The first day of the two-day long conference, FICCI Footfalls, began in the Capital on December 7, with the first session on ‘The Indian retail opportunity: Mapping the Market’. On the panel were Krish Iyer, Managing Director and CEO, Piramyd Retail Ltd; Piyush Vashnay, Business Head-New Ventures and Marketing Services, Hindustan Lever Ltd; and J H Mehta, President, Soencer Retail, RPG Group. P M Sinha, Chairman FICCI Rural Developemnt Committee, chaired the session.
Commencing the session was Vashnay, who spoke about HLL’s ‘Project Shakti’ in context of rural retailing and its emergence as a new market. Talking about the project Vashnay said, “With a network of local, credible brand endorsers for all our brands, 15 per cent of HLL’s rural business comes from these districts in which we operate.”
He further said that this project had acted as a deterrent to counterfeits, a widely seen phenomenon in rural markets. Vashnay went on to highlight the challenges faced in the way of rural retailing; he enumerated effective communication and appropriate ways of interacting as challenges in rural markets since advertising does not yield the desired results as in urban centres.
To take care of this, HLL has started ‘Shakti Vanis’, where endorsers of the project talk to members of self-help groups and educate villagers. Vashnay ended by saying, “It’s not about higher footfalls, but it’s about effective brand communication and customer management.”
Next in line was Piramyd Retail’s Krish Iyer, who spoke about the urban opportunities in retailing in the country. Quoting startling figures throughout his presentation, Iyer highlighted the umpteen opportunities of retailing in urban India.
He said, “Rapid urbanisation will further fuel the organised retail growth in our country, especially since India has the second fastest growing urban population, second only to the US.”
Elaborating the advantages of the growth on retail, he said that urban retail would generate eight million jobs in the coming years. He attributed the surge in urban retail to the growing purchasing power and affluence of the urban youth.
According to Iyer, the opportunities available in urban retail were in the categories of food and grocery, supermarkets, and convenience stores. According to him, non-availability of capital and talent were two of the major challenges faced by the retail industry. FDI and FIIs would have a role to play in the primary markets, said Iyer.
Taking over from Iyer was J H Mehta, President, Spencer Retail, RPG Group, who spoke about the formats available in the area of Indian retail market. Starting off with the history of retail in India and going through the changing profile of the shopper, he said, “When we compare the history of retail with what it is today, the underlying thought is that the customers always prefer a range of choice, quantity discount and festival buying peaks.”
Like Iyer, Mehta, too, attributed the growth of retail to the changing consumer profile, where the rise of the middle class had increased the propensity to consume. All the three speakers agreed that the opportunities in retail in India had never been so good as it was today.