Forbes India – We love buying brands, especially in the OTC space: Nandini Piramal

Nandini Piramal, Executive Director, Piramal Enterprises Ltd

OOver the past few years, Piramal Group has focused on creating consumer attraction for its brands and aims to generate revenue of Rs 1,000 crore in three years from its branded product division. consumption. In an exclusive chat with Storyboard18, Nandini Piramal, Executive Director of Piramal Enterprises Ltd, shares the company’s plans and ambitions for the CPD (consumer products division) business as it invests in marketing and integrates a crowd of famous brand endorsers.We dive into Piramal’s playbook – growth strategy, the pharmaceutical company‘s global brand positioning and future plans.

Edited excerpts.

You have set a revenue target of Rs 1,000 crore from CPD business over the next three years. What are the key points of the plan to get there and what challenges do you foresee?
When we started this business, and separated it from the wider pharma business, it was only Rs 65 crore, so it’s tiny. Over the past 10 years, we’ve grown it, we’ve invested in new brands. Our baby brand, Little’s, crossed Rs 100 crore in sales. We have now invested in larger categories. The baby sector alone in India is worth more than Rs 25,000 crore. And we are a young and growing country. Our birth rate is around 2%, so we have new consumers of our diapers and wipes arriving every day or every minute. We are also enthusiastic about Lacto Calamine. It used to be just a lotion, we launched sunscreen, aloevera gel, face wash and cleansing wipes and expanded the line.
So it’s part of our way of thinking. We have also invested in e-commerce over the past two years. E-commerce has exploded in the country and it will always be a source of continued growth for everyone.

What is the key consumer and market insights that inform your retail strategies, portfolio, products and categories you are entering and expanding into?

More than two years ago, before Covid-19, e-commerce accounted for only maybe 5% of overall retail sales. We saw that would be a source of growth and we put the infrastructure in place for that. But in two years of the pandemic, e-commerce exploded as people weren’t going out, they were looking to understand new products and brands.
So what we’ve done is use that e-commerce infrastructure to invest in baby and beauty, because those are the categories that always do well. We’ve launched a lot of new products to experiment with and see what works. So since then, at baby for example, we’ve launched about 30 or 40 extensions and SKUs and maybe a little less in beauty.

But the idea is that we experiment, try new products, see what works, see when you can scale. And then you actually take it to offline retail and get even more scale that way. Because the hardest part is getting those first 100 crores in sales, then once you have people who know your brand, know what it looks like, it gets you moving online faster.

This is how we changed our strategy. Previously, you launched it in a city or town, took it to four areas of the country, and then you went all over the country. This way, you can start an e-commerce first and get enough scale. And if you fail, so much the better because you would have failed faster. And if you succeed, then I think you have that ladder to go even higher.

What’s happening in terms of new products and in your innovation pipeline?

We will continue to expand the range in the baby segment. We will expand the range of care and nutrition as well as personal care for babies. We will continue to offer them a holistic solution with new toys and more. In beauty, we have a plan in place to experiment and try. For example, we just launched our aloevera gel, we will also launch various face masks and creams that appeal to today’s idea of ​​beauty and what people want.

Beauty is a terribly crowded space right now with many D2C brands emerging. Is the company a little late for this party?

Lacto Calamine is a heritage brand. It is popular among consumers and is used as a means of controlling oil. And in delivering on that promise, we’re actually looking at how to modernize and modernize the brand so it’s more exciting to people and more relevant to today’s consumer. I think Indians are still expanding their understanding of beauty, what they need and how relevant it is to them. So I think there is still room to grow.

Tell us about your organic versus inorganic growth strategy?

Overall, we have been an acquisition business. We have acquired brands and acquired capabilities in this context. In the last two years, we’ve done one where we’ve acquired an equity stake in a biologics development capability, because we believe biologics is the next frontier. Not everything will be organic, small molecule or the traditional will continue, but organics are a new way. So we wanted to understand and partner with people who really know organic products to learn more about it.

We also acquired Hemmo, a company making peptides, a type of molecule.

Again, these are capabilities that not everyone has, and there aren’t many peptide development companies in the world. For us, it was a great way to add functionality.

As a company, we could look at capabilities that we don’t have and complement each other. By integrating them into Piramal, we can offer better solutions to our consumers.

We love buying brands, especially in the OTC space, because it’s a good way for us to take a brand, understand the consumer, put money into it, and invest it to grow it and evolve it.

After the split of the pharmaceutical and financial activities, how do you position the global pharmaceutical business and shape its brand identity?

As Piramal Pharma, we are still part of the Piramal Group. Our focus – “doing well and doing good” – will continue. Our values ​​- knowledge, action, care and impact – are extremely important to us. They will also continue to seep into everything. We believe in those values ​​and I think they’re actually part of our culture.
The way we look at it is, how can we have behaviors that actually reflect the values?

And how do we assess and measure people for these behaviors as well? As we articulate this, our culture is going to be values-informed and very intertwined. We are a global company and we are going to have our headquarters in India. But we have a lot of accounts and people around the world and we need to connect and integrate them.

What are some of the sorts of ideas born out of the pandemic that have shaped your approach to building brands and growing the business and business?

E-commerce has completely changed the way we launch brands. We used to launch about four SKUs a year and we would know how successful it might be in two years. With e-commerce, you learn very quickly whether your products have succeeded or failed. The goal has always been to be on the first search page and to be accessible to people in all cities.

We had to learn different skills, from analytics to how to partner with e-commerce portals, advertising, digital advertising or distribution. So we all had to learn different skills.

Can you tell us more about your advertising and media strategy and the engagement of a host of celebrities as brand endorsers?

This helps reduce clutter. If you can find the right product and the right celebrity, it really makes a difference on the cheap. So we invested with Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan for our Little’s brand and it turned out great. We have found that both in e-commerce and in traditional commerce, we have seen a very good response to our products. And we think that makes a difference.
Looking at our power brands, we will continue to research and see if it makes sense and if we want to invest in the type of characters and people that make sense to us. At the right time, I think there will be more celebrity endorsements.
Digital ad spend has increased, but we continue to do a lot of mass TV campaigns because a lot of our products are aimed at a fairly wide range of Indians and we continue to do so. Television, for these, remains the best medium. For a certain urban section, you have to go digital, but search-based advertising has also become much more important, and it’s going to continue to be a part of that. Because when it’s search-based, people are intentionally looking for something and it’s a good indicator of consumption or buying habits.

This interview first aired on Storyboard18 on CNBC-TV18. Read the full interview on Forbes India and Moneycontrol.

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