Rising mercury levels is hardly a welcome change for anyone. Except for ice cream manufacturers that is. In that sense the timing of premium ice cream maker, London Dairy ice creams’ first ever media campaign in India is perfect.
The campaign, which broke across channels on Friday, is based on the global creative designed by O&M for the brand, tweaked slightly for Indian television. The TVC takes you from the fields of Europe where the ‘freshest strawberries’ are picked to those of Africa, from where the ‘finest cocoa’ is sourced for London Dairy’s ice creams. But the claim is not to use the ‘best ingredients’ to make ice creams but a more personal one - “It’s about taking the time out for making something special, just for you,” as the voiceover goes. In keeping with the brand’s premium imagery and target audience, the campaign will run mostly across English general entertainment, music and movie channels like Star World, Zee Cafe, HBO, VH1 and so on.
India’s branded ice cream market stands at just Rs 1,500 crore as compared to the carbonated drinks at around Rs 13,000 crore or even chocolates and confectionery at around Rs 4,500 crore. There is more than sufficient room for growth, feel industry players. Also, rising incomes, an increased tendency for travelling overseas and a resultant development of a discerning taste palette make a definitive case for premium ice cream makers like London Dairy with international flavours like Butter Pecan and Tiramisu to tap the Indian market.
The first step in this direction was possibly taking over the distribution of London Dairy ice creams (imported from the company’s manufacturing unit in UAE) over the last year and building it up steadily since then. “We are already present in 11 key cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Pune, Kolkata and so on) pan India, in close to 1,000 outlets in a mix of modern trade and select class A outlets. And plan to open up a few more cities in this season,” says a company spokesperson who added the tally of cities will go up to 15 this season.
Most ice cream manufacturers - Amul, Kwality Wall, even Haagen Daz (one of London Dairy’s main competitors) - are opening up ice cream parlours to increase their footprint and penetration. Internationally, London Dairy too has its own cafes to retail ice creams. But India must wait. The company is currently focused on developing and strengthening the packaged ice cream business for London Dairy in the country. “Taking forward the international journey, we will start company-owned London Dairy Cafes in key cities and follow it up with further expansion through the franchisee route,” says a company spokesperson, without sharing any timeline.
And to promote and strengthen the brand, apart from the TVCs, below the line (BTL) activations too will gain traction. For the food industry, establishing taste credentials is key, especially for new products. That is a driving point for London Dairy ice creams too which dedicated almost 30 per cent of its marketing budgets to ‘sampling’ across outlets. Last year, the company logged around 8,000 samplings and intends to increase it almost 10-fold this year, with a target of 70,000.
As a part of BTL activities, the company aims at partnering with the ‘right’ events and properties, in keeping with the brand’s premium imagery. For instance, London Dairy was sampled at the Indian Formula 1 event this year by the VIP guests in the Jaypee Lounge Buffets on all three days of the F1 event. There are also London Dairy branded kiosks selling their impulse range, at select ‘high profile’ locations like the Inox cinemas at Nariman Point, Mumbai.
The company may have firmed up its plans, but there will be challenges. Pricing, to begin with - a 500 ML London Dairy tub will cost you around Rs 250 and a litre around Rs 475. Compare that with a tub of the same quantity from market leader Amul (with an estimated 25 per cent market share), you may get the same quantity for almost half the price.
The company isn’t worried about the pricing, even though its noncommittal response gives the air of a more wait and watch mode - “The range has found great affinity amongst its target audience who finds great value in the London Dairy product experience. This has led to the brand significantly increasing its consumer franchise this year.”
A rival player alleges that premium players like London Dairy are present only with a select product range like tubs or cones and limited flavours in most locations, with erratic supplies. And considering that at a recent Food and Grocery forum, Mohit Khattar, MD, Godrej Nature’s Basket said that high-end consumers are extremely selective about their products and availability of products is key, this may not augur too well for London Dairy.
In their defense, the company says that space constraints may lead to such issues. But, bigger outlets and hyper markets do not pose such challenges.