Aishwarya Ramesh

Drum Foods' Siddarth Menon on 'no added sugar' yogurt, plant-based products and chocolate ghee spreads...

A chat with the CMO of Drum Foods International (Epigamia's parent company) is telling of certain consumer trends.

Epigamia is having a busy year so far. The brand has been going all out on digital advertising to grab eyeballs for two products – their newly introduced ghee spreads and yogurt with no added sugar. The company is also seeing good traction on its plant-based ranges (namely, with coconut milk yogurt and almond milk).

During a video interview with afaqs!, Siddarth Menon, CMO of Drum Foods International, says that the company's business had to pivot during the COVID-induced lockdowns. The company was heavily reliant on sampling in stores, as well as a physical brand presence at modern retail and grocery stores – both avenues were cut off when COVID hit.

Siddarth Menon
Siddarth Menon

The supply chain was interrupted, but there was still demand for the product. To fill the gap, the company opened up its website as a platform for making purchases during lockdowns.

“We used to get people to sample our products at events like marathons, food festivals, pop-ups and other avenues. Once that was cut, we had to find a way to get the product across to the customer. This is when we opened up our own D2C platform and focused on digital advertising,” says Menon.

He says that digital advertising is more suited for his brand’s needs and it wouldn’t necessarily make sense for them to put out a TVC. In an interview with afaqs! in May 2019, he had said that Epigamia was responsible for bringing Greek yogurt to India, and that sampling was a major strategy for the company to create brand familiarity and awareness.

He adds that to introduce the no added sugar variant of Greek yogurt as a part of its portfolio, the company kept a close watch on global trends, such as keto diets, plant-based products and fat-free and sugar-free offerings. Menon says they introduced a no added sugar yogurt offering on popular demand.

“There were customers who wanted Greek yogurt, but didn’t want a product with sugar in it. It was a challenge for our resident chef to retain the taste of the product without the additive, and the end product is the result of his hard work,” says Menon.

After the no sugar variant was launched (in 2019), the company decided to introduce plant-based yogurt in June 2020, again based on the popularity of the trend globally and in India. "That is when we launched the coconut milk yogurt. We launched Artisanal dahi back in 2018. We want to make sure that the consumer has a choice, depending on the health platform that's most important to them."

Elephant Design is the company that has worked on the design aspect for both the no added sugar yogurt as well as the chocolate-based ghee spreads. During the conversation, Menon reveals that ghee, as a product, was gaining popularity globally and that reflected in the product they created in association with investor, Bollywood actress and brand ambassador Deepika Padukone.

When asked about the demand for plant-based products, Menon explains that there are various reasons why someone would opt for them. “I think the existing reasons are obviously some level of contemporary morality. Number two, from a health standpoint, we see a lot of consumers who don’t consume milk or dairy products and want to strip dairy out of their diet. But the third reason why I think plant-based products are also picking up is because they have got a very strong permissibility.”

Menon explains that there are two main types of consumers – those who care about their health and those who don’t. Permissibility is a concept wherein someone will opt for a product because it is inherently healthy, but may not necessarily check in for the finer details. Plant-based products sell well with this category of consumers, he concludes.