Saugata Gupta who joined the company in 2004 as the head of marketing, became the chief executive officer of the India business in 2007. He is credited with leading the company’s remarkable growth.

In 2016, The soft­spoken Saugata Gupta, who was set to begin his third year as Marico’s chief, said that one must reinvent every three to five years, keep investing in one’s capabilities and shun complacency and arrogance. This, he says, is a must for if you don’t invest in capability and try to grow at a fast pace, things will not work out as planned.

Quick Note- Scroll down to the summing it up section to get a summary of this period.

FY16

Q1 saw 98% portfolio gaining market share, copra prices started falling rapidly and they could not take any pricing action. Q2 saw Saffola being muted, 3 big initiatives were taken to turn around the brand. They carried out efforts to secure higher volume growth by plowing back a significant portion. Deo portfolio is getting back on track with Hair fall emerging as a big area. Q4 was finally ended with an aggressive stance on pricing in terms of price cuts, along with a strong investment plan behind innovation and price point packs so that they continue to maintain 8% to 10% volume growth. The New Saffola strategy also started playing out well.

FY17

After two successful deflationary cycles in the past 4-years, we are for the first time successfully encountered a deflationary cycle which got further compounded by a consumption downturn.

Q2FY17 – parachute pricing mistake. It was a bad judgment call in hindsight and good learning for us in terms of taking a price increase only when the actual event occurred as against anticipating it. To put it simply we will avoid premature price increase calls in the future but will continue to take price reduction call proactively.

Q3FY17 – The overall impact of demonetization – The biggest impact was in November; recovery started in December with further improvement in January. Things should be completely normal over this quarter.

FY18

We believe as a company, we underestimated the GST transition impact and could have been a little better prepared. In 2016-2017, the full-year growth in Parachute was 4% and this year is 2.2%. I don’t think there is a structural change. If you look at 2016-2017, there were two aberrations. In Q2, we had taken an unprecedented price increase and the copra market did not go up and Q3 was a quarter of demonetization. This year again, we had two such quarters, -8.5% in Q1 and -5% in Q4. Foods 125 cr. plus.

big bets over the next years are Modern trade and E-commerce. As regards urban, I think we have a job to do in the chemist, cosmetic, and specialty food outlets. In rural, we will continue to expand on a regular basis as a part of our long-term strategy and focus on price point packs there.

In the last 4-5 years, we have invested behind capability and initiatives in IT and other areas. We want to now sweat this and also ensure that we get economies of scale.

FY19

In the domestic business, while Parachute, Saffola Oils, Foods, and Premium Hair Nourishment did well, Value-Added Hair Oils and Male Grooming disappointed, which I will address subsequently. We continue to bring new offerings to the market in Foods and Male Grooming and also forayed into premium skincare. We shall continue with the same fervor on investments, which increased by 29% this quarter and focus on innovation in the coming year in our bid to create categories of the future.

At a full-year level, the brand has delivered 8% volume growth. We believe brand recovery is still WIP and may take one or two quarters before we up the volume growth guidance to a consistent double-digit.

E-com is now around 4% of India’s business topline.

Bangladesh, a significant portion of the volume growth is happening because of the diversification of the business. A few years ago, our non-Parachute business was 10%, today it is 30%. So, the entire thing is because of diversification.

FY20

Three-pronged strategy in VAHO over the medium term, gaining market share in the premium segment led by Aloe Vera and dry fruit oil, where we have seen healthy traction at the top end. Saffola continues its healthy run thanks to pantry loading. Given the increased awareness towards health, Saffola seems to find itself in a sweet spot.

Will reduce investments in these categories and channel energies towards aggressive share gain in core categories along with a focus on health hygiene and nutrition.

Covid effects on Consumer behavior – The rising consciousness towards Health, Hygiene, and the need to boost immunity. High incidence of in-home cooking or gravitation towards healthy ready to cook and ready to eat. Cut back on discretionary categories during the rather prolonged macro slowdown. Consumers are likely to be more value-seeking but will still prefer trusted leader brands. And lastly, further acceleration in online shopping and online media consumption and the recovery and the growth of the Kirana.

This is the time to actually ensure that the existing loyal households continue to get Saffola and consume Saffola. I can tell you from my own experience. The number, the consumption in terms of eating at home has actually more than doubled. And therefore, your existing household’s consumption is likely to get doubled. Obviously, we have capacity constraints, which we are trying to unlock. And therefore, it makes much more sense to drive growth in the large packs. This is not the time to drive the penetration of small packs in Saffola. But to ensure that your existing loyal households who are consuming much more get their Saffola.

FY21

Having gained 200 basis points in volume share on a MAT basis, which is one of the highest in the last four years, Marico’s volume market share in VAHO stands at 37%.

Saffola edible oils have delivered 17% growth. The brand has grown in double digits for the sixth consecutive year undeterred by the strong brace and price hikes to the tune of 30% in H2.

The continued rise of more than 20% in key edible oil prices in March had necessitated pricing intervention in April. We have therefore taken further price hikes of 15% to 20% in two rounds of pricing in April as well. Given the growth has not let up even after substantial price hikes to the extent of 50% in Saffola from October 2020 to April 2021, we believe this is evidence of the extent of pricing power that the brand commands.

We will continue to choose to sustain volume growth and franchise expansion over short-term margin since we are in the midst of a great volume and market share growth momentum.

Significantly reduced distributor holding and today the distributor holding is maybe at 2015-2016 levels. In addition to that, we have rationalized 26% of the SKUs, and also with the automation, we have done in the supply chain, our total holding whether it is in the depot or at the distributor end, both have been significantly reduced and we expect to maintain this in the following because one of the things we have learned last year is the magic of simplicity and reduction of complexity.

Summing it up

Value creation was carried out at Marico both through the balance sheet and P&L.

We clearly see how Marico managed its working capital days. From 31 days in FY16 to 17 days in FY21. And also managed its inventory days well.

The above images (Credits to Motilal Oswal) clearly show that their Domestic volumes, Parachute volumes, Saffola Volumes, and VAHO Volumes are scaling new peaks! But before we go ahead of ourselves, FMCG was a critical sector and hence it operated at good utilization and consumers also did pantry stocking meaning they bought more (Notice how the growth started picking up from March 2020 quarter in a big way!). For instance – Healthy foods were preferred, branded goods were preferred and 2x-3x of usual buying was done as goods shortages were there at the start. Instead of 1 month, people bought for 3-6 months also!

Hence Saffola brand did well which is in Edible oil and Healthy oil. Parachute also did well as the unbranded unorganized players had major problems due to being having not-so-good supply chains. Volume growth hence was good because of all this.

Does this hold constant for future quarters is a key monitorable because in the past the brand did have volume growth problems for VAHO, Saffola and Parachute! And we have already covered that out of 24 guidances that the management made since Q1FY16, they met only 9 of them, 8 of them weren’t met and 6 of them were met partially. So that is an average track record of meeting the set targets.

Volume Growths –

Digital brands

Feb 2021 – Foray into noodles

According to some brokerages – Instant noodles are a Rs 6000 Cr category. Marico is participating in the premium-end, which is 10% of the category. Oodles was a sensible product adjacency as the Saffola brand targets a niche-premium consumer base looking for healthier options to snack in-between meals.

Q1FY22

  • Saffola Oodles is amongst the top 5 selling Pasta and Noodle brands on Amazon
  • MealMaker Soya Chunks already has a 14% market share in Modern Trade with national availability

July 2021

Marico enters into an agreement to buy a 60% stake (52.4% by July-21 and 7.6% by Mar-23) in Apcos Naturals (Apcos) that owns “Just Herbs”, a beauty & personal care brand. The company was incorporated in Nov 2018 and achieved a turnover of Rs175mn in FY21 and Rs80mn in FY20. The brand sells ayurvedic-driven, masstige skin, and hair care products made from certified organic ingredients. All its products are certified by the Ministry of Ayush, GOI. The majority of sales are through the company’s own D2C website. Its products are also available on other online marketplaces and its exclusive offline stores in select cities. This was in line with Marico’s intent to invest in and nurture digital-first brands.