Ask an Indian anywhere in the world and he would still want to have his samosa or tikki or a vada pav. Indian cuisine is mostly oily, as many Indian dishes require one to fry the masala (the spice paste that forms the base of the dish) in some oil. The popular belief is that the more oil one uses to fry the masala, the better the taste.
Fat's in the fire
Not really, and according to Philips, most urban Indians are treating themselves to less oily food. To help them, the company - in 2012 - had launched the Philips AirFryer that uses rapid air technology to deliver fried food that contains up to 80 per cent less fat.
Recently, the company came out with a TV campaign to position the AirFryer as an innovative gadget for the evolved, health-conscious consumer. The new ad film, crafted by Ogilvy and Mather, positions the AirFryer as a revolutionary gadget that fries tasty, yet healthy Indian food.
The advertisement showcases Aloo Tikki being made in 80 per cent less oil in the Philips AirFryer. It features a fun couple, where the husband volunteers to prepare the evening snack - Aloo Tikki. However, he fails to spot the tiny bottle of oil that has now replaced a large oil container that is usually found in most Indian homes. Insisting that there is no oil container in the kitchen, he loses a fun bet to his wife and agrees to prepare the snacks every evening.
The product targets the new age, evolved and informed consumer who wants to stay fit and healthy. According to Philips, the consumers for this product are conscious about their health and wellbeing, but love to indulge in delicious fried snacks regularly.
Speaking to afaqs! about the insight that led to the development of the product, Gulbahar Taurani, head of domestic appliances, Philips India, says, "We had launched this product overseas at first, but unlike the people in the west, who would agree to sacrifice taste for health, Indians prefer to have both. So, we went to Indian consumers with this product and asked them to try it out."
As is true with all technology products, the early adopters always are the urban trendsetters and it was the same with the AirFryer as well. Since its launch in India, the product has found takers among residents, mostly couples in metros and Tier I cities. And the company intends to continue them as the target audience during the category creation stage. "The AirFryer is the perfect gadget for the modern kitchen and lifestyle," says Taurani.
No smoke, all fire
Taurani may be right but the same modern Indian kitchen also houses a device called the microwave. So how do these two products differentiate themselves while they share the same kitchen?
According to Taurani, microwaves, unlike the AirFryer, are not made to soak the extra oil from the food. "Most consumers also have the same question for the AirFryer but that's common when one is trying to create the category," he adds. Besides, there is another concern about the amount of space the AirFryer takes in an urban kitchen today. The microwave fits well in the kitchen shelf and takes up less space.
Taurani specifies that AirFryer doesn't emit smoke and hence can be placed in dining spaces too. Moreover, since many urban Indians are now opting for modular kitchens, space won't be a problem because the consumers can plan for it beforehand.
The Philips AirFryer is priced at Rs 14,995 and is available across retail stores and ecommerce websites. Though Taurani doesn't wish to reveal the number of AirFryers Philips has sold so far, he states that within two month of launching the product, they ran out of stock and are now back with stock to meet the consumer demand. The kitchen appliances market in India is worth around Rs 2,500 crore.
The last decade in India has seen nuclear families and urban young couples moving towards healthy food options - and taste. "That is why the AirFryer will find an audience in India. I have myself tasted samosas made out of the same product and they taste good," says Jagdeep Kapoor, managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants.
However, the ad, feels Kapoor, doesn't do justice to the concept of the product as it shows only a young couple using it. "Indians have big families and it would have been noteworthy if the product would have been shown as being used by a traditional family. That is the kind of scale that Philips should eye to achieve with this product," he adds.