Mintel, is a global market intelligence agency that has helped brands understand the dynamic consumer trends and helped brands engage with them. At the helm of Mintel’s India and Sri Lanka as Country Manager is Murtaza Bakir who is responsible for the overall growth of Mintel in this region.
He has been with Mintel since the last six years and has had the opportunity to work with leading brand manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and flavour & fragrance houses to develop new consumer packaged products by leveraging Mintel insights and working with functions such as R&D, Marketing, Consumer Insights and Innovation.
In this conversation with Medianews4u, Murtaza Bakir, Country Manager, India & Sri Lanka, Mintel opens up about the credible work the agency has been doing since the past 6 months and the plans ahead.
Take us through the journey of Mintel India its mission and vision, values etc?
Mintel is the expert in what consumers want and why. Since 1972, our analysis of consumers, markets, new products and competitive landscapes provides a unique perspective on global and local economies. Our predictive analytics and expert recommendations have enabled our clients to make better business decisions faster. In fact, our combination of data and expertise is what makes us truly unique.
Mintel’s journey in India started nearly a decade ago. Each year since then we have been growing by working with more clients and helping them launch new products. Mintel has always valued client feedback and incorporated that into everything we do. In line with this, adapting to the fast-growing needs of India’s FMCG segment, in 2018 Mintel invested in launching Mintel India Reports which is a new consumer intelligence platform to cater to India’s challenging, dynamic and highly innovative marketplace. Mintel’s continued investment in the region builds upon our already established analyst expertise into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. This has been a key milestone for the company’s long-term growth strategy and further expansion across the Asia Pacific region and the world, giving our clients research and analysis of the highest quality to help them grow their business.
What are some of the services that Mintel India provides which you personally feel are best in the business?
We have been defining and refining the market intelligence mix since 1972, to offer our clients a unique perspective on the consumer landscape ahead and a clear road map to navigate it with.
Mintel in India not only offers market research, but also market analysis, consumer insights, product intelligence and, most importantly, the local and global expertise to combine these elements in an expert synthesis that generates insight and recommendation rooted in facts. Mintel’s product intelligence platform, Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD)adds micro-level relevance to the macro context of our market analysis, bringing our clients real-world examples of the launches and goods that are driving the FMCG business.
GNPD tool has been supporting innovators for 40 years, capturing, compiling data and explaining what the data means from thousands of new products every day. As consumer markets become more competitive, Mintel’s consumer reports have proven to be an unparalleled asset to our clients as they develop their business strategies amidst evolving social, economic and political landscapes. Mintel Reports India represents a first-of-its-kind, truly unique approach to helping companies and brands understand and validate local consumer trends and assess the market applicability of global trends locally.
Tell us about your journey with Mintel India and how has the experience been?
Mintel’s core values include collaboration, entrepreneurial, straightforward, and quality which helps shape not only our experiences as employees but also our purpose which is to help people and businesses grow.
I’ve been with Mintel for nearly seven years now and as the Country Manager for Mintel for India & Sri Lanka, responsible for the overall growth of Mintel in this region. In my stint with Mintel, I’ve had opportunities to work with leading brand manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and flavour & fragrance houses to develop new consumer packaged products by leveraging Mintel insights and working with functions such as R&D, Marketing, Consumer Insights and Innovation. It’s been a great journey and I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to contribute to the dynamic growth of the business.
How is the business shaping up in times of Covid-19? What has been the impact of COVID on your business?
It has been a busy period for us. Our data shows that companies are spending more time on our research platforms now compared to the same time last year, our service teams are busy helping clients navigate through these times. It’s important for any brand to re-evaluate their portfolio and what these shifts in consumer behaviour might mean for their brand. For some, it might mean preponing launches they might have planned for the future and for some it might mean delaying a few launches and perhaps tweaking them. That would depend on what the brand & product proposition is. In both cases, research will be necessary to be able to make informed decisions.
How is Mintel India providing its clients with insights and information that’s helping them make right business decisions, especially in these Covid-19 times?
Mintel started tracking the COVID-19 impact on consumer behaviours and market shifts as early as February, starting from China, when the country was in a serious situation amidst the pandemic. We realized that COVID-19 will have a long-lasting impact on businesses over brands and we quickly started conducting research and sharing insights via thought pieces on our blog, exclusive insight reports and running COVID-19 sessions for our clients both in India and globally to help provide any insights or guidance for their brand repositioning, product innovation or market opportunities. As said, Mintel is the expert in what consumers want and why, and our quick response and deep local expertise has and will help our clients to overcome the present uncertain situation.
What are some key business trends that marketers need to be aware about, especially in the FMCG, Beauty and Lifestyle space?
Lifestyle changes triggered by COVID-19 are impacting consumer mindsets. Our research shows that increased hand washing, usage of masks, hand sanitizers and household cleaning products indicates that consumers are actively taking steps to change their lifestyle as a result of the virus. In order to resonate with consumers, brands need to cater to the growing need for hygiene and holistic wellbeing.
In India as well as in other markets, the spread of the virus has led to consumers looking at health more seriously. This includes a focus on healthy eating, better hygiene, increasing consumption of immunity-building foods, exercise and financial planning for a health ailment. In fact, our research from Mintel’s COVID-19 tracker highlights that Indian consumers are expecting to spend more on areas such as health care (47%) and are prioritizing healthy eating. We see this continuing even as the threat of Covid-19 diminishes.
It is important for brands to keep a close track of consumer sentiments in the current situation and use “empathetic innovation” to help consumers focus on overall physical and mental wellbeing as consumers face tough times ahead. Innovation is critical in a crisis and hand in hand with that comes good smart and agile research to make sure you understand your market and consumer which has changed dramatically.
During these hard times, how are you keeping up the morale of your teams that are working remotely? How are you making sure about the mental health of employees?
Mintel, true to its values, has been transparent by providing regular updates to all employees about the company’s performance to ensure employees have an inclusive and stress-free work environment. At Mintel, the work-from-home policy was in place much before the government lockdown was enforced and for smooth functioning, Mintel was quick to organize IT-related equipment to enable working from home efficiently.
We strongly believe that each and every employee should be able to get the type of care needed for mental well-being, when one needs it the most. Mintel has partnered with a mental health platform that provides you with access to a full spectrum of resources, ranging from digital courses and meditations to a network of certified coaches. Other initiatives include ‘no internal meeting’ day as well as quick morning video calls to facilitate conversations between different departments and functions.
What were some challenges that you faced during the pandemic and how did you overcome them?
Not being able to meet our colleagues and clients face to face was indeed difficult but having the infrastructure & policies in place to transition into a work from home environment quickly helped us make this transition smooth. A huge amount of credit goes to our IT & HR teams to guide us through this. Our clients have also been incredibly supportive of this as businesses have adopted technology and video calls seamlessly to continue our ongoing collaboration.
What’s next for Mintel India? Plans ahead?
Mintel’s purpose is to ‘Help people and businesses grow’ and we will continue to strive to do that. The Indian FMCG sector continues to grow with brands innovating to meet changing consumer needs and while more and more brands enter this space to challenge category leaders, we will provide our clients with the research and analysis of the highest quality to not only help our clients understand global trends but also how they play out in India so they can stay ahead of the curve and continue to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.