What a kirana store in Lower Parel has to say about packaging efficacy

Vedant Bhalwatkar, a packaging technologist has a conversation with the local shopkeepers of Mumbai’s busy Lower Parel district. The aim: to understand rapid selling items to packaging wonders. In all this there is a message for FMCG brands about the interplay of products, packaging and consumer satisfaction.

17 Aug 2023 | By Vedant Bhalwatkar

Photo credits: Sudarshan Bhamare

I spoke to a few consumers of FMCG brands and the common themes were: worms in a breakfast meal; the justification for reducing the quantity in a pack; counterfeit versions in the poor suburbs of Mumbai; paper straws which were packed in plastics. That's when you realise behind the staggered growth and sales volumes climbing 4% on demand for staples as well as non-foods, it is a tough marketplace.

NIQ (erstwhile Nielsen) data says, "The recovery in the rural markets combined with a 21% growth in modern trade augurs well for the upcoming festive seasons."

Today, modern trade includes large supermarket chains, while kirana stores make up "traditional trade." And so, I decided to spend some time inside a typical mom-and-pop store to find out what the buzz is.

The Rapid Selling – Parle’s Triumph: During the conversation, the kirana store owner revealed that the fastest-moving product in his store is none other than the humble biscuits. Among these, Parle emerges as a standout, celebrated for its unwavering customer loyalty and trust. The iconic Parle-G marks the beginning of an illustrious journey, with other SKUs like 20-20, Krak Jack, Hide & Seek, and Marie seamlessly integrating into customers’ lives. Parle’s ability to captivate generations through its diverse offerings is the enduring bond between brand and buyer.

Best packaging was Ariel’s Innovative HDPE bottle: In the realm of packaging, one product garnered the kirana store owner’s admiration – the HDPE bottle of Ariel Liquid. This packaging wonder, adorned with a handle and a top cap. This revolutionises the way consumers interact with the product. Its ergonomic design not only ensures a seamless pour but also offers a proportional amount of liquid. This ingenious packaging design showcases how innovation can elevate functionality, enhancing the user experience and redefining consumer expectations.

An important message for the packaging industry: When asked to share his wisdom with big brands, the shopkeeper delivered a common-sense message: “Integrated packaging for everyday convenience.” He urged industry brands to integrate aesthetics and delve into the realm of user-friendly packaging.

He said the focus should not be on the visual appeal. That brands should prioritise the ergonomic aspects of their packaging, its smooth user-friendly experience and ensuring that everyday products seamlessly integrate into consumers’ lives, especially housewives. By integrating design with practicality, big brands can forge deeper connections and secure enduring customer loyalty. (For example: the Ariel bottle packaging which has been mentioned).

As I exit the store, one thing is clear. There is a huge wealth of insights with a typical kirana store owner. If only packaging professionals pay heed to these voices of sanity, then one can clearly visualise how the next few years will shape up for the FMCG brands.

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