There has been an accelerated need to drive widespread innovation in the FMCG sector and create viable solutions to address key challenges posed by the pandemic.
The sector focused on innovations to ensure business continuity and generate new opportunities as the environment saw dramatic shifts. From introducing remote selling to operationalizing delivery partnerships to embracing new business models, there was a push for growth by experimenting with technology and automation. “The past year has upended multiple areas of our go to market and accelerated already evolving trends such as seamless shopping; Consumers are looking for irresistible superiority in their daily use products and leveraging new business models. Talking about retailers, Hypermarkets/e-com players are taking themselves to the next level of convenience & personalization while neighbourhood Kirana stores are also realizing the need to digitize and adopting technology in a big way – be it inventory management, cashless payments, last mile delivery and many others.” says Soumyakanti Ray, Director-Sales & Leader-Global Innovation Center.
The need to achieve agility and adaptability during a pandemic-hit year saw FMCG companies evaluating and introducing new technologies, solutions, and business models at breakneck speed. Soumya explains, “Many of these might have started off as tactical solutions to deal with the external situation but soon pivoted into more strategic initiatives for the future.”
P&G Global Innovation Challenge 2021: a continued focus on constructive disruption
Continuing its efforts to innovate disruptive solutions for the future, P&G Global Innovation Center in India is inviting applications from startups for its Global Innovation Challenge.
In its 2021 edition, the challenge provides a platform for startups across sectors, stages, and geographies to partner with P&G and drive constructive disruption. P&G has always believed that disruption is inevitable. By understanding and embracing it, however, it’s possible to create innovation that moves business forward, keeping pace with changing markets and consumers’ evolving needs. “We call it constructive disruption – disrupting not just for the sake of change which may often destroy value but doing it in a way that drives growth and creates value,” shares Soumya.
With a strong legacy of innovation over the past 180+ years, P&G continues to focus on innovation as a strategic priority. Its participation at CES (the premier global stage for new and emerging consumer technology) and external recognitions across the world for its innovations bear testimony to the company’s commitment of being at the forefront of cutting-edge technology.
This year’s P&G Global Innovation Challenge seeks to identify new solutions in areas like increasing its direct reach profitably, leveraging digital commerce disruption models to address seamless shopper expectations and improving engagement with consumers & retailers through interactive technologies.
Co-create. Innovate. Scale up
The challenge is led by P&G Global Innovation Center in India which focuses on the areas of thought leadership, in-depth shopper insights and disruptive ideas from startup community. It also acts as an external outpost in collaboration with P&G’s global accelerators to strengthen its engagement with the startup ecosystem and drive innovation forward.
The P&G Global Innovation Challenge provides a platform for startups to pitch their innovative solutions to P&G leadership. Selected startups will get an opportunity to refine their solutions under the guidance of experienced P&G mentors and leadership teams from global innovation, market strategy & planning, distributor operations etc. in addition to corporate partners and other startups who have gone through this journey with P&G earlier. The startups will get access to P&G’s in-house stores & products to iterate faster while building prototypes and be able to leverage P&G’s scale to expand pan-India and globally.
Infact, in the last few years, P&G Global Innovation Center in Mumbai has worked with multiple startups to pilot and co-create disruptive go-to-market solutions and helped them become market-ready. The startups, some of them with solutions unique to the FMCG space, have gone on to scale their solutions and expand their footprint in India & other global markets. Examples of solutions co-created over last year are in the areas of voice assisted selling, emotion AI for research, in-store video analytics, forecasting algorithms, robotics automation and many others. Here’s what a couple of these startups have to say:
“Slang Labs partnered with P&G Innovation Center to add smart Voice Assistant capabilities to their Retailer Ordering App. This engagement gave us access to the real users – retailers placing orders with P&G regularly. We were able to improve our product experience significantly, especially for vernacular users, by working closely with the retailers and by leveraging the sales & distribution operational insights from P&G innovation team. This enabled us to take all that learning back into our core Voice Commerce platform and improve the out-of-the-box experience that our Voice Assistants provide to other e-com customers as well.”
– Kumar Rangarajan, Co-founder – Slang Labs
“The most disruptive innovations happen upon the intersection of technology, domain expertise, and scale. While Entropik Tech had world-class Emotion AI tech, P&G’s collaboration gave us a mold of the other two. Its deep domain prowess in shopper behavior categories allowed us to build a first of its kind shopper insights platform for enterprises. Working with the P&G innovation team on pilots helped the platform and insights become value-centric than just being another tool. Since our collaboration, we have scaled our footprint within P&G in 2 countries and overall expanded in the US, EU, and SEA.
-Ranjan Kumar, Founder & CEO – Entropik Tech
The time is now
As P&G continues to take forward its legacy of supporting startups, the need for constructive disruption is more relevant today than ever before. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to solve some of the most relevant challenges across global markets at a critical juncture shaping the future. We invite startups ready to partner with us in this journey”, says Soumya, signing off.