Mother Dairy’s tryst with mishti doi (sweetened yoghurt) began sometime back. Then a novelty, consumers just lapped up the Rs 5 a pack delicacy. The honeymoon, however, didn’t last long as the cooperative increased prices by a stiff 60 per cent due to input cost spike.
Sales fell 20 per cent, forcing Mother Dairy to explore whether to continue with the product or not. A survey came out with some simple answers : at Rs 8, the product was competing with other dessert options like ice cream, available in a much wider variety and which clicked more with Gen X. But a majority of come consumers said a product named mishti doi raised expectations that the product will taste as good as that available in Bengal. It obviously didn’t; so there was a mismatch between the product and consumer’s expectations.
Munish Soni, Deputy GM-marketing, Mother Dairy Fruit and Vegetable, says: The learning was pretty clear. We had to change the product mix so that it tastes authentic and consumers get a sense that it’s value-for-money.
So Soni and his research and development team worked for months to come out with a winner: a newly formulated mishti doi in vibrant coloured packages with a certain Bengali touch in the form of imprints of Goddess Durga and Rangoli.
The response was overwhelming. since its launch in January this year, Mother Dairy’s misthi doi sales have doubled. Soni says they account for over 10 per cent of the cooperative’s turnover from packaged curd sales. That’s a big leap from only 3 to 4 per cent a few years ago. A confident Mother Dairy has set an ambitious target now: sales of mishti doi should hit 15 per cent of sales by the end of this financial year and 30 per cent by the next three to four years.
What made the yoghurt tick this time? Soni says there was no magic formula. The R&D team picked up samples of sweetened yoghurt from different shops across Delhi to understand customers’ preferences. The team found the answer in a local sweetshop chain — Annapurna Sweets — located in a Bengali- dominated area of south Delhi.
The R&D wing looked at the content carefully and created a formulation which would taste similar to the one sold in Annapurna Sweets. “The new taste is an outcome of a change in formulation, manufacturing process, alteration in percentage of both types of milk solids — fatty and non-fatty — and caramelisation of sugar”, adds Soni.
In a calculated move, Mother Dairy decided to increase the price of the product to Rs 10 for a 90 gram pack, which is a small premium to what is available in most sweet shops. But it also ensured some value additions, which a sweet shop cannot give. For example, the Mother Dairy product has a 15-day shelf life under refrigeration and the packaging is more hygienic. The cooperative is now innovating with new packages - a 400 gm pack for Rs 36.
Buoyed by the success of the product, Soni is also looking at expanding beyond the capital city and the NCR region. Mother Dairy will soon launch the product in Maharashtra, Bangalore, Hyderbad and Pune markets by September-October this year.
The cooperative is also planning to add new flavours, which will include fruits, within three-four months. A sugar-free version is also being planned for the health-conscious.
While figures are hard to get, most analysts say Mother Dairy is already one of the largest sweet curd brands in the country. While small sweet shops cannot compete on volumes, Nestle is the only big organized player in flavoured yoghurt.