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HUL CMD: Move towards increasing share of e-commerce in grocery irreversible 

ET Now , Oct 28, 2020

Hindustan Lever's CMD Sanjiv Mehta has said that the move towards an increasing share of e-commerce in grocery shopping will be irreversible in a post-COVID world, though the benefit of proximity has led to a renaissance of local grocery stores in India. Though the pandemic has caused a slowdown, he pointed to rising consumption in rural areas due to MNREGA benefits being given to migrants who have returned to villages. On a lighter note, he said that the importance of hygiene taught by the pandemic has done away the need for his company to market the behaviour of handwashing with soap.

Speaking at a FICCI event, Mehta stressed upon the need to realign consumer priorities for the new normal, to focus on sustainability to thrive during the pandemic. He said that India should look at renewable energy with the same passion as electrification of villages, and pointed to the need for better adaptability to recuperate better from the current economic crisis. He stated that distribution channels and supply lines need to be kept strong to ensure medical supplies across India and to protect the marginal sections of the population.

With no playbook for crisis navigation, he stressed upon the need for a strong character as part of effective leadership to unleash the full potential of companies and employees. However, he cautioned for setting boundaries in Work from home to account for discipline, flexibility and time for family.

Madhusudan Gopalan, CEO and MD for P&G in the Indian subcontinent, said that the huge trajectory change for e-commerce will continue to remain accelerated as the pandemic continues. Stressing on the need to compensate the off-hand office talks which took place when colleagues spoke to each other in pre-COVID physical workspaces, he advocated the need to reach out for office colleagues to bond over virtual networks.

He pointed to changing consumer needs over time, since Gillette saw low sales in the early days of lockdown as people didn't shave. However, people not being able to go to salons eventually started shaving at home and the demand for razors picked up. He said the companies will have to look at demand from a "fit for use" lens, look at right packaging and delivery to attract consumers in a post-COVID world.

 

 

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