Marico to use e-commerce sites

To test market niche brands ahead of launch

When it comes to prototyping a new product, Marico has decided to use e-commerce sites as a test marketing platform. The company ‘pre-launched’ hair wax from Set Wet through the e-commerce route, almost four to six weeks ahead of formally launching the product in the general and modern trade.

Sameer Satpathy, EVP and Business Head, Marico India said: “E-commerce sites are a great way to figure out if the product is going to work. We want to put this channel to work, and create a new business out of it. Currently, sales from e-commerce sites are negligible for the company, but we are keeping a close watch and would be experimenting on it with respect to our niche products.’’

New vistas

Even for its niche products, the company is exploring distribution through e-commerce sites.

Niche brands like Livon hair gain, and Bio Oil are expected to use this channel to reach out to far flung markets such as the North-East, where the company may not have a robust distribution network.

As Satpathy said, “There are many consumers in places like Guwahati who may want to try out our niche brands, like Livon hair gain, but may not be able to buy it, as it may not be well distributed in the region. For niche and high value products, the concept of e-commerce works, as it does not entail the scattered conventional distribution model. For some of our niche brands, we have managed to get almost 7-8 per cent sales through the e-commerce channel.’’

Greater impact

Even in markets like the US, Marico has been known to peddle its flagship brand of Parachute on Amazon. “Unlike in India, Parachute is treated as a niche brand in the US, and Amazon is known to sell it through its site,” said Satpathy. In India, however, Marico prefers to sell its niche brands through market sites like Flipkart and grocery portals.

Marico has also been resorting to social media on the internet to build equity for some of its Parachute variants, like Parachute Ayurvedic oil for hair loss.

“When friends recommend a product on social media, it has a greater impact than on television. However, television is still going to be a preferred channel for marketers in fast moving consumer goods, and spends on the digital space are still minuscule, as compared to television,” he added.