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Dabur uses Astra to boost rural sales

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Shopkeepers selling Dabur India's consumer products would now learn marketing through role-plays staged by professional actors at their shops. As part of a recent initiative titled Astra, advanced sales training for retail ascendance, FMCG major has recruited 75 sales and HR managers across the country who would educate over 2,000 distribution channel partners of the firm about the complexities of sales and distribution through the audio-visual medium.

Dabur is targeting sales growth of above 15 per cent after implementing Astra, which was unveiled in May, and expects nearly 40 per cent growth in sales through modern trade and institutions, like hotels. The company also will keep a tab on its performance on a monthly and quarterly basis.

Dabur has a distribution reach of 25 lakh retail outlets across the country. About 75 per cent of the company's sales come form rural areas, hence, it has created the Astra training consultancy module in five vernacular languages, Bengali, Tamil, telungu, Malayalam and Kannada. The company also expects rise in consumer spending in the rural areas and plans to spread the initiative in the rural market.

A Sudhakar, executive director human resource, Dabur India, said, "We have about 2000 stock keeping units (SKUs) with 750 SKUs in health care alone. We needed to bring awareness among the distributors and a standardisation into our system across India and Astra is created for that."

Changing retail landscape in the country has compelled FMCG companies to relook at their sales and distribution models.

Another FMCG major, Hindustan Unilever, has also introduced innovation in its distribution strategy. Last year, the company had formed a joint venture with South African firm Smollan Holdings to tweak its point-of-purchase presence in modern retail, where its premium brands, such as Pond's Age Miracle range, enjoy higher off-take.

Under Astra, Dabur has categorised its sales and distribution channels into finer segments, such as key grocers, mass grocers, chemist, wholesale, small outlet and modern trade.

The programme will address specific needs and expectations of each channel in the areas such as, trade activation programmes, trade promotion programmes, brand/SKU focus, merchandising and managing channel conflict.

"We have seen that attrition among stockists is very high, we hope through this programme it would encourage greater involvement of stockists in their job and sales," said Sudhakar. Dabur's own sales force consists of 450 employees in the country.

Astra is a step ahead of Dare, driving achievement of retail excellence, introduced by the company in 2006. Dare was aimed at leveraging Dabur's brands performance in modern retail. Astra will encompass all the distribution channels including modern retail.

It will also run refresher training courses every six months. Every sales officer in Dabur has to work according to a journey cycle that begins on the first of every month.

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