Be Nimble: The Need for Continuous Innovation in the FMCG Industry

Rohan Mirchandani, Co-Founder, Drums Food InternationalHolding a MBA degree from the Wharton School, Rohan, in his career spanning over a decade, has worked with Duff & Phelps and The Ross Group, prior to incepting Drums Food.

With thousands of brands competing for a share of consumers’ wallets, as well as their loyalty, innovation is essential. In fact it is what our own brand essence is built on. As consumers become increasingly health-conscious, food companies are given an incentive to push boundaries with constant innovations that are exciting and relevant to the consumer’s lifestyle. While each entrepreneur’s journey is different, there are a few important practices which can influence and shape your innovation pipeline.

Be Nimble: Being nimble is not only an advantage, but also critical in today’s startup economy. Consumers’ attention spans are getting shorter as their options are rapidly increasing. In order for them to start believing in your brand and adopt its current and future products, strategic innovations and a certain willingness to experiment are immensely important. However, this is much easier to do if there is an organizational culture of being nimble as well as being unafraid to ‘fail fast.’ The latter of which cannot happen without being nimble enough to change strategy and recuperate with your next innovation quickly.

Invest in the Right Resources
Being nimble is certainly not easy, especially as an organization scales; but as I said - it is imperative, especially to gain the momentum a startup requires. One way to make this easier is to invest in the resources that you know your brand needs to fulfill its mission. For example, one of my Co-Founders is an extremely talented chef. His experience allows us to ensure that we are delivering a healthy and tasty product, and that we can do so more quickly and with more precision. His years of experience feeding people in India and abroad, and his deep understanding of that domain leads to innovative product launches that are more likely to face success in the market. Going hand-in-hand with this is investing in technological innovations, which allow companies to oblige their customers in the most resourceful manner. With consumers
starting to question how their food is produced, in-house R&D centers can be an extremely worthwhile investment. Such a resource allows your internal team to work more efficiently and can also be a way to provide the consumer with a behind the scenes view of how the brand operates and how their products are created.

Get creative with how you show appreciation for your customers. These are the people upon whom your success hinges and they deserve your best

Listen to Your Customers: When opting for a healthier lifestyle, most consumers are looking for brands that they can trust. For this reason, it is essential that there is total transparency between the brand and the public. Brands need to listen to and engage with their consumers in order to tailor their offerings as per current consumer trends and to predict future trends.

FMCG companies are not the only ones who see the need to innovate. New age consumers are increasingly looking for ways to do something new and exciting. Interestingly, they want to do so while still sticking to their roots, retaining the goodness of the traditions they grew up with. Taking something that is already culturally acceptable and re-energizing it with a modern twist is one approach to innovation that we find particularly successful.

Act on those Insights & Don’t be Afraid to Lead the Pack: After you’ve spoken to your consumers, it’s time to do something about it. If for example, you realize that what they want is all-natural, real food, made with real ingredients, then by all means, make a commitment to making it happen. In the FMCG industry, the concept of ‘fresh’ is relatively new, but nonetheless, it is increasingly sought after. The complexities and timelines of producing, packaging, transporting and finally selling preservative-free food products are infinite and it is very tempting to take shortcuts to increase the shelf-life and guarantee its longevity throughout the process. But consumers are now very aware of the negative side effects of artificial ingredients on health and are demanding change. To make this possible, innovations in technology, packaging and supply chain (just to name a few) are required.

Some times you are able to predict upcoming trends. In the food space, consumers are becoming more aware of certain dietary conditions, such as lactose and gluten intolerance. Though it may seem niche now, this health-conscious population is growing and as a result dairy brands have begun incorporating lactose-free dairy products in order to ensure they are the first to capture this segment. It can be scary at first, but there is a huge opportunity if you take this innovative leap of faith. The possibilities for innovation are endless with the discerning Indian consumer seeking a healthier lifestyle.

Take Care of Your Customers: Finally, get creative with how you show appreciation for your customers. These are the people upon whom your success hinges and they deserve your best. Whether it be making amends for a mishap or trying to show a loyal customer how much they mean to you, innovation is required even in customer service. Sincere, authentic and timely gestures give you the opportunity to establish a strong foundation of brand affinity, there by setting yourself up for an enthusiastic consumer base who will be by your side, cheering on each innovation as it comes.