In a tête-à-tête, Amit Burman, Vice President, Dabur shares with us their success journey.
Neha Malhotra (NM): Dabur is amongst the largest FMCG companies in the country. What gives Dabur this status and what went into reaching this stature?
Amit Burman (AB): From its humble beginnings in the bylanes of Calcutta as Ayurvedic medicines maker, Dabur India Ltd has come a long way today to become the fourth largest consumer products company in India with Revenues of US$910 Million (Rs 4110 Crore) and Market Capitalisation of US$4 Billion (Rs 20,000 Crore).
All through our journey, nature and Ayurveda have been the strong connecting threads across our product range. Dabur has always remained sworn to its motto of being committed to the health and well being of every household, and hence has introduced products that are well within the reach of every individual and products that offer holistic well being. While a lot of companies today offer Ayurvedic and herbal products, Dabur enjoys the consumers’ trust because of its herbal heritage. Consumers feel that if a product comes from the House of Dabur, it is truly natural.
NM: Dabur is reaching out to new geographies, within and outside India. Can you brief us about the expanse of your business?
AB: Dabur was the first Indian consumer products maker to look at overseas markets as a rowing opportunity for its products. Dabur stepped into the overseas markets way back in the 1980s by exporting its products to cater to the growing needs of the Indian Diaspora in the Middle East. Soon, we realised that there's a market and a much bigger one beyond the Diaspora.
That's when we discontinued to export business and set up our own subsidiary in Dubai and established manufacturing facilities in overseas markets to produce a range of products tailored to suit the needs and aspirations of the local consumers in these geographies.
Dabur's International Business caters to the health and personal care needs of customers across different international markets spanning Middle East, North and West Africa, EU and US through its various brands. Over the years, this business has successfully transformed itself from a small operation focused on the Indian Diaspora to a multi-location transnational business with a presence across 60 countries and catering to the ever-changing needs and aspirations of the local populace in these markets. The International Business is today a key growth driver for Dabur India Ltd and accounted for 31 per cent of Dabur's consolidated turnover in the first quarter of 2011-12.
NM: Dabur has a distribution network spread across 60 countries and covering over 2.8 million retail outlets. Can you describe the journey of starting from that 1st distributor to accomplishing where the brand stands today?
AB: The sales and distribution structure has evolved over the years in line with the changing times and their varying needs. In 1896, Dabur set up its first manufacturing facility for mass production of its formulations. Its medicines were sold through a network of vaids and Ayurvedic practitioners. Over the years, Dabur has expanded into making a host of consumer products and has expanded and evolved its distribution network to suit the varied needs of each market and category. And this has remained true not just for our sales structure, but even mass media and advertising.
We have made considerable investments in improving our distribution effectiveness in this segment of towns and the distribution metrics are now comparable to metros. Stockists have been technologically enabled with company provided transaction systems to standardise operations and provided with dash boards to track market effectiveness. The teams have also been strengthened with more feet on street to improve direct company contact with trade.
Dabur has rolled out special rural focused sales initiatives across 8 key states – UP, Punjab, MP, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Rural distribution reach was also stepped up aggressively in 71 high potential districts in these states penetrating to villages with lower population strata. The rural trade opportunity was also leveraged through Dabur Apnaao, Lakshmi Laao programme for the Sub-Stockist network in focus states.
That’s not all. Dabur is also deploying technology in a big way to ensure easy management, the day-to-day business activities of its distributor, giving it complete control and visibility of all its operations. This distribution management system for Stockists – christened DRISHTI -- is present across 75 per cent of Dabur’s business and covers 1100 stockists. The solution has been designed to maintain detailed information on products, stocks, suppliers, retailers, purchases, order book, invoicing, promotions, claims, damages, returns, receivables, etc. It is a powerful solution that maximises productivity and reduces operational costs and, in turn, provides visibility to organization to take strategic decisions in managing trade promotions and distribution.
Dabur has taken another step in the direction of technology enablement by providing hand-held devices (HHD), meant for a sales force of a Stockist organization with wide market coverage. This Mobile Solution system ensures speedy capture of information directly from the market like opening stock of the sub-stockist, order booking, availability of schemes, competitor information, etc.
NM: You are all set to bring the liquor brand ‘Kuch Nai’ to India. Can you enlighten us about this venture?
AB: The liquor venture is not connected to Dabur. It’s my personal investment and is independent of Dabur India Ltd. I have floated a liquor distribution company called Nature’s Bounty Pvt. Ltd, which deals in importing, marketing and distributing wine and liquor in the country. We started this about 3 years ago. One of the liquors now being introduced and distributed is Kuch Nai from the UK.