The new normals in a world where Covid-19 unfortunately is becoming a part of our life will bring about many changes in the way businesses will be conducted, and more importantly the way we live our life.
In a world post-lockdown where the rules of the game are set to change, or rather have already changed, the way forward for the FMCG space is also entering an unknown road.
The nation-wide lockdown is slowly being lifted across orange and green zones and life is slowly crawling back to a new-normalcy. Businesses and brands are now are making their way back into the business; planning their communication plans for a new world post the covid-19 lockdown.
In this story of Medianews4u’s brand series, Back to Business, we spoke to Ayush Gupta, Business Head, Sales & Marketing (Domestic Sales) KRBL Limited (Rice Industry)
How are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 on KRBL? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
KRBL Limited is World’s largest Rice Millers and Basmati Rice Exporters.
During the ongoing crisis of COVID-19, we are better prepared and at our functional best to make sure that we are available in appropriate quantities to all our customers across the globe. As rice is one of the most consumed essential grain in most countries, we are taking special measures to make sure that each and every packet is passed through stringent quality checks and is hygienically packed. Along with that we are also ensuring that all the personnel working in our processing units are maintaining sanitation, cleanliness, and social distancing at every step across the facility.
Right from the entry gate, admin block, packaging unit to the dispatch mechanism, we have made special norms and processes for each individual which is followed for a common mutual interest. We appreciate the dedication of our employees, distributors and logistics partners who are making sure that in this time of turmoil and crisis, all our customers should always be able to cook their favorite dishes at safely inside their home, while we make sure we are working 24×7 outside to make it possible, every day.
Along with that, we have been actively pursuing our Corporate Social Responsibility addressing the issue of hunger and serving millions of needy and underprivileged people across India. India Gate Basmati Rice, flagship brand by KRBL – the world’s largest rice miller launched #UmeedHainHum initiative during the lockdown, aimed at resolving the huge but important task of providing basic meals for all the needy and underprivileged across the country. So far the brand has reached out in 140+ cities, feeding more than 15 million meals in the past three months, making it one of the largest and most impactful food donation drives in the country
The quest for a solution to a particular crisis helps invent new business opportunities and sometimes leads to a revision of existing business models … What sort of innovation has or will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to your brand/industry/category?
As we are moving into the new normal, some trends are emerging very fast. We are observing a heavy surge in online purchases and which is becoming beneficial for top brands who have really high recall. FMCG as a consumer segment is going to be the most sustained and will provide backbone for customers returning to market. Groceries in general will remain key to the last mile shopping with strong positive sentiment towards supporting them.
With Corona pandemic everyone is stressing on the lines of safety, Hygiene, and untouched by hands in everything which is coming into house. Now, when these customers go out and shop groceries, the same sentiment should come for buying open products like rice, pulses, Sugar and other similar ingredients as well.
It gives us reason to further emphasize on the requirement of buying safe, buying quality and brands you can trust for a longer period of time. In the wake of this behavior, we are expecting more customers will shift to branded and reliable brands which come with the assurance of Quality, Safety and Consistency.
While some parts of the country have become Covid-19 free, cities like Mumbai and Delhi are still in a lockdown situation. How are you planning to resume business across cities that are not in the Red?
At KRBL, we are taking a series of steps to make sure that the entire supply chain works seamlessly to ensure that packets of India Gate Basmati Rice reach your kitchen with the highest standards of safety and Hygiene.
In the difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic, it is our workers, plant supervisors, Truck drivers and last mile delivery associates who are working day and night to ensure that we are able to service maximum customers whether it is a covid free zone or cities like Delhi and Mumbai which have high population density.
We are proud to share that during the lockdown period, India Gate was able to supply over 50,000,000 Kgs of rice to various parts of the world, to serve its customers.
What will be your communication strategy post the opening of the lockdown? What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
The world has we knew before has already changed, so should the communication strategy of each and every brand who has a direct relationship of service or usage with the customers. Right now, in times of uncertainties the brand communication should be able to Educate, Assure and at the same time be empathetic to the needs of customers.
Being Omni-channel, ensuring availability of stocks everywhere with a value for money proposition is how we are approaching the current scenario. The communication strategy as well, is aligned to this effort.
India Gate Basmati Rice has always been maintaining Indian culture, Values and habits at the core of its communication strategy. Going forward, we will be maintaining this quotient in our brand communications, but with a sense of Sharing, Caring and Giving Back to the society as much as possible.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what kept you positive?
For a brand like us, who is responsible for daily staples in millions of homes across the world, pausing was never an option. Right from the start of lockdown, we did not stop our mills for even one day. It is important that the supply of staples should not stop specially at the time of a crisis of this magnitude. At the same time, it is also important to maintain strict quality, cleanliness and safety measures at every step while completing this daunting task. All packets that are going out of the manufacturing unit are certified to be 100% safe and quality assured to the last mile of delivery.
We ensured that each and every employee who is coming in the facility is properly disinfected, checked for any ailments and only then allowed to work inside the premises. In fact, we were surprised to see the enthusiasm of these “Corona Warriors” who were risking their lives everyday but still coming to complete this important task. To be honest, it was our employees who were spreading positivity and motivation to everyone around. We are indebted to these heroes who have kept the need of nation and the world above everything else. It wouldn’t have been possible without them.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track or at least get it in the right direction and also create demand for yourself?
The world has we knew before has already changed, so should the business strategy of each and every brand who has a direct relationship of service or usage with the customers. Right now, in the times of uncertainties the brands should be able to Educate, Assure and at the same time be empathetic to the needs of customers.
Being Omni-channel, ensuring availability of stocks everywhere with a value for money proposition is how we are approaching the current scenario. We are observing a heavy surge in urban population switching to online platforms for their daily needs. We are geared up to provide our entire portfolio to different customer segments according to their needs. Going forward, to be a part of an existing grocery list is of utmost importance. We are assured that the strong brand imagery of India Gate Basmati Rice will play a crucial role in maintaining our course.
Tell us about your initiative Umeed Hain Hum?
With the world facing an economic slowdown, corporates have a critical role to play, not only by addressing key societal needs, but also by becoming a key contributor in taking care of their local
Community. Today, as we continue our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, a bigger problem of hunger is affecting millions across the country.
India Gate, being one of the oldest and leading rice brands in India, and a true custodian of hope started – “Umeed Hain Hum”, an initiative that extends hope to a family in need by feeding them. Under this initiative India Gate is donating more than 20,000 meals every day. KRBL Ltd. has been extending support to feed lakhs of people since the start of lockdown and has pledged to provide more than 18 million meals under their campaign #UmeedHainHum. It is an initiative to get food to old-age homes, orphanages and leprosy centers and millions of other families in India who are not only fighting against Corona, but also against hunger.
We hope that many other companies will also come forward and ensure that the needs of both Customers and Society as a whole are met, in this new Normal.