Consumer centricity is a way of life at Allana Consumer Products: Milind Pingle
Allana Consumer Products is the Consumer Products Division of the Allana Group that deals in the B2B and B2C spaces and has a multi-faceted product portfolio. The B2C business deals with well-known brands like London Dairy premium ice-cream, Sunny, and Priya Refined Oils, Radhuni Palmolien, Allegro Olive Oil and Beyond Meat. In the B2B space, the company deals with Pristine range of bakery ingredients and a range of specialized Oils and Fats under the brand names of Alfa, Pristine and Lion.
In conversation with Adgully, Milind Pingle, CEO, Allana Consumer Products, speaks at length about the journey and growth of Allana brand ever since they started importing and distributing London Dairy in 2011 to how it has now expanded, the marketing strategy, growth seen during the pandemic period and much more.
How has the journey of Allana Consumer Products been since inception?
The journey started over a decade ago when the company started importing and distributing London Dairy in 2011. We then set up a world-class facility at Kalwa to develop and manufacture a range of bakery ingredients in 2012. In 2013, the company established a state-of-the-art refinery in Khopoli in Maharashtra to service the Edible Oils & Fats requirements of various customer segments in B2B and B2C. With the introduction of Allegro Olive Oil in 2017, the company made a foray into the premium Olive oil category in India. In 2021, we started distribution of the globally renowned plant-based meat Beyond Meat in India and have entered the ever-evolving vegan market in India.
With a strong R&D foundation, a core understanding of consumer needs and emerging global trends and an emphasis on quality and innovation, Allana Consumer Products aspires to grow it into a multifaceted and multiproduct Food conglomerate meeting customer expectation and developing long-term relationships with all stakeholders.
Could you share more details about the brand categories and product portfolio?
Allana Consumer Products services a wide range of customer segments, both in B2B and B2C space and is respected for its quality and customer service.
London Dairy ice creams have been in the country for over a decade and enjoy a significant loyalty amongst premium ice cream lovers across the country.
Sunny & Priya Refined Oils are the flagship Oil brands of the company which hold a significant stature in the premium & popular category of refined edible oil brands in Maharashtra.
Allegro is a range of our Spanish Olive Oil and is renowned in the gourmet category for its premium Extra Virgin and Extra Lite range of Olive oils.
Pristine is a global bakery specialist brand of cake mixes, Decors & Fillings and amongst the top three brands in the country.
We are distributors of Beyond Meat in India and with this latest offering, we have entered the emerging Plant Based meat category in India.
While we have a multi-faceted product portfolio in Foods, we at Allana Consumer Products continually strive to collaborate with our customers to create customised and differentiated products.
Who is your target audience and what are your Marketing strategies for them?
Allana Consumer Products has a play in both B2B and B2C sectors and caters to a wide range of customer segments. In the B2B segment, we are a supplier to several MNCs and domestic companies in the Industry & Food Services sector, where we supply our range of specialised Oils & Fats and Bakery Ingredients such as cake mixes, decors & glazes.
We partner with leading donut and waffle companies in the country. Pristine cake mixes are one of the most preferred cake mixes for bakers across the country. We also meet the requirements of several thousand artisan bakers through our Alfa and Pristine range of Bakery Fats, bakery Ingredients, etc. Extensive cooking demos, restaurant tie-ups and wet sampling drives outreach in the B2B segment.
Sunny, Priya, Radhuni, London Dairy, Allegro and Beyond Meat are our B2C brands.
Sunny and Priya range of edible oils are prominent Oil brands in Maharashtra, with a play in Premium and Popular categories. Sunny International Cooking Oil has Sonali Bendre as its brand ambassador. It has been an association that has lasted over 5 years. The brand is promoted with extensive Media support encompassing TV, Digital, Consumer Offers and On-ground activations. Sunny was a pioneer championing immunity way before it had become mainstream.
With London Dairy & Allegro, the brand reaches out to gourmet customers primarily in the Metro cities. Digital is a key medium for both the brands. With Beyond Meat, the company has made a foray into the Vegan category and reaches out to Vegans who want the best in the world at their doorsteps.
On-ground events help in building the stature of brands like Beyond Meat, London Dairy & Allegro and help us in delivering a quality brand experience which helps consumers in making informed choices.
How do you understand your consumers and their preferences?
Consumer centricity is a way of life at Allana Consumer Products and is the basis of all decision making in the organisation. We are constantly looking out for emerging trends in B2C space and invest in market research. In the B2B space, we identify need gaps of our customers that we can service well.
Our wide network of sales team, on-ground promoters and distributors are eyes and ears of the company providing us with regular feedback on what’s in and ticking. Our marketing team is also scanning the markets for opportunities in which we can play sustainably.
Allana Consumer Products has a well-equipped R&D, which is always on the look-out for cutting edge products in both domestic and international markets to develop products that will be differentiated and add value.
How are you overcoming the challenges of the pandemic situation? What changes did you observe in consumer behaviour?
We viewed the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen our business. Besides meeting Maharashtra’s demand for the essential category in edible oils, we also promoted Pristine cake mixes to thousands of home bakers who took to baking. As consumers expanded their culinary skills, we also saw a significant growth for Allegro Olive Oil and London Dairy. We have extensively worked on strengthening our E-Commerce presence which has grown significantly in the last two years. E-Commerce is now the fastest growing vertical in the company.
Some of the behaviour and consumption changes that we witnessed during the pandemic are as below:
Increasing health consciousness
‘Immunity’ as a brand promise gained more relevance since the inception of pandemic and has been picked up by a lot of cross-category brands in recent past. Our premium edible oil brand Sunny is promoted on grounds of immunity.
Adoption of healthier cooking oil
With the focus on health being more than ever, there is an increase in demand for specialised healthy oils and blends for culinary purpose.
More number of people cooking at home
With uncertainty regarding surface transmission, a lot of consumers who were eating out or ordering-in stopped doing so in the initial months.
Home baking came of age in India during the pandemic. People in the baking category are also on the lookout for healthy products (Sugar free, Gluten Free etc.) and the pandemic has fastened the adoption.
E-Commerce as a business contributing channel has grown exponentially since the inception of the pandemic. Whenever there was a lockdown, E-commerce sales spiked up. Even when the restrictions were lifted, the base of E-Commerce has certainly grown on a Y-O-Y level.
What are your views on the FMCG sector’s growth? Which factors are driving growth? What are the forthcoming trends in the FMCG sector in 2022?
The last couple of years have taught businesses to adapt to uncertainty and ambiguity. The experience has increased our resolve to succeed despite challenging scenarios by staying nimble footed, determined, and responding to challenges with a positive attitude.
The modern day consumer is more inquisitive about origins and environmental impact of the product. They are more conscious to claims made on authenticity and health and would want reasons to believe. These omni-channel consumers are comparing features and evaluating products from multiple platforms—starting from in-stores to official online websites to multiple e-commerce platforms.
Moreover, digitisation, improvisation, and innovation in home delivery system is ever evolving and will continue to undergo further changes. The e-commerce portals that deliver to their customers instantly are growing further and brands are willing to tie-up with them for the last mile connectivity. Even within those portals, there is a stiff competition as to who will deliver faster to the consumer.
As consumers are becoming digitally savvy; we as marketers must become digital-first in our approach. At Allana Consumer Products, there is a greater adoption of the E-Commerce channel in last 2 years and a trend that is slated to continue.
Sustainability is another area that merits our attention. In today’s era, brands that take care of the environment, have clearly articulated sustainable policies and clean labels, rank higher in the view of consumers.
Irrespective of all the changes, Allana Consumer Products believes in seeking a consumer-first approach. We closely follow changing consumer usage and attitudes and accelerate innovation across the value chain to flourish in the longer run.
We are looking to the future with optimism and are confident that the FMCG industry will continue its growth trajectory well into 2022.