Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

We have to move from 3G to 4G model, says HUL chairman Harish Manwani

Manwani says innovation needs to have both magic and logic

Shruti Venkatesh
Published: Jun 30, 2017 06:21:15 PM IST
Updated: Jun 30, 2017 06:30:27 PM IST

We have to move from 3G to 4G model, says HUL chairman Harish Manwani(Image: Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS)

In a fast changing world, where technology is both an opportunity and a challenge that disrupts established businesses and industries, there is need to reignite growth, but growth that is sustainable and responsible, says Harish Manwani, chairman, Hindustan Unilever Limited.

Manwani was addressing a packed house at the 84th annual general meeting on Friday evening in Mumbai.

A common question asked by shareholders related to the comments made by retail conglomerate Future Group’s CEO Kishore Biyani, who said that if the margins are not restored in absolute terms post the roll out of GST on July 1, 2017, then he will have to restrict retail space and market share of companies like HUL.

“These things are subject to conversations and negotiations. Our customers trust us and we are in conversation with them. But we don’t want to comment specifically on what was said,” says Manwani, adding that the company is all set for the GST rollout.

On the threat posed by Patanjali and the quality of its products, Manwani said, “We don’t comment on competitors. Having said that, our standards are that whatever is there in the market, we have to outperform it and offer best product and best value.” 

Patanjali clocked a turnover of Rs 10,561 crore in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, according to Baba Ramdev, who announced this at a press conference in May this year.

Offering his views on ‘Reimagining business in changing times’, Manwani said that while India is well poised to be the fastest growing large economy in the world, it must address a two-fold challenge of employment and employability of the large young population.

To adapt to the changing world, business growth needs to be good for all – consumers, communities, economies and shareholders alike. The erstwhile shareholder driven model was focussed only on the 3G, i.e. growth that is consistent, competitive and profitable. “We have to move from the 3G model to 4G model, where the 4th G is responsible growth,” Manwani said.

This, he says, is possible by:
* Innovating for the future:
In order to avoid a ‘Kodak moment’ businesses need not just product innovation but innovation across their value chain. This requires companies to embrace technology and creativity and bring both magic and logic into their product experience and go-to-market models.

* Organising for growth:
Innovations for the changing world need to be underpinned by an organisational structure that fosters agility, connectivity and diversity.

* Developing talent and organisational capabilities:
To compete in this connected and networked world, companies need talent that is equipped with skills and capabilities required for the future.

* Growing responsibly:
A Unilever study conducted across five countries shows that a third of consumers are now buying brands they believe are doing social or environmental good. Thus organisations of the future need to be purpose-driven and values-led.