the common thread between them and indeed across HUL is renewed customer focus. The change, which some market observers will tell you has come a little late in the day, comes as HUL increases its focus on new categories in the past five years.

Source: The Economic Times (link opens in a new window)

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