Snack brands on a big marketing binge this festive season

Brands are looking to splurge 20-40% of their annual marketing budgets in Q3

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Published: Sep 21, 2021 8:48 AM  | 7 min read
Sacking brands

Quarter 3 of the fiscal year, also famously known as the festive season in India, is probably the most enriching and interesting time for brands and marketers across categories. Especially in a year like this, when hoards of revenge shoppers are expected to splurge after a lull, the market seems glowing with positivity and hope. And for the snacking category, it seems like an added boost of good after the growth it has witnessed during the lockdown. exchange4media finds out how the various popular snacking brands are gearing up for the festive season and their expectations with the market. 

For Guilty Pleasures and Gifting

The reason behind the festive season being a good time for snacking brands is two-fold; people are more open to indulging in the guilty pleasures of munching, and the snacks make an incredible gifting option too.

In fact, the category falls into a cultural soft corner for the Indians, as DDB Mudra Strategy Head Anand Murty quips, “The Indian household has long recognized the festive season as a time of freely revelling in scrumptious treats. You see it in Instagram posts of festive snacks and meals. You see it in humorous posts about the after-effects of the aforementioned gluttony. And you see it in the home-maker always having a digestive paste/churan/leghiyam and more at hand to soothe the system from food coma! The festive season sees a spike not only in consumption but also in gifts to family members, friends, office colleagues, support staff, and a host of others.” 

The industry believes that this year is going to be a bumper one for the category as the second wave of Covid is long past and the third wave is mild in most parts of the country. 

Brand Coach and industry veteran Ambi Parameshwaran elaborates interestingly, “In research I had done with Prof Sridhar Samu of Great Lakes Institute, we identified four types of shoppers and we called them Revenge Shoppers, Restricted Shoppers, Revelation Shoppers and Research Shoppers. When it comes to buying snacks, the behaviour I believe will be uniform across all categories. These are what may be called ‘guilty pleasures’, those little things that you indulge in. The pandemic has also pushed consumers into adopting ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products. Packaged products like ready-to-eat parathas, idli and dosa batter have had a boom time. I think festivals will see this trend further accelerate. Hopefully, companies will restore the Diwali Bonus and consumers can once again start enjoying their Diwali.”

All these factors combined make top snacking brands amp up their marketing spends during the quarter. Parle Products Sr Category Head - Marketing Krishnarao S Buddha explains, “We spend somewhere around 60% of our annual marketing budgets between July and December, a uniform distribution of 30% each in both the quarters. It is because the festive season begins from July-August in large portions of the country; there are Shraddh, Rakshabandhan, Onam, Ganpati, etc. And that’s when we have the big opportunity to reach out to the relevant customers.”  

Hence Brands Are Spending

This year too, top snacking brands are bringing up their A-game to make the most of the quarter, and are spending anywhere between 20% and 40% of their marketing budgets now. 

As Buddha further tells, “The festive quarter amounts for 40-50% of our overall sales every year and this year, as the country is in a positive space after months of pandemic stress, we are expecting it to be even better. We have upped our marketing spends by 15% from what we had spent the last year and you will see us across the media. Television will obviously take the biggest chunk of our media pie with 80% of the spends directed there. Next, we have partnered with a number of OTT platforms, including Voot, Zee5, Hotstar etc and will have a heightened presence there along with all top social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Sharechat, etc. 4-5% will be on print and the rest will go to OOH and Radio.” 

Parle Products has also launched a slew of new products just ahead of the season and Buddha is positive that they will attract modern customers. “We launched products like light chivda, primarily for the fitness conscious, and Gujarati mixture, which doesn’t have much presence in the market despite the amazing flavour profile. There couldn’t have been a better time to bring these products to the market, I feel,” he says. 

Another top brand, Bikano, too launched a variety of new flavours just at the onset of the festive season. Head of Marketing Dawinder Pal said, “Our new extrude range is directed towards the kids and the younger population. We have launched new products in traditional snacks, western snacks, sweets and savoury categories. We have launched a new range of delectable chai time snacks. This is an untapped segment as of now as there is no specific brand that dominates this segment. We have roped in Chhota Bheem as brand ambassador for our extrudes category where brands like Yellow Diamond, ITC are quite aggressive.” 

Pal further adds that this year’s marketing is going to be much more aggressive than what they have done in the past few years, “With the festive season, we believe it’s a great opportunity for Bikano to engage with the consumer and expect some surge in volumes. There is a possibility of significant recovery in sales as the festive season approaches, provided restrictions on modern retail are relaxed across the country allowing smooth operations and return to normalcy. Modern trade is one of the major contributors since restrictions on modern trade are relaxed. Gifting of packaged salty snacks with a combination of sweets is another area that has gained a lot of prominence over the recent past and we are expecting a sales surge of our new product ranges with the upcoming festive season. New launch, strong visibility, digital activations, engagement with distributors and the list is long (when it comes to our marketing plans). This shall increase even further in the upcoming quarter.” 

PepsiCo India too has introduced festive packs and is expecting a grand quarter, as shared by its spokesperson, “Like last year, we are cognizant of the fact that festivities will take a different form this year as well – with homes becoming the new social hub and consumers subsequently moving celebrations indoors. We are hopeful of an added push for in-home consumption, which is a key trend that continues to grow and drive demand for food and beverages. In line with this insight, special focus was given to value packs across both (food & beverage) our portfolios. While we launched select beverages (Pepsi, 7UP, Mountain Dew) as celebratory packs of 1.25 liters at INR 50 with the aim of making moments of togetherness more memorable, Lay’s introduced new, large-sized ‘@ Home’ packs (at INR 30, 50 & 85) to serve as the perfect companions for its fans in all their in-home experiences. 

“To add greater celebration to the festive season, PepsiCo India and Airtel have brought back their innovative offering and are doubling down on their partnership to unlock a world-class digital experience by providing 2GB of assured free data with the purchase of select packs of Lay’s, Kurkure, Uncle Chipps and Doritos.” 

Bonn Group of Industries Director Amrinder Singh is also positive about the possibilities that this festive season brings, “Although the festive season last year was not so good for the whole FMCG industry, the second half of 2021 has begun on a bustling note, and we think the industry is set for huge gains including the bakery sector. We have raised our marketing expenditures during the festive season to tap the maximum number of customers while also targeting potential customers. We are launching an assorted range of biscuits and cookies under the standard Bonn brand and premium Americana brand. We will launch these products in attractive festive packaging for gifting purposes as well. At the same time, we have kept the health trend intact in all our products, using healthy ingredients to promote metabolism and immunity among our consumers.” 

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