'Britannia Dairy witnessed overall growth of 300%+ through e-commerce during lockdown'

Gunjan Shah, CCO, Britannia Industries, speaks about the FMCG brand's digital campaign, COVID-19 impact on the sector, growth in the snacking category and more

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Published: Oct 2, 2020 9:44 AM  | 7 min read


gunjan shah

Markets across economies were divided into essential and non-essential categories during the worldwide lockdown during the past couple of months. FMCG major Britannia was among those that beat the virus blues to emerge as the biggest beneficiary among its competing brands. Britannia Industries witnessed double-digit growth during the pandemic-induced lockdown. The revenue rose by nearly one-third in the April-June quarter with its sales and PAT growth estimated around 22% and 51% respectively.

The lockdown propelled people towards home-cooked food and experimenting with food. This led to growth across food categories with cheese being a huge beneficiary of this trend. Among its various top-performing products, in August, Britannia Cheese too launched a 12-part YouTube series, which was conceptualised to leverage the dramatic rise in in-home cooking since the outbreak. Britannia Cheese StarChef was high-decibel, 360 digital, campaign across metros. The series transformed Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan into a "StarChef" as he learned to cook with the best -- MasterChef winner Shipra Khanna and Britannia Cheese. The duo-cooked 12 rich cheesy dishes with Britannia Cheese in the series.

Sharing his perspective on the initiative, Gunjan Shah, CCO, Britannia Industries caught up with exchange4media to give more insights on the digital campaign, its success, COVID-19 impact on the FMCG sector, growth in the snacking category, brands’ bet on digital, future product line-ups and more.

Edited Excerpts:

Shed some light on the latest digital campaign titled " Britannia Cheese StarChef”. What was the inspiration behind the campaign? What was your target audience? 

The dramatic rise in in-home cooking since the outbreak of the pandemic was the key trend that informed the making of the first-of-its-kind campaign. We worked on the insight that every home chef is looking for extraordinary dishes that makes him or her a star in the kitchen! And cheese is the magical ingredient that helps make those dishes, and in turn, makes the home chef a star.

The adage ‘Life is great, cheese makes it better!’ quite sums up the universal love for cheese. The Britannia Cheese StarChef show hones in on cheese as that special, a star ingredient that turns a good dish into a dish extraordinaire. The show was designed to engage and invoke an interest to cook, even amongst newbie cooks. It is also high on entertainment, as Saif Ali Khan transforms himself from a reel Super Star to a Star Chef. He connects with the audience by revealing interesting trivia about his own love for cooking especially for his family. 

 What has been the response of the campaign? How successful has the campaign been? 

The campaign was significant on two fronts- first, it is the largest single-brand Digital Campaign that Britannia has ever embarked upon and second it has performed the best in terms of the metrics that we track for our digital investments. The click-throughs achieved on our promos have been between 200-250% of the industry benchmarks and the campaign has helped drive significant spike in growth for Britannia Cheese Year till date. The overwhelming response to the campaign, made us take it to mainstream TV media towards the end of August. 

How has the past 5 months been for Britannia Industries? Has Covid-19 impacted the FMCG business model as well?

 As the markets have started opening up, we have put the focus on new outlets and towns and will scale up both range & depth to ensure that we are ahead of the curve, while continuing to tap the potential of e-commerce platforms. 

As businesses have manoeuvred through the lockdown there have been different phases and different challenges. 

  1. During the lockdown, the focus was really on catering to the surge in demand, in the most efficient manner possible and hence we focused on a few SKUs(Stock Keeping Units) but really jump shifted our availability of the same. As we start entering the unlock phases, the consumer is demanding range & hence driving availability of even smaller SKUs like Spreads & Cream Cheese is becoming more important & hence we are driving the width of availability. 
  1. Further, with demand stabilizing, the market is again becoming competitive and hence there is a need to increase investment in the ATL & BTL space. We have now taken Britannia Cheese StarChef content on to TV which still delivers the widest reach for us. We have also increased our in-store investments. 
  1. Finally, the extended stay-at-home period has led to consumers learning how to use the many available cheese formats for the first time. This has led to inorganic business growth in new stores & new towns. Post unlock phase, it’s imperative for us to nurture these stores & towns through loyalty programs, tracking & monitoring. 

And hence as India enters the unlock phase, we remain agile & invested to make the most of the behavioural shifts and macro consumer trends we’ve observed in the category. 

Falling in the essential food category, how did the snacking category drive the growth? 

The last 6 months have seen a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour with consumers spending extended periods of time at home. This has given a significant boost to the macro snacking category in India. Hence, with the exception of some of the more ‘on-the-go’ categories such as salted snacks and dairy drinks, all other categories including biscuits, rusk, and cheese saw solid growths. 

The second big shift that has occurred is the need of the consumers to replace theirs out of home consumption occasions with experimentation at home. This trend has also given a huge impetus to the growth of the Cheese category with users, experimenting with cheese for in-home cooking for the first time. 

Britannia hence decided to craft the Britannia Cheese Star Chef campaign to give the confidence that in order to be a star in her kitchen, all she needs is to make some delightfully Cheesy recipes with Britannia Cheese. 

Which medium is the brand betting on as the economy has re-opened and consumer sentiment is slowly getting back to normal? What was the media mix?

The lockdown period saw a huge growth in Digital consumption & TV usage, with less consumer mobility the segments of Outdoor, Radio & Print saw a significant drop in consumption. 

Hence, in line with these trends, Britannia decided to invest in its largest-ever single brand digital Initiative, hence digital is our core medium. As fresh programming has started coming back on TV, the relevance of TV has also been growing & as a result we also decided to extend the Britannia Cheese Star Chef Campaign to TV.  

How has e-commerce performed for Britannia Industries keeping in mind the pandemic induced lockdown and social distancing? 

Covid has definitely changed the path to purchase of shoppers and we have taken several steps to be ahead of the curve.

 Firstly, we provided ease of discoverability & convenience to new users on key eCommerce platforms like Big Basket by creating Britannia Cheese Brand stores on the home pages for an extended shop-in-shop experience. 

Secondly, we have tied up with several Subscription based Ecommerce platforms like Milk basket and Super Daily, which provide daily- essentials delivery services across all major metros. This helped us recruit new users, gain consumer retention & increase stickiness by incentivizing purchase frequency. 

Thirdly, to strengthen last-mile delivery we have also entered into partnerships with portals like Dunzo, Swiggy & Zomato which provide superior hyperlocal grocery delivery services. 

This has led to overall growth of 300%+ for Britannia Dairy through e-commerce. 

Any new product portfolio in the pipeline? What are your views on the condition of the FMCG sector after the economy has reopened? Has it shown signs of improvement?

COVID times has rejuvenated the consumers’ interest in cooking at home and Britannia Cheese is determined to play the role of the consumers’ most preferred ally for culinary experimentation. We will continue to build preference for Britannia Cheese. With its rich golden glow & delightful cheesy taste, Britannia Cheese is uniquely positioned as the Best Cheese for Better Dishes.

In the past months & years a lot of consumers have made us an integral part of their cooking forays and celebrations. We value this and are committed to stay invested with a unique positioning and taste delivery, peerless quality & easy accessibility. We aim to build an ever-expanding consumer franchise firmly rooted in their passion point of cooking.

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