At the recently concluded 6th Injection, Blow, Roto & PET Moulding International Summit 2018, held in Mumbai on 5-6 July and organized by ElitePlus, Harsh Mariwala, chairman and founder Marico Industries, was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to business and to the plastic industry.
Marico is one of India’s leading companies in the FMCG sector and owns some popular brands such as Parachute, Saffola, Kaya, Set Wet, Nihar, Mediker and Revive, to name just a few. Parachute is the flagship brand of Marico which consists of edible grade coconut oil. Mariwala joined Bombay Oil Industries Ltd., his family’s commodities trading business, after finishing college from Mumbai’s Sydenham College. Gradually, he moved out of family business and founded his own firm under the name Marico, which pioneered the shift from tin to plastic packaging for coconut oil in the 1980s.
In his acceptance speech delivered during the ElitePlus seminar, Mariwala shared an episode in the company’s growth history when Marico was able to change the game in oil business by ushering in a switch where tin containers were gradually replaced by plastic ones. He said that when Marico first pitched the idea of plastic container for coconut oil, there was severe resistance from retailers. “Initially there was a lot of resistance and scepticism, but we were convinced about the idea,” he said.
To find the reason for such stiff resistance, Marico interacted with the retailers and found out that the idea of plastic containers for oil was pitched by another company a few years ago. However, the experience was not good for the retailers as these squarish-shaped containers were damaged by rats, leading to oil spillage and damage to their shops. With this input from retailers, Marico went back to the drawing board and soon launched a round-shaped plastic container, which had no edges for rats to cling on. Also, the container was designed in such a way that rats could not smell the oil. Marico then experimented by putting the container in a cage full of rats and took photographs to show to the retailers that Marico’s plastic containers cannot be damaged by these rodents. The company again met with the retailers and assured them about the safety of the plastic containers and even guaranteed that if any damages take place, Marico would compensate them.
“The rest, as they say, is history. We gradually created awareness about the advantages of plastic containers and within a short period of time, the entire market shifted from tin to plastic,” he said.
Marico then ventured abroad and found enormous success in Bangladesh. The company implemented everything that it did in India in Bangladesh as well. Within a decade of entering the country, Marico had more than 80% share in the Bangladeshi market.
“So, plastic has played a very important role in shaping the fortunes of Marico,” he stated.