When one heard that “UPI” is killing the candy business, I was taken aback…did I hear it right or it was something else. Further exploration, was an eye opener with hard to believe detail as to how a business was built on “chutta nahi hai” went into downhill as UPI arrived.
In early 2010s almost all big Candy players, including Mondelez, Mars, Nestle, Perfetti, Parle & ITC reported staggering growth & future prospects. But as UPI arrived, most of these brands have reported a steep decline in sales of toffee. Hershey’s, one of world’s biggest chocolate & toffee maker said India is one of the worst hit markets in the post COVID era hitting their expansions plan.
So what really changed?
Before UPI, shopkeepers would trade toffees for loose cash, a transaction that wasn’t happening other way round. These small amounts over days did wound up to becoming large sums of money, as accepted by many buyers in studies. With UPI, all of this stopped. People paid the exact amount that was due with no scope for change, ultimately eating up the daily toffee sales.
The pandemic added fuel to the fire.
With most of the audience scared of the pandemic, everyone wanted to do contact less payments. This also created sort of push towards digital payments and toffee went off the picture. No chocolate (toffee) company would have ever thought of finance products as their competition. Toffees were cash substitutes and UPI replaced this requirement and behavior.
It is a big lesson for any Business as one need to keep an eye on “What are the reasons people buy our product and what would change that behavior? Do we find reasons which aren’t really our direct competition but can potentially replace our product usage?”
A lesson on how Technology can impact business.