‘We Have Launched 5 New Products In Last One Year’: Orion India
Orion is one of the largest food companies in South Korea established in 1956. The success of Orion ‘The Original Choco Pie’, in India is a great example of increasing global popularity for Korean brands tells Saurabh Saith, CEO, Orion India.
How has been your journey in India so far. What kind of growth have you witnessed already?
If you ask me Orion is a great example of increasing global popularity for Korean brands. India is our 11th overseas production base with an investment of Rs 200 crore. We entered the country just before Covid-19 outspread and despite our initial launch plans being affected by lockdowns we still grew by 700 per cent in 2021 over 2020. Even our venture into India’s $40 billion Direct-to-Consumer space is part of the company’s efforts to establish a direct connection with consumers across India and we’ve seen an encouraging response since its launch. We are also looking at expanding our operations and aiming to add 1000 more employees in over 2 years. Encouraged by the strong response we are getting from Indian consumers; we have already launched five new products in the last one year after the launch of our flagship brand the Original Chocopie.
You have intense competition in the market. Given the reach that existing players enjoy, what strategies are you implementing to gain dominance?
New consumers and new age channels have ensured that the hegemony of well-entrenched old companies is broken. Consumers want to try new products, and world-class products in India now, not just in metros but in Tier2 towns too, that’s where we come in. Orion is committed to the Vision of ‘Providing World Class Food products to consumers at Reasonable Cost’. Even though we are new to the market; we have managed to grow substantially through eCommerce & MT channels due to the superior quality of our products, adaptation to Indian pallets, and consumers’ exposure to global content and food alike. We continue to strengthen our distribution in the general trade stores across the country but more specifically in North India. In the coming months, we will look at ramping up our offline presence through general trade expansion in other regions such as the South and West. In India, our focus is not just to increase the brand’s market share, but to delight consumers with our differentiated and unique products and become a household name in the next few years.
In your opinion, do you think the popularity of K-pop and K-dramas has increased the demand of K-food in India?
In wake of the craze around K-Pop and K-Dramas, Indians have begun experimenting with Korean food too. One other thing to note is slight commonality between the taste pallets of the two countries in terms of liking spicy food and sweets alike. Some of the Korean brands, including Orion, are localizing the products as per Indian preferences to gain faster acceptance. Ahead of our India launch, we made necessary changes to our Choco-Pie recipe to make it 100 per cent vegetarian without negotiating on the taste. Given the rising demand for healthy snacks, we’ve recently added O’Rice to our India portfolio that is baked and 100 per cent vegetarian snack. Similarly, not just stopping at Original Choco pie we have launched two more flavours of ChocoPie, Strawberry & Mango one international flavour and one made in India flavour for Indian consumers, giving the best of Korean + Indian fusion to the consumers.
Which market or geography in India is the most profitable for Orion?
We’ve already entered regions that had to be expanded as part of our phase one outreach plans, now we are expanding mainly in General Trade channel. We believe that our online store, shoporionindia.com along with the market places we operate in, will help us create brand touchpoints for geographies we are yet to cover with a physical retail shelf presence.
Talk to us about your future India-centric plans? Are you planning to launch any new products?
In India we’ve got an overwhelming response for our range of products like Orion Chocopie, O’Rice, Custas Cup Cake, Orion Strawberry Choco Pie and the Ultimate Choco Chip. Our latest launch Mango Chocopie (launched just a week back), is also getting great reviews, it contains real Alphonso mango jam in it. This is a classic example of adapting to the local market, infusing King of Fruit Mango that too Alphonso in the snack loved the world over the Original ChocoPie and giving consumers a strong reason to pick up our new offering. We will continue to create more excitement for the consumers by launching more products, which would be differentiated and value-added.
What changes have you witnessed in the FMCG industry since Covid-19 led pandemic and what will be the future?
Health and wellness which was an upcoming trend for the last decade or so, has fully arrived and is here to stay. But indulgence and joy-based products have also made a comeback because making yourself and your loved ones happy is also as critical as physical health. Quality metrics that consumer is asking for are of an even higher degree now. Specifically talking about FMCG in post COVID era with a rise in online shopping, companies have strengthened their direct-to-consumer offering and have partnered with online platforms to ensure product availability during these uncertain times. Supply Chain Agility + Process Automation acceleration are other two key focus areas for companies to serve their consumers better and be more resilient to face future disruptions.