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Parag Milk Foods will focus on digital strategies: Akshali Shah

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Parag Milk Foods established in 1992, claims to be the largest private dairy FMCG Company with a Pan India presence. It has manufacturing facilities with in-house technology located at Manchar in Maharashtra, Palamaner in Andhra Pradesh, and Sonipat in Haryana. It explains that it sells 100% cow’s milk products. Its integrated business model and R&D capabilities have helped it innovate.

Its dairy farm, Bhagyalaxmi Dairy Farm houses more than 2,500 cows, with a mechanised milking process. Under the brand Gowardhan, it offers traditional products like Ghee, Dahi, Paneer etc. Under the brand name Go it offers products like Cheese, UHT Milk, Buttermilk, Lassi, Yoghurt etc.

Akshali Shah is currently Executive Director at Parag Milk Foods a private dairy player and manufacturer of the brands Gowardhan, GO, Topp up, Pride of Cows, Avvatar and Slurp. She has been spearheading innovation and strategy for new product development. In her current role, she is  involved in product innovation, branding, marketing and advertising strategy, category intelligence and competitive analysis.

She started as management trainee in the family led business which gave her cross functional exposure. This helped her gain first hand and practical experience about the sector. She spent her formative years in sales, brand management, customer marketing and understanding the dynamics of the business. She has been the torchbearer in identifying, building and implementing the concept of farm to table milk – Pride of Cows, premium quality milk. She has played a role in revamping the corporate identity of the company and has brought in new innovation in branding, public image, marketing and advertising strategy, sales campaigns and marketing metrics.

Her expertise in Information Technology & Digital Marketing has helped Parag Milk Foods enhance their overall brand visibility on social media and build a strong digital presence.  Under her leadership, Parag Milk Foods has developed a strong brand recall and engagement with its end consumers,

She has been instrumental in the journey of transformation from being a Dairy to an FMCG company with product innovation focusing on health & nutrition.

She loves to travel and explore new destinations, a quality that she has inherited from her father. This the company said has helped her understand global trends in the dairy industry and design products which suit Indian palates.

Medianews4u.com caught up with Parag Milk Foods Executive Director Akshali Shah to find out more.

Q. When it comes to dairy products, how have the needs and expectations of consumers evolved over the past few years?

In recent years, Parag Milk Foods has observed a significant shift in consumer preferences within the dairy sector. From non-branded dairy products (unorganised market) to branded dairy products, there’s now a noticeable inclination towards branded items. Today’s consumers are more cautious and are actively seeking information about the source of the dairy products they consume while carefully examining labels for ingredients and quality assurances.

Parag Milk Foods has been always committed to meeting these evolving demands by emphasizing on quality, purity and freshness. We are always transparent in our approach and ensure our offerings uphold the highest standards of quality and authenticity. We understand the importance of cultivating trust with our customers and being committed to delivering nutritional dairy products that meet and surpass their expectations in terms of taste, nutrition, and reliability.

Q. What is Parag Milk Foods’ game plan in 2024 to grow the consumer base, sales, and profit?

We are focussed on enhancing our distribution network by 2027 to garner more reach and visibility. We aim to significantly increase our retail touchpoints from 4.5 lakhs to 15 lakhs, ensuring wider availability of our products to meet growing consumer demands. Moreover, our commitment to innovation entails the development of value-added offerings across our brands, aligning with market trends.

Parag Milk Foods will focus on digital strategies: Akshali Shah - Dairy News 7X7

Q. Where are the whitespace areas for the company for growth?

There are several whitespace areas for growth, including distribution and value-added products. As mentioned above, we are expanding our distribution network across the globe.

As innovation plays an important role for us, our strong R&D team is working on various new product categories. For example, we are expanding our Gowardhan Ghee brand extension with the launch of various Indian traditional mithais like kesar pedha, mysore pak, kaju katli, malai petha, and kaju pista roll, to name a few.

As consumers evolve and there is a significant rise in the fitness industry, the demand for good quality protein has also risen. To meet this growing demand for protein-rich food products, we are offering desi flavors in whey protein like malai kulfi and mango rush. In the brand Avvatar, we have seen great consumer acceptance for these Indianised flavours. Avvatar is India’s first 100% vegetarian whey protein brand and is the first-ever brand in India to achieve Trustified Gold Certification. This recognition highlights Avvatar’s commitment to offering the best quality and transparency standards in the wellness and health sector.

With our premium Farm-to-home brand, Pride of Cows, and its product offerings like whole milk, ghee, curd, paneer, and fat-free milk, we are expanding our footprint to newer metros like Bangalore. We are now present in seven cities: Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Surat, Vadodara, Bangalore, and Ahmedabad.

Our continued investment in the development of value-added products allows us to cater to changing consumer preferences and enhance our product portfolio, further strengthening our competitive position in the market. By focusing on these whitespace areas, we aim to drive sustainable growth and capture new opportunities in the food industry landscape.

Q. Could you talk about Avvatar and why sustainable and ethical dairy farming practices are important?

We strategically introduced Avvatar, India’s first 100% vegetarian whey protein, as part of our vision to become a leading dairy FMCG company dedicated to health and nutrition through innovation. Avvatar addresses the increasing demand for premium whey protein and evolving consumer preferences in the health and fitness sector, assisting Indians in meeting their daily protein needs with the highest quality standards. Manufacturedin India, from our farm to your shaker, 100% fresh and pure. Avvatar aligns with our commitment to sustainability and ethical practices throughout our value chain.

We understand the critical role dairy producers play in ensuring the safety and quality of raw milk to meet the highest expectations of the food industry and consumers. Sustainability is integrated into every aspect of our operations, aiming to create long-term value for all stakeholders. Our vision is to be a leading technology-driven FMCG dairy company that empowers stakeholders and launches innovative, healthy, and sustainable products for various consumer segments.

We implement sustainable practices at every step in our supply chain to reduce our ecological footprint, focusing on reducing carbon emissions and optimizing waste management. Furthermore, our social responsibility extends to the holistic well-being of our farmers, employees, distribution partners, and the community. By prioritising sustainability and ethical practices, we not only deliver superior products but also contribute to a healthier environment and society.

Q. You launched milkshakes a few years back. This category is very competitive. What progress has been made so far?

The GO Milkshake range is developed keeping in mind the requirements of a modern family who can have a thick and tasty drink on the go, without the hassle of making a milkshake. The drink has optimum calorie content that appeals to children and adults alike. Our aim is to capture 10-15 per cent market share in the India Flavoured Milk.

Q. In terms of marketing activities that Parag Milk Foods will do, what is on the horizon in 2024?

Our focus will be on prioritising impact-led marketing initiatives while placing a significant emphasis on digital strategies. We recognise the power of impactful storytelling to engage consumers and drive positive change, and as such, our marketing efforts will revolve around leveraging our brand’s values and commitments to make a meaningful difference.

Digital marketing will continue to be central to our approach, enabling us to extend our reach and communicate our brand message effectively to a broader audience. Through innovative digital campaigns, our aim is to bolster brand awareness, stimulate consumer engagement, and cultivate deeper connections with our target demographic.

Parag Milk Foods will focus on digital strategies: Akshali Shah - Dairy News 7X7

Q. Will your marketing spend increase this year and if so to what extent?

The marketing spend typically ranges from 1-3% of our revenue, we recognise the importance of strategic investment in marketing initiatives to support our growth objectives. In line with our expansion plans and focus on reaching new consumers, we anticipate a moderate increase in our marketing spend this year. However, the extent of this increase will be carefully evaluated to ensure optimal allocation of resources and maximum effectiveness of our marketing efforts. We will optimise the budget and balance traditional as well as digital medium to give 360-degree holistic approach. Our goal is to strike the right balance between driving brand awareness, engaging with consumers, and maximizing return on investment, ultimately contributing to the sustainable growth and success of the organization.

Q. What role is AI playing for the company when it comes to things like predicting sales, and enhancing operational efficiency?

Technology has become an integral part of any business these days. For the dairy industry as well, technology has become the backbone. To take our business to new heights, we have implemented SAP HANA and Sales Force Automation DMS. These systems have streamlined our processes and increased productivity.

Q. The company started its ‘Garv se Gowardhan Ghee’ campaign in 2023. How has this been received so far and how will it be built upon this year?’

The ‘Garv se Gowardhan Ghee’ campaign, initiated in 2023, has been positively received thus far. The “Garv se Gowardhan” campaign is more than just an advertisement; it’s a celebration of the love and pride that goes into every dish we prepare. Gowardhan Ghee understands the significance of food in our lives and how it brings families together.

Building upon this success, our focus for this year is to delve deeper into the culinary process and showcase the pride associated with cooking. We aim to highlight the inherent pride in crafting daily meals, emphasizing the quality and tradition behind Gowardhan Ghee. Through this campaign, we strive to further connect with our audience and reinforce the brand’s values of quality, authenticity, and pride in every kitchen.

Q. Is digital the main focus for the company when it comes to marketing because it is cost effective?

Marketing strategies across our brands are tailored to suit each brand’s needs. While digital platforms play a significant role, particularly for brands like Pride of Cows and Avvatar, our approach isn’t solely focused on digital. Instead, we employ a balanced mix of traditional and new-age media channels, depending on each brand’s strategy and target audience.

For brands like Go and Gowardhan, a combination of digital and traditional marketing avenues is utilized to maximize reach and engagement, ensuring an effective and holistic marketing approach. We use new-age mediums like influencer marketing to promote our digital-heavy brands like Pride of Cows and Avvatar.

Parag Milk Foods will focus on digital strategies: Akshali Shah - Dairy News 7X7

Q. On TV does the main focus rest on tentpole properties like ‘KBC’ and on GECs?

While tentpole properties may receive more attention and resources due to their importance in driving viewership and advertising revenue, GECs also maintain a balance by offering a diverse range of programming to cater to different audience preferences throughout the da recognize the importance of catering to varied audience interests and preferences. Our approach is to embrace this diversity and align our strategies accordingly, ensuring that our offerings resonate with viewers across the spectrum of television content.”

 

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Q. Does the company spread its ad budget across the year or do you focus a lot more during the festive season? At Parag Milk Foods, we understand the importance of strategic allocation of our advertising budget throughout the year. While we maintain a consistent presence in the market to sustain brand visibility and engagement, we also recognise the significance of leveraging opportunities during festive seasons when consumer sentiment and purchasing behaviour are heightened. Our approach involves striking a balance between maintaining year-round visibility and amplifying our efforts during key festive periods. This ensures that we maximise impact and effectively connect with our audience while optimising resource utilisation for long-term brand growth.

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