Hindustan Unilever bets on e-commerce, small stores over hypermarkets for India's future growth
Hindustan Unilever expects the Indian e-commerce industry to continue to grow after the pandemic and sees small-format brick-and-mortar stores recovering at the expense of hypermarkets.
“Traditional Indian shopping… is like an expedition,” said the business’ chairman and managing director, Sanjiv Mehta, at a recent virtual panel discussion at the Amazon Smbhav, the Press Trust of India reported.
“It is something which people go out not just for buying, but for the whole joy of experiencing… Going forward, e-commerce is bound to grow for the sheer of convenience that it offers, the assortment it offers. Modern trade will bounce back, but I believe it will be more the small-format stores, not the hypermarkets.”
The pandemic benefited two distinct retail formats, according to Mehta: e-commerce and kirana stores which serve their neighbourhoods with a wide variety of goods. Hindustan Unilever retails its wide range of personal care and beauty products across these channels in a wide array of retail formats. Seeing kirana stores as having a long future ahead on them in India, HUL will continue to work with them with its brand portfolio.
“If we look at it from a length of consumer behaviour, I think we have seen different aspects of behaviours over the last one year,” opined Mehta.
“When the pandemic started, it was all about cocooning people you were worried about... there was also the hard lockdown. Then there was the fetish for cleaning, disinfecting… Of course, there was also the environment which resulted in a certain kind of behaviour, because people were locked up and so it became e-everything, from entertainment to education to shopping.”
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