Parag Milk Food is leaving no stone unturned to come up with innovative products to grab the consumer’s attention. Akshali Shah, VP, Strategy Planning-Sales & Marketing, Parag Milk Foods Limited shares some insights into some of the group’s efforts and strategies
By Samarpita Banerjee
Q] You have roped in Vir Das for your new communication. Why did you take the humour route for the new campaign?
Following the great success of Chutney Cheese launched last year, which gave us 20% additional sales in the category, we have now launched a series of cheese flavors including Piri-Piri, Schezwan, Kaccha Aam and Achaari. Last year, our communication was very straight and to the point as we marketed the product as convenient and something that you could make easily in less than two minutes. The new communication is much more quirky and youthful and the entire communication is around how the cheese must have been made. We believe that humour is always easy to remember and leaves a smile on your face. Cheese is always associated with indulgence and we wanted to move away from that and probably say, ‘You know these flavours are very fun and youthful’. Vir Das was a natural fit because he is funny and quirky and someone the youth can connect with. As a stand-up comedian, Vir Das is clutter-breaking, and he also caters to a niche audience.
Q] What is the kind of investment that has gone into the new campaign?
We have invested around Rs 4 crore on this campaign and we will be rolling out the activity from February. We have a 360-degree plan for the campaign. We will be using Social Media, TV, Print and Outdoors.
Q] When it comes to your new offerings, who will be your primary target audience?
We are targeting the young crowd, people who are looking for quick, easy-to-make, convenient snacks. Additionally, mothers are also an audience we are targeting.
Q] How has your marketing strategy evolved over the years?
Initially, for Go Cheese, we only spoke about how it’s made 100% from cow’s milk. After that we went on to a communication saying that we have a wide array of cheese that could go with any kind of cuisine including Indian, Mexican and Italian. Now, our focus is going to be more functional and product-driven and increasingly based on the food that you make. That’s going to be the next strategy, more focus.
Q] When it comes to your media mix, which platforms do you use most extensively?
For us, TV and Outdoor are the most important platforms. Also, for the last few years, we have been very active on social media. We have around half a million followers on social media, Facebook. We do a lot of activities there. Around 50% of our investments go to TV while the other 50% is divided among the other mediums.
Q] For products like cheese, even children are a big target audience. How do you connect with them while marketing your products?
A lot of teenage kids love playing games online. Today, kids are perpetually on their iPads or phones. So, we created a domain just for kids, where you could visit the cheese world through virtual reality. We had conceptualized a few games around that too. We also have celebrity chef Ranveer Brar on board where we have come up with over 100 videos on how to make different cuisines out of cheese. We feel there is a lack of penetration and lack of knowledge on cheese and when asked, the only dishes related to cheese that people can think of are pizza, sandwiches or pasta. So we wanted to make people think beyond that.
Q] Are you thinking of exploring the rural market?
The penetration of cheese is still in early double digits, around 13-14%, so the markets that we focus on are urban and semi-urban. While the category is increasing steadily, at this stage, we are only focusing on urban and semi-urban.
Q] You entered a category where a few other players almost enjoyed monopoly. How challenging was it for you to market your products?
There are two or three players in the market today and yes, they are quite settled. But cheese as a category is very low penetrated and it’s a growing category. It’s growing at 30% year-on-year. So there is enough space for everybody. There is a huge potential in the market.
Q] How difficult is it to market products that are not really looked at as healthy food?
That cheese is not healthy is just a myth. A large part of our audience in India is vegetarian and many among them have protein deficiency. The primary source of protein for them is milk and milk products. It’s just a myth that cheese is fattening for you. We have a long list informing people how they should consume cheese. We also make other efforts to educate our audiences, by putting out newspaper or magazine articles, blogs or social media. Slowly, people are realizing that you don’t really get fat by consuming cheese.
Q] What are the products under Parag Milk Foods’ portfolio that are working best for you?
We have been producing ghee for the last two decades and it is one of our flagship products. We were also awarded recently for being the most trusted ghee brand. The other growing categories are UHT milk and the tetra pack milk. And of course, cheese.
Q] Are there a few other categories that you are thinking of exploring?
As of now, quarter-on-quarter, we are always launching innovative products. We have a lot of things lined up in our basket. We will soon be coming out with whey protein and milk-based beverages along with many new varieties of cheese. As I said earlier, we are giving more attention to functional products. We will also be coming up with something very exciting for kids. Our focus is not just on the dairy products today. We also want to cater to the health and nutrition segment. We aim to be a dairy-based FMCG company. There are many launches lined up for 2017.
Q] Going forward, what will be Parag Milk Foods’ broad marketing strategy for the overall group?
We have four main brands under Parag - Gowardhan, Go Cheese, Topp Up and Pride of Cows. We follow different strategies to market each of our brands and we are very focused when it comes to each brand. Gowardhan is a very traditional, ingredient-based, in-the-kitchen sort of brand. Pride of Cows serves the elites of Mumbai and Pune, it’s farm to home. We also have milk under Gowardhan which sells at Rs 40 per litre. We have done some value-addition, increased the shelf-life and we sell it at Rs 65 under the brand name of Go. And Pride of Cows, which is farm to home, untouched by human hands, has its own value add proposition - we sell it at Rs 90. Each one of our brands has different characteristics and a way forward for it. As a group, we are moving towards health and nutrition.
Q] What is the biggest challenge that the dairy industry has been facing?
We have different products that need to be transported at different temperatures. So for us, the biggest challenges would be logistics and also procurement.