Shreyas Kulkarni
Distribution Diaries

"Will restart advertising after taking distribution to 100 per cent": Nadia Chauhan, Parle Agro

The present scenario has also led to new work schedules, like reaching the market three hours before regular time, says Parle Agro's JMD and CMO.

The lockdown threw distribution channels into disarray, and for a good few weeks, or in some places, a month, brands were invisible on store aisles. Marketers, however, ensured that such instances were nothing more than a temporary glitch.

In an email conversation, we asked Nadia Chauhan, JD and CMO, Parle Agro, about distribution, supply chain, and marketing during lockdown.

Edited Excerpts:

"As the lockdown eases across the country, gaining 100 per cent distribution strength will be crucial. Today, our distribution stands at just 60 per cent."

What is the biggest distribution-related learning that's emerged from these trying times?

The ability to adapt has been the key learning. Being a large beverage conglomerate, we adopted hyperlocal retail solutions. We assessed the situation, region wise, on a daily basis. And, as per the need of the market, we tailored our sales and distribution strategies so that we could maximise our reach within the limited time available. This strategy has enabled us to effectively cater to more stores and consumers.

What are the top 3 changes you have made to your supply chain over the last few weeks?

Proactive planning is critical to maintaining continuity of supply and distribution, which is what we did to tackle the new challenges that emerged with the pandemic. I am proud to have a passionate and committed team, which immediately got into action to charter out a plan to efficiently and flawlessly execute delivery of stocks.

"The present scenario has led to new work schedules, like reaching the market three hours before time."

Since mobility within cities is based on the classification into red, orange and green zones, we planned movement of stocks basis the zone colours. For instance, in red zones, we ensured supply of stocks from green zones in order to cater to the demand from outlets in those areas. Thus, we are now planning and realigning distribution hubs every day to tackle restrictions in mobility.

The present scenario has also led to new work schedules, like reaching the market three hours before regular time. Nonetheless, the team has taken these changes head on and is operating efficiently, enabling us to effectively deliver our products to retailers and consumers.

The third change is unlocking new avenues of distribution, one of them being e-commerce. For the beverage segment, e-commerce is an evolving platform, with a huge potential in future. We have on-boarded numerous national and niche e-commerce players, which will give consumers direct access to our beverages, along with the convenience of home delivery.

Post lockdown, will distribution prowess be more important than advertising? Do you see ad budgets being redirected to distribution, in any way?

Not just post lockdown, but as it (lockdown) eases across the country, gaining 100 per cent distribution strength will be crucial. Today, our distribution stands at just 60 per cent. Once we increase that number to its full capacity, we will reinitiate our advertising and marketing initiatives.

Last, 2020 has changed everything, from the way we consume, purchase and think. Has the very definition of marketing changed for you, in any way?

I wouldn’t say that the definition of marketing has changed. But I would say that it's important for marketers to reassess their consumer matrix of how consumers are looking at each industry, and their consumption and purchase patterns. I feel it is critical to evaluate these patterns, and then as marketers, be able to deliver to those changing needs.