Namah Chawla

Gourmet is the flavour of the season for Lay's chips

PepsiCo's snacking brand Lay's has introduced 3 new flavours in the premium snacking category.

Potato chips brand Lay’s has just launched ‘Lay’s Gourmet’, a range of slow-cooked premium chips. Targeted at the ones who wish to indulge in a finer snacking experience, Lay’s Gourmet is available in three flavours – Lime & Cracked Pepper, Thai Sweet Chilli, and Vintage Cheese & Paprika.

Gourmet is the flavour of the season for Lay's chips
Gourmet is the flavour of the season for Lay's chips

Shailja Joshi, marketing director, potato chips category, PepsiCo India, tells afaqs! that the brand’s quest to launch Lay’s Gourmet started with the understanding their consumers. Lay’s research suggested that Indian consumers were evolving and willing to try more premium products across macro-snacking and food categories.

“Our research also showed that premium chips were doing well globally too. Lay’s Gourmet is a global product and exists in a lot of markets. So clearly, India could also look up to this product.” Joshi adds.

For PepsiCo, Lay’s Gourmet range is a premium launch, in terms of how the brand wishes its consumers to perceive the product and its pricing. The packaging and the visual identity of the new range were initially tested with the consumers, too.

It is interesting to note that the Indian flavours closely resemble their global counterparts. For instance, Lime & Black Pepper, which is available in global markets, became Lime & Cracked Pepper in India. Similarly, Vintage Cheddar & Caramelised Onion became Vintage Cheese & Paprika, and Thai Chilli & Lime became Thai Sweet Chilli.

Talking about getting inspired by Lay’s Gourmet’s international flavours, Joshi says that these aren’t just subtle changes, as they are very different flavours.

However, she also mentions, “The Indian flavours may not be completely different, because being a global entity, we do dig into our global expertise. And, Lay’s stands for its international flavours. The subtle changes are because the product has been redefined, keeping the liking of Indian consumers in mind."

During the initial few months of the COVID pandemic, there was a sudden uptick in the number, and also the type, of snacks that were introduced. The in-home consumption also shot up. So, what made Lay’s launch its gourmet range now and what has changed over the last few months?

Joshi points out that the pandemic did change consumer behaviour, and some of it has changed for the better.

“What we have learned from the pandemic is that in-home snacking continues to be a priority. The timing of the launch is absolutely right because the consumers have been evolving. They want to have more premium products. This is not a short-term phenomenon and India is going to see the overall premium category growing,” explains Joshi.

Lay’s Gourmet will compete with the likes of Wingreens’ Naan Chips (butter garlic, chatpata pudina flavour), Pringles (sour cream & onion, cheddar cheese, barbeque) and other premium start-up snacking brands like BRB Popped Potato Chips, Hunter’s Gourmet, etc.

However, most of these products are sold at a higher price point than Lay’s Gourmet, which costs Rs 30 for 55 grams and Rs 50 for 80 grams.

Speaking about the pricing strategy, Joshi mentions that a premium range is defined by many parameters and one of them is the pricing. “Today, the overall chips category, or even the packaged food category, is driven by Rs 5 or Rs 10 price point. In this category, to launch something that starts only at Rs 30 is premium enough for the consumer that we are targeting, as it is three price points above.”

While the brand has defined the TG for its new launch in a certain demographical way, Joshi believes that most of the brand’s consumers should be able to evolve up to Lay’s Gourmet on special occasions.

As far as the TVC for Lay’s Gourmet goes, it is different from regular ads. The TVC is shot at an international location and brings alive the idea of a gourmet product being different. The brand will be releasing a 360-degree campaign shortly.

For marketing Lay’s Gourmet range, what will change is how well the brand can target the consumer across all touchpoints, says Joshi. The focus will be on the ‘right kind of outlets’ in metros and mini-metros.

Even in the general trade, the brand plans to focus on making the product available in high-weighted stores. The other thing that will be more indexed than regular Lay’s will be that the organised trade channel (modern trade and e-commerce) will substantially play a very important role, from a selling as well as a visibility standpoint.

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