Having launched an innovative product by tweaking its existing Silk brand this Valentine’s Day, Mondelez India is eying a double-digit growth this February compared to last February and also a similar spike in the annual calendar.
“We are gunning for a strong double-digit growth. The challenge is that we have done very well last year, so now how do we keep growing. For me, growth comes for two reasons – one, larger number of people celebrating the occasion. Hence, we are also raising the bar by repeating. Second is building on what went well last year. E-commerce is a great example of taking it to the next level. This combination is what helps us stay ahead of the game constantly,” said Prashant Peres, Director, Marketing (Chocolates), Mondelez India.
Valentine’s Day is not the only high point for the company. It activates a lot of festivals and occasions throughout the year, starting from Mother’s Day and Friendship Day to Diwali and Rakhi. Every month, there is something and the company’s chocolate calendar is almost full. However, there was something new that happened in 2017 and that was Mondelez India’s active foray into the e-commerce segment. While the products were available on various platforms online, in 2017 the company struck partnerships, trying to capture the online markets.
“We started actively playing in this channel, because we were seeing a shift in consumers’ buying patterns. It started with electronics, mobiles, non-food and now in grocery. People are buying their monthly groceries and even top-up groceries from online. This phenomenon is very well established in metros. Being market leaders in the categories, we want to grow this category online and not just participate. That’s one of the key reasons we are participating,” said Abhishek Ahluwalia, Business Head, eCommerce, Mondelēz India.
The company is looking at driving penetration with Grofers and Bigbasket and driving ‘gifting’ habits with Amazon and Paytm in the chocolates segment. The company’s latest AR innovation on Valentine’s Day falls in the second category. Ahluwalia added, “This was an effort as to how do we enhance the product further by adding digital augmentation by using AR. It’s very playful and blends social media and commerce together.”
Last year, the company partnered with Amazon to launch ‘The Chocolate Store’. The other range of e-commerce products from Mondelez India is called ‘Joy Deliveries’. There are propositions for each occasion like for Rakhi – a package with a rakhi thread, roli-chawal and chocolate; Diwali had a box that had relevant merchandise along with chocolates or for birthdays – sleeves with ‘happy birthday’ on it.
“These things are growing the category. We are perhaps globally the first to have done this. As market leaders, we are the captains on that stock,” said Ahluwalia.
Despite this huge push on digital and e-commerce, the company stressed the fact that it targets a wide range of audience from various age-groups. Even for Valentine’s Day, Peres stressed that all age-groups are enthusiastic about the occasion.
“I don’t think it’s about millennials, but a lot of young or old couples would actually think that, ‘may be if not a huge dinner or something, let me pick up a bar of silk and send my message to my loved one.’ I think it’s getting broad-based and people see just the right kind of value in this brand.”
However, if one takes a closer look at all the advertising and communication done around the sub-brand Silk, none of the ads feature older couples or older people. The company had released beautiful films for the promotion of Cadbury’s Gems where the grey haired people were shown going crazy about the coloured chocolate tablets. Why has Silk been kept away from ‘a chocolate for all’ kind of positioning?
Peres answered, “It is a conscious choice and it is for the reason that Silk is one of our brands within the portfolio. Every brand has its own pin-point TG and for Silk, it is the young adults; for Perk, it will be youth and for CDM, it will be anyone from 5 to 55 or 75. Each brand plays its own role within the portfolio and Silk has this specific role and it works for us. We believe this is the phase of life where people really want to indulge. More than being a romantic brand, it is about romancing the product.”
The recent innovation by the company – of cutting out a heart-shaped piece in the Silk chocolate – for Valentine’s Day was not based on any consumer insight. As it comes out, the company enhanced its last year’s innovation. Last year, the chocolate packaging had a little window in the Silk pack and this idea sprang up from there.
A study by Cashkaro.com had said that only 32% people chose chocolates as gifts for Valentine’s Day. Peres responded to this by saying, “Different studies throw up different numbers, but I wouldn’t completely disagree with this data. For people who are very seriously celebrating V-day, a chocolate may not be the only thing they opt for. But that’s about couples who are seriously going around or married already. We are talking about a much larger catchment – kids in college, who want to give a message or a crush. It is a simple way of saying ‘I like you’. It spans from this level to the couples who have not planned a lavish dinner, but they at least want to give out a token and this innovative product comes in. A very small base will respond to flowers and merchandise.”
There was another thing that Peres happily discussed. It is about the criticism around ‘messy eating’ of Silk brand chocolates. All the advertisements of Silk always show the messier way of eating the bar of chocolate. How does the company react to it and why is it picturised in that manner?
Peres said, “Picturisation is true to the kind of experiences that you have, while eating Silk. It's not just about being really smooth, silky and indulgent, but also points out that at that point in time, you don't care about anything else.”
Peres also pointed out that the distribution of the Silk is growing. “Distribution is improving continuously, because we keep placing more and more in the market. Our distribution of Silk keeps going up by significant amounts. It will long before we are available everywhere. Then, it is about the opportunity and that will come soon. There is demand and a lot of these towns where people are putting it in their own AC outlets. Brand has equity and pull almost ahead of the distribution.”