Joint MD and CMO, Parle Agro
That Nadia Chauhan doesn't believe in conventional consumer research is known. But sample this anecdote: The idea to mix fizz with Frooti was born when she caught her kids adding soda to Frooti and enjoying their little blend.
"It was, in a way, an obvious choice. Sometimes, you tend to overlook the obvious. We looked at all kinds of more sophisticated fruits. Then one day while playing in the lab the kids made this drink... that got me thinking..." smiles the joint managing director and chief marketing officer of Parle Agro, while discussing the genesis of her new sparkling mango juice Frooti Fizz. The product expands her company's fizz portfolio, that was born with Appy Fizz in 2005.
"When it comes to product development, we don't have the kind of hierarchies that a lot of other companies have. It's a small, integrated group of people and decisions are taken very fast. We can go from concept to market in 40 days," says Chauhan.
She reflects, "When I joined (2003) we were a Rs 300 crore business. I dealt with a marketing budget of Rs 3.5-4 crore. Today the business is over Rs 3,000 crore and we have a marketing budget of Rs 200 crore. We went from being a small-sized business, that was fairly conservative as a system, to a mid-sized business."
What next? "Our ambition," Chauhan answers, "is to stay in this slot for the least amount of time. If you stay in the mid position for too long, you'll be here forever. So we want to kick out of this slot very fast... we're looking to get to Rs 5,000 crore by 2018, Rs 10,000 by 2022, and Rs 25,000 crore by 2030."
Moreover, with Frooti Fizz, she hopes to take her fruit juice-based fizz portfolio to Rs. 4,000 crore by 2022.
Frooti Fizz is available at three price points: Rs.15 (250 ml PET bottle), Rs.30 (500 ml PET bottle) and Rs.25 (250 ml can).
A multimedia ad campaign (#FrootiGoFizzy) is currently on air.
Currently, 90 per cent of the fruit-flavored still drinks (FFSD) category is dominated by one flavour - mango.
In the fruit-based drinks segment Frooti has a market share of 85 per cent (Tetra Pak category) and 33 per cent (PET bottle category), according to the company. Last year, Frooti grew by 13 per cent, while Appy Fizz grew by 27 per cent.
Before you went to market with this new product, what was the biggest concern?
The fact that we were associating the Frooti name with it.
I mean, we could have called it Mango Fizz but we decided to go with the Frooti brand name. So the worry was - the fact that it holds the name Frooti means it absolutely has to be a success.
And we armed ourselves accordingly. Beyond the marketing side of things, it's really a distribution and sales game, especially in a country like India where retail is so fragmented. There are over three million outlets that sell beverages. A powerful sales system can get you returns that are way, way bigger than what the most powerful ad campaign can.
S&D (sales and distribution) is the largest asset of an FMCG company. In the last few years we've doubled our turnover... it's not because we've launched many new products; it's because of our investment in S&D.
We'll push Frooti Fizz in retail outlets that stock the 500-600 ml share-pack, that typically goes to colleges.
How will you allocate your Rs 100 crore marketing budget for Frooti Fizz across media platforms?
This time around, a large part of the spend will go to IPL - we are associate (on-air) sponsor. It will get us scale, impact and visibility. We're making large statements through our Bigg Boss and IPL sponsorships.
It's one thing to keep on saying 'We've grown 800 per cent over the last decade' but it's another to actually go out there and make these big, bold moves to show the size we've achieved.
We're also making a very conscious effort to build our brands with the power of design and visual language. Design sensibilities play a big role in our TVCs and in our outdoor ads. Outdoor is a medium we have been investing heavily in since we started working with Sagmeister & Walsh. In conventional advertising the visual aspect just gets lost, somewhere.
The target consumer for Frooti Fizz is the young adult who, in a move to find more healthy, fruit-based options, is gravitating away from 'synthetic drinks'. Why not just say you're targetting the cola drinker instead of using a euphemism?
That's because it's not just about the colas. It's about the overall synthetic carbonated soft drinks category that includes colas, lemon and orange-based drinks... all the Mountain Dews, Mirindas, Sprites... they're all synthetic.
Synthetics include multiple flavours. Cola is a flavour, not a category.
The price of Frooti Fizz is the same as that of Frooti - why so?
Today, unfortunately, if a product has a little 'good-for-you' in it, it's priced at a premium. Today, a product that has no sugar becomes niche, in India. For a product as light as say, a Gatorade, people have a sense of, 'What am I paying 100 bucks for? It's water... it's electral'. In our category, value for money is based on two things - thickness and sweetness.
We want people to graduate from synthetic products to something with fruit, less sugar, less gas in it, without penalising them for it by charging a premium. In the past as well, we didn't price our baked snacks at a premium; it was priced at par with the fried potato snacks out there.
Right. But when Appy Fizz was launched, it was priced at a premium...
Yes, Appy Fizz was priced at a premium but only in the beginning. The cost was about 15-20 per cent higher than that of colas and other drinks in the market. It was also stocked at a very niche set of outlets. But over time we brought the price down and made it more widely available.
Lastly, I have to ask... You've got Sagmeister & Walsh on retainer. Why is an Indian company not working with an Indian team?
When we were up for pitch (2015) every single agency in India that didn't handle a competing brand pitched for our business. I still have the work with me. I've kept it to answer questions like these.
Today, most agencies in India think campaigns are about making TVCs. Even when they come for pitches, they come with a laundry list of TVC ideas and lengthy strategy presentations. Agencies today have become too formatted. The approach is so standard. I have not been able to find anyone who can break the convention.
Our company has ambitious goals. We needed to work with someone who was as bold as us. We couldn't find anybody. We found enough 'client-pleasers', enough people willing to do anything to make a pitch happen... but not willing to go that extra mile.
Also, most agencies in India have a very 'protective' system. They don't like collaborating with too much talent. It's all about 'It's my idea'. But I would want millions of brand custodians.
Today, design as a discipline is not developed in India. The creative system in India needs a revolution.