Amit Burman Seeks To Reinvent Dabur By Going Rural
Businessworld|August 3, 2019

Dabur under Amit Burman is betting on deeper rural penetration, product innovation and a focus on naturals and ayurveda to power its next leg of growth

Jyotsna Sharma

Critics say that India is no longer the “only bright spot” in a gloomy world economic environment. The slowdown in the economy is for real. Auto sales are at a historical low. Even sectors like FMCG have been hit.

The FMCG growth is declining — both in urban and rural areas. A Nielsen report of July says that while lower spending in urban centres is the cause, it’s the sluggish rural growth (rural India accounts for 37 per cent of India’s FMCG spends) that has accounted for the FMCG slowdown.

The April-June period saw the third consecutive quarter of FMCG slowdown. The Nielsen report thus revised its growth forecast for the sector to 9-10 per cent from its earlier estimate of 11-12 per cent for the year.

It’s interesting that against this backdrop, Dabur — one of India’s oldest FMCG companies — has its youngest chairman Amit Burman at the helm, who, at 50, has been given the mandate for pushing the growth agenda with a renewed vigour for the Rs 8,500-crore conglomerate.

The ‘Real’ Story In the Dabur fraternity, Burman’s name is synonymous with the Real juice success story. Dabur ventured into this territory when there were no players. Today, Real is the undisputed leader in this domain, and Burman is credited with conceiving, nurturing the brand and making it a category leader.

Initially, the juice packs had ‘Dabur’ and ‘Real’ logos. But such was the success of the Real brand that the Dabur logo became smaller, and was eventually taken off, says Burman during an interaction with BW Businessworld at his palatial Kautilaya Marg house in the national capital.

Under Burman, Dabur has identified Real juice, Amla hair oil, Vatika shampoo and five other products to power its next-generation growth.

Long Legacy Promoted by the Burman family, Dabur, the 135-year-old ayurvedic company, started operations in 1884 as an ayurvedic medicine company. Today, it has a portfolio of over 250 herbal/ayurvedic products and is the world leader in ayurveda. It is also the market leader in the packaged fruit juice category with its Real brand. The other Dabur products that are market leaders are Chyawanprash, Honey, Odomos mosquito repellent creams, Odonil air fresheners and Fem facial bleach.

Competition Galore Dabur has many competitors in its domain — Lever, ITC, Patanjali, to name a few. With every home care and personal care product seeking to ride the ayurvedic boom, the competition will only grow in the days to come. For instance, a Colgate offers Vedshakti to counter Dabur’s herbal offering in the toothpaste category.

But Dabur insiders aver it always has the first-mover advantage along with its vast rural network that one can only envy.

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