Oats, until recently considered just a breakfast cereal, is getting a new identity, thanks to Future Consumer Limited. Rahul Kansal, CMO, talks about Kosh, which offers four varieties of oats, and promotes it as one of the most important grains in Indian cooking
Q] What was the insight behind launching a web series to promote Kosh oats and what response has it got?
Today, while there is awareness about the importance of eating healthy, given a choice most Indians would not like to compromise on taste, as they believe healthy food is boring. Kosh, being oats, is a very healthy grain which assimilates itself to whatever you are making, be it roti or idli. We wanted to communicate Kosh as a great blend of health and taste and the web series offered a chance to dramatize it. So it is a story of two families – one wedded to the idea of tasty food and the other to healthy food and how they come together with the help of Kosh. The web series has got good feedback universally. It has received a total of 1.3 million views, a lot of organic views and not just paid ones.
Q] What are the other mediums you have tapped for promoting Kosh and what is the budget for the ad campaign?
We have been fairly aggressive with the launch of Kosh. We published front page ads in all the top newspapers during launch of the product. Apart from that there is Television, Cinema and Digital focus along with in-store activations. Within the first three-four days of our TV campaign, we did a roadblock with Star Plus where the entire evening in all ad breaks the first and the last ads were for Kosh. We are spending around Rs 30 crore in the six months after launch.
Q] During the launch of Kosh, Kishore Biyani was confident that it will become a Rs 1000 crore brand by 2021; how has the initial response been at your own retail outlets?
We generally see hockey stick growth whenever it comes to the development of a new brand concept. First it takes time for people to assimilate the idea, in this case for oats to become the centre of your cooking, be it rotis, rice, dosa or idli. Right now, the numbers are absolutely on track. In our own outlets we have found that the repeat purchase rate for Kosh is 40%. So, for someone who has tried Kosh once, there are 40% chances of him coming back to buy the product, which is fantastic. The rest of India is also as excited about Kosh. This is the kind of brand that can easily go to great heights.
Q] Apart from the Big Bazaar outlets and other Future Group stores, where else are you selling FCL products?
To begin with, we have appointed distributors in the top 15 or 20 towns of India and are targeting around 20,000 general trade outlets for Kosh in the first stage. Once we get a strong toehold there, we shall move on to the larger bunch of cities. The entire exercise is focussed on getting it right which started with roping in the best ad agency in the country, O&M for making the ad.
Q] Eating healthy is still largely an urban concept, do you also plan to tap rural areas?
If we intend to touch the Rs 1000 crore number, at some stage rural markets will also be opened up. The truth is Big Bazaar is already present in 150 cities. So, in that sense we are covering a large spread of urban India already. It is a brand new concept which was until recently only seen as a niche breakfast item and sold that way. So in that sense it’s still going to take time even for urban India to warm up to it. Future Group does things in a slow and steady way and doesn’t try and bite more than it can chew. So at some stage when we feel we have done the job adequately, we will go to the next level.
Q] Who do you view as your biggest competitor?
Kosh Premium Oats is available in four varieties- broken oats, oats atta, instant oats, wheat and oats atta. While our competitors Saffola and Kellogg’s offer instant oats, the other three varieties are offered only by us.
Q] What are the other categories that are doing really well for the brand?
‘Golden Harvest’, is a well-respected brand in the staples space, all grocery items sold in our outlets are through that brand. Then there is a brand like ‘Fresh n Pure’ which serves tea, honey, etc. So, there were lots of brands in the main belly of the market at Food Bazaar. Our new brands like Sangi’s Kitchen, Karmiq, Kosh or non-food brands like Pratha and Swiss Tempelle are at the end of emerging trends in the market. These are all differentiated brands catering to the new changing consumer whom we define as the Fast Moving Consuming Generation redefining FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods).
Q] ‘Make in India’ is an idea which has found huge takers in consumers of FMCG. Tell us a little about where FCL products are sourced from and produced?
Our brand Sunkist is licensed to us from Sunkist USA but the product is entirely made in India, adhering to the global standards of the parent company. We have a tie-up with Mibelle Group in Switzerland for a cosmetics brand called ‘Swiss Tempelle’ which is currently imported but there is a plan to make it locally following the strict standards of the Swiss company.
Q] When a retail chain like Big Bazaar pushes forward products from their own Group, do others get affected, for example, Future Group has had a strong partnership with Patanjali.
Very few of our brands are just coming in to compete with what’s already there. Indeed one of the things we look at is that, is this just a me-too cluttered sort of space, or will it be something new and fresh for the Indian consumer? So, especially since we are not here to take away share from someone else it wouldn’t be a conflict. Companies like Unilever, P&G and Godrej are our partners because they also use our stores to sell their products. But yes there is competition in some product categories. The truth is we are helping expand the food market which is growing in double digits.
Q] What kind of market-share do FCL products have vis-à-vis other brands sold in your retail outlets?
Many of our brands, because they are unique offerings, enjoy a 70% to 80% share in their categories. For example, in frozen foods like French fries, we are already rivalling the volumes of the leading brand McCain Foods. But in many other aspects of frozen foods, we are the first movers. Even when it comes to Kosh, in three out of four categories, we are the only players. So, much of our activity is in terms of developing brand new categories. We are not playing a share game at all. Instead, we are trying to grow the market in India. Supermarkets abroad offer a range of things like ready-to-eat salads and frozen foods, all of that will come to India sooner or later. So there is a huge opportunity here.
Q] You have many products with diverse identities which are brands by themselves, is there an effort to integrate them and focus more on the motherbrand FCL in your ads?
No, not really. We want our brands to have strong self-sufficient identities. For example, Unilever is a good house of brands, and while some discerning customers know that Surf is from Unilever, it’s not the primary reason why Surf has a market. Similarly, we like our brands to stand for themselves. At the same time, people do seek the mark of assurance that P&G, Unilever and Nestle offer. So we are developing Future Consumer as that mark of assurance. Having said that, it’s not going to be like Cadbury, which has an active presence on every pack of products where even a 5-Star sells on the back of Cadbury. That’s not going to be our strategy. Our strategy is for Future Consumer Limited to be very strong brand standing behind all the existing brands.