Get to know Himanshu Sharma, Evalueserve’s group manager for our CPG Center of Excellence team in the Q&A. Learn about her journey with Evalueserve and how she sees the Consumer-Packaged Goods industry transform.
“The word ‘Insights’ has already been replaced by ‘Foresights’ for organizations”
1. Himanshu, tell us how your career has grown since joining Evalueserve and what your role is.
Wow, it has been an amazing and enriching journey so far. I have completed eight years this year, and each day brings new learning to me. I come from an R&D and innovation background. As a product development scientist, I have seen the entire product lifecycle – right from concept testing to market launch. I understand the challenges faced by R&D and Innovation teams and offering solutions that can help address their business needs and pain points excites me the most.
Be it monitoring disruptive ideas or innovations to technology or partner intelligence, concept evaluation to white spaces and opportunity identification, envisioning category evolution to designing R&D Roadmaps for brands, supporting claim substantiation to identifying industry best practices in R&D or Innovation, and even beyond like setting and running virtual R&D teams to expand in new markets – the idea is to provide our clients support at all stages of R&D and Product Development. Evalueserve’s DIRECT framework brings in our strong expertise and capabilities to solve complex R&D and Innovation business problems.
Our CPG COE works on the principle of amalgamating business and technology insights to bring in a holistic point of view on a specific business problem. This approach has supported our clients across diverse segments – Personal Care, Home Care, Food and Beverages, Animal Nutrition, Ingredients, Nutrition and Supplements, etc.
Our tacit knowledge of years has been instrumental in bringing in cross-category ideas and best practices for inspiration for our clients.
2. What is the objective of the newly formed CPG Center of Excellence team? And why do you think this team can better serve the client’s needs in the future?
As mentioned earlier, we always wanted to ensure that we offer end-to-end R&D and Innovation services to our CPG clients holistically. Amalgamating business and technology insights has always been our USP for years – differentiating us from other service providers. Thus, a dedicated CPG COE brought the two teams together and enhanced our best practices further. Our clients can now leverage our diverse talent and skill pool effectively more than ever. At the same time, our team members would have a lot of skill sharing since coming from diverse academic and sector backgrounds, thereby there would be a huge opportunity to learn and get inspiration from a diverse talent pool.
3. How has the nature of CPG projects changed compared to 10 years ago?
Drastically! I still remember the days when Competitor / Innovation Intelligence was approached in silos and the individual pieces were not able to solve the puzzle and provide answers to the most favorite question, ‘What’s next?’
The word ‘Insights’ has already been replaced by ‘Foresights’ for organizations, and so is the solution approach to derive them. Cross-category or cross-industry learning and inspirations are becoming pivotal while envisioning the ideas for future product innovations, due to the blurring of category lines too.
Also, the constant pressure from the start-up world has made it imperative for CPG companies to keep track of many things – Be it introducing an innovative idea/concept or addressing a niche consumer, too quickly. There is a lot to get inspiration from that side, especially when we speak about consumer centricity, R&D ways of working, Agility, etc.
4. What are the reasons for this evolution and growing complexity of innovation projects?
Ever-evolving consumer needs and technological advancements.
E.g., Post-pandemic, we saw drastic shifts in consumer behaviors we never thought of earlier. These gave rise to new technology and product innovations.
With category lines blurring and consumers looking for multipurpose solutions, the complexity is going to further increase in the future.
The e-commerce/DTC space has forced companies’ including their R&D and Innovation teams, to rethink better ways of working and bring in efficiencies in internal processes and how quickly they can act upon the consumer needs and have on-time launches.
5. Start-ups have an impressive innovation pace; many disruptions are coming from these innovative, technology-oriented companies. How can established CPG companies keep up with the pace of start-ups?
The power of leveraging the innovation ecosystem is the key here. Many big players have invested in accelerator programs to get access to innovative solutions to enhance consumer engagement, fasten product development, reduce cost, improve sales, etc. It provides them access to innovative brands that they can partner with or acquire later.
At Evalueserve, we support CPG companies proactively by tracking and identifying such startups and their innovations that have the potential to disrupt the space in which they operate. Our holistic approach not only helps in identification but also benchmarks them as per relevancy to client businesses supporting them to take informed decisions.
6. Which main trends do you recognize in the CPG industry recently?
While everyone is talking about the uber trends like sustainability, nature, and hygiene, there is another trend that has picked up well – Self-care: Consumers are moving towards preventive measures for health and wellbeing holistically–buying immunity or health-boosting supplements, health and wellness monitoring apps/devices or self-care rituals or practices at home. Affordability and convenience are likely to drive the growth of this space. There are a lot of opportunities for innovation in textures, formats, and fragrances here. New generation probiotics!! With further advancements in microbiome research, we would see more disruptions across the CPG sector.
7. Briefly share something about yourself that would surprise us.
Behind a serious researcher, there exists a simple mountain person. My native place is Uttarakhand, somewhere in the beautiful Himalayas. It’s like heaven for me. I can be your local guide there if you plan to travel and stay in the mountains.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.