Brand loyalty & personalisation today is the essence of brand preference-Neelima Burra CMO, Cargill Foods

In an exclusive interview with exchange4media, Neelima Burra, CMO, Cargill Foods India spoke about the changing marketing dynamics, role of MNCs in shaping food culture and Cargill’s future strategy

e4m by Ronald Menezes
Updated: Mar 29, 2016 7:52 AM
Brand loyalty & personalisation today  is the essence of brand preference-Neelima Burra CMO, Cargill Foods

Cargill India was launched in India 15 years ago as the biggest B2B company and over a period of time it has also ventured in the B2C space. In the last few years Cargill has acquired many brands like Gemini edible oil from Parekh Foods, Sweekar from Marico and Leonardo olive oil among others.

In an exclusive interview with exchange4media, Neelima Burra, CMO, Cargill Foods India spoke about the changing marketing dynamics, role of MNCs in shaping food culture and Cargill’s future strategy.


Q. How do you plan to market Cargill Foods in India where the food sector is saturated and the competition is visibly intense?

Our global expertise helps bring the best nutrition to consumers. From right sourcing, good quality and good nourishment, Cargill is known to make fundamental corrections to food. For example we introduced ‘Sampoorna Chakki Atta’ which has high dietary fibres and enables better digestion while providing more energy for day to day work.  So these small things provide us the competitive advantage over others and add value to the consumer experience.

Q. Tell us about the products that are in the spotlight for Cargill?

Our spotlight currently are categories like sunflower oil, which is one of the leading health oil of the country primarily in the south where it constitutes 80% of the market and it is a growing phenomena across the country, soyabean oil which is primarily sold in north and east market, around 40% of Maharashtra purchases soyabean oil and mustard oil which is again majorly consumed in northern and eastern regions. We also have olive oil which is primarily a metro and mini metro phenomenon and is the youngest trend in the country and it continues to grow and flourish in India. Apart from that we have Sweekar which is one of the best we have in our portfolio.

Q. How do you connect the basic staple provider image with the diverse consumer profile, especially to the youth?

If you look at the consumer segmentation across the households in India you can literally divide the household into strugglers, aspiring and affluent. If you look at the aspiring segment, they are the younger target group that are driving the economy.  So for such target groups we have brands like Nature Fresh Acti-Lite and Nature Fresh Sampoorna Chakki Atta.

Our Sampoorna Chakki Atta campaign talks about how young India is aspiring to achieve more by working hard and fighting everyday battles to be successful in life. So it’s all about tagging along their needs and our positioning is different for different products.

Q. Tell us about your digital strategy, how are you using this medium to target consumers?

Along with the campaigns that we run on TV, we also have exclusive digital initiatives to target our consumers, especially the youth. Moreover, we are also focussing on mobile marketing which is fast emerging as an effective marketing channel given the increasing use of smartphones.

Q. Would you agree that MNC’s are shaping up the food industry in India?

I don’t think it’s a matter of being an MNC or any Indian company. It is the vision of the organisation and the core values that it encompasses. I can be in the food business providing the basic needs and if I am a basic staple food provider it is my responsibility to provide something more than the basic qualities of the product.

Q. How has your experiences with Usha, Britannia and Whirlpool been in the past and what was the difference?

I have worked across categories that are very different from each other. The dynamics in selling condoms is different, as the markets and retail react differently and ads cannot be shown on prime time TV because they are considered adult content, than selling biscuits, which is a different ball game, as nourishment and health was the prime focus for Britannia while I handled Tiger. When I went to Whirlpool I was selling refrigerators but food preparations and food solutions was one of the prime agendas. I would say, selling technology is different from selling food as the needs are different.

Q. How have the marketing techniques evolved over the last two decades?

 Interestingly, fundamentals of marketing have remained the same. What has changed is the way we are selling the fundamentals of marketing. Fifteen years ago TV was one of the primary mediums, cable was not available everywhere and electricity was scarce too. Last five years have digitally enabled India where everything is well connected, mobile penetration has grown phenomenally  and the e-commerce phenomena has redefined the marketing approach to a large extent. Moreover, it is no longer the conventional marketing methods which will work anymore. In the current world of marketing brand loyalty and personalisation is the essence of brand preference.

Q. What is the Market share of Cargill Foods in India?

Our brand Nature Fresh Atta has doubled its volume and market share over last year and is growing at 15%  while Leonardo Olive Oil is the leader in olive oil category with 20% MS in 2014 – 15.

Q. How are the ad spends for Cargill foods divided?

We spend around Rs 50 crore in brand building year on year and in creating consumer and trade loyalty. Our engagement for the brands is divided into TV/Print/Radio – 75% and Digital – 25%. Out of total spends we spend around 70% on below the line execution which is all about deriving experiences because our product categories are like that. We spend a lot of money for in store executions, consumer education and ensuring it’s available everywhere. We also spend a lot of money on digital too. As for TV and print we use them only to launch or announce new propositions that we have, since our market is far more fragmented. So micro marketing is more important than flashing it out nationally.

Q. Is the ease of doing business really working for MNCs today?

We are an MNC but are positioned in India as an Indian consumer brand. While we deal with other companies and B2B organisations, we are not feeding people directly but through those companies, this environment is far better because the government is creating more awareness. It is an environment that puts pressure on everyone to deliver the best products to the consumers.

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