This Is How Hershey India Has Doubled Its Top-line Growth In Two Years The company's recent initiatives in market strategy resulted in a notable expansion of its distribution network in India, says Geetika Mehta, Managing Director, Hershey India
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Being in the confectionery business for over 125 years, Hershey, has emerged as one of the global leaders in the space. What started as the founder Milton Hershey's love for confection soon transpired into a booming business idea. The founder established The Hershey Chocolate Company in 1894. By 1900, it sold its very first candy bar and now, its portfolio of brands has expanded beyond basics. The company entered the India market with its assortment of flavors with chocolates, candy and beverages. Today, Hershey in India has a diverse product portfolio encompassing chocolates, syrup, spreads, milkshake, confectionery, and plant-based drinks. "Our purpose of making more moments of goodness for our consumers, and our guiding philosophy of 'ambition greater than resources' has been instrumental in propelling Hershey India towards transformative growth and achieving top-tier performance," says Geetika Mehta, Managing Director, Hershey India.
In the last few years, the company has doubled top line growth, solidifying Hershey's brand position as a market leader in India. It now ranks first in syrup and second in chocolate spreads, with sustained growth and increasing market share in chocolates, syrup, spreads, and milkshake categories. "Looking ahead, we aim to sustain this momentum and envisage profitable company growth over the next few years. Our efforts have fortified go-to-market strategy and capabilities, resulting in a notable expansion of our distribution network," Mehta adds.
Understanding the nuances of Indian consumer behaviour is essential to ensure return on investments. With the onset of the festival season, the company is leveraging insights, "We know where our consumers are and what they are looking for. For instance, this understanding allows us to tap into India's prevalent gifting culture, especially during festive seasons, so we are successfully promoting our premium chocolates as ideal gifts for various celebrations," she explains. .
With a strong belief in inclusion, Hershey India has taken a significant step forward: Last year, for the first time, it introduced women on the factory shop floor, emphasizing its commitment to a diverse workplace. The wide-ranging initiatives rolled out at its manufacturing facility in Mandideep have helped move the diversity numbers in front line sales to double digits. From having no women working on the factory floor last year, the company now has 100 women employees working in the manufacturing facility. "This is one of my biggest achievements as a leader."
Mehta believes in a leadership style that's all about collaboration and inclusion, which is a necessity for both business and the economy. "I am committed to promoting inclusivity, fostering a culture of trust, and driving engagement and productivity. My leadership learning at Hershey has been about re-discovering the power of people. Every organization has a variety of resources that they use as a source of competition advantage - availability of capital, established distribution channels, product / process IPRs & patents, sourcing contracts etc. However, the central force that drives all these resources is the capability and drive of people working in it. When you put people first, everything else falls in place," the CEO quips.
To create lasting value for both shareholders and employees, the company is investing in research and development. "Investment fuels our ability to innovate and adapt our product offerings to align with evolving consumer preferences and market trends in India, keeping us ahead of the competition. We are also investing in our people. Training, mentorship, and career advancement opportunities are cornerstones of our commitment to our employees."
In the rapidly evolving and competitive business landscape, acquiring and retaining the right kind of talent is becoming increasingly complex. To address this challenge, the company has rolled out employee engagement programs aimed at nurturing a culture of learning, growth and inclusivity. With these programs in place, the employee retention rates have soared and the internal employee engagement scores have witnessed a significant upswing.
Being in a role that requires one to be agile and on toes all the time, a deeper knowledge of the world and people around, becomes important to continuously scale and upskill. To up the productivity game, the CEO spends time reading books and ensures she is learning, growing and expanding horizons. " I strongly believe that personal growth is not just confined to internal efforts. It's essential to actively engage with peers, mentors and thought leaders outside your organization. These external connections expose you to diverse perspectives, thereby enriching knowledge and broadening your skill set."