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NEW DELHI : As consumers in India’s top cities spend more time shopping for groceries online, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) makers are accelerating the launch of digital-first brands and rolling out more online specific stock keeping units.

From organic honey and male grooming kits, to beverages and snacks, companies such as Marico Ltd, Dabur India Ltd and Hector Beverages are eyeing new launches.

“The pandemic has led to a shift in the shopping behaviour of consumers with the propensity for online shopping increasing. Targeting this emerging trend, we have already started launching a series of products exclusively for online markets. In the past few months, we have launched several products, especially for e-commerce, such as Dabur Apple Cider Vinegar, a ‘Dabur Baby Range’ with eight products apart from 100% cow ghee, organic honey, Himalayan forest honey. Many more such online-exclusive innovations are in the pipeline," said Mohit Malhotra, chief executive, Dabur India.

Many FMCG firms have been launching new products online to test their viability and also attract more digitally-savvy shoppers. Most companies reported a significant surge in share of online sales in the last two quarters as covid-linked lockdowns led more shoppers to buy goods online.

As part of its mid-term focus, Marico plans to accelerate its digital transformation and create two-three digital brands such as Beardo. It fully acquired Beardo, a men’s grooming products startup, in July 2020.

“We have a separate business unit that we have created to handle digital brands that operates independently of Marico in terms of processes and systems. We believe that either organically or inorganically we should be able to replicate and have two-three more Beardos in place over the next two to three years," Saugata Gupta, managing director and CEO, Marico, said during a post-earnings call last month.

The company has invested ahead of the curve in e-commerce, he said. In the third quarter, e-commerce accounted for 8% of the sales at the maker of Parachute hair oil. Beardo has strong presence online and in salons, apart from select stores.

Emami Ltd said the company has been strengthening its digital channel presence that includes ramping up the product portfolio and launching digital-first products and some sub-brands over the last few quarters. “Considering the growth trend of this channel, we have also invested in and partnered with a few digital brands," said Harsha V. Agarwal, Director, Emami Limited.

Consumers will start seeing more such launches online, said Mangesh Panditrao, co-founder and CEO, Shoptimize, which helps brands set up direct-to-consumer sales. “I can safely say that at least the top 10 FMCG companies aim to launch at least one or two digital-only brands in their core sector where they already have manufacturing capabilities," he added. Shoptimize is working with four big companies to set up their digital brands, but he declined to name them.

Shuchi Bansal contributed to this story.

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