When ITC launched it packaged wheat flour, Aashirvaad, it was in direct competition with many varieties already present in the market. The competition lead to ITC lagging behind in sales two years after its launch without a clear direction on how to beat its competitors, General Mills and Pilsbury. But within four years, the company has soared past its competitors, currently cornering around 75 percent of the wheat market.
ITC intends to do the same with the rest of its branded foods business and build a sustainable model leading to higher revenue. In March of this year, YC Deveshwar, Chairman of ITC, noted that the company intends to do Rs 1,00,000 crore business. Many outsiders believed the number to be pie in the sky but the company believes the lessons learned from establishing Aashirvaad as the leading packaged wheat producer will be used in developing a framework for their other food ventures. V L Rajesh, divisional chief executive, foods division, speaking to Business Standard, said, “The philosophy of ITC has been building world class brands with focus on quality together with sustained value creation for consumers.”
Although most of ITC’s revenue comes from its tobacco products, the company is moving towards building a sustainable brand for its food products as well. The key to establishing this model is continued research on consumer demands and implementing methods to meet those demands. Rajesh noted the innovative methods and targeted marketing that the Aashirvaad brand used to gain a tremendous customer base. “The product is customised for different sets of consumers across regions. In the North, atta is consumed daily, and the look and granulation required there would be different.”
The plan to expand its brand of food products is already underway with establishment of manufacturing and logistics facilities in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra and Telengana. The company also has invested Rs. 3,000 crores in facilities which will help in reducing supply chain inefficiencies and increase the reach of its products to all parts of the country.
The currents brands in ITC’s portfolio include Sunfeast, Bingo!, Yipee!, Kitchens of India, minti-o, B Natural, Candyman and Gumon.