Abid Hussain Barlaskar

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

But the product format is another story altogether - Soulfull Millet Smoothix is a powder that you have to add water or milk to!

Millet Smoothix, the instant drink mix from cereal brand Soulfull, is a quick on-the-go snack. The product is targeted at hasty office goers and adds a cool quotient to the cereal-based powder which is traditionally sold in boring cereal boxes. After launching in mid-2018, the brand recently rolled out its first ad film, part of a three-part series. The ads have been conceptualised by People Design & Communications India.

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

Soulfull Smoothix' latest #ShakeYourHungerAway campaign

Soulfull sells the Millet Smoothix product in 30-gram sachets (unlike the larger Soulfull cereal packets and boxes) which are accompanied by a branded sipper. The powder is either mixed with water or milk inside the sipper before consumption. The brand has also coupled cereals with jaggery as an alternative to sugar. While the powder-mix format puts the brand in a healthy and corrective area (like protein/vitamin-based powders), the sipper adds the active-gymgoer's swig to it.

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

Smoothix's outdoor activation from around the time the brand was launched

Smoothix is targeted at 25-40-year-old busy-bees looking for a quick bite between work hours. The brand is particularly looking at plugging the gap between scheduled meals, i.e. breakfast and lunch (around 11.00 am) and before dinner (4.00 pm-5.00 pm). Several food brands have pulled such moves in the past. Nuts and caramel-based bar, Snickers, was positioned as a snack food to fight the 4 o'clock hunger with the tag line ''Hunger Bajaye Chaar, Snicker Khol Yaar'. QSR (quick-serve restaurant) brand KFC tried to own lunchtime with its 'Rice Bowlz' while also projecting the hasty professional as the target. Knorr soup played up the hunger-between-meals phenomenon with its "Chhoti chhoti bhook bye bye" campaign.

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

KFC's launch of Rice Bowlz, a lunch time offering

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

Snickers commercial 'Hunger Bajaye Chaar. Snicker Khol Yaar' from 2008

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

Knorr Cup a Soup ad with tagline 'Chhoti chhoti bhookh bye bye'

Prashant Parameswaran, CEO and co-founder, Soulfull says, "While it is easiest for a marketer to provide a large packet, we found that people want freshness. A 500-gram pack stored in a jar would take 15-20 days to consume and people can skip consumption for days. The sachets help in habit-generation, category creation and delivering fresh."

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

Manna Health Mix, a similar product sold in cereal boxes
Click on the image to enlarge

Parameswaran further explains that while the sipper serves the functional purpose, it also connotes an active lifestyle. "It has the emotive quotient of a lifestyle that the brand speaks about. It creates relevance for the active consumer," he says.

So what is Millet Smoothix up against?

The Soulfull co-founder stresses that the brand isn't competing with another product or a brand and is concentrating on building a category around itself. It aims to be part of a particular time of a consumer's day and the market communication and strategy is aligned around this.

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

Prashant Parmeswaran

"Everybody has an 11 o'clock and 4 o'clock hunger situation and people go after chowmein, samosas, vada pao or maybe a slice of pizza. Smoothix, a competing alternative here, provides complex carbohydrates, keeps the sugar level constant and lasts till the next meal. Ours is more of situation-based advertising, unlike other snacks which people decide when to consume them. The ads tell consumers about the product's role in their lives," Parameswaran says.

The brand has also initiated time-based targeting in its digital campaigns. Parameswaran reveals that the digital ads go live at specific times (around 11.00 am and 4.00 pm) and the ad copies ask questions like "Non-stop work hunger?" and "Stuck in traffic hunger?"

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition
This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

Millet Smoothix digital ads
Click on the images to enlarge

The brand also executes offline promotions via print, radio and on-ground activations. It also created a microsite and social media handles (Instagram and Facebook) for the launch.

Industry speak:

Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, is of the opinion that while there is a need of such a product, Smoothix's success depends on - health, taste, convenience, and price.

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

Samit Sinha

"Health, considering almost the entire category of foods is moving in that direction. Taste, because it's food and not medicine. Convenience is the need of the hour as people are leading busier lives and there is less time for preparation and consumption. Ultimately, price becomes crucial if a brand wants to deeply penetrate the market and not just cater to the urban affluent," he explains.

"The market for healthier dietary alternatives has been growing internationally for many years and the trend is fast catching on in India. Therefore, we can expect major food companies here to introduce health-oriented offerings with new companies also entering this space," Sinha adds.

"Since the product seems to be designed and marketed as healthy on-the-go food, its closest competition is likely to come from granola bars as well as packaged fruit/vegetable juices, smoothies and milk-based drinks. Being cereal-based, it fits best into the breakfast segment. For many, especially students and office-goers, this meal is often compromised due to lack of time, so there is definitely a need-gap for a healthy breakfast-on-the-go. With the huge number of diabetics and pre-diabetics in India, sugar is increasingly being perceived as the new villain, so offering jaggery is not a bad idea. However, the presence or absence of jaggery per se is neither a clincher nor a deal-breaker," Sinha signs off.

MG Parameswaran (Ambi), brand consultant and founder, Brand-Building.com maintains that the consumer has to see value for money in the product.

This hunger-busting 'liquid snack' reminds us of Snickers' proposition

MG Parmeswaran

"While the Rs 30 pricing is good, a consumer can still pick up a pack of juice for Rs 20 or a tetra pack milkshake for Rs 20. The consumer might not be ready to pay Rs 30 and then add the milk or water and prepare the drink," he states.

"But the concept is interesting and there is a lot of action in the area of on-the-go beverages today. There is Raw Pressery, Cavin's Milkshakes and Nestle's cold coffee among others. Consumers are also spending time outside and all of them are trying to get a slice out of the approaching summer," he adds.

"Coming to jaggery, is it really healthier than sugar? It also contains a lot of calories, so maybe not," Parameswaran signs off.

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