The FMCG sector was among the early adopters of technology and over time, became a flagbearer of digital disruption. It has always pushed the bar of innovation higher. Today, the sector is at the helm of reinventing supply chain and distribution models, optimizing resources, reimagining product offerings to make them relevant and creating value both for the business and the consumer. Even when the current COVID-19 crisis created a seismic shift in the ecosystem and brought about economic and operational challenges which were unforeseen, the sector was quick to get back on its feet to innovate and adapt.
Leading the disruption in FMCG sector
Procter & Gamble, a global leader in consumer goods, believes that the changing shopper behaviour and accelerated digital disruption of FMCG operations present an exciting opportunity to shape the future of shopping, selling and retail leveraging new-age technologies such as AI/ML, Blockchain and IoT.
“P&G has been at the forefront of innovation for the past 183 years and has delighted consumers consistently with its superior products & services that offer irresistible value. The company has a legacy of external partnerships globally to innovate across the entire value chain of the industry. To strengthen this legacy, we are looking at the startup ecosystem for solutions to our existing business challenges and for new ideas using technology-based solutions”, shares Kapil Sharma – Director, e-Business & Innovation.
And, through the Global Innovation Challenge, P&G Global Innovation Center in India is providing a platform for startups across sectors, stages and geographies to partner with them.
“This is an opportunity for startups to envision the future and lead constructive disruption with P&G. Selected startups can co-create solutions to LIVE business problems, be mentored by P&G leaders and leverage our scale to expand pan-India and across other global markets,” explains Soumyakanti Ray - Leader, Global Innovation Center.
Shortlists will be based on novelty of idea, relevance to FMCG problems, quality of solution and scalability.
Mastering innovation and scale - a team effort
The Innovation Challenge not only helps startups refine their solutions under the guidance of experienced mentors and leaders, but also enables access to P&G’s in-house stores and products providing an opportunity to iterate faster while building prototypes. Startups will be mentored on creating MVPs suited to P&G’s business model in 6-8 weeks followed by developing full prototypes for in-market pilots. And in this journey, P&G leadership teams from global innovation, market strategy & planning, distributor operations etc. will guide the startups in addition to corporate partners and other startups who have gone through this journey with P&G earlier.
The Innovation Challenge is an effort led by P&G’s Global Innovation Center in Mumbai which, in the last two years, has been working with multiple startups to pilot and co-create disruptive go-to-market solutions and help them become market-ready. The startups, some of them with solutions unique to the FMCG space, have gone on to scale their solution, expand their footprint in India and also in other global markets. The Innovation Center in Mumbai is part of P&G’s Global Innovation Network and focuses on the areas of thought leadership, in-depth shopper insights and disruptive ideas from the startup community. It also acts as an external outpost in collaboration with P&G’s global accelerators. Startups it has successfully collaborated with in the recent past include ElasticRun, Constems AI, Impact Analytics, Infilect, EntropikTech, Cartesian Solus and many more. Here’s what a few of them have to say:
“P&G’s support has been phenomenal in getting our products to market and maturing them in record time. The innovation mindset and patience to experiment of P&G teams have been key factors in launching our products. We could not have done this without P&G’s support” Sandeep Deshmukh - CEO, ElasticRun
(Started P&G pilot in 500 stores, now scaled up to 200K+ stores with goal of a million stores across India)
“P&G has been THE ONE early adopter of our deep-tech solution, who not only gave us the opportunity early on but also walked along the path by being patient to improve the solution significantly” Amit Singh - CEO, Constems AI
(Started P&G pilot with 2 sales-reps, now expanded to India, Egypt and SE Asian markets)
From India to the world
The COVID-19 situation has rapidly accelerated digital adoption in the FMCG ecosystem so that trends that were predicted two or three years away have suddenly become the need of the hour. Today, there are opportunities to enable better reach & service to consumers and retailers (both urban and rural), optimize logistics and delivery models, innovate on tech-assisted selling platforms and ensure effective always-on engagement in an online-meets-offline world. While these disruptions are true for emerging markets across the globe, each market is at a different stage in the innovation journey.
“India has made its mark as a hotbed of innovation and disruption. Most of the solutions developed here would be applicable to other emerging markets and even to specific business areas in developed markets. This is a never-before chance to shape the future.” says Soumya, signing off.
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