The sugar confectionery industry is one of the most fiercely competitive categories with more than 250 brands, as per Nielsen. It is an industry where product offerings are similar and brand loyalty is low—so no real competitive advantage exists. It is no wonder then that the category is driven by innovation, with a variety of new launches every month. Given the fact that the retailer is typically a ‘paan’ outlet, both his funds and shelf-space are severely limited. Therefore, availability and visibility are key to success. At Perfetti Van Melle, our marketing efforts are backed by a unique sales model where each retailer is serviced multiple times a week.
Since confectionery is an extremely low involvement category with hardly any brand loyalty, brand salience is paramount in driving consumption. Hardly any consumers step out of their homes with the specific intention of buying an Alpenliebe today—and hence it is salience and brand connect that eventually drive purchase at the retail outlet.
We have always attempted to launch truly innovative products as well as packaging formats, supported by some really clutter-breaking advertising. Alpenliebe, Center Fresh, Center Shock, Happydent White and Mentos are a few examples of how we have brought new product concepts to India. Innovative packaging formats such as fliptops, blister packs and bottles have helped enhance the appeal of functional chewing gums.
While our products and packaging formats have always been at the cutting edge in terms of global benchmarks, we are extremely proud of the very ‘Indian’ advertising that we have created over the years. ‘Being Rooted in India’ vs the ‘Now in India’ approach has led to many iconic campaigns and colloquial baselines—‘Dimag ki batti jala de’ for Mentos, ‘Lagey raho’ for Alpenliebe Lollipops, ‘Dobaara mat poochna’ for Chlormint, ‘Smile please’ for Happydent White and many more.
We are a firm believer in extending brand ideas to other media—creating animation such as the dancing Sikh on live cricket whenever someone scores a century, generated much more buzz around the ‘Lagey raho’ campaign than what just the TV ads have achieved.
All this has been possible because we believe more in our gut feeling than in storyboard research, in focusing on the small towns and India’s heartland rather than the metros, in believing that confectionery can be consumed across ages and not just by kids, in adapting all products to the local palate, instead of replicating international profiles. At Perfetti, we trust our instincts, take chances and are willing to indulge in ideas that seem bizarre at the conceptual stage. If not, it would be impossible to make the latest Happydent White ‘Palace’ campaign or assault the consumer in the Chlormint commercial.
It astonishes many people that our annual brand budgets are typically smaller than what a telecom or cola major spends in a single month. And yet our advertising is noticed and recalled across brands. It is a testament to the fact that, in the end, it is the quality of the commercial, and not the number of spots, which dictate mindshare and consumer preference.
The author is head, marketing, Perfetti Van Melle India. The company won the ‘Advertiser of the Year Award’ at the just-concluded Goafest.