Signing Junior NTR as the brand ambassador for Appy Fizz in South India is a first for the brand, but for Parle Agro, it is a part of our larger strategic approach to reinforce our brand’s recall and connect with consumers in the Southern States. We are looking at hyper-localisation through our marketing initiatives that are focused on associating the brand with the regional celebrities, festivals and events. This will help us bring our brands closer to consumers in South, bridge the cultural gaps, and further consolidate Parle Agro’s position in the region. Salman Khan’s stylish, macho and magnetic attitude is a seamless fit for Appy Fizz’s bold and edgy persona which has helped in far-reaching impact and consumer connect. The #RiseUp campaign with Salman Khan has played a pivotal role in consolidating our market-share in the category.
Q] For Frooti, you’ve got Varun Dhawan on board along with Alia Bhatt. You also have Allu Arjun for the South. That’s a huge celeb line-up for both brands. How do you see these celebrity associations paying off for the two brands?
Celebrity branding and endorsement play a critical role in influencing consumers’ purchase decisions. Not only does celebrity endorsement make a memorable impression on consumers, but it also allows them to know what to expect from the brand and the company. Parle Agro’s decision to have on board celebrities as the face of its brands help us in achieving the aggressive vision we have set out for the company. Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Salman Khan and our regional brand ambassadors, Junior NTR and Allu Arjun, all have different target audiences, helping us deliver strong brand connect and scale up retail visibility nationally.
Q] Reports indicate that Appy Fizz saw a 70% growth last year. What factors have helped drive this growth?
Appy Fizz today is the fastest growing beverage brand in India, and has nearly 99% market-share in the sparkling fruit drink category. We created this category 10 years ago and the focus has been on building it each year. This summer, we have launched a Rs 10 ‘pick-meup’ bottle through a TVC featuring Salman Khan. Additionally, on the back of a strong sales and distribution network and a hyperlocal marketing strategy with Junior NTR on board as regional brand ambassador, we aim to cross the Rs 1000 crore mark for the brand.
Q] Summer is clearly a big season for you. What is Parle Agro doing differently this summer, in terms of new marketing innovations?
Parle Agro is in the midst of an exciting summer 2019. Our campaigns for Frooti and Appy Fizz are in full throttle to grab consumer mindshare, and the company’s renewed approach of targeted and region-specific marketing is already showing promising outcomes. This year’s campaign for Frooti is an extension of the game-changing visual identity of 2018, but the adoption of a new thematic approach was done with the aim of delivering strong brand connect and recall. Such an approach for Frooti was last taken in 2008. Meanwhile, our focus on the South for Appy Fizz and the decision to have Jr. NTR on board as brand ambassador will help us actualize the feat of further building the brand and the category through regional nuances and appeal.
Q] What is the kind of budget you’ve allocated to advertising for the two brands this summer?
Annually, we spend over Rs 200 crore on marketing and advertising across both brands. This summer, we have allotted Rs 75 crore for Appy Fizz and a 100% increase in digital media spends.
Q] Take us through the media mix you will employ for these campaigns.
We kick-started our summer campaigns for Appy Fizz and Frooti this year in the month of March, and are following a 360-degree approach with its strong reflections on TV, Digital, OOH and Print. Our focus on innovative media associations, strategic digital activations and multimedia mainstream campaign rollouts has really worked towards the growth of our brands, year on year. Through Frooti, we are the official beverage sponsors for Chennai Super Kings and our digital activation around this association has been well received. Aggressive strategies across our sales and distribution system, along with pricing and packaging too are playing a big role for the brand this summer. Meanwhile, for Appy Fizz, we continue to have Salman Khan as our brand ambassador, thereby driving mass brand appeal. We also have a TVC this year that launches the Rs.10 bottle into the market.
Q] Which markets are the big focus areas for you?
South India is a priority market for us at Parle Agro and having brand ambassadors like Allu Arjun and Junior NTR are critical to strengthen our regional foothold. Our aggressive marketing strategy for the South is accompanied by two new plants in the region, collaboration with the ongoing IPL, major increase in recruitment and distributors and a massive retail expansion. The goal for us though is to really get to the number one spot nationally.
Q] There’s a lot of talk about sugary drinks and the health concerns they bring with them. Is that something you plan to address going forward and do you have plans to introduce new products with a health focus?
We’re a fruit-based portfolio. When you look at a brand like Appy Fizz, you will see that we are the only ones building and leading the category of sparkling fruit-based drinks. Our focus has always been to stay away from synthetics and focus on fruit-based products. Going forward, there will be lots of different categories and product lines that we will look at based on how the market grows and evolves.
Q] Going forward, what factors do you think will drive growth for the brand and the category?
Over the last decade, the industry and the category we operate in has seen many changes in terms of consumption pattern. This challenge, for us, has served as opportunities to innovate new products and SKUs (Stock Keeping Units). We have recently created a new 160ml SKU for Appy Fizz which will serve as a go-to pack for consumers, increasing our distribution and penetration.