Shreyas Kulkarni

Yes to moral values, no to price hikes, and spending more on TV than digital: Parle-G in 2023

Senior category chief Mayank Shah explains the brand's new campaign, whether it will advertise on the IPL, and more in a quick chat.

There are category leaders, and then there are category synonyms. Parle-G is the latter.

“People start their day, not with a cup of tea and biscuits. They start it with tea and Parle-G,” states Mayank Shah, senior category head, Parle Products. He says the company does not look at Parle-G as a biscuit but as a food staple.

The company crossed $2 billion in sales in FY22 while Parle-G its glucose biscuit brand crossed the $1 billion mark in retail sales in December 2021 as per an Economic Times report.

For a brand which enjoys unwavering demand from all socioeconomic sections of India, one wonders about the need for it to advertise itself. The thought occurred after Parle-G released three ads which took its G for Genius proposition forward first seen by Indians in 2004.

The three ads, made by Thought Blurb Communications, show the stories of three kids and how they express values like empathy and sacrifice their needs and wants for someone else’s happiness.

“Honestly, I do need to make the ads,” says Shah. Agreeing with the brand’s nationwide acceptance and demand, he reveals it can get difficult to address everyone. That is when “you talk about universal values like empathy, compassion, kindness.”

He points out that much before healthy beverage brands tried to encourage parents to let their kids reach their true potential this year, it was Parle that did it in 2013 with its Roko Mat, Toko Mat campaign.

Kids’ learning and upbringing were severely affected during the lockdown staying indoors. He feels it impacted their ability to absorb social cues and values and because kids and mothers are the primary target group of the glucose biscuit, the ads, in a way, acknowledge them for helping build the brand.

The brand will broadcast on television edited snippets while the full-length commercials will run on digital platforms. “We've kept the TV ads at 30 seconds because we are now propagating values. It is not functional and it is hard to capture the messaging in 10 or 20 seconds.”

60%-65% of Parle-G’s media spends is on TV while digital will receive only one-third of the monies.

Mayank Shah
Mayank Shah

When asked if the brand will advertise during the upcoming Indian Premier League, Shah said no because the format is expensive and its dominant viewership is men who are not the TG the glucose brand targets.

Loved by all, focus on none?

Shah admits everyone knows what Parle-G is and how it tastes. “In a situation like this, what can I go and tell them? What best can I do? I can stand up for something through which I can probably serve them,” he says explaining the theme of the recent ads and the ones before them.

“It is not just about consumption but about certain imagery of the brand and that imagery is not a function of advertising but of what the brand does,” remarks the senior category manager who says the brand’s image is one of humbleness which doesn’t scream it is this and that.

“Parle-G is a family brand and nothing resonates better with them than family values.”

He speaks of the time, during the first phase of the lockdown when the company declared it will distribute three crore packs free of cost to the people in need. He also points out how during times of man-made or natural calamities, one will always spot the glucose biscuit brand as one of the first few items being distributed to the public.

“There are multiple things, apart from advertising, which go into forming the image of the brand in the consumer's mind. These are the things which help along with advertising,” asserts Shah.

Cutting size

The talk of an incoming economic cloud will not impact the brand’s grammage says, Shah. Given the inflation, there was a certain price hike — Parle Products had last increased the prices of its products in May 2022, by 5-6% said Financial Express in June 2022— but “currently, the outlook is stable so we're not looking at any price hikes in Parle-G given the present scenario at least for some time to come.”

Anything new?

In the past year, Parle Products has launched breakfast cereal with Hide & Seek Fills, introduced Parle-G Kismi Cinnamon biscuits, Parle-G Oats & Berries biscuits and Parle-G cookies, Parle-G Royale dropped a Genius merchandise line, and even entered the branded atta market with Parle G Chakki Atta.

What’s next?

Nothing as of now. It will take a lot of efforts from our end to increase our volumes and shares in the breakfast cereal and branded atta markets says Shah “and given that you have to invest there and put in efforts, I don't think we'd have the bandwidth to get into any other category at this moment.”

An interesting aspect of the Parle-G biscuit is its usage in dessert preparation where it competes against the likes of Lotus Biscoff. A popular method to lead in this space is influencer marketing with chefs or home cooks.

While Parle-G released simple recipe videos a few years ago and, today, does team up with said folks, it does not have to do it very often because of the vast magnitude of user-generated content it enjoys online. 

“How to eat Parle-G to why to eat, when to eat, how foreigners feel when they eat Parle-G,” are some of the content the brand enjoys.

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