Abid Hussain Barlaskar
Marketing

“Launches in COVID scenario more complicated but critical to meet consumer needs”: Inderpreet Singh, Mondelez India

The new milk shake mix extension of Mondelez’s cookie brand Oreo lets consumers have their cafe-like Oreo shakes at home.

Global confectionery giant Mondelēz sells so many Oreo cookies every year that it’s become a cultural icon. An estimated 500 billion Oreo cookies have been sold since they were first introduced in 1912.

Around 34 billion of these ‘vanilla cream and dark choco biscuits’ are sold each year, i.e., 92 million cookies per day. About 10 billion of them are sold in the US every year.

The cult is growing fast in India too. Oreo cookies were officially introduced in the Indian market by Mondelēz in 2011. Over the last decade, India has emerged as the fourth largest market for the Oreo brand globally.

The company has been actively trying to expand the brand and its variants, with prices starting as low as Rs 5. Oreo’s current extensions include Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk Oreo, Cadbury Dairy Milk Lickables, Oreo Cadbury Dipped, etc.

Among the latest extension of the brand is Cadbury Oreo milkshake mix. It also marks the company’s entry in the ‘milk food drink’ category, which is driven by adding taste or dietary value to milk. This is also the first time an Oreo extension has been launched as a DIY ingredient item.

Cadbury Oreo Milkshake DIY guide
Cadbury Oreo Milkshake DIY guide

Like the previous extensions, this one too rides on the high equity of both the flagship Mondelēz brands Oreo and Cadbury.

Priced at Rs 175 for 200 gms, Cadbury Oreo Milkshake Mix will be available in modern trade and on e-commerce.

Apart from growing its footprint as a product, Oreo has emerged as a flavour (ingredient) too. Menus at almost all modern day cafes include an Oreo-flavoured milkshake, alongside the usual mango-vanilla-chocolate flavours. Crushed Oreo biscuits are also used as ‘cookie crumble’ for toppings, etc. The trend has been encouraged by co-branding initiatives like the Oreo McFlurry at McDonald’s and Kwality Wall’s Oreo ice cream.

A Nashik based cafe's menu
A Nashik based cafe's menu

However, shakes and frappuccinos have been traditionally consumed outside homes at HORECA establishments. Hence, there aren’t many brands catering to the at-home DIY milkshake consumers. Among notable offerings are the variants from Dr Oetker’s Funfoods.

Funfoods shake mixes
Funfoods shake mixes

Mondelēz’s Cadbury Oreo milkshake mix comes at a time when the consumers are stuck at home, deprived of their cafe hangouts due to the COVID-induced lockdowns.

Inderpreet Singh, associate director, marketing (beverages, meals, candies and gums), Mondelēz India, tells afaqs! that the launch is the brand’s way of “providing the right snack, for the right moment...”

On being asked if the launch was directly influenced by the growing presence of Oreo as a flavour/ingredient in items like milkshakes, etc., Singh says that it is in line with Mondelēz’s plans to extend its power brands like Cadbury and Oreo into relevant categories to meet evolving consumer palates.

Inderpreet Singh
Inderpreet Singh

“Brand Oreo has created a mark for itself in the country in a very short time and this brand affinity definitely helps,” Singh adds.

"It is critical to launch products which meet consumers' evolving needs."

Speaking on the challenges of launching a product in the current COVID scenario, Singh says that from a consumer’s point of view, it is critical to launch products which meet their evolving needs. From a manufacturer’s viewpoint, launching a new product in the current scenario is more complicated, considering the challenges faced in various parts of the innovation process, like factory trials, tasting, etc.

While the new mix is a milk additive, it is more inclined towards taste than health.

KS Narayanan, a food and beverages industry expert (formerly with McCain Foods and Unilever), says that unlike the larger category of the health-focused milk-based beverage mixes, the Cadbury Oreo mix is purely driven by indulgence, something that would be consumed occasionally at HORECA setups.

KS Narayanan
KS Narayanan

“This is purely an indulgence category and it doesn’t build on the health proposition. There is a very large category of health-based milkshakes that cater to health needs, like protein, etc. But is this is completely different.”

Narayanan explains that it is among the many food trends that were birthed outside the home in setups like hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc. The trend gradually found its way into homes over time with exposure.

“With the younger segment frequenting cafes, etc., a large product segment has developed over there. A large part of the sales at cafes is beverages, and a significant portion of beverages is cold beverages.”

He draws similarities between the Oreo extension and that of coffee brand Nescafe’s launching products, like the Latte Instant Coffee mix, or other brands launching tea-based cold beverage mixes.

“Launches in COVID scenario more complicated but critical to meet consumer needs”: Inderpreet Singh, Mondelez India

“It is only logical for a leading chocolate player to come up with a chocolate-based mix. Oreo has been driving cross category expansion.”

Narayanan also points that unlike ready-to-serve milkshakes offered by brands like Amul, etc., the Oreo mix involves consumer activity.

Instead of just pouring it from a tetra pack, the mix leaves room for consumer engagement and value addition. The consumers get to mix the right proportions, check sweetness, add crushed ice or nuts, etc.