McVitie's Digestive: Wholesome challenge

By Devesh Gupta , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 26, 2013
The digestive biscuit brand is experiencing cent per cent growth YOY. afaqs! explores the challenges.

McVitie's Digestive, a biscuit brand from United Biscuits, recently launched a television campaign featuring actor Bipasha Basu, where it has positioned itself as a healthier option as it contains whole wheat instead of refined flour.

Priced at Rs 45 per 250 gm pack, McVitie's Digestive claims that it has more than 23 per cent whole wheat, with high fibre. It is a relatively new brand in the healthy and nutritious biscuits category and was launched in India in 2010. United Biscuits offers nine variants under the McVitie's umbrella including oats, cookies, fruit based cookies, bourbon, marie and cream biscuits.

McVitie's Digestive competes with Britannia, an established player in the biscuit industry with its digestive biscuit range comprising Britannia NutriChoice Digestive and Britannia NutriChoice 5 Grain, offered at Rs 20 per 100 gm and Rs 50 per 200 gm, respectively. Britannia enjoys considerable popularity among Indian consumers; thus, the challenge for McVitie's is to create space in the consumer mindset for McVitie's Digestive.

Jayant Kapre

Jayant Kapre, president, United Biscuits, says, "We are using the advertising route to promote the popularity of our product and create awareness in the market. In the last three years, we have done four television campaigns, but our latest ad campaign was extremely targeted. We aim to propagate our USP that is rich presence of whole wheat instead of wheatflour in the biscuit, which is good for health."

The other challenge for McVitie's Digestive is pricing. The biscuit lies in the premium range segment and a large portion of people may not be able to afford it. Some of the popular biscuits in the country are in the range of Rs 15-20 for a 200 gm pack.

Kapre argues, "Though we are in the premium range, we are affordable as our target audience is SEC A and A+ categories. Biscuits are an important part of a family's monthly basket and a product that is consumed daily. But, at the end, it will be a matter of making healthier choices."

Another challenge for the brand is that in India, biscuits are associated with a sweet taste.

Kapre defends, "We are targeting people, who are looking for healthy options. And, to satisfy the sweet pallet urge, we offer other ranges of biscuits."

McVitie's Digestive is using print, electronic media along with several on ground activities to reach out to its target audience, and has doubled its marketing spends for 2013. It is available in more than 250 towns across the country.

He claims that McVitie's Digestive as a brand has high ratio for trial to retention. Once people try out the product, there is a certain stickiness to the biscuit that helps the brand to retain its customers.

Overall, the market for healthy and nutritious biscuits fall in the range of Rs 500-600 crore. The sector includes sub categories such as digestives, diabetics, oats and others. McVitie's Digestive has a share of over 20 per cent in the digestive sub category and is growing at 100 per cent year-on-year. Kapre adds that the entire digestive biscuit category is growing at 70-80 per cent year on year.

McVitie's started its operations at Edinburgh in the UK in 1830. Since then, the brand has grown all over the world and, today, more than 71 million packets of McVitie's Chocolate Digestives are eaten in the UK each year. McVitie's has a large range of biscuits to its name. The first digestive biscuit was made in 1892.

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