- Kerala-based Eastern is the largest exporter of spices.
- Over 50 percent of the employees are women.
- The company is now being spearheaded by Firoz Meeran.
Here are five entrepreneurial lessons that one could learn from this iconic brand.
Eastern cautiously plodded into a foreign territory, but not without adopting localisation to ensure effective communication with the local markets. After all, localisation strategy needs to be effective for wading into newer territories in order to identify with the cultural differences. Eastern, which is predominantly rooted in south, put in place a localisation strategy that helped it identify with the cultural differences, preparing the product for a new location. For instance, a curry masala that is authentically south may not be preferred in the north. Eastern ensures that what it serves, for instance say in UP, matches the taste that the region prefers.
Firoz tells us that the company has been growing at 30 percent in the national market and aims to have a pan-India presence, including smaller towns and villages. "75 percent people use locally, grinded non-branded products and only 25 percent forms the organised market. This will change in the next 10 years and is a huge potential for the company," he added.
Change is the way of life! As an entrepreneur one has to prepare to adapt to the changing tides. Eastern has been evolving to meet consumer demand, from ethnic and authentic to spaces that suit millenials such as easy to cook and ready to eat. “We are very process-oriented. And, follow the same principles across every state we offer our services,” he explains. While maintaining per week visits to brick and mortar stores for fresh stock, it is slowly yet steadily creating a digital presence and has also hit online stores.
Over 50 percent of Eastern's employees are women, and that is something the company is extremely proud of. “An aspect we are proud of is 50 percent of our work force is women. Most of our senior leaders are women. This is something that has developed organically,” he adds.
The company is also taking steps to promote the importance of women education and gender parity upon itself. Eastern has introduced a women-centric initiative called Bhoomika, which is in its fourth year. Bhoomika, is an initiative by Eastern that wants to celebrate women from various spheres of life, who go unrecognised for their hard work and change they bring into the society.
While the company is women-centric, it believes in equal opportunity for both men and women, without any discrimination. “I have an amazing team. The team has been with us for a very long time, “ he adds.
Focus on product
There are companies hiring the best PR teams even before the word launch, and that isn't necessarily bad. However, growth is good, but only if it’s real growth. After all, viral marketing campaigns may not necessarily bring beyond one-time users. On the other hand, arguably, it is important for the visibility of the product these days.
Eastern didn’t indulge into PR activities for the longest time and believed that the focus had to be the quality. The company decided to remain focussed on best testing methods, and setting up labs with international standards. For decades, it has been following the practice of a van visiting the stores every week and allowing store owners to buy only limited product depending upon the stocks. This was to ensure fresh stock is circulated every week. Also, it claims that the products are 100 percent natural.
Eastern also gives a lot of importance to technology. For instance, today it has a fleet of vans that visit brick and mortar stores. These are fitted with systems that help track them closely. The company has built proprietary software that works in tandem to ensure all aspects are tracked. While going natural and unadulterated with its products, the company also decided to come up with eco-friendly ways.
Taking the first step towards sustainable development, Eastern’s first Wind Mills were deployed in Nagercoil. On the other hand, it corporate office with all flagships utilizes a majority of its power requirements from the solar panels installed on its roof top.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:56 PM IST