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Cover Feature

Published on: Feb. 22, 2021, 10:43 a.m.
‘We have an edge over our competitors’
  • Burman: Dabur has a strong in-house research wing that follows a ‘bush-to-brand’ approach

By Ritwik Sinha. Consulting Editor, Business India

In your assessment, how has team Dabur responded to the Covid crisis? Have they managed to use this period to set the company on a large-scale transformative path?

While the Covid-19 crisis came as a big shock initially, I would say we were quick in responding to the emerging situation. Our topmost priority was ensuring the health and well-being of our employees, vendors and business associates; this is a core value for us.

I think Covid taught us the need to remain fluid and agile. We have transformed ourselves as an organisation, become more aggressive and fearless. We have also enhanced our risk-taking ability, encouraging our employees to become more entrepreneurial. It has been a complete transformation for Dabur as an organisation.

 We have seen most of the FMCGs trying to align with Ayurveda or other health products. So how do you assess the competition, going ahead? Do you think, when it comes to health or ayurvedic consumer products, you have the best credentials in the country today?  

We have been working towards modernising Ayurveda by introducing products that offer the traditional and time-tested benefits of ayurvedic ingredients in modern-day, ready-to-use formats. We maintain an edge over our competitors with our 136-year-old heritage. Dabur has highly differentiated brands in the market. While a lot of companies today offer herbal or ayurvedic products, Dabur enjoys the consumer’s trust because of its ayurvedic heritage. Consumers understand that, if a product comes from the House of Dabur, it is truly natural, and of the best quality at the right price.

Dabur has a strong in-house research wing that follows a ‘bush-to-brand’ approach. We have our in-house nursery, which grows several rare herbs that go into various products. We have been growing quality, rare medicinal herbs that are used in our products. These saplings are distributed free of cost to farmers. Today, we grow these rare medicinal herbs in over 6,000 acres of land across the country, and over 7,000 farmers are engaged with us in this activity.

While a lot of companies have joined the Ayurveda and herbal bandwagon today, consumers understand that, if a product comes from the House of Dabur, it is truly natural and Ayurvedic, and of the best quality at the right price.

The company in the recent past has made forays into product categories like tea and ghee. Does it mean that you have decided to have a wider portfolio which may even have products like edible oil or staples in the not so distant future?

When it comes to innovation, speed is the keyword. Our teams’ ability to collaborate and to pull together as a family allows us to react quickly to changing market dynamics. This has helped us roll out new products in record time to cater to the changing consumer needs in view of the Covid pandemic. A number of these products were fast-tracked to meet the growing consumer need for quality immunity boosting products in the wake of the Covid outbreak. In addition, the year also saw Dabur expand its presence in the personal and household hygiene space with a slew of new offerings. Our flexibility, agility, and capacity to make rapid decision were the key ingredients in the success of the innovation strategy.

Over the past nine months, we have strengthened this portfolio with the introduction of new products and an entry into new and adjacent categories. The new products have been developed to specifically cater to the emerging consumer needs for immunity building, health, and personal and household hygiene. You will see many more such innovations going forward, but I will not be able to provide any details of our planned new product introductions.

Between 2010 and 2020, your business grew by more than 100 per cent. How do you envisage the 2020-30 decade to pan out for you? What is the big picture you have in mind?

While the past decade saw Dabur report a steady performance, I am hoping to see this growth accelerate in the coming decade. We are today the world's largest ayurvedic and natural healthcare company and I see Dabur strengthening its position in this space, going forward. We are now aggressively investing in our brands, both at the trade level and also the media level. We have also rationalised our go-to-market strategy in terms of the media platforms, in addition to investing in a massive build-up of our rural infrastructure. And these moves have started paying dividends already, with Dabur not only improving shares but also perhaps growing ahead of our competitors, particularly in rural India. This is definitely a new and more aggressive Dabur. Going forward, you will see more aggression and that is reflected in the massive increase in our media expenditure.

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