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Tupperware loses China focus to train eyes on India's bulging middle

Sounak Mitra  |  New Delhi 

US-based is betting big on the Indian market to boost growth in Asia.

While in the past five years, Tupperware has grown at 50 per cent annually in India, with 1,80,000 associates, it couldn’t implement the direct-selling model successfully in China. “The model followed by Tupperware could not be implemented successfully in China because of strict regulations and the culture of the people. It is not easy to conduct Tupperware parties in China, as people mostly live in small apartments,” said Rick Goings, chairman and chief executive of the $2.4-billion

In China, the company had to opt for a completely different model — selling products through departmental stores. “Tupperware in China is listed as a super brand. We sell through 3,600 departmental stores in China. The model is completely different from what we follow globally….Also, there are regulatory hurdles,” Goings said, adding though the company was in discussions with the Chinese government, it was unlikely to focus on that country.

Goings said Tupperware would leverage India’s huge middle class. “We have just made a scratch in the Indian market. In the next two to three years, Tupperware would focus on the under-penetrated Tier-II and Tier-III cities,” he said. Tupperware, which introduced about 25 per cent new products every year since it entered the Indian market in 1996, plans to enter about 70 Tier-II and Tier-III cities in one to two years. The direct selling market in India is pegged at Rs 4,000 crore and is growing 30 per cent annually.

In India, the South is the fastest growing market for the company, accounting for about half of its business. Globally, Indonesia is the most profitable market for Tupperware.

The company might consider increasing capacity in the next two years, Goings said, adding its facility in Dehradun might be expanded to feed domestic requirements. He, however, said infrastructure and distribution in India remained a concern.

The company, which also sells beauty products in other global markets, including Asian markets such as the Philippines, wouldn’t bring its beauty and grooming portfolio to India.

“There are too many players in the beauty products segment in India. We would not like to compete with too many players,” Goings said.

Tupperware’s portfolio includes NaturCare, Nutrimetics, Fuller Cosmetics, Nuvo, Avroy Shlain and Swissgarde.

First Published: Sun, December 02 2012. 00:34 IST