We focus on innovations rooted in Indian flavours: Samyukta Ganesh Iyer, Baskin Robbins

Samyukta Ganesh Iyer, Head of Marketing, Baskin Robbins India, talks about the brand’s latest campaign, the role digital is going to play for the brand this year, new products and more

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Apr 16, 2019 8:57 AM

Baskin Robbins, “a 74-year-old young ice cream brand”, has been a pioneer in introducing India to flavours like Blueberry Cheesecake and Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake. The brand is all set to launch new summer campaign, the biggest for them in the recent times.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Samyukta Ganesh Iyer, Head of Marketing, for Baskin Robbins India, who is India’s first ever Young Marketer Cannes Lions winner, spoke about the brand’s latest campaigns, the role digital is going to play for the brand this year, new products and more


Baskin Robbins (BR) is all set to launch the new summer campaign and is expected to be the biggest for BR in the recent times. Tell us more about the campaign and the ways in which it is going to enhance the brand value of Baskin Robbins in India?


Baskin Robbins is a 74-year-young premium ice cream brand that is recognized globally and much loved for its rich, creamy, decadent range of very innovative flavours, high quality ingredients and absolutely great taste. It has been operating successfully in India now for the last 25 years and has grown into an equally loved and respected brand amongst Indian consumers. The top of mind recall for the brand is its diverse range of chocolate-based flavours that consumers not just love but also come back for repeatedly.


Our initiative this summer is to introduce to the Indian consumer a high quality range of fresh fruit flavours that bring the signature BR creaminess and texture along with fresh fruit chunks in blends that are significantly superior to anything that the consumer may have tasted in the name of fruit flavours. We are quite confident of that. These flavours include – Fresh Chikoo, Fresh Tender Coconut, Fresh Very Berry Strawberry and Fresh Alphonso Mango.



Since it’s not something that consumers naturally associate with us, our campaign thought is to be disruptive and formally introduce our freshest and juiciest fresh fruit ice creams in the market.


The campaign calls for an integrated approach as we are taking the brand on TV during summer on IPL. And this will be complemented with a huge push on digital media, outdoor as well as local below the line activations. The team at Schbang has delivered just that. Right from delivering the big idea to seeing it through execution, they’ve got depth of expertise across all functions, truly understanding both the brand and the business.


What started out for Baskin Robbins as a 'digital agency' relationship has now transcended well and truly beyond to deliver one of our most good looking campaign in years and visuals for print, outdoor and BTL that has our entire trade excited.



How much of an importance is digital going to play this year and what percentage of spends would you attribute towards digital?

Our consumer is what would I would term as the “older millennial” who was brought up old school and then got trained in digital growing up and now lives on social. Since, as a brand we need to be where our audience is, it is again natural that our campaigns get integrated with digital at its heart. The uniqueness of this year’s plan is that it strikes the right chord between metro/tier1/tier2 consumers across all of the 200 + towns that we are present in pan India – to ensure that we “speak the speak” to every millennial out there.


Baskin Robbins has launched a new range of product for children between the age group of 6 and 12 called Jumbbles.  What are the products in pipeline for consumers of other age groups?

Baskin Robbins has always been a pioneer in introducing India to flavours like Blueberry Cheesecake, Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake, Peanut Butter, Cranberry, decadent White chocolate, Salted Caramel, etc; flavours that have helped drive the palate and tastes of millennials in every nook and corner of the country.

Our attempt with Jumbbles is to appeal and share our brand philosophy with more consumer segments as well. We are committed to creating innovations that have the older millennial at the core but can also be enjoyed by diverse personas including Baby boomers and Gen Z as well. Without letting the cat out of the bag, I would like to state that our food technologists are in the process of creating magic with many more new introductions including never seen before products.


Which is the biggest Indian market for Baskin Robbins and how are you planning to dominate the other pockets?


Baskin Robbins enjoys immense brand love in the southern and western geographies of India. In the northern plateau, we plan to generate more brand equity by creating premium glocal flavours from the flavours of India repertoire. In the East, we plan to spread the love by increasing our brand’s presence across the length and breadth of the market.


According to reports, the ice cream market in India exhibited a CAGR of 16.9% during 2011-2018 and the market is further expected to reach a value of Rs 375.8 Billion by 2024. What will be the key factors leading to this growth?


I feel that what has fueled the growth in the past may not continue to be valid over the next few years. However I do believe 4 trends are here to last and drive this category:


  1. Consumers will increasingly demand convenience – both in terms of offline presence as well as the need to adopt an omnichannel approach.
  2. The instant gratification need of the millennial will only get further intensified and brands would need to learn to cater to that need.
  3. Diversity and creativity in introduction of new flavours and formats will propel greater consumption of brands.
  4. Real, natural, pure ingredients is something the millennial demands as a birthright. The goodness of absolute, of real ingredients, real flavour is not a phase. It will help distinguish the good from the mediocre.


Throw some light on the R&D and role of innovation in Baskin Robbins India?


Baskin Robbins has been on the Indian soil now for over two and half decades. While our processes, use of high-quality ingredients and flavor systems is part of our international equity, our local R& D teams not just adopt the best of what is available and popular internationally but also develop specific India focused flavors.


The India manufacturing operations are based at Pune, one of the few prestigious BR plants worldwide manufacturing recipes as per global standards. The R&D of BR, India has constantly been crafting original flavors and formats. We have launched over 100 distinct flavors and counting. Our flavour of the month concept has been developed by the R& D team and has been copied almost industry wide. Our flavour blends, use of confectionery ribbons in the ice creams have been features developed for the Indian market. Similarly, use of sealed tamper proof packaging have been part of initiatives that BR has introduced in the Indian market.


According to experts, ice cream market in India is fueled by product premiumisation. Your thoughts?

Yes, there has been some premiumization for sure. Urban consumers do have an evolved palate and enjoy the finer luxuries in life. The only constant to please them is innovation and premiumization. Fortunately for us, these are the cornerstone virtues that the Baskin Robbins brand has been associated with.


However, I also feel that one cannot ignore the very large mid end of the market that demands good products at value for money prices.

The digital era has indeed been challenging for everyone. What have been the 3 biggest learnings in these recent times for BR? 


Biggest learning definitely has been that like the traditional space, digital has also an extremely crowded space for brands who are trying to capture the same brand indifferent consumers. The attention span of the millennial consumer is very small and hence what is critical is compelling and differentiated content.    

Another key learning for us being in the service industry which is primarily human driven is that social media can act as a double-edged sword. While there are consumers who love you and share all their happy moments with you, one hitch and a singular negative post can tarnish your reputation, so speed of response is critical.


What are your focus areas for 2019? 

Simple 3-pronged mantra- 1. Build salience by crafting innovations that are rooted in uniquely Indian flavours. 2. Offer better value to consumers through a combination of great never before flavours, attractive pricing and timely promotions.

3. Grow reach consistently in markets that matter.


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