Take a good look at your neighbourhood panwallah. Look at all the stuff he has started stocking of late.
Chances are his usual fare – bidi, cigarette, tobacco, paan leaves and masala – occupies much less space today. Marginalised, one could say, as toothbrush and toothpaste, soaps and shampoos, shaving blade and creams, deodorants and perfumes, biscuits and instant noodles, and –believe it – diaper, hog almost the entire shelf space.
Whatever happened to that shop you strolled to for a juicy paan after dinner? When did this grocery store take its place?
A Nielsen study would, in fact, have us believe paan shops are one of the fastest growing points of sale for baby products. It might have a point.
“These shops are just down the road and are open late at night, so if you have a baby at home, it becomes very convenient. As a result, these local stores have seen products needed for a baby fly off the shelves very quickly,” said Ranjeet K Laungani, vice-president, Nielsen India.
Runaway real estate costs are also aiding the trend, going by Sushil Chaurasia, owner of Prabhat Paan Bidi shop in Charkop. According to him, rentals have increased steeply, forcing shopkeepers to look for ways to augment their income by adding product lines.
To be sure, the consumer products offer respectable margins, too, said Ranjan Tiwari, who runs Sharda Paan store in Chembur. The way it works, people who stop by for a cigarette or paan, often end up buying some small-ticket household item or snack packet, which helps boost sales further, said Tiwari. Chemists and pop-up stores in high street and malls are among the other fast-growing channels for FMCG and wellness products.
A product like green tea, for example, sells the most in chemist stores, according to Laungani.
Chemists account for about 9.1% of overall FMCG sales in the country, an earlier report by Nielsen had said. Pop-up stores work a little differently, said Harminder Sahni of Wazir Advisors. “It may be to introduce a new stock keeping unit, a variant or even a new product. The fact that all conventional and traditional channels have been tapped are forcing companies to explore different and newer channels.”