Mars Wrigley India wants a bigger bite of the rural market with low-priced products

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on June 11, 2021

Kalpesh R Parmar, General Manager, Mars Wrigley India

Rural contribution will continue to grow in chewing gums, mints and also for our chocolate portfolio: GM

Confectionery major Mars Wrigley India has stepped up its focus on going deeper into rural and semi-rural regions with lower price variants of its products. It is allocating more resources to ramp up distribution here. The company strategically extended its brands, Orbit and Doublemint to the ₹1 price point, which has contributed a significant chunk to theconfectionery segment’s sales in the country.

Kalpesh R Parmar, General Manager, Mars Wrigley India told BusinessLine, “Earlier, the rural region’s contribution to our overall business was in low single digits and now it’s increased to more than 20 per cent. Rural demand has been a key growth driver especially during the pandemic, as consumers are increasingly finding comfort in trusted packaged food brands.”

Positive outlook

He added, “We were playing in the ₹1 price point for decades with Boomer. Earlier this year, we decided to also launch Orbit and Doublemint at that price to increase category penetration. We believe rural contribution will continue to grow not only in the chewing gums and mints but also for our chocolate portfolio,” he added.

The company has also rejigged its distribution strategy. “We have doubled our distribution points in rural regions through the hub-and-spokes model, and we will keep increasing these over the next 6-9 months,” Parmar said.

Covid impact

Rural regions and tier-2 markets were largely insulated during the first pandemic wave. They aided the recovery of the FMCG sector. But the second wave has been far more widespread. It has led to some concerns about the rural demand.

“With good monsoon predictions, reduction in the Covid cases and vaccination pace increasing, we believe rural demand will bounce back strongly especially for players who have the right portfolio and are able to supply these products at the right time in these regions,” Parmar said.

He added that as most of the States are now easing restrictions on operating hours for stores, there is optimism around recovery trends. “We will begin seeing recovery trends from August-September. In the fourth quarter of the calendar year, there should be a full recovery,” he said, adding cautiously that it all depends on “how the pandemic situation plays out”.

Over the past few years, the company has been bringing its iconic global brands such as M&M’s and Skittles to India. “Most of our key global brands are now available in India. The focus is now on getting these brands more well-entrenched in the Indian market, as well as making them more relevant by adding made-for-India variants of these brands like we have done with the Snickers cashew variant, and the fruit & nut variant,” Parmar said.

Published on June 11, 2021

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