Ubaid Zargar

From MasterChef to World Cup, here is how Veeba is saucing up its marketing

As the homegrown brand nears the Rs 1000 crore milestone, Veeba’s founder spills the beans on the road ahead.

Condiments and sauce brand Veeba is set to cross Rs 1000 crore in revenue this fiscal year. Founded in 2013, the brand’s decade-long journey in the Indian market has been one of testing waters and smooth sailing. 

In ten years, the company has now accumulated a portfolio of more than 85 products on retail shelves, distributed across more than 700 towns in India, with 150,000 points of sale. Veeba’s founder and managing director, Viraj Bahl says, “Everyone does good in Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore and Pune. But, Veeba is equally good in Jamshedpur, Vellore, and Hoshiarpur.”

Bahl’s plan with Veeba is to manufacture a traditional FMCG company. But that comes with a lot of marketing requisites and advertising. In September, 2023, Veeba became the co-presenting sponsor for MasterChef India. With this association, Veeba is aiming to leverage the glamour of India's hottest cooking show to reach out to its core target group.

"MasterChef India has always been Amul's property, so to speak. And they are very particular on the kind of brand they allow as title sponsor. For the first time, it will be Veeba presents MasterChef India. Now, that is as core a target group for us as it gets."

The brand has now also introduced a new campaign to leverage the cricketing ambience of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. The campaign, featuring Veeba’s new tagline, Your Food, Your Rules, comes with a dedicated commercial that showcases the entirety of Veeba's product range. The ad film is voiced by presenter Samir Kochhar.

With the campaign going live in the middle of an ongoing World Cup, the brand intent is abundantly clear. Coupled with the cricketesque aesthetic of the commercial, the motive is to converge two artforms into one.

Bahl explains, "What we have tried to do here is marry India's first love, which is food, with India's second love, which is cricket."

As per Bahl, the campaign is aimed at empowering consumers to get creative with their food. He says, “Our job is to just help you unleash your creative culinary instincts. Veeba is there to help the consumer flame their creativity. So we give you the tools, and then what you wish to make is entirely up to you.”

The English tagline is Veeba’s attempt to present a uniform proposition that is inclusive of all regions across the country. Something Bahl figured was lacking in the earlier renditions. He says, “For a company like us with national ambitions, our Hindi tagline in the past wasn’t fair to the five states of South India. So, our new tagline is in English.”

We will be advertising throughout the World Cup. Beyond this, we also have plans for vernacular advertising via South India GECs, supplemented by Hindi and Bengali channels.

Marketing mojo and the media mix

The film is scheduled for airing on Disney+ Hotstar during the World Cup. Additionally, the brand is aiming to tap into other hot properties including top reality shows such as Indian Idol and Bigg Boss, supplementing the association with MasterChef. In terms of media mix, the brand is planning to employ all channels of media, including print, TV, and digital.

Bahl says, "We will be advertising throughout the World Cup. Beyond this, we also have plans for vernacular advertising via South India GECs, supplemented by Hindi and Bengali channels." The ad spends for Veeba during campaigns see a predominant 80% allocation towards traditional and 20% towards digital.

The overall media strategy for the brand depends on the kind of campaign the brand is doing. For larger campaigns, the brand resorts to traditional media channels, while digital takes up its smaller campaigns. "We also do a lot of print, while our presence on TV is consistent from campaign to campaign."

Food Innovation

For Veeba, food innovation forms the core of all its strategies. Bahl highlights that Veeba hosts a team of 7-8 scientists who work in the brand’s R&D centre, tirelessly exploring creative ways to concoct new recipes. He says, “Food innovation is the centre of Veeba. The very fact that we have more than 85 products on the retail shelves tells you how serious we are about this.”

We are responsible for bringing global tastes into India.

The product lineup from the brand reflects a clear influence from global cuisines and cultures. From oriental sauces and chutneys to Italian purees, the brand seems to be converging different culinary palettes from around the world. Bahl explains, “We are responsible for bringing global tastes into India. So, for example, we have a range of salad dressings, spreads, mayonnaise sauce, and other offerings. My job is to make sure anything a consumer wants is available.”

Sales and distribution

Veeba first started as a b2b sauce company, lending its products to brands including Domino’s, Burger King, KFC, and Pizza Hut, among others. Now, the company’s retail distribution amounts to a staggering 92% of its revenue, with only 8% coming from b2b. 

The retail distribution of the brand itself is segregated between different channels of trade. "70% of our revenue comes from general trade, with nearly 22% coming from modern trade. Digital amounts to roughly 8% of our trade."

In terms of sales and distribution, Veeba doesn’t have a particular region dominating its sales. Bahl points out, “We do not have any key states. Three years ago, our sales were dominated by the north. But now, I can safely say, we are uniformly distributed across the country. Delhi is our biggest city, but our biggest region is south, while our biggest state is Maharashtra.”

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