With summer at its peak, ice cream brands are all out with their fiercely competitive marketing strategy to push sales and create a strong brand recall. While regional brands like Vadilal and Havmor have launched high-decibel campaigns, premium brand like London Dairy is focusing on upgrading consumers to their products. Hindustan Unilever’s premium range Magnum, on the other hand, has slashed their price from Rs 90 to Rs 75 owing to competition. Also big brands like Amul, Mother Dairy and Kwality Walls have introduced new flavours to their existing portfolio this season.
Nielsen doesn’t track the ice-cream market, but the industry estimates expect the category in India to be anything between Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,500 crore, growing at 15-20 per cent per annum. Of this, the organised market will be around Rs 2,500 crore with volumes of 300 million litres per annum, which is growing at 18-20 per cent CAGR. In the last few years, there has been an advent of premium ice creams in India which is pegged at 6 per cent value of the branded ice-cream segment which amounts to another Rs 150 crore.
Summer marketing strategy:
We spoke to few company and marketing heads of ice cream brands in India in order to understand their selling strategy this summer. For Ahmedabad-based Vadilal, making the brand a part of consumer’s everyday life, whether in office, after party or anywhere, during this season is of prime importance. The intention of the brand is not to restrict ice creams to summers; so rather than talking about heat, they went on a mode of indulgence. Along with getting Parineeti Chopra as the face of Vadilal for their new campaign ‘badabite’, three new ice creams were introduced - Belgian chocolate-based bar, a new 20-variant for Flingo-centre filled cones and Gourmet super premium ice cream.
Vishal Surti, President, Sales & Marketing, Vadilal Ice cream, said, “Parineeti has worked really well for us and we have seen a three-digit growth in the premium category. This time we are betting big on cones, because in the last few years, we have seen a drastic change in the consumption pattern. Advertising budget on TV has definitely shot up this time because we have got Parineeti on board. Along with TV, in-store branding, print and digital also contribute to strong brand recall for us.”
Click here to view the ad:
Premium brand London Dairy, on the other hand, follows an integrated communication approach to target their audience who is well-travelled, has discerning taste and doesn’t mind paying for the finer experience. Although the brand has a primary target audience of SEC A 25+ male or female, this time it is looking to reach out to slightly younger consumers through their whole impulse range line-up priced at Rs 125. The attempt is to increase the brand franchise and get more trails into the brand, and at the same time, reach their secondary TG, which comprises consumers in the age group of 19-24 years.
Shweta Shrivastava, Head of Marketing, London Dairy elaborated, “Marketing is not about creating just an ad, especially when you are targeting to the TG London Dairy caters to. It is all about creating the right conversation at the right place. For this summer, our strategy was, right in the beginning of the season, start feeding in conversations about owning summer, which is a very topical consumption occasion as far as the ice cream category, is concerned.”
London Dairy launched its campaign #SummerIsComing where it was the principal sponsor. With two teasers, it was launched during the release of Game of Thrones on TV. “So while we amplified the campaign on TV, we actually launched it on digital. Around 4 and half years back, when we launched the brand in India, TV used to be the lead marketing medium, but today we are spending atleast 50% of our media money on digital,” she added.
Click here to view the ad:
Another Gujarat-based player Havmor recently unveiled their maiden TVC and even expanded its footprint to North India. Their plan is to open 10 exclusive ice cream parlours in New Delhi by June 2016 and another 25 by the end of the year.
Ankit Chona, MD, Havmor highlighted, “We plan to spend Rs 100 crore in production and another Rs 125 crore in market expansion in the next 2-3 years. We will spend this money for sure, but depending on the Return on Investment, we will decide on how soon or later to burn the cash. Earlier all our communication used to be tactic-led, with great emphasis on print and outdoor campaigns. This time, however, Havmor’s new TVC has used emotion to create recall. No doubt, TV helps to create better connect, but it doesn’t immediately convert to sales.”
Click here to view the ads: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX4fnmAfgrc
Meanwhile, competitive pricing has led to a price war in this category as well. According to sources, HUL’s Magnum was forced to slash their price from Rs 90 to Rs 75 because of competition faced from Amul’s premium range Epic priced at Rs 40. Amul is even promoting Epic through TVCs and hoardings. This year, actress Alia Bhatt was also signed in as the face of the ice cream brand Cornetto just ahead of Valentine’s Day. It will be interesting to see which strategy worked and who’s fizzled out in the summer race.
Magnum ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrUR0BujaLE
Challenges in the category:
Commenting on the challenges, Surti from Vadilal pointed out that the consumption pattern and the behaviour of the consumers is changing and they are not able to cope up with the pressure. “Also a lot of local unorganised players are making ice creams, which are of substandard quality. They are evading taxes; our tax proportion is like 15 per cent VAT in most of these cases, so even when you get off that, you straight away have the 15 per cent margin to play with. In order to fight this, we have products starting from a very low price point, off course not compromising on the quality. We have introduced the Rs 5 range for places like Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, Gujarat and it is doing well there,” he cited.
Shrivastava from London Dairy said, “Competition brands like Amul, Mother Dairy, Vadilal and others are available at 1/4th of our price. Key task of our brand which is into category creation of the premium ice cream segment is to upgrade the consumers from that price point. Also at the same time, we keep in mind that, when you are upgrading them, you need to provide these consumers with a superior experience as well. In the first few years, we were investing a lot in large scale sampling, but as we grew in size, we realised that it was a tedious process. For now, we are focusing on initiating trails and getting more consumers to try our brand through our impulse range, which is priced at Rs 125.”
“There is competition from the frozen dessert market because the pie is limited and the fight for the pie becomes stiff. But competitors have the pocket and they are spending through the roof. But the important thing which one needs to remember here is that, category creation is not going to happen overnight. The consumer is not going to upgrade to a price point of four times higher easily. Also the product line-up has to deliver as per the expectation. Consumers will upgrade by choice overtime,” she added.
All the three spokespersons agreed in unison that one of the major challenges they face is in the form of infrastructure. Lack of good quality roads, highways and electricity shortage remains a key impediment in this category.