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Nestle India in new product drive

News, 23 June 2016

NEW DELHI: Nestle India is planning to launch as many as 25 new products across a number of categories over the next two months in response to changing consumer habits and the rise of challenger brands.

"This is probably the single largest window of new product launches in a long time," said Suresh Narayanan, chairman and managing director of Nestle India.

These will feature a mixture of new products as well as variants of existing brands and will be seen across categories including dairy, confectionery, tea, and coffee, Quartz India reported.

"Some among these will provide big opportunities, while others will remain niche," Narayanan said.

"With consumers moving on, we have to move on too as a company," he added. "You may have never seen us as a digital or e-commerce savvy company – but there will be more of that soon."

The move is seen as a step towards reducing the dependence on its Maggi noodles brand, which were withdrawn last year in a contamination scare.

Before that crisis, Maggi claimed a 77% share of the local noodles market and the brand contributed a third of the company's revenues. Today, Maggi has reclaimed its market-leading position, but a smaller, 55% share of a reduced category means that it now accounts for a quarter of Nestle India's total business.

Other companies, notably Patanjali, have capitalised on Nestle's problems to claim a greater share of its markets.

"That is the kind of competition we would positively call disruptive competition – they come and redefine the rules of the game," Narayanan said of Patanjali.

One way they are doing that is significantly shortening the time to market. "Most of these products' journey from being a concept to being launched in the market has been completed in just 4-5 months," Narayanan noted – at least half the time it previously took.

The slew of new product launches marks a new confidence at Nestle and a belief that the Maggi crisis is now behind it; "from weathering the storm, we have now started riding the wave," Narayanan told The Hindu.

Data sourced from Quartz India, The Hindu, Times of India; additional content by Warc staff