In recent times, we have seen the uprising of a number of women entrepreneurs who battled all sorts of odds in this male dominated world and carved a niche for themselves in their respective domains. Today we are going to talk about a young woman entrepreneur who has single-handedly transformed the complete outlook of a four decades old FMCG company. We are talking about none other than Nadia Chauhan, CMO & JMD of Parle Agro. The idea of launching Appy Fizz in 2005 gave her the first mover advantage and since then Parle Agro has been dominating the carbonated fruit drink segment.
Over the past four years, Appy Fizz has witnessed a growth rate of 70% of CAGR of 36%. Parle Agro doubled its turnover to Rs 5,000 crore over the past years. And by means of Appy Fizz and Frooti, it aims to double the turnover by 2022. All the credit for such phenomenal success of Parle Agro goes to 34-years-old Nadia. The FMCG giant has gone from Rs 250 crore to Rs 5,000 crore in almost one and a half decades. Before Appy Fizz, in the packaged format, the apple category was not available. From technology and manufacturing point of view, it was huge innovation and took its time to make a mark.
Today it’s possibly India’s fastest-growing beverage brand. In the mid-1980s, Parle Agro was formed out of the break-up of food and beverage company Parle Products. Nadia is the daughter of Prakash Chauhan, Parle Agro’s Chair. From a very young age, she was accustomed to the organisation’s operations and took an official position with Parle Agro in 2003. Before this, once Nadia entered the conference room in her father’s office for a meeting with their advertising agency to discuss a teaser campaign for the Frooti brand. Everyone was surprised to see a little girl walk in. She was only 11 at the time.
Spent numerous afternoons after school with sales team
Mentored by her father Prakash Chauhan, Nadia spent numerous summer afternoons after school sitting in trucks with the sales team. She would go from shop to shop to analyse how their products were doing. This prompt start made her comfortable enough to believe in her instincts and take bold business decisions that line up with Parle’s growth plan.
When she joined the business, one of the challenges that she faced was that a very large percentage of the company’s turnover was coming from Frooti, one single brand, operating in a single country. Frooti offered over 90% of Parle Agro’s revenue, which allowed Nadia the liberty to experiment in not just new brands but also new segments. In 2005, the company introduced Appy Fizz, thereby making a new sparkling fruit drink segment and consolidating the Parle Agro portfolio.
At that time, her main agenda was to take the company from a single brand focus to a multi-brand and multi-category focus. Since 2009, Parle has broadened its horizons into new beverage brands such as LMN, Appy and Grappo Fizz, all new products in their segment. This focus on innovation is what makes Parle Agro a success story.
When Nadia thought of launching the baked snack Hippo in 2009, it was the only contender in the health snack segment. The strategy worked well for Hippo. In just two years, it became third in market share, after Kurkure and Bingo.
Parle Agro’s diverse portfolio consists of fruit-flavoured carbonated drinks (Appy Fizz), carbonated coffee (Café Cuba), fruit-flavoured still drinks (Frooti and Appy), and packaged drinking water (Bailley).
Most of these makeovers have been a straight result of Nadia’s creativity. Take for instance Frooti Fizz, the carbonated form of the popular mango drink. Remarkably, Frooti Fizz and alike carbonated drinks signify a step in the direction of Nadia’s vision of regaining Parle Agro’s past supremacy by efficaciously moving back into the soft drink market.
The journey from Rs 300 crores to Rs 5,000 crores
When Nadia became a part of the company, Parle Agro had a revenue of just Rs 300 crores (about US$43 million). However, with the introduction of new products and categories, that has risen by a factor of at least 10, with some evaluations signifying it’s grown to Rs 5,000 crores (about US$712 million).
She is driven by the thrill of the dynamic FMCG industry. The rapid change in strategy, pace and the constant challenges the industry poses is what fascinates her the most. It motivates her to think harder and do better.
Talking about her role model, her professional role models have been her father and her husband, Raj Kurup, founder and chief creative officer, CreativeLand Asia.
After becoming a mother, things changed for her but post-delivery, she was working from home within a month. And when she had meetings, her one-and-a half-month-old daughter, Nia, would be there with her. Nadia takes her to work and Nia stays there the whole day in a nursery.
On account of her contributions towards work, she has been listed as Most Powerful Women in Business, Forbes India’s Tycoons of Tomorrow and Impact Magazine’s Most Influential Women in 2018. She’s spoken at events celebrating female empowerment. Apart from this, her story as part of a powerful business dynasty has been documented in the book “Daughters of Legacy” by Rinku Paul and Puja Singhal.
In her personal life, Nadia is a voracious reader. Also a fitness freak, she loves exercising and horse-riding. She has a deep interest in playing acoustic guitar.