Bengaluru: Unibic Foods India Pvt. Ltd, maker of premium cookies, plans to focus on increasing its market share in northern India as it moves away from being a predominantly southern brand. While it will not lower prices of its cookies to do so, it may introduce family packs in its quest for a bigger share of the pie up north and a double-digit market share nationally.

The firm, backed by mid-market private equity investor Peepul Capital, also plans to launch a range of healthy products in the next three months targeted at customers who lead active lifestyles, according to a top executive.

For Bengaluru-headquartered Unibic, 60-70% of total revenue comes from the south, led by Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The north was always an under-developed market compared with other regions a decade ago, but it has expanded exponentially over a period of time, Unibic said.

But even now, while Delhi-NCR is a highly evolved market and therefore the target ground for premium brands like Unibic, other parts such as Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are still evolving, it added.

A majority of the biscuits sold in India are, indeed, in the mass or the value segment but market leaders ranging from Britannia Industries Ltd to Parle Products Pvt. Ltd are looking at premiumising their portfolio as consumers constantly seek to upgrade to more premium offerings. That, Unibic feels, is where it has an advantage.

“In the last decade that we’ve been in the market, we’ve been fairly successful in carving a niche for ourselves and we sit very happily as a premium brand above the Good Days of this world where we are selling at 30-50% premium from their normal offerings," said Nikhil Sen, Unibic’s managing director.

Sen’s vision is for the company to be like Ferrero Rocher is to chocolates—a brand that’s built at a 50% premium to the overall market. To this effect, he has identified health as another huge opportunity for growth since consumers in that segment are quite willing to pay a premium for products that deliver.

Unibic plans to launch a range of healthy products that are aimed at the maintenance side rather than the curative side—they will not claim to cure any conditions but they will fall under the better-for-you category such as millets and oats.

“There is a clear trend where urban customers are not too concerned about the price for biscuits—innovative flavours, variety and health aspects win instead, although the last one is more a top 20-30 cities phenomenon. For premium brands, differentiation and building a brand identity is key and connecting with the new age digital customer through different channels," said Sreedhar Prasad, partner at KPMG in India.

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