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Pankajj Chaturvedi

Executive Director South Asia | 27 Dec 2007

“I would not say that our ice cream is more expensive than other brands. We are definitely premium but the quality, taste and service which one gets from Baskin Robbins makes it an extremely value proposition. This is something that is borne out by the feedback we get from practically anyone who experiences the magic of Baskin Robbins.”

Pankajj Chaturvedi started his career with Holiday Inn after completing his graduation from the Catering College in Mumbai. He subsequently joined Domino’s India when it was just setting up operations here, and played a crucial role in establishing the brand and the concept of home delivery. Six years ago, Chaturvedi quit Domino’s as GM-West to take up a challenging opportunity to lead ice-cream brand Baskin Robbins that had at that time not realised its potential fully.

As Executive Director-South Asia of Baskin Robbins, Chaturvedi set about understanding the business, setting people and systems in place, and gradually turning it around. The hard work has paid rich dividend and today Baskin Robbins is one of the few profitable multinational foodservice brands in the country. It is now embarking on an aggressive and ambitious expansion strategy, given the retail revolution.

In a freewheeling conversation with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha, Chaturvedi talks about Baskin Robbins as a brand, its idea of undertaking mostly below-the-line activities, and more. Excerpts:

Q. How has the journey been for you at Baskin Robbins?

My journey has been extremely rewarding. I have been with Baskin Robbins for over six years now and the company has grown immensely since then. We have made a place for ourselves in India. I can safely say that my tenure here has given me immense satisfaction and learnings.

Q. What is the brand strategy for Baskin Robbins?

We concentrate more on below-the-line communications since this way we are able to tap our customers directly. We do go strategically on print and electronic media, but only during our peak months. We had initiated strong media activities in May 2007 with our ‘Spiderman’ promotions. When ‘Spiderman 3’ was released, Baskin Robbins launched a limited edition ice cream that included extra cream in the form of a web.

As our Spiderman promotion was successful, we are looking at similar activities that will involve and create excitement among our customers. The main objective would be to sustain the existing customers and increase our customer base with various promotional activities.

Internationally, Baskin Robbins has introduced a new look, which is more youthful and exciting. The new stores in India are created as per the new branding.

Q. What is the brand positioning of Baskin Robbins? What is your target audience?

Baskin Robbins is known for its wide variety of quality flavours, and our communication focus is to reinforce this among our audience. Ice cream is something that cannot be pinned down to a specific target audience as it is enjoyed across age and various other segments. Be it young children or our elder generation, we try creating enthusiasm and pleasure for all our customers.

Q. Why is Baskin Robbins ice cream more expensive then other branded ice cream? What are your key competitors?

I would not say that our ice cream is more expensive than other brands. We are definitely premium but the quality, taste and service which one gets from Baskin Robbins makes it an extremely value proposition. This is something that is borne out by the feedback we get from practically anyone who experiences the magic of Baskin Robbins.

We are really the only nationally present premium ice cream brand with a presence across 50 cities. We do have competition from local players, but we also view competition as coming from non ice cream players like coffee cafes and quick service joints who rely on attributes like ambience, environment, etc. to attract their clientele.

Q. What is your share of Baskin Robbins in the ice cream market in India?

We have a four-five per cent share in ice cream market.

Q. What is the ad-spend of Baskin Robbins?

Our annual ad spend is approximately Rs 2 crore.

Q. Are there any plans to expand via the franchise route?

Our network of franchised ice cream stores currently stands at 240 and we keep adding new stores each month. Our target is to reach a total of 300 stores by this year-end, all of which through franchise.

Q. Are you taking any specific initiatives to target children?

Children will always be one of our major consumers and hence target audience, and we will keep initiating promotional activities to create excitement within this group. These will be a mix of exciting flavour and product innovations created specifically for them, and promotions aimed at more involvement of this age group with our brand.

Q. And what about your global presence?

Baskin Robbins is present in more than 5,600 specialty outlets around the world.

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