Having appointed BMB Madison as its ad agency recently, premium gourmet foods retailer Nature’s Basket is on an expansion spree. Keeping in mind its specific target audience, the brand from Godrej Group is now tapping its existing and potential customer base with food specialties from around the world.
In 2010-11, the brand grew at nearly 70 per cent and expanded beyond Mumbai into other markets like Delhi NCR and Pune. Sharing the brand’s future plans, Mohit Khattar, MD, Godrej Nature’s Basket, told exchange4media, “Godrej Nature’s Basket currently has a network of 14 premium stores spread across Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. We have nine outlets in Mumbai, four in the National Capital and one in Pune. We are on the lookout for opening stores in catchment areas that resonate with our target customers.”
Sharing some numbers, Khattar said, “Our marketing budget is approx 2 per cent of our turnover.” However, the brand is willing to inject a hefty amount in marketing activities, which includes informing consumers about the food options available. “There is a continuous effort to connect with our consumers to give them a better shopping experience. We believe awareness of this industry and the infinite foodie options that it offers is still low. Hence, our programmes and initiatives aim to feed the imagination of our consumers and get them excited about the kind of food assortment that we offer. We conduct regular workshops and appreciation programmes and are also working on a loyalty programme that will enable our loyal consumers to enjoy greater benefits,” Khattar elaborated.
Commenting on some recent initiatives, he shared, “Our efforts at improving awareness are essentially below the line initiatives and not driven by mass media. We associate with like-minded, but non-competing businesses and organisations that cater to a similar consumer profile and jointly work on events that promote the usage of fine and gourmet foods. From promoting ideas for tastier recipes using ingredients available at our stores to industry experts conducting live demonstrations to making customised platters for private parties – our stores are doing it all.”
With 350 distributors and importers directly supplying to the store, 85 per cent of the retail chain’s shelf space is dominated by imported foods.
The ‘C’ Factor
Though one of the competitors, GourmetCity from HyperCity, exited the market in 2009 after just one year of operations, Nature’s Basket still faces some stiff competition from brands like Le Marche, Spencer’s Retail and Food Bazaar, which are some of the other aggressive players in the same category offering luxury food items. However, Khattar is not worried, as he said, “The gourmet industry is still a niche segment. With increasing spending power, along with low consumption, the scope of growth is tremendous. Thus, we would see several players wanting to enter the market. The entry of new players will help create more visibility for the segment, up the product and service levels, and create greater efforts to help tap into newer segments.” However, the brand keeps a sharp eye on what the competitors are doing.
Service is the differentiating factor for Nature’s Basket, as Khattar stressed, “While we offer an overwhelming range of authentic world food, beverages and ingredients, our biggest differentiating factor is the service level offered.”
When it comes to communicating with the audience, the brand has taken special initiatives for a strong impact. “At Nature’s Basket, we make an effort to continuously connect with our consumers by way of workshops, social media, PR-led media awareness, and in-store communication. We find immense satisfaction when our customers go home getting an insight about any cuisine or have their imagination fed by an enlightening conversation with our food specialists. We also do not believe in usual discount offers that most supermarkets routinely employ. Instead, we provide a platform for customers to interact with and learn something new,” Kattar added.
He further said, “Our staff are our best ambassadors. They are formally trained in hospitality and possess a sound culinary knowledge. We also work with well-known gastronomes, who help us understand trends in food consumption and provide insights into sourcing the best products for our consumers.”
Designed to delight
On the brand’s USP, Khattar maintained that Godrej Nature’s Basket was not just about retailing packaged products. Our premium assortment and range, including high quality fruits and vegetables, fresh non-veg products, cold cuts and assorted cheese from across the world, are some of our specialties. Our trained food specialists can set exquisite platters (cheese or cold cuts) for parties and are also instrumental in helping consumers get more out of the food they buy at our stores. Apart from the range, our USP is higher service levels and our commitment to create a memorable shopping experience that makes shopping for food a pleasure rather than a daily chore.”
On how the brand strategises to make this ‘experience’ unique, Khattar elaborated, “We believe that the look and feel of the stores, the product assortment and the customer service levels must all come together to create a vibe that is in sync and harmony with the audience that you intend to target. Our stores have been doing that quite successfully over the last two years. Our stores’ look and feel is understated yet classy and allows the product range to stand out easily as the hero. The knowledge levels of the staff and the services offered finally elevate the store and help us differentiate from other similar businesses.”
The digital side of it
The official website of the brand gives an elite look with a blend of royal colours enveloping the entire portal. However, the e-commerce option is yet to be explored by the brand. Khattar sounded positive as he said, “The effectiveness of digital media is palpable. This is the era of online platforms, wherein everyone believes being connected 24x7. There is a constant effort to increase convenience and the digital medium is most effective in this aspect. Thus, we are working towards strengthening our online portals like the website and other social media platforms. While we look forward to work towards creating a website that works as a virtual shopping destination, we are engaging our food specialists to engage with our customers over social media thus helping them appreciate world cuisine.”
For the record, in February 2011, the brand had unveiled a new logo that now appears in all in-store promotions, shopping bags, newsletters and everything else that the brand offers.