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Britannia Industries: Cookie goes rural

Sayantani Kar  |  Mumbai 

The country’s largest baker wants people in villages and small towns to eat its cookies. Britannia Industries, which lords it over 40 per cent of the Rs 204-crore cookie market with Good Day and sells gift packs of premium Danish Cookies through modern trade, has come out with Britannia Cookies priced at Rs 5 for a pack of 10.

This is the first time that a baker has attempted this. Britannia has a firm eye on this uncontested territory with a proposition of nutrition and smaller pack size. In the biscuit market, rural India is spoilt for choice with a host of local as well as national players vying for a share of the consumer’s wallet. The biscuit market is estimated at Rs 8,300 crore; Britannia leads the pack with a share of 38 per cent.

A calculated push into the rural and semi-urban areas, say experts, is Britannia’s way to lead the market. As rivalries in the markets, urban as well as rural, are intense, it needs to identify newer and newer markets and segments to hold on to its share of the market. An equity analyst from India Infoline says: “Biscuits and cookies form the largest segment of processed foods and everyone will fight for a share of the pie.”

McCann Executive Chairman Prasoon Joshi crafted the communication with the tagline of Tan ko lage, man ko chuye, which means that the product benefits the body’s constitution and endears itself to the eater. Says Britannia Industries Category Director (delight & lifestyle) Shalini Degan: “For socio-economic categories B and C, nutrition from the food they eat is more critical than a dose of energy or taste. They travel long distances in less comfortable environments, so a product like this could be a staple like a bottle of water. With elaichi (cardamom) and butter, cookies do have great taste; but that is secondary to them being a wholesome go-between.” The TVC starring actor Dipti Naval portrays how Britannia Cookies can slip in between missed meals.

Degan points out that Britannia was able to blend the qualities of a cookie (makes for a softer bite than brittle biscuits) with the pricing of biscuits through some low-cost production processes. The prices may be low, but, say investment analysts, Britannia is unlikely to lose out on profit margins. “Smaller pack sizes and no-frill ingredients can lower input costs. This makes lower-priced products fetch similar margins as urban products in larger packets,” says one. Parle Products, for example, has competed with Britannia neck and neck by the dint of its flagship product, Parle G, which is a low-priced glucose biscuit. It has fetched Parle volumes and now even value. So much so, its sales are said to have overtaken Britannia’s.

With Britannia Cookies, Degan feels Britannia’s rural portfolio is complete. “Along with Tiger (glucose biscuit) and the Rs-5 packs of our other variants, Cookies is in line with our portfolio approach,” she says. To reach its message to the target audience, it is employing vans for distribution and communication. Tie-ups with vernacular print media to coincide with festivals are also on the cards. It is also pushing its sales staff to double the time they spend in the market by not just talking to retailers but also consumers who come to shop at those stores.

The company is also on a distribution overdrive that will permeate canteens, bus stations and railway platforms in both urban and rural areas. A lower priced cookie does not mean that urban markets will be given a miss. “We might not retail at stores in posh localities, but in a grocery store in Dharavi, for example, Britannia Cookies would be available,” says Degan. For now, consumers in north and west India, where the company has done well with Good Day, will get to sink their teeth in Britannia Cookies.

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First Published: Mon, May 31 2010. 00:01 IST