We are bringing you session summaries fromNPC 2017 in a series of blogs. This one is based on the session of Kishore Biyani, Founder & CEO, Future Group.
Towards the end of the day, at times the energy levels can drop. Especially when the day has been rather intense. At NPC Bangalore the end of Day 1, we had the much respected Kishore Biyani, Founder & CEO, Future Group to perk us up – and how he did! In conversation with Siddharth Zarabi, Executive Editor, BTVI.
On being asked, what drew him to the conclave, he retorted, “because we are in real business and not an imaginary one”, cheekily taking a dig at futurists. He added, that sometimes it almost felt like that a new religion was being created, referring to the swathe of new technologies that are available. There are only 7 tunes, 5 colours, 9 emotions and 10 actions – life is not as complex as it is often made out to be, yet underscoring the need to keep things simple.
To build brands, one needs to have a deep understanding of technology which gets the desired results. Technology increases human capability, creates more available time for increased human interaction, but understand this – he emphasized – humans will have to kill time anyway and will always seek new ways of doing it. We found out later that this was an oblique reference to many app-based solutions for problems which never really exists to begin with.
He also spoke about mini drones and their impact on retail. Retail 1.0 was about brick-and-mortar, Version 2 was about e-commerce and now Retail 3.0 is what he calls “Tathastu” – ask and we will deliver. In comparison, he likened Version 2 to an electronic typewriter. The Tathastu version will have all features imaginable – you can shop physically, activate through voice, app, call etc. just about any interface without any dearth of choices whatsoever.
They are pretty ruthless about data. Customer behavior is deconstructed methodically with the help of data, and heaps of it. He touched upon the heterogeneity of the Indian market which is best captured through 72 major festivals. At Future Group, they had created an almanac of sorts on India – its cultures, mythology and the likes. Both subjective and transactional data were used.
But, the consumer is changing very rapidly and sometimes in more ways than retailers can fathom. Packaged popcorn, recently introduced in stores, most surprisingly, clocked daily sales upwards of 1 lakh even surpassing the more common bhujia. This wasn’t their “gut feel” at the time but a subsequent revelation from data analysis. On being asked about the phenomenal success of Patanjali, he had no qualms about saying that they stored this brand as well. Perhaps Baba Ramdev’s incredible mass appeal was what it was all about.
Also on competition, especially 5 years hence, Kishore Biyani remained candid and remarked that competition was always welcome and not to be shied away from. He didn’t sound too upbeat about the idea of serving the “Bottom of the Pyramid.” In his opinion, there’s nothing at the bottom. A rural consumer on an average consumes only about 100 SKUs in a year; in comparison his urban counterpart consumes about 60 – 70 k SKUs annually. The returns were just not attractive enough to think big in those markets.
3 Key Challenges: Managing the speed of change; managing people who do not believe in you and making others believe in your vision, said Biyani majestically as he signed off.