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"Both Online And Offline Are Important As Customers Want the Freedom to Alternate Across Formats": Sanjeev Azad

In an exclusive conversation with Sanjeev Azad, Executive Director, Conscious Food sheds light on the growth strategy of the brand.

Tags: Conscious Food, organic, retailing

BY Shipra Srivastava  |  February 13, 2018  |  comments ( 0 )  | 

Sanjeev Azad

Conscious Food is the pioneer of organic food retailing in India. Being the pioneer how have you seen the growth of organic retailing in India? Also shed some light on the journey of Conscious Food so far? What were the major challenges that the company has won over so far?

Organic retailing has come a long way. From being a niche customer segment, it is now moving mainstream which is heartening to see. Appealing to a larger customer base is good from many perspectives - it creates a virtuous cycle more people consume more people grow, which leads to healthier people and a healthier planet. ​From small stand alone organic stores, organic is now available in M​odern T​rade​  and many G​eneral  ​T​rade​  stores. From just stocking a shelf or two - it is now a considered a  category in itself.

The company was started in 1990 by Kavita Mukhi - the pioneer of the organic food movement in India. In 2004, it was acquired by KMS (Titoo) Ahluwalia - also a believer of the organic way of life. Titoo continues to own the company and sees it ​ as​  more of a cause than a company. I think the company is particularly proud of two achievements. The first is that the company has successfully demonstrated that working to a standard than to a price is a viable strategy. The company has always stood for quality and it is humbling to see how many of our customers recognise that and have stayed loyal over all these years. The second is staying relevant ​, today ​the company is the company of choice across generations. This too is a matter of pride. 

 Kindly shed some light on distribution in online and offline space? Also, what are the strategies to scale up the distribution? Moving forward, the focus will be  on online or offline expansion?

Both online and offline are important, as customers today want the freedom to alternate across formats. The challenge in online are the shipping costs. Organic groceries have relatively low unit price but tend to be bulky - so the shipping economics are challenging. However, we will all have to adapt and package our products in a way that are e-commerce ​ and environment​  friendly. 

 Kindly shed light on your product/categories? Also what are the plans for category expansion? Also mention your starting and exiting price point?

We have three main categories of products - first, staples or everything an Indian kitchen could need, second is a macrobiotic or wellness range - that includes products such as apple cider vinegar, ​single-flower ​ harde honey, cold pressed organic coconut oil, alfalfa and flax seeds and another 15 such items and a healthy snacking range. We will add products within these three categories for now. The price of our products varies from Rs 39 to Rs 2​499 -  ​Sea Salt​  being the cheapest and A2 Gir ​Cow ​ Ghee being the most expensive. 

According to you, what are the major challenges for organic retailing in India?

There are two main challenges - one, of course  ​is the economics​, the cost of distribution keeps increasing and this forces us all to be very efficient in the way we run our companies. ​ The second, ​challenge ​is packaging. 

​.​How do you source products to be retailed under your label? 

We have a very talented internal sourcing team who identify new opportunities and new suppliers. We then follow it up with a detailed due diligence of the supplier - including certification, facility inspection and operating philosophy. 

 Off late, many organic product retailing companies have stated in India.How do you see this mushrooming? Who do you see as your competition? 

It is energising to see the plethora of companies operating in this space. We don't see this as a competition - more of a growth in the community and the movement. It is good for all of us if the organic movement grows - there will be more opportunities for all of us.  

The concept of organic products is still restricted to metro cities. What kind of response the company is generating from tier II market?

We do have customers from Tier II cities who buy us online. There are also distributors in these towns that reach out to us - but the volumes are small. It is just a matter of time until that picks up more.​

 At last, kindly highlight your growth plans for next financial year?

We are growing at a healthy rate and will undertake a few strategic initiatives to further strengthen the company. The focus will be on customer engagement - both online and offline. 

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