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Winning brand-retailer partnerships: Doodh Misthan Bhandar and Reliance Retail

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10 outstanding success stories of collaboration exemplifying how brands and retailers can create a winning playbook by leveraging each other’s capabilities and resources

By collaborating, brands and retailers can reach out to new customers and expand their reach in the market. Retailers can help brands distribute their products more effectively by leveraging their existing distribution networks. Brands can benefit from retailers’ expertise and resources, such as data analytics and omnichannel capabilities, to enhance their operations and offerings. Together, they can collaborate on marketing and promotional activities to drive sales and raise brand awareness besides helping each other to tap into new revenue streams, reduce costs, and improve overall profitability.

We bring you 10 outstanding success stories of collaboration between food and FMCG brands and retailers in building new consumption/ product categories or transforming a traditional category with innovation.

Doodh Misthan Bhandar and Reliance Retail unleash a storm in packaged sweets

When consumption of packaged sweets and single-serve sweet packs started rising precipitously during the pandemic, the retailer passed on this consumer insight to DMB, which moved fast to introduce some 50-odd varieties of sweets in small packs priced at Rs. 40 with consumers lapping up the new bite-sized offerings.

Jaipur-based Doodh Misthan Bhandar (DMB) started off with dairy farming in 1950 and successfully built a big and broad customer base for its pure desi milk products like curd, ghee, khoya, and chhena. In 1965, as part of its business extension and diversification, it forayed into sweets’ retailing, once again building a reputation for its hygienic and quality sweets. In 1999, DMB opened a fast-food restaurant in the city, thus dipping its toe into food service. After nearly six decades in the retail trade, DMB has evolved from a small dairy business in Jaipur into becoming an eminently successful and celebrated manufacturer and retailer of sweets in Jaipur.

Elements of the Collaboration 

“About some 4-5 years ago, when our sweets business was thriving and we were looking to further scale the business, an opportunity came our way to strike a partnership with Reliance Retail for the packaged sweets category. Until then, sweets were largely consumed in loose form and often sold in bulk,” says Rahul Sharma, Director, Doodh Misthan Bhandar. 

Once the partnership was in place, DMB products like gulab jamun, rasgolla and soan papdi started selling at all Reliance grocery stores in Jaipur. “When the covid pandemic struck, it proved to be a catalytic moment for both partners and we noticed that the consumption pattern for sweets was beginning to see a marked churn. A radical shift was seen with consumers moving away from loose to packaged sweets,” says Rahul.

Even as the consumer shift to packaged sweets played out strongly, DMB saw the demand for its packaged sweets shoot up precipitously. Another trend to start blowing was the brisk uptick in sales of single-serve sweet packs. 

“Thanks to this collaboration, we passed on this emerging consumer insight to DMB, which quickly moved to capitalize on the growing trend. It came up with small packs priced at Rs. 40, which was introduced at all Reliance Retail grocery stores in Rajasthan. With strong public response to small-pack sweets, DMB was able to come up with some 50 odd varieties of sweets in small packs,” says Bhanu Pratap Singh, National Head – Regional Brands, Reliance Retail.

Outcome With the resounding success of DMB small-pack sweets, Reliance Retail has been able to sell these products as a good replacement for chocolates in the confectionery category. “Today, we are selling these small-pack sweets as small treats and have convincingly shown that mithais can be sold and retailed very profitably, which has really added fresh momentum to the packaged sweets category,” observes Bhanu Pratap. 

The plan, going ahead is to further accelerate this novel way of sweets’ retailing by adding more products such as “gajar ka halwa” in single- serve cups and a whole lot of other products, thus bringing more options for families and their members to buy and consume such bite-sized treats as per their individual preferences. 

Recently, DMB has introduced another couple of products to its small-pack single-serve offerings, which are registering feverish sales. The company has started selling the malpua, a delicacy relished by many Indians and a signature recipe on occasions like Holi and other festivities, and ghevar, which is a much-in-demand sweet across the country. 

Thanks to such innovations, the packaged sweets category is expanding fast in Modern Trade and the channel is garnering new consumers who are all too happy to indulge their sweet tooth with bite-sized delights without having to buy them loose or in bulk or having to burn a hole in the pocket.

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