Kao Group which was incepted in the year 1887, has recently collaborated with Mitsui & Co. to launch its baby diaper brand ‘Merries’ in India. Mommy & Baby Times (MBT) had an exclusive interaction with Mr. Ryota Ogawa, Manager, Public Relations, Kao Group, delving in about the recent entry in the Indian market, its functional mechanism and its global market presence. Excerpts from the interview:
September 19, 2018
MBT: What favorable factors made you enter the Indian baby care market?
Ryota Ogawa (RO): With our vision to “make Kao a company with a global presence,” Kao Group is actively working to expand its overseas business. We regard the Indian market as extremely valuable, and we have been conducting rigorous studies to strengthen our understanding of this market. With Mitsui & Co., Ltd. as our partner in this market, we would sell our baby diapers on Amazon India on the digital platform.
MBT: You already have a market presence in many Asian countries like China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand etc. How do you find the Indian diaper industry different from these countries?
RO: The Kao Group is currently selling its products in about 100 countries and regions. Our baby diapers are sold in around 30 countries and regions, including India and the eight markets mentioned by you. As 25 million babies are born in India every year, we view this market with a huge potential for growth in the baby diaper market. We are finally making our long-awaited entry into the Indian market.
MBT: How do you plan to strengthen the presence of your brand “Merries” in India?
RO: Our first and foremost priority is to extensively market and promote “Merries,” which is manufactured in Japan, as a premium brand in the Indian baby care market. We are thoroughly engaged in the planning and promotions of the same.
MBT: What technology do you use for Merries and how do they stand out from other diaper brands?
RO: Kao’s baby diaper brand, “Merries,” is preferred by many customers worldwide. These are highly reliable, in terms of the basic functions of diapers, such as high absorbency and in leakage prevention. They are extremely gentle on the baby’s skin and that is an added strength of the product. Since its launch in Japan in 1983, “Merries” has continuously been improving as a result of our endless pursuit to provide a product with “gentleness to the baby’s skin.” Also, to mention, in the surveys conducted overseas, “Merries” has received exceptionally high ratings, compared to its competitors, in aspects including long-lasting dryness, softness of the fabric, and prevention of diaper rashes.
MBT: You have joined hands with Mitsui & Co. to enter into the Indian diaper industry. Can you brief us up a bit about your alliance?
RO: We have discerned that Mitsui & Co. has an excellent knowledge of the Indian market, and their investment activities and dynamic networks in India might prove very beneficial for our business expansion in the Indian market. We have thus reached a partnership agreement recently.
MBT: What are Kao group’s mid-term K20 goals?
RO: The Kao group has established mid term plan K20 targeting the four years from FY2017 to FY 2020 as a significant milestone towards achieving its vision by the year 2030.
We have three paramount commitments as our K20 goals:
• Commitment to fostering a distinctive corporate image.
• Commitment to “profitable growth”. We would aim for like-for-like net sales CAGR of more than 5%, with an operating margin of 15% and continuing to set the high records in terms of profits.
• Commitment to return to stakeholders.
MBT: You have a wide portfolio of product range other than diapers. What future growth do you see in the global diaper industry vis a vis growth in your porfolio’s other products’ industry?
RO: The Kao Group develops its consumer products business for the general consumers in four of its business fields: Chemical; Cosmetics, Skin Care and Hair Care; Human Health Care; Fabric and Home Care. In our Chemical Business, we continually strive to develop an elaborate range of chemical products that meet the various needs of industry. We believe that it is through these businesses that we can contribute to the wholehearted satisfaction and enrichment of the lives of people throughout the world.
MBT: We learnt that Kao Corporation has been ranked 24th overall in the Thomson Reuters Diversity & Inclusion Index. Many congratulations! What is the key to this consistent growth and success?
RO: We firmly believe that the vitality engendered by diversity can create new value for the society. Reflecting this attitude, the company aims to create an organizational environment that recognizes the diverse personalities and perspectives of each employee, and in which all the employees are able to develop their passions and capabilities to the maximum possible extent. In future, the Kao Group intends to put even greater effort into promoting diversity, inclusion and strive to enhance its corporate value by creating unique and innovative value for the society.