'Innovation is not an Option, It's a Requirement'

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It's mandatory for companies — big and small — to constantly keep up with the changing trends and economic scenarios. Even veteran brands cannot sustain without a touch of innovation to their existing business models every now and then.

Landmark Group

In an interview to the Entrepreneur India on the sidelines of Qwikcilver Gift Conclave in Bangalore, Rajeev Krishnan, Managing Director and CEO at SPAR India/Hyper Markets, expounded his views on the topic

Shopping Is Not A Process, It's An Experience

Stressing on the dire need for brands to focus on innovation, Krishnan said, "I think innovation is not an option, it's a requirement. Landmark Group started out with a baby product store in the Middle East and today it's a $5 billion company. That only happens when you continuously keep looking around to see how can you be different and who are your new customers – that's an easy question to ask but a difficult one to answer."

Krishnan explained that the one term "customers' actually stands for a complex group of people. "I have always strongly believed that you have to innovate because shopping is not a process, it's an experience. One or two hours of your precious schedule that you are spending in shopping should be worth it and you should have a good time, chilling out," he said.

He believes that it's important for brands to focus on the emotional quotient of the customer experience.

Krishnan has 30 years of experience in global retail and consumer background with a 21-year stint in the US and later nine years in India, working with big names like Target, Wal-Mart & McKinsey. His experience has helped him shape up his rich global customer knowledge and acquire expertise in the retail domain.

He was also the Executive Vice-President and Business Head, retail operations, for India at Bharti Retail, which was part of the Bharti Wal-Mart joint venture.

Impact Of Online Retail Boom

Krishnan does not consider online retail as a competition for his group. "Anytime something new comes in, there is always a hype....Has it taken off? Absolutely! But is it 90 per cent of the business? NO. It's only two per cent," he asserted.

He feels that instead of getting distracted by the noise around online shopping, one needs to constantly improvise on what he/she is doing and learn from what's happening around him/her.

"The company today is trying to have an omni-channel presence in order to expand in what it is already in, instead of shifting focus to something that's suddenly come in vogue," he said.

Emerging Consumer Trends In Near Future

Speaking at length on categories that are set to emerge as hot sectors in the consumer space, Krishnan predicted that the wellness space will pick up traction because of more and more health issues cropping up.

Also, the convenience factor will have a bigger role to play owing to the emergence of nuclear families. Hence people would prefer smarter products and services and retail will play a big role in this.

Lastly, home décor and retail for kids will be top consumer picks, considering the emerging requirements.

SPAR is the world's largest food store chain with over 12,000 stores in 38 countries across four continents and meets the needs of over 10 million consumers every day. SPAR hypermarkets and supermarkets in India grew following an agreement between the Dubai-based Landmark Group's Max Hypermarkets India Pvt. Ltd. and SPAR International.