IBC: We are on a mission to make Mayonnaise relevant: Oliver Mirza, Dr. Oetker India

At the India Brand Conclave 2018, Mirza talks about building 'veg mayonnaise' as a new category and how Dr. Oetker has adapted to Indian taste and needs

by Pallavi Borkar
Published - Nov 29, 2018 4:38 PM Updated: Nov 29, 2018 4:38 PM
oliver mirza

At the India Brand Conclave 2018, Oliver Mirza, MD & CEO, Dr. Oetker India delivered a special address on the topic, 'Category Management: Building a New Category'.

Watch the session here and scroll down to read:

Managing the Dr. Oetker India business for 11 years now, Mirza began his session with his German and Indian ancestry, and how he is a nutritionist by profession. He has lived and worked in three continents. For the last 30 years, he has worked in different industries but food has always been his passion and has always worked in the food industry. Mirza started his career as a pastry chef and then went back to school to pursue a business degree.

Previously he worked with Heinz in Germany, and Dr. Oetker (Honey Division) in Germany. “I moved to India from Germany to build Dr. Oetker business in India. Although Indian and Europe are similar in size but the differences are so vast and not just in food. We needed to unlearn what we used to do in Europe and start learning new for the Indian market,” he said.

Mirza explained further, “India is a country of opportunity for western comfort food. Dr Oetker group’s pedigree is also in comfort food. We do a lot around pizzas, subs, toasties, deep dish, burgers, for home consumption. We focussed on our core competencies and brought it to India. We looked at in-home marketing. Dominos worldwide does 1.5 million pizzas a day, we do 5 million a day, but we are in the home consumption side. “

Mirza says the biggest tastemaker is mayonnaise hence they decided to bring it to India. “Mayonnaise has multiple usage, and is a replacement for butter too. In India, people did not know about this, it’s a key ingredient in comfort food. People knew there was a white sauce in a sandwich but they didn’t know it was mayonnaise. Hence we started educating people about mayonnaise.” 

Mayonnaise is the biggest condiment in the world, today, it is a 2 billion USD market and ketchup is only 800 million. “Mayonnaise dressings were always no. 1 even in the UK. But when we came here in 2018, mayonnaise was only a 9 cr market against ketchup, which was a 500 – 600 cr market. In 10 years, we have pushed the market to Rs 200 cr.” 

We deep dived into mayonnaise and when we tried to understand consumer and the choices they made, and try to understand if they understood the difference between an eggless and vegetarian category. By coincidence we renamed one category into ‘mayonnaise veg eggless’, and that change worked. Then we created a new category ‘Veg Mayonnaise’ which is now a 180 cr market; it is the biggest category for us now. Beauty of building this category is that you take an insight and scale it up. Eggless is not that relevant, people wanted to hear vegetarian,” said Mirza. 

“We are driving penetration so that more and more people understand what mayonnaise is. Of course, distribution also plays a major role in this. We are creating relevance through education, through a TV spot, by instructing how to make a delicious sandwich, by educating, with this we have achieved our target. For us our focus is on consumer than on a competitor. We also monitored trends locally and globally. Every few years there’s a new trend in the food industry like low-fat, Atkins, now the trend globally is low-sugar. Our focus is on health and quality,” explained Mirza.

Mirza informed that in 2017, Dr. Oetker opened a new plant, a new technology called the aero technology to be ahead of time. “We will use less stabilisers and additives; the world is moving to all-natural and our technology will address this need,” said Mirza. “We are now in 489 towns in India. We are expanding further, we want to go to smaller towns in north and south of India,” he concluded.

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