Parag Milk is eyeing a larger share of the cheese pie

Akshali Shah, Senior VP, Strategy (Sales & Marketing), Parag Milk Foods, tells us how the company’s growth will largely be driven by the health and nutrition category in future

by Christina Moniz
Published - Jul 23, 2019 8:15 AM Updated: Jul 23, 2019 8:15 AM
parag

Akshali Shah, Senior VP, Strategy (Sales & Marketing) at Parag Milk Foods, is driving strategy and communication for the company’s brands like Gowardhan, Go, Topp up, Pride of Cows, Avvatar and Slurp. 

We spoke to Shah on how she has been spearheading innovation and strategy for new product development for these brands, and more.

Excerpts:

You’ve taken a different approach with your latest campaign, #HarTastyCheezMeinGoCheese. What were your objectives for this campaign?

The entire insight behind this campaign is that, as a market trend, most cheese consumption among Indian consumers takes place outside the home. Indian homes are still learning to use cheese in their food. Consumers eat cheese in a restaurant, pizza place or at a roadside sandwich stall. As a prominent player in the Indian cheese market, we supply to some of the best pizza chains and burger joints.

So with this campaign, we thought it would be great to connect the cheese consumption experience with the Go Cheese brand and let consumers know that every time they are enjoying a delicious meal or snack with cheese, it is most likely they’re savouring Go Cheese. While we haven’t specifically named the brands we supply cheese to, the ad makes it very clear that consumers can taste Go Cheese at their favourite eatery.

What is the kind of investment that has gone into this campaign? And what is the media mix you are employing?

We are going to spend around Rs 10 crore this financial year and a good chunk of that will be devoted to this campaign. We are looking largely at TV – so about 80% of our spends will be on TV but we will do a fair bit of Outdoor as well. We will also be doing a lot of influencer-led activities on Digital.

The company is currently at number two in the Indian cheese market. What is the current market-share you enjoy, and what are the factors that have contributed to your growth year-on-year?

Yes we are currently at number two in the market. We enjoy a market-share of about 35% while Amul’s is about 42%. The fact that we have innovated almost every quarter has helped us gain market-share. Consumers today are moving towards more functional and customised offerings when it comes to cheese, which is why we have a huge variety of offerings today. We have cheese for pizza toppings, an Italian mix for pasta and Mexican blends of cheese too. People are also looking for desi flavours, so we have the peri peri cheese and the Schezwan variant. We are offering new flavours and concepts, which appeal to consumers. Our customisation is not just for consumers but also for Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs). These include both leading pizza and fast food chains as well as smaller pizza outlets and restaurants. In fact for the big QSR chains, we actually help to curate their menus and showcase the various dishes they can create with varieties of cheese.

What percentage of your cheese revenues comes from the QSR business?

It’s 50:50 really. That’s the market trend in fact, so QSRs and retail sales command a 50:50 market share.

You launched your whey protein brand, Avvatar a little over a year ago. How has the product performed in the market so far?

Well, this particular product is more niche and it’s not one of those one-time indulgence purchases. In this industry, a lot depends on repeat purchases. Most of our Avvatar consumers tend to consume a scoop a day, which means they will need to replenish the product at regular intervals.

We are seeing repeat purchases from these consumers, which is a positive sign. Also, we are the only Indian player in this largely unorganized industry, which is another advantage. We are continuing to promote Avvatar largely through digital, influencers and some BTL activities. All of these have really worked for the brand.

The company recently launched its own range of ready-to-eat sweets this year. What prompted this venture into a new category?

If you look at the ghee market, its consumption is largely in the area of sweets. So this new launch made complete sense, especially since it is under our flagship brand, Gowardhan. So, we have already started with rasgulla and gulab jamun for now, but in time we will introduce Mysore pak and soan papdi, probably around the festive period. Our sweets are all made using our own Gowardhan ghee.

How different is the communication approach for your premium brand, Pride of Cows?

Much like with Avvatar, our approach for Pride of Cows is largely digital-led with a bit of BTL. For Pride of Cows in fact, the entire approach is extremely personalised. We know everything important about our consumers for this brand – the number of members in their household, their birthdays, their preferred timings for delivery, etc. A lot of the business generation for this brand too happens largely from digital.

Which markets are going to be priority for you, moving forward?

Definitely the North markets. One of the biggest developments has been our acquisition of the Danone plant in the North. With this move, we are now able to provide fresh dairy products that are consumed daily such as milk and dahi – these are also helping us grow in terms of brand recall and revenue growth.

What steps are you taking to close the gap with market leader, Amul?

Will we see a lot of diversification in terms of product offerings? Our vision for the company is quite clear. Moving forward, we want to create awareness that dairy products are more than just about indulgence. Cheese is not just an indulgence – our focus therefore will be on driving awareness of the nutritional aspect of cheese. We want consumers to become aware that cheese and dairy are good sources of protein and calcium. In terms of diversification, going forward we will introduce products for kids, for pregnant women and for fitness-conscious consumers. We have already launched pure protein and high protein products also. The health and nutrition category will be important in the future and will be a key growth driver.

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