Meet Nayar. Nayar (name changed) is the proud owner of a retail store. His store has no loyalty cards and no shopping carts, no cash registers and no employees. Nayar has a lot of customers, though. His store is located under a stairwell in a house at a busy intersection in Calcutta, India. Nothing special for an emerging market with large segments of the population in lower income strata, one might think. Nayar, however, has also been one of the highest grossing sellers of candy for the global confectionary giant Perfetti Van Melle in India. While largely unknown as a corporate brand, Perfetti Van Melle is the third largest candy company globally, and it owns brands such as Mentos, Frisk, Smints, Airheads, or Chupa Chups. Nayar is also a prime example of how doing business globally, especially in emerging markets, isn’t always glamorous and how it requires serious adaptation of distribution strategies. The reality of the supply chain in emerging markets is very different from that in mature markets. Especially in India, where national retail or distribution simply doesn’t exist. 95% of India’s retail is “unorganized”, and Perfetti Van Melle therefore had to maintain its own salesforce of between 4,000 and 6,000 employees and contractors that served approximately 500,000 retail outlets nationwide. Besides, most consumers in India don’t buy their candy in bulk in supermarkets. Some buy just one or two pieces because they can’t afford larger quantities; others buy just one or two because they just happen to fancy that one piece of candy while they are on their way to or from work. And that’s why Nayar sells his candy out of big jars that he keeps under the stairwell. Well done, Perfetti Van Melle! Well done, Nayar!
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