The Godrej Group continues to expand its ‘Good and Green’ campaign through the development of ChotuKool, a low-cost refrigerator, and other low-cost products tailored for the bottom of the pyramid. While the refrigerator is going to be distributed nationally through the post, the company is also developing ChotuWash, a low-cost pocket-friendly washing machine intended to make washing clothes much less laborious, particularly for rural women. The Good and Green campaign is not only developing products for the bottom of the pyramid, however – it seems to be taking a firm-wide sustainability approach to its operations by helping train one million unemployed rural youth and greening its manufacturing and supply chain.

The Godrej Group is walking the talk on ‘Good and Green’, its brand campaign.

If the low-cost refrigerator-ChotuKool-that runs on both battery and electricity created a buzz because of innovation (how much of it translated into actual sales is not known as yet), the Godrej Group is already ready for more.

While ChotuKool is gearing up for national distribution through the postal system, in the pipeline are a slew of products targeted at the bottom of the pyramid. For example, ChotuWash, a pocket-friendly washing machine designed to take away the back breaking chore of washing clothes by rural women. Godrej Appliances is unwilling to specify a time frame for its launch, but planning on the product development is at an advanced stage.

The company is also working on a low-cost storage-based water purifier for rural India which will be unveiled by the end of the year. Unlike other budget water purifiers in the market, this one will not need power. Besides, it will not only remove bacteria and virus but also heavy metals.

“In many rural villages in India, there is heavy metal content in ground water. For example, arsenic is abundant in the East, chlorine in the South and iron in Central India,” says George Menezes, chief operating officer (appliances division), Godrej & Boyce. The water purifier will be customised for different regions and help bring pure water to the masses.

All these efforts are a part of the group’s brand campaign “Good & Green” launched early this year. A brainchild of consultancy firm FSG, Godrej is desperate to ensure that “Good & Green” doesn’t remain just a brand slogan.

There’s more. Godrej Interio is designing products for rural India. “We have designed desk-cum-bench for schools in rural India, priced at Rs 2000-3000. We have distributed 400,000 units already,” says Anil Mathur, chief operating officer, Godrej Interio.

In the pipeline are furniture products for rural homes. “We are developing ‘multi-purpose’ cost effective furniture that ensures space optimisation, as in rural India, homes are small. So, it could be a bed which can be put against a wall during the day, or storage boxes that can be converted to beds at night,” explains Mathur.

For household insecticide products, metal usage has been decreased by using lower grammage coil stands and marginally reducing the height of aerosol cans. The division is also looking to bring a rural insecticide product from its Indonesian operations (Megasari Makrur). “The insecticide is a product which is 25 per cent cheaper than the regular coils,” says Shashank Sinha, president (international business), Godrej Consumer Products.

Under Good & Green, Godrej has chalked out a three pronged strategy. While the target is to ensure ‘good and green products’, the group will also train a million youth in both urban and rural India to create an employable workforce. That apart, it is also on a mission to green its processes, whether it is on the manufacturing or supply chain side. So, from water conservation to energy reduction, environmental friendly processes will dominate the agenda.

Godrej is taking the support of its most important and closest stakeholders to take this mission forward. To ensure every employee is part of the initiative, the Group is encouraging them to come out with ‘green’ ideas which may have a bearing on the strategy. 115 such ideas will become ‘real goals’ to commemorate the Group celebrating 115 years next year.

“We want this to go beyond a corporate effort and want each business to take ownership of this,” says Vivek Gambhir, chief strategy officer, Godrej Industries.

Some efforts are already off the blocks.

Godrej knows training a million people will not be an easy task. The company is working towards striking an ideal partnership with NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to take this mission forward. Environment-friendly processes are also being implemented across different verticals. For instance, within the appliances division, the painting process done by ovens that deliver heat are fired typically by diesel or electricity. “At our plant, it is fired by gas generated by bio-mass. Bio-mass is sourced from local villages,” explains Menezes.

In the consumer business, products have moved away from PVC (polyvinyl chloride packaging) to sustainable PET packaging. “Also, we have reduced the plastic content in packaging by introducing refill bottles and aerosol caps,” says Gambhir.

However, experts say finding the right balance between sustainability and profitability, in ‘green product development’ will continue to be a challenge. Look at adjacent categories for proof. An industry insider says Coca-Cola sells a limited quantity of ‘eKocool’ coolers in India.