Aishwarya Ramesh

Paan flavoured snack bars?

In a bid to Indianise its offering, Unibic has introduced a paan flavoured variant. We spoke to the marketing head, Aarti B Iyer about the product...

It started with the McAloo Tikki burger. It was a flavour previously unheard of, but it made waves when international fast-food chain McDonald's debuted it in India. McDonald's is just one of many international brands that have had to introduce new flavour variants to appeal to the Indian palette. International fast-food chain KFC had to introduce a whole new vegetarian menu to ensure that Indian sensibilities were catered to. Even ready-to-eat FMCG products like Lays chips (with a magic masala flavour) and Tic Tac (with saunf and raw mango flavours) are no strangers to this trend. Kellogg's India leg introduced three new cereal flavours this year in association with Chef Ranveer Brar - rose, badam, and kesar pista. The latest brand we've spotted to jump the Indian flavour bandwagon is Unibic.

Unibic first came to India in 2004 from Australia. Their first offering was Anzac and Bradman cookies and we recently spotted a 'meetha paan' flavoured snack bar by the brand.

Meetha paan is about as Indian as it gets and the flavour seems quite popular with Indian taste buds. Indian brand Havmor announced the launch of its paan flavoured ice cream this year and Durex India announced a condom variant with a meetha paan flavour too. Durex also announced the launch of a kaala khatta flavoured condom in the same breath.

Paan flavoured snack bars?

Unibic's newest 'desi' offering

Unibic's snack bar claims to have real gulkand chunks with 13.4 per cent fibre content and positions itself as a healthier, hygienic and convenient way of consuming paan. This isn't the only outlandish Indian flavour the company offers - they also dabble in flavours like chilli butter, ajwain, and jeera. To know more about the category and these unique flavours, we had a chat with Aarti B Iyer, marketing head, Unibic India.

Paan flavoured snack bars?

Lays' masala magic - customised for Indian taste buds

Paan flavoured snack bars?

Tic Tac also introduced saunf, and raw mango flavours

Paan flavoured snack bars?

Durex India's desi variants also included meetha paan and kaala khatta

During our conversation, she informed us that the main target audience is young adults and office-goers. She also stated that the snack bars are aimed at satisfying evening hunger pangs when people tend to gravitate towards unhealthy or fried food, hence compromising on their health.

The advertising messages for the snack bars are a reflection of this messaging.

Paan flavoured snack bars?

The ads for snack bars focussed on staying away from unhealthy snacking

###DOUBLE##It is not entirely a nutrition-driven offering. It's not for people who are seeking health benefits or for hardcore gym-goers. It's for people like you and me who tend to consume unhealthy or fried foods in the evening," Iyer said. She went on to tell us that as far as the paan flavoured variant is concerned, it was an experiment. "It could have been treated as a mouth-freshener, as a snack bar or just as a snack. We thought we'd try it and see how it worked," she stated.

Paan flavoured snack bars?

Aarti B Iyer

We asked if the production process of making unique flavours is different from the normal manufacturing process. She replied, "It's not about spending more because it's an Indian flavour. Any cookie has the same kind of process - you put the dough, the sugar, the ingredients, and then get into baking. In this case, we just added a different kind of ingredient like we would add fruits and nuts. We just started adding a little bit of chilli flakes, a bit of ajwain and that's how we did it."

She pointed out that some people lean toward savoury flavours and when it comes to making cookies or snack bars with unique flavours, the company was careful not to go overboard and turn off consumers in the process.

Iyer also spoke about how different categories of Unibic had a different target audience. She explained that cookies are primarily consumed by kids, the digestive range of biscuits are consumed by the middle-aged segment and that older people tended to gravitate towards consuming sugar-free cookies.

To target their consumers, Unibic works with creative agency Plan B and their media buying duties are handled by Mindshare. To promote Unibic's cookies and snack bars, they have teamed up with influencers across Instagram and also partnered with Shilpa Shetty Kundra's YouTube channel in a bid to promote their digestive cookie offering.

We asked Iyer how she spent her marketing money. She admitted that a majority of the money spent on marketing went towards television and digital and whatever remained was spent on outdoor.

She also pointed out that in certain regions, some types of content work better than others and the spending trends are more region-specific. "We take a secondary or tertiary medium in that region which will become the second most dominant feature of our marketing efforts in that area. In some regions, digital might work, but if it's a cinema-led region where people are eagerly waiting for new movies to come out, then it would work for us to advertise in cinema halls," she said. She also added that it helps them target and speak to members in the 18-35 age group who are the primary growth drivers for the brand.

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