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Business News/ Companies / News/  The trend of better-for-you confectionary treats is rising

The covid-19 pandemic severely impacted the confectionary industry, especially during the lockdowns. Yet, Italian-Dutch confectionery and gum maker Perfetti Van Melle continued with its marketing campaigns and consumer engagement. Rohit Kapoor, director, marketing in India, said while the segment is highly dependent on footfalls at street vendors, the multinational company jumped in with larger packs for home use. Edited excerpts from an interview:

How did covid-19 impact the way you do business?

The second wave significantly impacted business across sectors. The second set of lockdowns had a more adverse effect on impulse purchase categories like candies. After a brief gap in the second quarter, we have been actively working on campaigns across our brands to drive consideration and awareness for new launches in the third quarter.

Are consumers becoming more health-conscious and buying less sugary products?

The confectionery segment is part of the impulse category that is highly dependent on footfalls at street vendors. Just like any other business, our business was also hit by the pandemic. However, our business also recovered quickly. We saw faster recovery in our indulgence portfolio driven by jellies, lollipops and candies. Since these are more like comfort treats and stress busters, in-home consumption drove the consumption.

But our refreshment portfolio (gums and mints) recovered slightly slower due to the category being more out-of-home and on-the-go type of consumption. Though this segment is also picking up now.

But are you focusing on healthy confectionaries?

The trend of ‘better-for-you’ confectionery treats continues to rise in India and consumers in general have been more conscious about this. We recently launched Alpenliebe JuiCyfills candies and Chupa Chups Mix’Up with fruit juice and vitamin C.

The company also relaunched its 25% fruit pulp-based Alpenliebe Juzt Jelly with added vitamin C. We further bolstered our sugar-free gums range under Happydent/Mentos and sugar-free mints range under the brand Center Fresh. Sugarfree Center Fresh mints with 60 minutes of clean breath was also introduced at a price point of 1.

Did you launch new marketing campaigns? Are there any in the pipeline?

Despite covid affecting business, we introduced a new campaign for Center Fresh Mints titled ‘Clean Breath 60 Minutes sugar-free mints’ while pivoting the messaging to contextualize it to the changing milieu.

We also launched campaigns to drive conversations around specific occasions this year. For instance, a campaign for Chupa Chups on ‘World Lollipop Day’ and for Center Fresh on ‘Fresh Breath Day’. For the brands Alpenliebe, Juzt Jelly and Chupa Chups, we created Halloween-specific products and engagement formats to cater to the ever-growing popularity of this day with kids.

There are some interesting campaigns coming up: for instance, Center Fresh is collaborating with Dharma Productions to create a series of ad films with a Bollywood flavour to them, the first of which will be rolled out at the end of this month.

Did you continue with your regular marketing channels during covid?

Television advertising took the largest pie of media spends but digital spends continued to rise during this time as well. We used digital for reach and to drive direct engagement for all our brands with the consumers since sales via e-commerce continue to grow even today at a very high pace on a moderate base.

We saw good traction due to indulgence for in-home consumption such as Alpenliebe, Chupa Chups Jelly pouches, Happydent and Mentos sugar-free gums and several new exclusive occasion-led packs were also introduced on the e-commerce platform to drive traffic.

We also used product sampling through select e-commerce partners to open up newer avenues to interact with our potential consumers. Given the importance of the online medium, relevant influencer tie-ups also helped to drive awareness and brand advocacy.

Does working with influencers help confectionary brands?

It is about collaborating with people who can exert a significant influence on potential consumers or customers. It is done at several levels in the funnel of purchase like say at the top end where we want to create awareness and consideration at a very fundamental level. At the bottom of the funnel, we use influencers to drive advocacy and convergence for our brands. Like any other marketing, it needs to be insight based.

Influencer marketing can be a very powerful tool for marketers to further build their brand especially in today’s world where a lot of it is driven by the digital medium; this needs to be done within the defined regulatory framework.

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Varuni Khosla
Varuni Khosla is a journalist with close to 14 years of experience in writing business news stories for mainstream newspaper companies like Mint and The Economic Times. She reports and writes on luxury and lifestyle brands, hospitality and tourism news, the business of sports, the business of advertising and marketing and alcohol brands.
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Updated: 14 Nov 2021, 11:41 PM IST
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