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Distribution Diaries

“In times of crisis, digitalisation of supply chain helps”: Jayen Mehta, Amul

A quick chat with Jayen Mehta, senior general manager, planning and marketing, GCMMF (Amul), about distribution in these trying times.

In a market where availability is clearly more important than advertising, and distribution has become the most important ‘P’ in the marketing mix, we take a quick look at dairy marketer Amul. Jayen Mehta is the senior general manager, planning and marketing, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF).

He has been with the company for 29 years now, having joined it back in 1991. He has, in the past, held positions like brand manager, group product manager, and also general manager in the marketing vertical. He holds a PGDRM, marketing from the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA).

We asked Mehta a few questions about distribution, marketing and branding.

Edited excerpts (responses):

Distribution has always been one of the four key Ps of marketing. In such unprecedented times – the lockdown – it is important that all companies focus on this. But it is imperative that the entire supply chain is efficiently working to ensure uninterrupted supply of products across the country.

In the case of Amul, we procure, on an average, 250 lakh litres of milk daily from 36 lakh farmers across 18,500 villages of Gujarat. This milk is processed into packaged milk and almost 750 SKUs of a wide range of products (fresh, ambient, chilled and frozen) at our 80 plant locations across India, and supplied to million-plus outlets through a network of 68 branch offices, 250 warehouses and 10,000 distributors.

Amul has been able to service all our markets efficiently because all supply chain members have been working with commitment, as well as safety, to ensure that the consumers get their favourite brand, every morning.

The key thing is the digitalisation of the supply chain, and how it helps in such times of crisis:

1. Our entire milk is collected through common software at all 18,500 village societies. Data of all 3.6 million producers, who provide (cow and buffalo) milk, twice a day, is recorded and monitored in the system.

2. The entire fleet of 5,000 tankers - collecting milk from village societies to 80-plus dairy plants is tracked continuously on GPS to monitor and resolve disruptions, if any.

3. All 10,000 distributors place their retailer-wise orders and do billing on our common DMS software.

4. The lat-long of all (one million) outlets, along with several products billed in the last seven, 15, 30 days, is available for all sales team and trade partners for regular monitoring on our 'LocateAmul' app.

5. We have a dedicated app 'AmulCart' for placing orders. There are 8,000 Amul parlours and top retailers across India. So, even if the salesmen could not reach them due to lockdown, the orders are seamlessly transferred to the distributor. This ensures that the distribution is efficient, and also closely monitored by the team.

Retaining brand loyalty and trust…

The loyalty of the consumer can't be taken for granted, at any time, by any brand. In such difficult times, it is the trust which nurtures and nourishes the loyalty of any brand.

A brand which intends to retain the loyalty of its consumers must take proactive action to ensure that it holds in trust their aspirations. This can be done in multiple ways - serving products which meet their requirements during the pandemic, communicating the brand legacy and heritage to reassure them that this brand will be with them through the bad and good times. While the consumer's behaviour tomorrow is difficult for anyone to predict, it’s the assurance of today which will hold the brand in good stead in future.

Our advertising on ‘Ramayan' and ‘Mahabharat' on Doordarshan is a reflection of our approach during these testing times. We ran 33 regular product TVCs and as many as 101 classic ads (from 1969-1990s) during both these shows over the last month.

As told to Shreyas Kulkarni, over email.

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