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Nilanjan Sarkar

Brand Manager | 10 Sep 2003

50% of the confectionery market lies in rural areas, and the market is growing at a rate many times more than the urban market

ITC's adult confectionery brand 'Mint-O' won a silver Effie at this year's EFFIE Awards. Initially, the brand was seen as a "me too" to Polo. Not any more. Buoyed by success, ITC Foods has launched 'Candyman' (hard-boiled sugar candy) in addition to 'Mint-O' (compressed mint). ITC's venture into garments, foods and confectionery was earlier considered 'surrogate' activity. One couldn't be more wrong. The categories are doing pretty well independently, both in terms of building brand image and generating revenues. Ritu Midha of exchange4media spoke to Nilanjan Sarkar, ITC Confectionery on the growth of the confectionery market, ITC's plans in the category and the role various 'Ps' of marketing play, when it comes to an impulse purchase, and small ticket category like 'confectionery'.

Q. At what rate do you see the confectionary market growing in India?

ORG MARG pegs the organized sector of the confectionery market at Rs. 1400 crore, growing at 9% per annum. We expect the confectionery market to maintain this rate of growth at least for the next 2-3 years.

Q. How does one differentiate between adult confectionary and kids' confectionery? Isn't the line between the two diminishing?

All forms of confectionery are broadly substitutable. To that extent, there is really no confectionery specifically sharp-targeted to adults/children in the country. However, it is true that specific categories of confectionery, like ITC's Mint-O, obtain a large portion of their franchise from young adults. By and large, the so-called 'Adult confectionery' brands exude a set of brand values that are more relevant to the youth. As against the 'Child confectionery' brands, which are more sharply focused towards children under 12. To take a specific example, ITC's confectionery portfolio has a set of two brands - Mint-O, directed at the youth, and Candyman, directed at children, with different brand values relevant to their respective target groups.

Q. ITC is, to a large extent, associated with tobacco. Does it make it harder for the confectionary brands from the same stable to make their mark in the market?

ITC's traditional distribution strengths have been convenience outlets that sell, among other things, tobacco products. This gives ITC a great leverage in terms of distribution strength. Today, ITC has the largest FMCG distribution reach in the country, and directly services more than a million outlets across the country. Since confectionery is an impulse purchase category, largely sold out of convenience outlets, ITC has strength in terms of distribution of confectionery.

Q. What is the positioning of Mint-O and Candyman?

Mint-O's positioning is based on its product feature of long lasting and stronger coolness than any other mint in the market, hence the positioning statement of 'Unusually Cool'. This statement has been cleverly used to convey a statement of attitude as well. Through a creative device of a vapor in the Mint-O advertisements. Candyman is a range of Hard Boiled Candies. It is positioned on the platform of adventure and excitement, hence the statement: "Kuch Bhi Karega for Candyman."

Q. How important is pricing in an impulse purchase category like confectionary? Does it have a larger impact on the kids brands than adult ones?

Confectionery in India is defined by very rigid price points, and is by and large price inflexible. This is more so in the case of child confectionery, where fixed price points of 25p, 50p, and Re 1 constitute the entire market. In the adult Confectionery market, end prices depend on packaging formats. For example, Mint-O, packed in rolls of 6s and 20 tablets is priced at Rs. 2 and Rs. 5 respectively.

Q. Is Candyman available nationally now? What is its market share?

Yes, Candyman is available nationally now, and enjoys a market share similar to recently launched brands like Max, Solano, etc.

Q. Wouldn t a price point of 50 paise be premium for a kids sweet?

Not at all. In fact 50p is the largest and the fastest growing segment in the organized Hard Boiled Candies market. ITC intends to be a significant player with the launch of Candyman range. The Candyman range of orange, pineapple, mango, and banana candies are priced at 50p.

Q. Are you planning to launch more flavors in Candyman?

Yes, over time, we will augment the Candyman portfolio with various offers in fruit flavored versions. More will over time augment this, so that Candyman has the largest range of candies in the market. This coupled with product superiority, and distribution, will ensure that ITC becomes a significant player in the Hard Boiled Candies market. .

Q. How is Mint-O trying to become the market leader in its category?

We are attempting to gain market leadership in the segment through a combination of superior brand communication, distribution and a range of flavors. Mint-O has expanded the market and single-handedly expanded the market. .

Q. How are Mint-O s orange and lemon flavors performing in the marketplace? Not much advertising is focused on these flavors. Why so?

Orange and lemon flavors hold significant shares of the category; we have consciously advertised Mint-O as a single brand that offers many flavors and therefore greater choice to the consumer - not the other way round. .

Q. In impulse purchase category, point-of-purchase promotions play a very important role. How are you handling that, considering the fact that there are quite a few strong players in jostling for shelf space?

Mint-O has been at the forefront of innovative marketing promotions. Last year, we had a tie-up to promote the James Bond movie, Die Another Day. This was on air as well as on ground. This year, we have tied up with M/S Ramesh Sippy Entertainment to promote their film, Kuch Na Kaho. The promotion is in association with Mint-O, and the commercial is already on air. This is a unique promotion where we have leveraged TV, Radio, Press, Internet, SMS, and direct consumer as well as retailer contact, giving a 360-degree mix to the promotion. The promotion is already giving us good results, and we hope to continue to associate with properties relevant to the youth through properties that are contemporary.

Q. How receptive is the rural populace to confectionery brands? Do you see a major growth potential there?

In fact 50% of the confectionery market lies in rural areas, and the market is growing at a rate many times more than the urban market. For confectionery priced at 50p, rural markets is and will continue to be very important. This is also one area where we expect ITC s superior distribution coverage to give it an advantage.

Q. Last but not the least, what role does advertising play in the marketing mix of a brand in this category?

As with any impulse purchase category, effective advertising drives top of mind recall, and positively influence sales. Hence Mint-O and Candyman will rely heavily on mass media advertising to drive consumer preference and recall.

Q. Considering the fact that all the brands in impulse purchase category are gunning for the same rupee, what share of voice, as per you, is required to make a mark?

Share of voice is a function of activity of all brands put together in the category - hence the concept of share of voice varies from market to market depending on the activity of the category in a particular market. Mint-O and Candyman will invest significant amounts in the coming years to ensure that we have a dominating SOV presence in each of our target markets.

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