Online is the best thing that happened to our industry: Amway global CEO Pant – Mint

  •  ‘Despite all the challenges and all the tough things that everyone has gone through, our business is growing in 2021. And we are confident that we are in a multi-year growth…’

American direct selling company Amway’s global CEO Milind Pant worked with Yum! Brands and Unilever in markets across the world before joining Michigan-based Amway, known for its nutrition products and beauty brands, in January 2019. Currently in India, Pant announced global investments of more than $300 million through 2024 to boost innovation and science, digital technology, and entrepreneurship. Of this, $20 million is meant for the country, he said, adding that India is among the top priority markets including US and China. Edited excerpts from an interview:
From traditional FMCG and QSR businesses to a direct selling firm into dietary supplements. How has the transition been?
There are many firsts in this. It was a shift of industries. It was shifting to a family-owned, privately held company, and it was the first outside of family and external CEO for Amway.
What I did, as, as I do in any new role, is to take the first 100 days to listen and learn. And that’s exactly what I did in early 2019, to go to markets across the world, to understand how our entrepreneurs and our leaders are building their business going forward. I went to startup companies and large companies in both technology and nutrition space. I went to see Alibaba and met Google and Facebook in California. I went to nutrition startups in Seattle, and LA to understand where the buck is going.
And we put together a 10-year strategic plan. The core of that plan is how do we empower and unleash our entrepreneurs to grow their health and wellness communities. That’s a change we are investing in. And India is pioneering in that change today.
The pandemic boosted nutrition businesses in general in India. How was the response in other markets?
The trend of nutrition and holistic wellness accelerated in India, and across the world. This trend is about eating well, regular exercise, sleeping well, meditation and mindfulness. Things that were there in pieces, but everyone became highly aware of it for their own health, those of their spouses, parents, family, kids, and that provided a fillip to our business because our business is a wellness solution.
But there’s another thing that’s happened at the same time, which is that there was an underlying trend of increase in macro entrepreneurship of people, of women of youth wanting the flexibility and earning supplemental income. And, again, the pandemic disruption provided a rise in that micro entrepreneurship. And so both these — the rise of micro entrepreneurship and the immunity, nutrition, wellness space — this is a tailwind for Amway, which is an entrepreneur-led health and wellness company. Despite all the challenges and all the tough things that everyone has gone through, our business is growing in 2021. And we are confident that we are in a multi-year growth, because we are providing a societal need and playing a small part in providing this health and wellness solution.
Hasn’t the Amway business model – that relies on direct selling – suffered on account of consumers shopping online and then owing to covid that enforces social distancing?
If you look at the last decade, there are two industries that have grown exponentially. One is e-commerce — Amazon and Flipkart are examples here. But we can find examples across the world and in every market.
The other is social platforms. Again, Facebook is an example here, but we can go to Kakao in Korea, WeChat in China, Line in other parts of Asia, and there are other examples in Latin America and Russia. And, of course, Facebook and Instagram across the world. What is happening today is an interesting trend, where social platforms and e-commerce are coming together with these people who are online, building the community.
They build the communities around a passion sometimes in person, but primarily online. Then that links back to commerce. We are empowering micro entrepreneurs to build their communities online. Then we are integrating the backend commerce, on payments, transactions, product delivery, so that’s entrepreneurship in a box and hassle-free for them.
We see online as one of the best things that happened to our industry. We are investing significant amount of money and in training for these entrepreneurs to move to this to this new era.
In India, you have launched local ayurvedic products too. Is it a common practise in other markets?
At its core, the Nutrilite philosophy is very similar to the philosophy and Charak Samhita which was written 5000 years back or The Chronicles of the Yellow Emperor, which is claimed to have been written at a very similar time in China. So, between traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and Nutrilite philosophy there are massive similarities.
So we are taking all this knowledge and wisdom of the past and combining it with the scientific rigour and supply chain integrity of Amway, and launching a whole set of products in India. We have got chyavanprash, which is organic, we got Brahmni, Tulsi and many more are coming.
We are doing the same thing in China.
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