afaqs!

Will India Snack On Oats?

By Suraj Ramnath , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 19, 2016
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Saffola is trying to expand the consumption window for oats, an item one readily associates with breakfast. The brand's latest ad campaign for its Masala Oats range persuades the Indian consumer that oats can be had through the day. Will India bite?

Saffola from Marico, the health and beauty-based consumer products company, is trying to expand the consumption window for oats, an item one readily associates with breakfast. The brand's latest ad campaign for its Masala Oats range persuades the Indian consumer that oats can be had through the day. Will India bite?

Saffola Masala Oats Ad

Anand Varadarajan

Anisha Motwani

Sharda Agarwal

The research for Saffola Masala Oats has been done by Anand Varadarajan, independent brand consultant. When asked about what prompted Marico this expansion, he says, "There is a clear shift in snacking from the normal traditional meal. The trend now is to have either two traditional meals or snacks during the day, or people have just one traditional meal and snacks during the day, and so on. There is more health awareness and people don't want to have pizzas and other snacks which is not the traditional home-cooked food. It is, therefore, a function of need and desire."

When asked about what would have prompted Marico with a move like this, Anisha Motwani, former chief marketing and digital officer, Max Life Insurance, says, "Marico is a company which doesn't do anything without human understanding and research. It has been in the market with this product and I am sure that it is the experience of the product performance in the market with respect to who is eating and at what time they are eating that would have prompted them."

Sharda Agarwal, co-founder, Sepalika, says, "It is to get more shares of meals across the day. It is just trying to increase the frequency of consumption or trying to provide more opportunities in a day for people to consume oats knowing fully well that you cannot replace the main meal. The lunch and dinner are almost sacrosanct in India. For instance, in South India, it is rice, sambhar and a curry, and for a North Indian it would be a roti, dal and subzi. It's very hard to change them unless there is an occasion."

The strategy works well, feel Motwani and Agarwal. According to them, Saffola is opening up more opportunities for consumers by getting Masala Oats as a mid-day snack rather than looking at sandwich, pakoda or noodles as an option, which is not healthy.

"There aren't too many healthy snack options as a consumer. Actually, it is a vacant space." says Motwani.

"Saffola is a good option for a consumer such as the house wife, giving her the option of offering the Italian or Chinese version of oats to the family as a snack during the day. She is being offered a choice, where she is considering a product such as this as a snack time option," says Agarwal.

When asked about the psychological barrier that the consumer could have since oats is considered as a breakfast meal, Motwani and Agarwal both feel that since the product launched has Chinese and Italian flavours, it would be snacky, and had the liberty to move outside the breakfast space.

Motwani says, "I personally think it will work far better than their breakfast meal."

Agarwal says, "If you look at the pasta from ITC, or the noodles that comes from Nestle, they are all snacks, and therefore, when I move oats out from a porridge form, then I have taken it outside the breakfast occasion and it no longer becomes the limiting factor."

But, Varadarajan is quick to point out that Kellog's, too, has been selling oats for a number of years. "And, it has also positioned it as a snack," he says.

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