NEW DELHI: Hindustan Unilever's (HUL) restructuring of its operations into 14 distinct consumer clusters is starting to pay off for the FMCG giant according to its top executive.

"The numbers reflect that the strategy is working in terms of volume growth and share," CEO Sanjiv Mehta told the Economic Times.

The Winning in Many Indias (WIMI) initiative, launched in September last year, shifted the emphasis away from metros to take account of a growing rural market and the fact that different categories are at different stages of development across the country.

HUL now claims that WIMI has helped 90% of its portfolio gain market share, much of that from regional brands.

"WIMI has helped us understand finer nuances about local consumers and provide us a more granular understanding of the market," Mehta explained.

Managers are spending more time in the field, picking up local consumer insights and a better understanding of the competition and responding accordingly.

When two managers reported back on the significant market for tea in the 'Punjab and Hills' cluster, for example, the company acted quickly to alter the blend of its Taaza brand to suit the local taste before advertising the change on local media; it claimed a spike in volume growth as a result.

Such actions reflect Mehta's desire to inculcate a start-up mentality among staff. "We want to have the soul of a small company where speed is the currency, bias for action is the norm, where people are empowered on the frontline," he stated.

And he was also insistent that his managerial team should be representative of the country as a whole.

"Our internal population represents the different clusters of the country and we don't just have talent from urban India but people who represent the whole ethos and fabric of the country," he said.

"Insights from these young managers are being taken right into the boardroom to ensure that our execution reflects such understandings."

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff