The brand is known for idli-dosa batter, parotas, filter coffee decoction. Why bread? CMO Rahul Gandhi says bulk of Indians consume carbs in the form of bread.
Just ask a Mumbai street food seller to make you something without bread, pav, cheese, or butter. Chances are that he will stare at you as if you asked him to chop off his leg and cook it for you.
I may be pulling your leg here, but I’m clearly not exaggerating. Mumbai is notorious for its love of bread and dairy; a habit that’s embedded in the city’s psyche forever.
Bread brands and bakeries love it here, especially during breakfast hours.
Now, lets’ talk about Bengaluru, India’s IT and startup mecca. For someone like me, who holds familial roots in the city, breakfast means standing in a line outside Vidyarthi Bhavan or MTR for a plate of masala dosa and hot idlis. Or, my father buying bread from the local bakery.
India’s garden city is very set in its breakfast habit. So, how does iD Fresh Food, a brand known for its idli dosa batter and filter coffee decoction, plan to lure folks with its new bread line?
“Its (Bengaluru’s) native population has fallen to less than 50 per cent... Now, Bengaluru is a mix of Delhi + Mumbai + Bengaluru + Kolkata. It’s a very cosmopolitan city,” says Rahul Gandhi, iD’s chief marketing officer.
He tells afaqs! that the city is home to different consumer segments. The brand is going after those who’re conscious about what they’re eating. People are conscious about what they’re eating now, more than ever before, thanks to the COVID pandemic.
A week ago, PC Musthafa, iD’s co-founder and CEO, had posted about ‘iD bread’ on his LinkedIn account. He mentioned that the company had been working on two ‘clean label’ products, i.e., iD Sandwich White Bread and iD Wheat Sliced Bread, over the last two years. They're priced at Rs 50 and Rs 55 (for 400 gm) respectively.
What was the consumer insight that led to the brand's entry into the bread category? It's our diet as per Gandhi. "The bulk of the people who're consuming any kind of carbs or wheat or its derivatives like maida, they're mostly consuming bread..."
Clean label is a simple concept. A product is made up of natural and organic ingredients that even our grandmothers can easily recognise.
“There are too many ingredients in bread,” remarks Gandhi, adding that the regulations require the manufacturers to declare them at the back of the pack. “There are flour treatment agents, emulsifiers, class II preservatives… it is not the way iD operates.”
The brand’s press release says that its bread is free of “acidity regulators, flour treatment, agents, antioxidants, emulsifiers or class II preservatives.” It also states the bread has a shelf life of 5-6 days.
Most of us believe that the addition of preservatives extends the life of a product. So, how does iD, despite the absence of these agents, claim that its bread has a shelf life of 5-6 days?
Says Gandhi, “Fermented wheat flour can serve as a preservative… if prepared in a certain dosage and conditions, it can be used as a natural preservative. This gives us some shelf life relief.”
Gandhi goes on to talk about the bread’s packaging, which is “a bit different from the competition. It is very soft in texture too and gives us better barrier properties. The role of packaging is to communicate the brand and keep the food safe. The thicker the packaging, the more the barrier properties.”
iD bread’s competition are not just local bakeries but branded players too that change face from city to city. If Mumbai has Wibs (Rs 20-28 for 400g) and Modern (Rs 28 for Sandwich Supreme bread 400g), Ahmedabad has Amul (Rs 30 for its 400g sandwich bread), Delhi has Harvest (Rs 38 for 400g) . Yes, the likes of Britannia have a presence in multiple cities but there's no clear nationwide bread giant. iD Bread will tie up with local vendors as it launches in other cities after its debut in Bengaluru.
But, the brand, as per the CMO, is not taking on local bakeries or any branded players. "We want to give honest bread to customers. We're going after the good health of the society."
For KS Narayanan, a food and beverages industry expert (formerly with McCain Foods and Unilever), it’s a question of how quickly iD bread can establish distribution, and taste is paramount.
“A category like bread has almost 90 per cent penetration in urban households. Everybody has tasted and evaluated it. A product with a shelf life of 3-5 days, requires early morning distribution in many areas,” he explains.
As per Narayanan, not many people know about the bread's ingredients. There's some level of chemical and preservatives, because the moisture level in bread is quite high. “It is something iD has done away with.”
He foresees a lot of trials happening. “People will taste and evaluate it, and as long as other parameters are fine, there's no reason why people won't shift.”
“The clean label is a big movement, and an overarching health and awareness trend is going on. This is what iD is trying to address."
Risk to iD brand values?
For Ambi Parameswaran, founder, Brand-Building.com, a brand advisory, and an industry expert, the problem with going into a product like bread is that it's a vanilla product. “They will be able to sell bread, but it will end up diluting the values of the iD brand.”
iD is seen as an innovative brand, with its batters and filter coffee decoction, says Parameswaran... “Unless it does something dramatically different with its bread, it'll be like Mercedes-Benz launching autos."
The bread category is a fragmented one, with not too many big brands. So, “iD can carve a place in the market,” Parameswaran signs off.