Orion, a popular Korean brand, recently launched a special range of products like Orion O’Rice and Custas CupCake that bring in a treat for the Indian customers. The company entered the country just before COVID-19 unfolded and despite our initial launch plans being affected by pandemic led lockdown we still grew by 500% in 2021 over LY.
Saurabh Saith, CEO, Orion India, told MyBigPlunge in an exclusive interaction that they are looking at expanding our operations and aiming to add 1000 more employees in the next two years for our India operations:
How has Orion’s transition into the Indian market been like so far?
Orion is one of the brilliant examples of growing popularity for Korean brands globally. India is our tenth overseas production base with an initial investment of INR200 crores. We entered the country just before Covid-19 unfolded and despite our initial launch plans being affected by pandemic led lockdown we still grew by 500% in 2021 over LY. Even our venture into India’s $44.6 billion Direct-to-Consumer space is part of our efforts to establish a direct connect with consumers across India and we’ve seen encouraging response since its launch. We are also looking at expanding our operations and aiming to add 1000 more employees in the next two years for our India operations. Our products launched so far are loved by many households across Indian households.
Our recent foray into D2C segment with ShopOrionIndia.com comes within just a year of our India launch. ShopOrionIndia.com already clocked in 500 – 1000 visitors per day in the pilot phase and we are expecting the D2C to contribute approximately 6%-7% of our volumes by exit FY 2022.
What challenges did the company face? How did Orion tackle it?
We entered India just ahead of Covid-19 outbreak and the lockdown made us fine tune our consumer-outreach strategy, given that we had limited retail presence. We were quick to tap the e-commerce segment and within a short period also expanded to cities which were initially not a part of our expansion plan but which were not under lockdown. The numbers have been overwhelming and have encouraged us to enter more cities and segment.
What is the market’s feedback on Orion’s products?
Orion is committed to bring the best of K-food to the world. Our offering, Orion Choco-Pie is already popular across multiple countries since its launch. Our campaign in association with a leading eCommerce player to promote O’Rice and Custas Cup Cake in Delhi and Bangalore with 45,000 families also saw an overwhelming response. Since overall response is very encouraging, we are expanding both with Portfolio and Geographies.
How is the India market different from the South Korean market?
All the APAC countries share various similarities and differences ranging from culture and taste palates. We have been sensitive towards India’s diversified preference, especially when it comes to food that’s why we have customized our recipes while launching them here. We are constantly looking at avenues to leverage the Korean diaspora in India as well as make in India for Indian consumers and exploring relevant opportunities that go hand in hand with our brand philosophy.
What is Orion’s take in India’s FMCG sector?
As the FMCG industry bounced back well in the post COVID scenario and companies are seeing a substantial growth as well. Orion believes that Hygiene and Cleanliness brands will probably decline a little and food will further accelerate.
Does Orion intend to launch new products in the market; what about expansion plans in India?
In India, we recently launched a special range of products like Orion O’Rice and Custas CupCake that bring in a treat for the Indian customers, especially during the festive season. We have received positive response for the products during the soft launch and trust that we have a highly distinguished offering in the snacks category. We are focused to serve Indian consumers with the best of our products, we have things in mind, and you might get to hear about this soon. Orion will have a strategy of being both in Healthy as well as Indulgent segment We’ve also collaborated with a Modern Trade Chain to release advertisements in English and Korean languages in the NCR area to target the Korean diaspora living near that store. We are also collaborating with the Korean brands for cross-promotions, this includes partnership with leading K-beauty and Korean e-commerce players.
What is the company’s outlook for 2025?
We aim at continuing our success story in terms of growth and gaining consumer trust. In a short span, we have seen tremendous demand for our three products launched in India and we look at further expanding our product portfolio. Economy will hopefully continue its super growth momentum, for next few years. Increasing per cpaita consumption and lead to more consumption lead growth. We foresee FMCG foods segment reg9stering YOY growth.