With over 12 million outlets, India's retail sector, worth $500 billion, and growing at 15 per cent every year, plays a crucial role in the nation's growth story. A major constituent of this burgeoning sector is the chain of 'kirana' shops (your friendly neighbourhood small grocery stores), which contributes almost 90 per cent to the retail sector. These players cater to the majority of the Indian population, and more importantly, are the primary channels for the sale of the popular beverage Coca-Cola.
Recognising the need to build the capacity of 'kirana' retail owners in the country, the Coca-Cola University (CCU) launched a nation-wide programme called 'Parivartan' (change towards the better). The programme aims to spread knowledge of best practices and equip traditional retailers with the right skills, tools, and techniques necessary to make their business more profitable, as well as build business skills in the four key areas of shop management, stock management, customer management, and finance management.
The CCU has also announced that it will train 3,50,000 people by December 2017 in the areas of grocery and convenience store retailing, and in food services. The training module will be a mix of classroom training and in the CCU bus called 'Coca-Cola University on Wheels'.
While the CCU has been training 'kirana' retailers under its Parivartan programme for the past eight years, the module on quality and food services is being launched this year. Titled 'Parivartan E&D', the training module has been designed by the CCU based on two key insights as the most important parameters while choosing an eating-out option by customers who are on-the-go. These are lack of hygiene, and the importance of good customer service.
The training module will focus on the owners and employers of 'dhabas' and other small food service outlets and street food vendors, mostly in the unorganised sector. The training and upgradation of skills of 3,50,000 people by the CCU will aid the government's Skill India programme, which aims at capacity building for employability.
CCU certified trainers will conduct three-hour long training sessions through presentations and live-examples, as well as through videos, in regional languages. They will focus upon food quality and hygiene, clean atmosphere, customer satisfaction, customisation of food, and customer interaction.
Until now, more than three lakh retailers have been trained under the Parivartan programme. Training is offered in six regional languages through trainers certified by the CCU. Parivartan is open to all retailers, not just those who stock Coca-Cola products. The programme has reached out to retailers in more than 5,500 cities across India. More than 7,500 training sessions have been conducted till date.
The brand also launched a first-of-its-kind training delivery innovation on Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Using this platform, any retailer could dial a toll-free number to take Parivartan lessons from the comfort of his/her home.
We spoke to Wadhawan about the Parivartan initiative. Edited excerpts.
Q. When was the Parivartan campaign launched and what was the kind of pre-launch market research/consumer research that was done? What made Coca-Cola come up with this kind of campaign?
Launched in 2007, Parivartan equips 'mom-and-pop' shop owners in Tier 2 and 3 towns across India with the skills, tools, and techniques required to succeed in India's evolving retail landscape. The course content of this training programme includes the four components of retailing strategy: customer, retail store, stock at shelf, and finance. Apart from classroom training, this training module is also delivered through a customised learning bus, 'Coca-Cola University on Wheels', which travels through the remote areas where classroom facilities are not available.
Q. What gave your team the confidence to educate small-town retailers? How are these decisions taken?
There are around eight million FMCG retail outlets in the country, of which 'kirana' stores account for over 90 per cent of the Rs 7,40,000 crore retail business in India. These small retail outlets constitute 49 per cent of Coca-Cola product sale. We perceived an opportunity here that led towards the idea of Parivartan. An extensive research was undertaken to know the developmental needs of these retailers. The Parivartan initiative was based upon the findings and built upon the four pillars of retailing strategy.
The initiative also contributes to the government's vision of Skill India.
Q. Please share the demographics and psychographics of the areas where this campaign was carried out. What are your expectations from this campaign?
The initiative has been implemented across India covering semi-urban, rural, and urban locations around places such as Agra, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Haldwani, Bilaspur, Kolkata, Faizabad, and Rajamundry. The CCU has also reached out to towns such as Hoshiarpur, Mukeria, Nakodar, Phagwara, Nawanshahar, Malerkotla, Barnala, Khanna, Moga, and Jalandhar. Each training session lasts for three hours. Around 20 retailers at a time (typically small - 300 sq ft 'kirana' shop owners) are trained with the help of plasma TVs, laptops, and LCD projectors. The training is offered in six regional languages through trainers certified by the CCU. It has trained several housewives who wish to earn money by opening small retail outlets, as well as small 'kirana' owners. The programme has achieved a milestone of training 15,000 women retailers and covered more than 3,00,000 retail stores till date.
Q. Which creative agency has worked upon to create this ad film?
It is a CSR project. We have made no films or campaigns for this programme. It is based on one-to-one outreach to retailers and by word-of-mouth.