If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got –
Innovation is quite often the backbone of development of not just a brand but an economy as a whole. With growing globalization of ideas and increased expectations of customers, brands today have had to think outside the box of their operations to consistently rope in innovative methods and ideologies to propel their growth. For a country, this kind of innovation leads to a superior level of economic growth due to increased efficiency and productivity which is vital in putting their economy on the map as an emerging economy.
The food retailing industry in India is, perhaps, the fastest growing sector in the Indian economy, touted to be valued at USD 827 billion by 2023, and growing at a CAGR of 9.23%. Owing to the growing disposable incomes in the middle class segment of the population, the Indian food retailing industry is, today, one of the fastest growing in the world. Another cause of the rapid growth of the segment is the digital penetration that has brought segments like e-retailing and omni-channel players, into the spotlight.
The perspective of looking at innovation has evolved from being brand-centric to consumer-centric. With the increasing influence of digital media on the buyers, they are more aware of innovations in the segment from across the world, and thereby, have higher expectations. Retailers, therefore, have had to go beyond the traditional form of retail outlets, and bring in technological advancements into the very format of retailing. With the ever-increasing popularity of social media and e-commerce apps, customers today are more aware and critical about physical retail spaces. More than product innovation, factors like customer service, flexibility of choices, and convenience of shopping, have taken prominence. It is in these factors that innovation needs to play a key role, today.
Indian retailers use a plethora of new technology to create opportunities for customers to engage with them, more freely, and at a faster pace. With the popularity of formats like food delivery through online portals, restaurants and grocery chains have access to catering to wider audiences, which were initially untapped. This has led to the popularity of an omni-channel strategy among retailers, to sell more of their products and services. Thus, for a developing country like India, this kind of innovation has brought in substantial growth through the expansion of the market size.
Additionally, with a renewed focus on the convenience of buying, from the customer’s perspective, and the growth of e-retailers, physical brick-and-mortar retail outlets have found new locations for growth, especially in the travel segment. What once was a small industry is, today, a substantial part of the economy, with the travel retail segment witnessing exponential growth within the past decade. India, with its diverse culture, has become a hotspot for tourism, both domestic and international. As a result, retailers have capitalised on this phenomenon by setting up retail outlets in travel hubs like airports, railway stations, highways, and more.
The food retail industry in India has today, evolved into a mature and organised conglomerate, that has permeated into various other sectors of the economy. Be it in airport, movie theatres, or more, the retail food industry has leveraged innovation, not only in technology, but also in newer business models, encouraged by the growing and changing customer preferences. In the next few years, innovation will undoubtedly continue to be at the centre of this transformation, with the consolidation of existing players, and the launch of many more new brands, stores, and modes of business, in the market.
By Gaurav Dewan, COO and Business Head, Travel Food Services