The popular candy ‘Pulse’ from the house of DS Group recently crossed Rs 100 crore in sales in a span of just 8 months. The Kachcha Aam flavoured candy, with a tangy twist has become a huge hit in the Rs 2,100 crore hard boiled candy market in India. The total market size has grown at 10-12% in the last two years and this year it has risen by 22%.
The brand however, will soon be launching their first television commercial by early next quarter. Pulse currently has two flavours- Mango, Guava and there are plans of launching two more by the end of this year. The creative agency for Pulse is Scarecrow Communications.
Pulse was initially test-marketed in Rajasthan and Gujarat because Kachcha Aam as a flavour is enjoyed by people of these states. It instantly became popular in the market but expansion to other states took time because of the surge in demand and there was only one contract manufacturing unit. It was only after four months that DS Group decided to take Pulse pan-India and now the brand has seven units to cater to the huge demand in the country.
Talking about why their marketing strategy never involved any TV campaign till date, Shashank Surana, Vice President, New Product Development, DS Group said, “The whole point of doing a TV campaign is to create demand, but in our case we are finding it difficult to meet the huge demand. A basic thumb rule which we follow is- if you don’t have 60% placement, then there is no point of doing a television campaign. It will be like, you reach out to the masses and you are not available, so that would be like losing big opportunity.”
“Also marketing comprises not only of TV, but outdoor, in-shop promotions and sampling. So we were not there at the ATL front, but we were there at the BTL side. TV was not the right medium at that point of time because we were making in-roads. When you are at that stage, the best thing one can do is get consumers to try the product, through your in-shop promotions, be strong on digital and that is what we did,” he added.
In terms of the audience, Pulse’s consumption cuts across all age group and in terms of the communication, the brand is targeting the youth, who can be anywhere between 15-35 years.
Strong social media presence:
Pulse has benefitted a lot from social media. It features many celebrity conversations and people are making their own Pulse advertisements and posting on YouTube. There are dubsmashes posted on social media and Instagram photographs with Pulse candy. Even before the brand created their own social media page, Pulse consumers had created a page them.
Few months back, there was a post going viral on how Pulse is unsafe for consumption. Commenting on how the brand tackled criticism, Surana said, “We didn’t really have to do anything, the consumers have been carrying the brand banner high. The point is even before we could react, the world was reacting and they closed the issue there.”
Pulse boasts of a robust distribution, and they are penetrating deeper as far as the brand is concerned. “Depth of our distribution is from the local pan-walas to the modern retail. For us, distribution has been our strength and will be our strength for any FMCG product,” he cited.
Challenges & Opportunities:
Speaking about opportunities, Surana explanied, “The candy segment was actually lying quite flat with only straight flavours and there was no innovation so we entered the market with Pulse. There is a lot of scope for innovation in this category and this is a new segment which we have created. It will only grow from here. There is lot of potential and the fact that this market has grown by 22% this time tells us about all those innovation and differentiation that have entered into the market.”
Talking about the challenges, he highlighted, “When a product is successful, then others even try to ride on it. Around 40-50 local players have entered into this segment and some of the established players have launched their own version of Pulse. There is a lot of imitation which is happening and we have to deal with it. We consider this as both a challenge as well as an opportunity for us to establish a firm footing in the market.”