Did you know that March 20 is World Macaron Day? A growing number of urban consumers will know what ‘macaron’ is, especially younger consumers who eat out and experiment more. An expanding range of premium-priced branded desserts are catering to their desire for something new.
"Customers are looking for something unique. It’s not just about taking a scoop and walking off. People are looking for an experience," said Tarun Sikka, MD, Star Foods, which sells Nestle’s premium Movenpick ice-creams and menu desserts in India.
As more international and home-grown brands reach out, urban consumers are shifting from eating desserts as impulse fun foods to regular, after-meals consumption – eating out or ordering in.
Macarons are flavoured meringue cookies, sandwiched together with a filling. LaFolie, a luxury French patisserie in Mumbai, is bringing in the World Macaron Day with macaron ice-creams, pops and desserts.
As the branded desserts market grows at 15% annually, Indian consumers are getting familiar with the new products. Pralines, truffles, rouge velour, GQ, damask, fraisier, fondues, brulee and confitures are examples. Since 2010, the presence of international brands including Baskin Robbins, Svensen’s, Haagen Daz’s, Movenpick, Magnum, Simply Fondue, Gelato Vinto, Amore, KiwiKiss, and patisseries such as La Folie, has grown.
Indian brands Cocoberry with its frozen yoghurts and Natural’s with its rich, fresh ice-creams, will face competition. Pinkberry and Berrylite, set to enter India, will challenge Cocoberry. Kolkata-based Pabrai’s Fresh and Naturelle Ice Creams is challenging the Mumbai-headquartered Natural’s. Cocoberry is upbeat. "We are bullish on the sector," said its MD, Rahul Deans.
Movenpick, available in India earlier at select hotels and restaurants, was withdrawn in 2003-04, after Nestle bought Movenpick Holdings. Re-launched in January, the brand that uses only Swiss cream and is priced at Rs 170-600 plus taxes, is available in 25 hotels. "We are a super-premium brand," said Sikka, who also plans to open Movenpick cafes and offer home delivery. Starting with Chennai and Kolkata last year, Movenpick will enter Delhi this year and plans 30 cafes in three years.
Premium international ice-cream brand Magnum – priced at Rs 85 for a bar – was test-marketed last year in Chennai by Hindustan Unilever (HUL), before extending to Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore. "We are confident that with our unique proposition of ‘made with Belgian chocolate’ and a differentiated product experience, we are delivering unique value," said HUL’s spokesperson.
2013 also saw Sanjana Patel open La Folie Patisserie, after learning the business in Paris. "I noticed that many people were experimenting with desserts. People don’t mind paying more for different flavours. This has helped us to get accepted." La Folie has a large expat clientele.
Industry watchers say that US ice-cream brand Camille’s entry into India is imminent. Camille’s offers consumers the pleasure of customising their ice-creams, which are then flash-frozen.