"Indians prefer snacking on chocolate over traditional Indian savouries"

Chocolate market in India has been growing at 23 - 24% over the last 3 - 4 years. We see India being among the top 10 markets for Mars in the next decade, says Raghav Rekhi, Mktg Dir, Mars Intl India

e4m by Twishy
Updated: Nov 11, 2013 8:19 AM
"Indians prefer snacking on chocolate over traditional Indian savouries"

On a chocolaty mission to tap the Indian market, Mars International India, the wholly-owned arm of US-based chocolate maker Mars Inc, expanded its product portfolio with the launch of its tablet chocolate brand Galaxy.

Globally known brand Galaxy will be available at an accessible price point of Rs 15. It will debut in the Indian market with a new campaign shot with actor Arjun Rampal as the face of the brand.

The company entered the Indian market with the launch of Snickers in 2011 and aims to establish the two chocolate brands in the country.

In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media, Raghav Rekhi, Marketing Director, Mars International India, talks about the growing chocolate segment in the country, importance of celebrity endorsements and the brand’s marketing plans…


How is the chocolate segment growing in India?
India has been the fastest growing chocolate market in the world for a couple of years. The market has been growing at an average of 23 to 24 per cent over the last three to four years.

How important is the Indian market to Mars?
The Indian market holds a lot of potential for Mars and the chocolate industry. The real excitement about the Indian chocolate market lies in the future. Today, it is a Rs 5000 crore market. In the context of the growth rate that we are seeing of about 25 per cent y-o-y, India leads to a very exciting future. We see India being among the top 10 markets across the globe within the next 10 years. It is definitely a very good place to be.

Indians still prefer sweets over chocolates. Are you seeing a shift in this trend?
I am not sure if there is a fundamental shift in the trend. A trend that has stayed for many generations in India is the love for sweets and for macro-snacking in general. Snacking in India is continuing to grow and chocolate is growing ahead of the curve, faster than most of the other goods in the FMCG space. We don’t see any risk from traditional sweets in any way, and there is enough space for each of them to grow.

A recent study that we commissioned through IMRB showed that a lot of consumers here prefer snacking on chocolate over traditional Indian savouries and snacks. These factors have played an important role in our growth.

How important is celebrity endorsement for different brands in your portfolio?
I would not say that globally celebrity endorsement has been a very important strategy for Mars. We have done it with some brands and in some of the countries. Perhaps for India, it is a little more important than many other markets, and you see that across categories in the marketing and advertising space in India. We have very iconic brands but to accelerate their development and drive cut-through noticeability, there is a place that celebrities can help us.

How fruitful is the association with Rekha for Snickers?
We have had a very good run with Snickers and Rekha as the brand ambassador. The campaign has met our expectations and the brand continues to grow. I have further expectations from Snickers out of leveraging that association with Rekha. The campaign is an adaptation of the award-winning global campaign ‘You’re not you when you are hungry’ and is based on the concept that hunger not only makes a person weak and tired, but also makes him/her irritable, angry and unable to concentrate. It has worked very well for us.

What is the reason behind associating with the macho man Arjun Rampal for Galaxy?
Galaxy is an everyday chocolate, but it is definitely a step up in terms of the experience that it gives to the consumer. It’s the smoothest and the milkiest chocolate ever made and when we think about the attributes and the personality of the brand, it’s about effortless elegance and sophistication. Arjun Rampal is sophisticated, elegant and confident. His persona is quite complimentary for the brand.

Are you targeting the Indian consumers through affordability?
We have a huge portfolio of brands and we are very choosy of the brands that we bring in India. We have developed packaging and propositions that reflects consumer insights – whether it’s putting a green dot on Snickers to ensue it’s vegetarian. We have adapted according to the Indian consumers without compromising on the quality, and India is the only market where you can get vegetarian Snickers. After conducting a research in the Indian market, we learnt that the Indian consumer doesn’t necessarily like to consume a chocolate all at once and because of this we have the re-sealable packaging (it comes in an innovative package that allows consumers to reseal the pack).

With Galaxy, it isn’t about cheap and selling at an affordable price point, but it is definitely about making a product accessible to the masses and Rs 15 price point is accessible to the Indian consumer, also delivering value for money.

What are the marketing activities taken to promote Galaxy and Snickers in India?
It is very early for us as Mars was launched two years ago, and Galaxy has been launched now. We are innovating in India from a product and communication stand point. The Snickers campaign was an Indian adaptation of the global creative idea and that is the same with Galaxy. The film portrays a confident Galaxy girl who takes out time to enjoy her Galaxy, while waiting to interview Arjun Rampal who plays a Bollywood star.

We are aggressive in developing plans for India and it’s not just about a global adaptation of an idea but it’s about Indianising the idea that takes a lot of effort and innovation.

How important is digital as a platform for Mars in India?
We are going to use very few but selective platforms in digital like video-on-demand, using portals such as YouTube, etc. Digital definitely has an increasing role to play. As we are looking at establishing Galaxy in India, it is more about ATL activities to drive mass reach. We use digital as a way to underpin those efforts but we are going to be accessing the opportunities to expand our investment in the digital sphere in the future.

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