India is one of the most strategic growth markets in Asia for Dole: Aashim Malhotra

Malhotra, VP of Dole Foods, revealed that the company will use a mix of above-the-line and below-the-line investments to woo consumers as it makes inroads into the Indian market

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Mar 26, 2021 9:04 AM
Aashim Malhotra

Singapore based MNC, Dole Foods, which sells fresh and packaged fruits globally, recently entered the Indian market through a tie-up with leading retail firm Future Group. The company has also flagged off its first-ever India campaign for Juice Gel+ and seems all set to capture the Indian market with its healthy proposition. 

Currently, the $2.5 billion company is present across 70 countries with the US being its largest market. Besides India, Dole Food is also planning to expand to other parts of Asia, including the Middle East apart from its ongoing expansion plans in Europe and Africa. Aashim Malhotra, VP, Dole Foods, in conversation with exchange4media, shared the company’s game-plan to reign over consumers as it makes its inroads into the Indian market.

Edited excerpts below:

Tell us about the spends pumped into your maiden India campaign, the marketing mediums used and your brief to your agency WondrLab.

Dole is committed to building its business in India on the core promise of healthy snacking, delivered through a clean label and nutritious fruit-based products. We are not looking at this as one big burst but a more holistic campaign, built through various touchpoints. Needless to say, we will continue to educate Indian consumers about the value of healthy snacking. Our brief to Wondrlabs was also to help in crafting a strategy to build a plan that breaks the existing myths and move up the agenda of health and nutrition for the Indian consumer.

What are the other marketing plans as Dole makes its inroads into the Indian market?

We will be adding elements from our global blueprint which will touch upon all the key stakeholders to elevate the conversation around health and nutrition for our target consumers. This will, naturally, go beyond communicating directly over digital, to cover other touchpoints surrounding the life of our consumers.

Broadly, the marketing plan is geared to drive consumer engagement and large-scale trials through above the line and below the line investments – digital, in-store activation, sampling. The initial plan for the brand is to build distribution in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, targeting Modern Trade outlets as well as larger Grocery stores. eCom is a key component of the channel mix.

Being a late entrant into the market, what will be the brand’s strategy?

Our timing cannot be better as consumers are rapidly seeking products that are truly healthy and nutritious. We feel that the current pandemic has made it imperative for our consumers to be selective about what and how they consume. Dole's entry in the market is being seen as a well-timed one by various stakeholders, although our market entry plans were admittedly planned well in advance.

How much marketing budget has been allocated for the year?

India is one of the strategic growth markets in Asia for Dole and we feel confident about our plans and sufficiency in achieving our objectives over the long term. Further, we would be allocating our spends across the digital, instore and product sampling to generate trials.

How will the brand ensure its communication doesn’t echo others in the category?

Our core proposition is very uniquely built around a clean label – no added sugars, no artificial flavours or preservatives. Our communication job is to help the consumer understand what is truly good amongst the clutter of messages, which can be very confusing. The Dole promise, which commits us to bring products that are truly good for people and good for the planet, will help us to stand apart from the others who are also jostling in the snacking category.  

What is your vision for the brand and focus areas ahead? 

Our products are in line with the corporate Purpose of Dole Packaged Foods - to Champion a More Equitable World. Where everyone has the right to Nutrition, and we reduce the gaps in Health and Nutrition.

 Dole Juice Gel+ is just the first amongst a full range of healthy, clean label, 100% natural products that Dole plans to introduce to our consumers in India in the coming months.

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