Updated on: Monday, January 03, 2022, 08:57 AM IST

What industry honchos expect out of this year


As we step into a brand new year, optimism rules in the industry ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21. Here’s what leaders across industry domains tell BrandSutra about trends they foresee in 2022

Retailers will expand presence in smaller towns: Gunjan Shah

Gunjan Shah, MD & CEO, Bata India

Continuing with agility and resilience at the core of our business, Bata India remains optimistic as we move into 2022. With an enhanced focus on consumer experience, we have been able to measure up to expectations and garner higher consumer confidence and connect. After the pandemic, casualization has emerged as a dominant trend, and even in the last year, we saw 40% of the sales coming from our casual and active wear range. Sales through our digitally-enabled channels have also grown 3X times, and even in the coming year, we will continue ramping up our digital initiatives. Having witnessed the convenience of online shopping, digital-first retail solutions will remain a key focus for Bata India. Additionally, the year 2022 will see retailers expanding their presence in smaller towns via distribution expansion and franchise networks as they move ahead with their post-COVID recovery. We at Bata India will also continue to expand our franchise stores and distribution into multi-brand outlets to over 1,500 towns in the next couple of years.

Gunjan Shah, MD & CEO, Bata India.

Ready to target tech-savvy millennial consumers: Ramesh Kalyanaraman

Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director, Kalyan Jewellers

In the post-COVID era, gold has emerged as one of the safer and more lucrative long-term assets. The dynamic market scenario and uncertainty caused by the pandemic led to renewed interest from younger consumers who bought into the idea of gold jewellery, for the first time. To address the ongoing digital transformation and target the tech-savvy millennial consumers, we are strengthening our omni-channel strategy and focusing on creating a holistic ecosystem, making the ‘phygital’ model more seamless. Over the years, we have been making consistent investments in leveraging technology to offer convenient solutions to customers, enabling us to easily venture into newer product categories such as Digital Gold as well as explore newer avenues such as Gold Ownership Certificate and LIVE Video Shopping Facility to reach our customers. We are committed to moving forward on this growth trajectory.Though the price of gold has been fluctuating, we are optimistic that the demand for jewellery will continue and regulations around mandatory hall-marking will further accelerate the growth of the organized sector.

Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director, Kalyan Jewellers.

Fashion/lifestyle willgrow beyond pre-COVID levels: Satyaki Ghosh

Satyaki Ghosh, CEO, Domestic Textiles, Aditya Birla Group

The industry should recover fully in 2022, and I expect the consumer products industry to do well. A lot of companies are already there, and beating pre-COVID levels of performance. More and more companies will get there.The fashion industry, including textiles, has recovered almost fully and both the consumer-facing part of the business (apparels, retail, e-commerce) and the value chain (fibre to yarn to fabric supply) is doing very well. Most companies expect a robust 2022 with demand at pre-COVID levels (and sometimes higher).The only caveat is the most recent surge of COVID cases, but experts are saying that this variant/surge may not be as destructive on life and livelihoods as the second wave. Western countries are moving on with this latest surge, and fingers crossed, so should we in India, with precautions of course. So overall, I am very optimistic about 2022 and I think the fashion/lifestyle industry will do very well and see clear growth over pre-COVID levels.

Satyaki Ghosh, CEO, Domestic Textiles, Aditya Birla Group.

The past says take nothing for granted in future: Charulata Ravi Kumar

Charulata Ravi Kumar, Managing Director, Accenture India

The year 2021, for all thehavoc it wreaked, has also been the biggest trend-shifter for individuals, societies and organisations, making us wiser, knowing that everything is disruptible...right here, right now. It’s catalysing four trends:

I am not a consumer. I am a human: People will plan their futures better while also savouring the moment at hand. The impulsive young will also learn to balance the safety net. It’s important to stop catering to a ‘consumer’ for business gains and truly become the bungee cord. Trust and transparency will need to be proven and care and kindness will need to be in the DNA.

I want freedom of choice with the want of little: Life is capricious. We knew that, but only realised it now. The urge to choose and yet want just that little bit will bring big shifts in the concept of what’s material, immaterial and important. People will view the many and want the sensible. Value will have added layers of freedom, sharing, connecting, ‘soul’-ing and more.

A life of many worlds: What was once the side-hustle economy will become a way of life to spread both wider - the safety net and the impassioned desire to do more.

I am a 360-degree person: Who am I? What do I want? How can I help the new world? These questions are driving people’s actions into becoming more than their jobs. They are increasingly looking to be part of organisations that help find answers by providing opportunities to redefine and rebuild industry, society and their own existence.

It’s time to change our lenses.

Charulata Ravi Kumar, Managing Director, Accenture India.

Proptech solutions will prevail in real estate: Dhruv Agarwala

Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO,, and

The strong momentum in India’s residential real estate markets will continue through 2022 with sales numbers likely to reach pre-COVID levels and perhaps even surpass 2019 numbers. The only possible hurdle could be a third wave of the coronavirus infections, which is difficult to predict. Acceleration in adoption of proptech solutions in all possible spheres of real estate, all the way from construction to sales to customer relationship and asset management, was one of the major highlights of 2021 and this trend will continue, going forward.Sales in India's residential real estate market, which plunged by 47% in 2020 to around 1.83 lakh units across eight major cities, are likely to increase by close to 20% this calendar year.Barring the April-June quarter of 2021 that saw the outbreak of the second wave, housing sales were strong, driven mainly by pent-up demand and multi-year low interest rates on home loans. We saw a major shift in demand towards reputable builders that have an impeccable record of executing projects on time.

Dhruv Agarwala, Group CEO,, and

Digital lending could become the new normal: Siddharth Mehta

Siddharth Mehta, MD & CEO, Freecharge

On one side, consumers are getting more used to digital platforms, while on the other side, service providers such as banks, NBFCs and fintech platforms are also rapidly transforming. There is more room for innovation across the spectrum of products within lending, savings, investments and B2B payments.Digital lending in India has seen a steady rise and if properly regulated, will scale up significantly and sustainably in the near future. While 2021 started slow, it eventually picked up with a number of digital lending start-ups and NBFCs paving the way, catering to new-to-bank, new-to-credit and the under-served population, thus resulting in surge with respect to unsecured lending. Meanwhile, the middle class consumer is becoming aspirational and is looking at means to acquire products and experiences, which is where the ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL) offering comes into play, as it is helping bridge the gap between aspiration and affordability. In 2022, BNPL, which is revolutionizing access to credit, will see massive adoption, including uptake in the EMI product category. Digital lending has the potential to gradually become the new normal and can pave the way for a huge growth opportunity for the Indian e-commerce sector as well. Consumer readiness will further propel this space and truly add value to the digital consumer consumption narrative.

Better collaboration amongst banks/NBFCs and fintechs and digital adoption by SMEs will help scale the ability to provide these segments loans starting from as low as Rs 1,000 completely digitally along with the ability to also collect them digitally and seamlessly. Additionally, these partnerships will help build alternate data-based under-writing for these segments considering that structured data is not easily available. A clear example of this is the flow-based lending that has started; this utilizes the transaction data processed through the UPI QR at these merchants to assess the size of loan that can be given.

Siddharth Mehta, MD & CEO, Freecharge.

Innovation and service excellence will be key: Parag Kulkarni

Parag Kulkarni, Managing Director, A. O. Smith India

With more people spending time at home, the consumer products industry is expected to see a sustained growth in 2022. The real estate sector has also witnessed green shoots of recovery in 2021 and is expected to experience additional growth, which will drive demand among ancillary industries. The pandemic, while having had insufferable consequences for many, has also opened doors for opportunities and innovation for the consumer durables industry. People are now investing in value-based, smart and meaningful products that help them lead a healthier life, including water purifiers and water heaters. We are seeing good traction for our products not only in the metros, but also in Tier II and Tier III cities.Product innovation, product upgrades and service excellence will be key to successfully engaging the market. Consumer-centricity has always been our key focus and our current communication strategy is to be relevant and contextual, emphasizing health and hygiene. At A. O. Smith India, we will remain optimistic and observant in 2022 and continue to focus on our ambitions with resilience.

Parag Kulkarni, Managing Director, A. O. Smith India.

More Indians will start their crypto journey in 2022: Ashish Singhal

Ashish Singhal, Founder and CEO, Coinswitch

The Indian crypto industry is waiting for an official statement from the Government. We believe that regulatory clarity will help address misconceptions around crypto asset investing and encourage more Indians to start their crypto investing journey in 2022. While CoinSwitchKuber would always be a crypto-first company, we are on track to deliver diverse investment options to our growing customer base to capture a larger proportion of the customer lifetime value from investments as a use-case.

Ashish Singhal, Founder and CEO, Coinswitch.

There’s more interest in natural-based products: Pradeep Cholayil

Pradeep Cholayil, Chairman & Managing Director, Cholayil Private Limited

It has been a great year for our customers and businesses alike. At Cholayil Private Limited, we prioritised our customer sentiments and their overall satisfaction. Keeping up with the emerging trends was very challenging. But ensuring that our consumers have the best of quality and experience, played a huge role towards consistent growth of the brand. There is a significant transformation in consumer behaviour - they are looking out for brands that are transparent, authentic and clean. There is more interest in natural-based products and this will help the industry become stronger and get better traction. We expect tremendous growth in the coming days. Moreover, there is increased awareness about indigenous production, thereby giving home-grown industries more scope to innovate and market their products in India and abroad. This will help us achieve our goals much faster. We look forward to a robust year ahead in terms of growth and expanding our overall product portfolio.

Pradeep Cholayil, Chairman & Managing Director, Cholayil Private Limited.

Speed to market will remain critical: Ajay Kakar

Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Capital

The need for caution will prevail in 2022. However, it will also sift the men from the boys. Six trends that will prevail in 2022 are:

1. Those who invest in their brand and engage with their customers in a meaningful and relevant way, will emerge stronger, once the dark clouds blow away.

2.Customers will seek comfort and options, around convenience. Brands that invest in providing simple and seamless journeys, not only through digital platforms but also offline options, will reap more benefits.

3. All brands, be they service, FMCG, durables or any other, will have to adopt ‘experience’ as a strategy. Even a category like financial services, that has no physical product to touch, feel or smell, will have to create and deliver experiences around the customer journeys from pre-sale, to post-sale stages of their customer relationship

4.Retaining existing customers and acquiring more business from or through them, will be more profitable than attracting new customers. Customer advocacy will remain the most powerful medium to build brands

5.‘Aggregation’ seems to be a current flavour or trend. Superapps are being conceived or developed, by many. But the key question that each of them will have to address is ‘Why me?’… ‘How am I different, and still relevant?’

6. Brands will have to make every customer believe that their products, channel, communication and service is designed only keeping them in mind, demonstrating that level of hyper personalisation. Anticipating a customer need before the customer has realised it, herself.

So, 2022 will tempt brands and people to tread cautiously, adopt the-wait-and-watch strategy;but the customer is going to keep shifting the goal post rapidly. Therefore, speed to market will remain critical. Else, by the time you reach the point where you see the customer today, he would have already moved on. And your journey will have to start, afresh.

Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Capital.

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Published on: Monday, January 03, 2022, 08:57 AM IST