Case StudiesBlog

A Case Study on ITC, From Cigarettes to Diversification


In the world of business, ITC Limited is a name that stands out as a true embodiment of diversification, sustainability, and success. Formerly known as the Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited, ITC has transformed itself from a tobacco giant into a multi-business conglomerate that operates in various sectors, including FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods), agri-business, hospitality, and information technology.

This case study on ITC drives into the ITC’s remarkable journey, its commitment to sustainability, and how it has achieved a unique position in the Indian business landscape.

A Brief Overview of ITC

ITC Limited, originally known as the Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited, has a rich history that traces its roots back to the early 20th century. The company was founded in 1910, primarily as a tobacco business.

A Case Study on ITC
A Case Study on ITC

It began its journey by entering into partnerships with farmers in southern India in 1911 to source leaf tobacco. 

This led to the formation of the ‘Indian Leaf Tobacco Development Company Limited’ in the Guntur region of Andhra Pradesh in 1912. The company’s first cigarette factory was established in Bangalore in 1913.

  • As ITC continued to grow, it expanded its footprint in the tobacco industry. In 1925, the Munger cigarette factory added a printing facility to its operations, marking ITC’s initial foray into non-tobacco businesses.
  • Over the years, the company further diversified its operations by venturing into packaging and printing businesses, which were crucial components in the reverse integration of its cigarette business.
  • ITC’s journey towards diversification and success was characterized by the establishment of various factories across India, which allowed it to increase its cigarette production capacity. The company’s commitment to excellence was also evident in the construction of its headquarters, the ‘Virginia House’ in Calcutta, which began in 1928.
  • Through strategic acquisitions, such as the Carreras Tobacco Company’s plant in Kidderpore in 1935, and the integration of various businesses in the 1950s, ITC strengthened its position as a diversified conglomerate.

The company also set up indigenous facilities for cigarette tissue-paper production and printing and packaging, reducing import costs and further enhancing its self-sufficiency.

This early history of ITC demonstrates the company’s journey from its tobacco-centric origins to becoming a multifaceted conglomerate that would later lead the way in various sectors, including FMCG, agri-business, hospitality, and information technology.

ITC’s Diversification

One of the key success factors of ITC’s transformation has been its strategic diversification into various sectors. This diversification strategy has not only reduced its dependence on the tobacco business but has also enabled it to tap into different segments of the Indian economy.

  • FMCG: ITC’s entry into the FMCG sector has been a remarkable success story. The company has launched numerous brands in this segment, including Aashirvaad, Sunfeast, Bingo, and Classmate. These brands have gained popularity and market share, making ITC a significant player in the Indian FMCG industry.
  • Agri-Business: ITC’s agri-business division works closely with farmers to improve agricultural practices and provide a market for their produce. This has not only enhanced the livelihoods of farmers but also ensured a steady supply of quality raw materials for the company’s various products.
  • Hospitality: ITC’s luxury hotel chain, ITC Hotels, has earned a reputation for its opulence and eco-friendly initiatives. The company has incorporated sustainability in its hotel operations, earning LEED Platinum certification for several of its properties.
  • Information Technology: ITC’s IT division, ITC Infotech, has been actively providing IT services and solutions to businesses globally, expanding ITC’s reach beyond Indian borders.

Products & Brands Under ITC

ITC Limited, a diversified conglomerate based in India, operates in various sectors and offers a wide range of products and brands across these sectors.

Here is an overview of some of the key products and brands under ITC:

1. FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods):

  • Aashirvaad: A leading brand in the atta (wheat flour) and spices category.
  • Sunfeast: Known for its biscuits and snacks.
  • Bingo: Offers a variety of snacks and chips.
  • YiPPee!: A popular brand for instant noodles.
  • Classmate: A well-known name in the stationery and notebooks segment.
  • Fiama: Known for personal care products, including soaps and shampoos.
  • Savlon: Offers a range of hygiene and health care products.

2. Agri-Business:


ITC’s agri-business division deals with a wide range of agricultural commodities, including wheat, rice, pulses, coffee, and more. This division works closely with farmers and provides them with technology, information, and market access.

3. Hotels & Hospitality:

Hotels & Hospitality
Hotels & Hospitality

ITC Hotels: A luxury hotel chain known for its opulent properties, sustainable practices, and excellent service. Some notable ITC hotel brands include ITC Maurya, ITC Grand Chola, and ITC Sonar.

4. Paperboards and Packaging:

Paperboards and Packaging
Paperboards and Packaging

ITC is a significant player in the paper and packaging industry. It manufactures high-quality paperboards used for packaging various consumer products.

5. IT and ITES (Information Technology and Information Technology-Enabled Services):

Information Technology and Information Technology-Enabled Services

ITC Infotech: Provides IT services and solutions to businesses across the globe, specializing in areas like consulting, digital transformation, and more.

6. Agarbattis (Incense Sticks):

Agarbattis (Incense Sticks)
Agarbattis (Incense Sticks)

ITC also has a presence in the spiritual and wellness sector, offering a range of agarbattis (incense sticks) under brands like “Mangaldeep.”

7. Personal Care:

Essenza Di Wills
Essenza Di Wills

ITC’s personal care segment includes brands like “Engage” for fragrances and “Essenza Di Wills” for premium skincare and fragrances.

8. Dairy and Confectionery:

Aashirvaad Svasti: Offers dairy products like ghee, milk, and curd, and “Fabelle” for premium chocolates.

Dairy and Confectionery
Dairy and Confectionery

9. Lifestyle Retailing:

Lifestyle Retailing
Wills Lifestyle and John Players

ITC’s “Wills Lifestyle” and “John Players” are brands known for clothing and fashion accessories.

10. Education and Stationery:

Education and Stationery
Education and Stationery

Classmate: Apart from notebooks, Classmate offers a range of stationery products.

11. Matches:

iKno Matches ITC
iKno Matches ITC

ITC’s “iKno” brand provides safety matches to consumers.

12. Safety Matches:

The “Aim” brand offers safety matches.

13. Packaged Foods:

ITC also offers a range of packaged foods under various brand names, including “Kitchens of India” for gourmet Indian food and “Ashirvaad” for spices and instant mixes.

These are just a few examples of the products and brands under the vast ITC umbrella. The company’s diversification into various sectors has allowed it to establish a strong presence in multiple industries, making it one of India’s leading private sector enterprises.

ITC’s Sustainability Initiatives

What truly sets ITC apart is its unwavering commitment to sustainability. The company has embedded sustainable practices into its core business operations, focusing on several key areas.

  • Sustainable Agriculture: ITC’s e-Choupal initiative is a pioneering effort to empower farmers with information and knowledge, enabling them to improve their crop yields. This not only benefits the farmers but also ensures a consistent supply of high-quality raw materials for ITC’s products.
  • Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing: ITC has invested in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities that adhere to stringent environmental norms. This includes a focus on reducing carbon emissions and water usage.
  • Social Responsibility: ITC has actively engaged in community development programs, particularly in rural India, with a focus on healthcare, education, and women’s empowerment.
  • Afforestation and Biodiversity: The company has undertaken massive afforestation initiatives to increase green cover and promote biodiversity. The “Greening India” campaign is an example of ITC’s efforts to conserve and enhance the environment.

ITC’s Sustainability Achievements

ITC’s dedicated efforts towards sustainability have not gone unnoticed. The company has received numerous awards and recognitions, including:

  • Dow Jones Sustainability Index: ITC has consistently been featured in this prestigious index, which recognizes the world’s leading sustainable companies.
  • Climate-Positive: ITC has been recognized as a “Climate Positive” company by the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project). This means ITC has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint beyond just being carbon neutral.
  • LEED Platinum Certification: Several ITC hotels have received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification for their green building practices and environmental responsibility.
  • Water Positive: ITC’s water management initiatives have made it a “Water Positive” company, which means it gives back more water to the environment than it consumes in its operations.

Challenges Faced by ITC

Despite its success, ITC has had its share of challenges. Some of the notable challenges include:

  • Regulatory Changes: The tobacco industry faces continuous regulatory changes and scrutiny. ITC has had to adapt and find new avenues for growth as tobacco consumption declines.
  • Competitive Market: The FMCG sector is highly competitive, with numerous established players. ITC had to put in significant efforts and investments to carve out its space in this market.
  • Sustainability Implementation: While ITC’s sustainability initiatives are commendable, they require substantial investments and resources, which can be a challenge in the short term.

ITC Advantage Of Competition

Here are some of the advantages that ITC holds in the competitive landscape:

  1. Diversification: ITC has successfully diversified its business into various sectors, including FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods), hotels, paperboards, and more. This diversification not only reduces its dependence on any single industry but also allows the company to tap into different markets and consumer segments. It’s a big conglomerate with a broad portfolio.
  2. Experience and Expertise: With over a century of existence in the Indian market, ITC has gained extensive experience and built a robust distribution network. This experience is invaluable in understanding customer needs and preferences, which in turn makes the company financially strong and competitive.
  3. Social Initiatives: ITC’s social initiatives, such as the E-Choupal program aimed at making the internet accessible to Indian farmers, have not only improved the lives of rural communities but also enhanced the company’s brand presence. These initiatives create a unique “X-factor” for the company.
  4. BCG Matrix Utilization: ITC employs the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix to categorize its business segments. This matrix helps the company make strategic decisions based on the relative market share and growth potential of each business segment. By using this framework, ITC can allocate resources effectively and make informed choices about its various businesses.
  5. Distribution Network: ITC’s extensive distribution network, built over more than a century, is unmatched by many competitors. This network ensures that ITC products are readily available to customers, even in remote areas of India.
  6. Brand Value: ITC is a highly recognized and respected brand not just in India but also globally. Its brand value is a testament to its commitment to quality, innovation, and reliability.
  7. Market Analysis: ITC carefully analyzes the market and adapts to changes, such as the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). This analytical approach helps the company maintain steady taxation rates and remain competitive.
  8. Social Impact: ITC’s initiatives in the social sector have a direct and positive impact on the lives of thousands of farmers and their families in rural India. This socially responsible approach not only strengthens the company’s brand but also builds goodwill in the community.

Some Related Posts

Wrapping Up

ITC Limited’s journey from a tobacco company to a diversified conglomerate is a testament to its visionary leadership and commitment to sustainability. The company’s transformation showcases how a business can evolve with the times and make a positive impact on society and the environment.

As India’s fourth-largest company by market capitalization, ITC stands as a shining example of responsible business practices. Its dedication to sustainability, coupled with its diverse business portfolio, positions it as a model for other companies seeking long-term success in an ever-changing world.

ITC’s journey serves as a case study that illustrates the importance of adaptability, diversification, and sustainability in the contemporary business landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What is ITC Limited, and what does it stand for?

ITC Limited, formerly known as the Imperial Tobacco Company of India, is one of India’s prominent multi-business conglomerates. It is involved in various sectors, including FMCG, hotels, agri-business, and more.

Q2. How did ITC transition from a tobacco company to a diversified conglomerate?

ITC began as a tobacco company in 1910. Over the years, it diversified its business interests into various sectors, reducing its reliance on tobacco and expanding into non-tobacco products.

Q3. What are some of the key sectors in which ITC operates?

ITC operates in diverse sectors, including FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods), hotels, paperboards and packaging, agri-business, and information technology.

Q4. What are some of the well-known brands and products under ITC?

ITC boasts several popular brands and products, such as Aashirvaad, Sunfeast, Bingo, ITC Hotels, YiPPee!, and Classmate, to name a few.

Q5. What is ITC’s commitment to sustainability, and how does it implement it in its business operations?

ITC is committed to sustainability through initiatives like e-Choupal, water management, and afforestation. It actively engages in community development, social responsibility, and environmental conservation.


Do You Want To Share Your Startup Story With US? CLICK HERE

Join Our Community HERE

Recommended Stories