First Moving Online

FMCG companies are stepping outside their brick-and-mortar stores and trying a new strategy of retailing online-first


Koshy George sprays the hair tonic on your palm and patiently waits for a reaction. It smells good and has none of the characteristics you associate hair oil (of the plastered down 80s hairdos) with. It’s not sticky and rests easily on your hand. This is True Roots, one of Marico’s recent launches, that promises to delay greying from the roots.

Koshy George, CMO, MaricoIn the making for a few years now, the brand first went online last October. A few months later, in January, it made its way to retail stores. This is not Marico’s only online-first brand — starting the first quarter of this fiscal, the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) major has launched seven such brands. 

Of the seven, two — True Roots and Coco Soul Virgin Coconut Oil (cold pressed oil for cooking) — are new product categories for the company; the rest are a combination of brand extensions such as Saffola Fittify range of green tea and coffee, slim shakes and variants of existing brands such as Set Wet Studio X male grooming range and Parachute Advansed Hair Oil. George, Marico’s chief marketing officer, says that each of the new brands is the result of identifying a trend in the market. For example, True Roots and Coco Soul Virgin Coconut Oil  are premium products — Rs.500 for 150 ml of the hair product and Rs.350 for 250 ml of the cooking oil — for a select group of people. 

Online is a medium that excites the Rs.64-billion Marico, though only 3% of its revenue comes from e-commerce, which is broadly the same for most large Indian FMCG companies. This channel gives them consumer insights in real time and an opportunity to make course corrections. Advertising can be cheaper, with just digital and making the right quantum of noise on social media. In the difficult FMCG industry, where the brand success rate is about 7-8%, ‘online-first’ could be a winning card. 


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