Unicharm India, the subsidiary of Japanese multinational Unicharm Corporation, began its business trajectory in India in 2008 with the range of baby disposable diapers-Mamy Poko Pants. At present, Unicharm India is functioning in baby disposable diaper category, feminine care category as well as adult diaper category and it has recently started a manufacturing facility in Sanand, Gujarat. Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Director at Unicharm India, shares the Unicharm growth story and takes us through how the company has increased its production capacity domestically in an exclusive interview with Mommy & Baby Times (MBT).
June 27, 2019
MBT: This year marks the 11th year of Unicharm in the Indian market which is an incredible milestone, would you please take us through the business journey of Unicharm India?
Vijay Chaudhary: Unicharm India has its inception in the Indian market from 2008 and as a matter of fact, I had joined Unicharm India in the very same year. As a result, I have actually witnessed the growth of the company in India right from the pilot phase itself and my professional path is concomitant with that of Unicharm India. The company initially started with selling ‘Mamy Poko Pants’ here in the Indian market and is now operating in the baby disposable diaper category- Mamy Poko, feminine care category- Sofy and adult diaper category- Lifree. With time, we have gradually expanded our presence by establishing regional offices all across the country.
Our flagship product-Mamy Poko was quite innovative for the Indian consumers which was launched in June 2009 as the first pant style diapers in India. It has been voted as the Product of the Year in 2017 & the winner of Mother & Baby Award for three years in a row (2016, 2017 and 2018). We have earned the trust of Indian parents and we strive to present incredible value to them through our products in a consistent way.
MBT: Have you made any changes in the marketing and distribution strategies that you had adopted while entering the Indian market in 2008?
VC: When we started our business, the chief goal and premise that we had was to bring the kind of products to India which can prove useful in making the lives of the consumers easier and better. We discerned that we should begin with introducing Mamy Poko Pants – The First pant style diapers in the Indian market. Since the very start, the Mamy Poko products have been based on advance innovation and we have received favourable response in terms of Indian consumer preferences along with our sturdy distribution network. We organize various awareness generation campaigns designed for mothers to educate them about the benefits of diaper usage and baby hygiene in general. Thus, such type of strategies has differentiated us from the established players operating in the Indian market since 2008.
“We have developed and will be developing products that are ahead of the market… It is quite remarkable to consider that India has been a leading market for Unicharm for the last few years and continues to be on top priority.”
MBT: What are the significant distinctive features that you have perceived in the Indian baby care market in these ten years?
VC: The size of the baby care market in India has augmented at a rapid pace since a decade now. However, the Indian baby care market has shown tremendous growth backed by increase in awareness of standardized baby care products, surging disposable income due to rising working population, along with growing number of nuclear families. Moreover, technological advancements and emergence of online platform among the parents to shop online has further intensified the boom in baby care products.
The external environment changes rapidly with time, and the customer needs in terms of baby care products are becoming increasingly sophisticated and diversified. Quick to capture these needs, we have developed and will be developing products that are ahead of the market, utilizing nonwoven fabric and absorbent material processing and moulding techniques that we have developed over the years since our foundation. It is quite remarkable to consider that India has been a leading market for Unicharm for the last few years and continues to be on top priority.
MBT: Considering that Unicharm Corp. has business operations in more than 80 nations, what do you feel about the industry growth in the Asian market as compared to the Europe and other regions of the globe?
VC: Though it is quite evident that European market is much developed when compared to the Asian market which is still in the growing stage. However, the rate of growth is tremendous in Asia, particularly in the baby care sector and there is a combination of various factors which is fueling this growth.
A perceptible rise in the awareness amongst the consumers regarding personal hygiene and the increasing number of working women and a rise in income are some of the trends responsible for this noted growth in the market. The Indian market, in particular, has shown significant changes in terms of consumers’ preferences, brand awareness, buying behaviour and so on.
MBT: Can you elaborate little bit on the manufacturing facilities that you have in India?
VC: We have three manufacturing facilities in India, the first one is in Neemrana, and another one in Sricity and the third one is in Sanand which is an industrial area near Ahmedabad, out of which currently Sricity and Sanand factories are operational. In Sanand, we have the largest manufacturing unit for India which is spread over almost 3 lakh sq m where we had started the operations from 2018. This production unit manufactures the three brands of Unicharm India- Mamy Poko, Sofy and Lifree. We are exporting to some of the surrounding countries as well. We’ve a distribution network of more than 1000 all over the nation.
MBT: Unicharm has been actively involved with the (CSR) campaign of bringing ground-level change as it has been running various educational programs to inculcate hygiene-awareness. What do you feel about the impact you have been able to create?
VC: We are driven by the need to spread and inculcate the awareness around healthcare and hygiene and to honour this commitment, we keep on organizing awareness campaigns around this idea. Our core philosophy “NOLA & DOLA” (Necessity of Life with Activities & Dreams of Life with Activities), contains our hope that we can provide products and services to new-born babies to the elderly. Our CSR is manifested by our commitment to achieve this aspiration through our business activities and to help resolve social issues in the process.
To give a glimpse, our CSR team conducted an awareness event on mother and baby care in 2018 which aimed at sensitizing pregnant and lactating women on maternal and child healthcare. Apart from that, there is ‘Namaste Pokochan’ which is an awareness generation campaign specially ideated for slums to educate mothers about the benefits of diaper usage and baby hygiene in general. As a result, we have been able to enlighten 3 lakhs+ mothers across 8 cities in the last 4 years so far. Also, Mamy Poko had announced an online Mommy community, #SheCaresSheShares aimed at celebrating the spirit of motherhood. We ensure that we will always stand tall to the beliefs and pledges that we have taken in respect to our employees, shareholders, associates, business partners and the society at large.
“We have three manufacturing facilities in India… In Sanand, we have the largest manufacturing unit for India which is spread over almost 3 lakh sq m… We’ve a distribution network of more than 1000 all over the nation.”
MBT: What are your insights on Mommy & Baby Fair 2019?
VC: Mommy & Baby Fair is a very good initiative and we are quite hopeful that it would be a great opportunity for all the manufacturers and the suppliers to come together and showcase their product range. It would also be very informative and insightful in terms of showing the different innovations and the advent of different innovative products across the globe.