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Cashing in on consumer connect...

business Updated: Dec 07, 2007 23:14 IST
Saurabh Turakhia
Saurabh Turakhia
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Prepaid cards, shampoo sachets, sugar-free ice-creams, probiotic dahi- these are just a few examples of how manufacturers have fine tuned their offerings to suit the changing needs of the consumers.

But a biscuit company promoting its products strongly before Diwali? The idea would have sounded absurd a few years back, but this year, Britannia proved that its quite possible and with results to match. Says Vinita Bali, managing director of Britannia: “The gift packs have particularly done well this year. Consumers have received our products very well.”

Snack players like Kurkure have also aggressively advertised before big occasions and are perhaps reaping the benefits.

In another innovative initiative, Cadbury cleverly debunked the notion that snacks need not be salty, when they came up with Cadbury’s Bytes a ‘sweet snack’.

Bali interestingly terms this era as that of consumer democracy. She explains how the company made a number of different moves to address relevant consumer needs, “Initially we thought that our product -‘rusks’ would enjoy demand only in North India. However, we discovered that there is a great demand for the product down South as well. The moment we made the products available in South, they flew off the shelves in no time at all.”

She adds: “We also realised that parents of young children had a lot of trouble unpacking biscuit packs and then giving it to them, while traveling in cars or other vehicles. We hence, came up with smaller individual packs, which were easier to consume.”

Bali says that these kind of packets are a big hit with people traveling on the highway or long routes. She terms the benefit as ‘convenience with a purpose’.

The list goes on… The biggest ‘out-of-the-box’ idea seems to be Britannia’s decision to make its products available at BPO (Business process outsourcing) outfits. Since a lot of BPO offices work through the night, this adds the potential consumption for snacks as well as biscuits.

“The BPO industry is a 24-hour consumption opportunity,” says Bali.

With the number of diabetics increasing in India, Birtannia has developed biscuits without any added sugar—‘Britannia NutriChoice SugarOut’ and ‘Britannia NutriChoice Digestive’.

In the dairy business, the company came up with compact, easy-to-consume party cheese cubes and cheese slices- ready to serve, which the consumers prefer over the large packs, on certain occasions.

Bali observes that Indians are very good at setting trends. She quotes the example of the family vegetable vendor in Delhi. She describes the vendor as a professional who gives out his ‘business card’ that contains his cell number to make transactions convenient for him and more importantly for the consumer.

For the moment, Bali is happy as a recent A C Nielsen survey has found that on an average, an Indian eats something every two hours- and this, according to her is a big opportunity.