“Creating a culture that fosters new ideas and constant innovation is a key to building a successful business”: Marico’s founder H Mariwala

Mumbai: Indian multinational consumer goods company Marico’s founder and Chairman Harsh Mariwala reckons that companies should place a greater emphasis on innovation when conducting business. Harsh Mariwala, speaking at the FICCI-FLO seminar ‘Right to Win,’ revealed that Marico’s three D2C brands have grown to a Rs 500 crore business.

“If we look at Marico’s brands, in every segment they are market leaders, and this is because the company has innovated or pioneered the segment,” said Mariwala. Marico now has operations in 25 countries across Asia and Africa. Since then, the company and its products have become a part of every Indian household.

While giving an example of Marico’s brand Parachute, Mariwala explained how its packaging was innovative. Mariwala said, “In a product like the Parachute, Marico constantly innovated in its packaging, Saffola was a pioneer in healthy edible oil, and so on. My belief in innovation is very high, and that’s why we started the Marico Innovation Foundation. I think if India has to succeed, innovation has to play a very important role.”

Mariwala believes that it is difficult to create a culture of innovation in businesses and it is the leadership to ensure that people in the organization experiment and take risks and remove the fear of failure. “Constant innovation and creating a culture that encourages new ideas are key to building a successful business,” he said.

He further added, “I realized the importance of innovation 20 years back, when I look back at our brands, they can have something different that has succeeded in the market. So, if you want to succeed in the marketplace, you have to innovate , not just to launch a product but also on a perpetual basis, because it is only a matter of time before others will start copying you.”

He also stressed how technology has influenced every business, even defensive sectors like FMCG. He gave the example of Mamaearth, which has emerged in the FMCG space. Before the advent of e-commerce and digital market initiatives, companies required a budget of Rs 20–30 crore just to launch a product with an all-India distribution network. According to Mariwala with the right approach, the industry should prioritize its digital initiatives and capitalize on this business growth opportunity.

While speaking on high standards of governance, Mariwala advised not to take shortcuts on compliance. “This is my advice to entrepreneurs of any size. Get the highest thrust on governance,” he said.

He believes once a promoter begins to compromise on compliance, the organization’s culture is destroyed. He believes it is critical for society and potential employees who are interested in governance. Furthermore, good governance and compliance pay off when a company is listed and commands a much higher price, he added.

Mariwala also emphasized the significance of identifying and cultivating talent. He believes that as India advances, talent will be scarce.

“Marico, which also owns brands such as Hair and Care, Nihar, and Livon, will continue to maintain a sharp focus on driving penetration and market share gains across its portfolios aided by distribution expansion, cost controls, and investment in market development and brand building,” Mariwala concluded.

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