Shreyas Kulkarni

Parle enters breakfast cereal category with Hide & Seek Fills; can it take on Kellogg's Chocos Fills, Nestle Koko Krunch, Bournvita Fills?

With 50% chocolate filling, the product targets kids. We chat with Krishnarao Buddha, senior category head, marketing, Parle Products, about rivals, advertising, and D2C channels.

“Thoda aur chutney dena,” said my father at an unremarkable restaurant in the Maximum City, while gorging on a plate of steaming medu vadas. The waiter’s response, in contrast, was quite remarkable, “Rs 5 for extra chutney.” Now, that was an age when an extra serving of chutney, or sambar was free.

An argument more heated than today’s news shows ensued, but that’s not our concern. What should be our concern is the cause of all this —“Thoda aur… dena.”

We love a bit more in every aspect of our lives, especially when it comes to food. More cheese on our pizza, more peri peri masala on our fries, more chakna with our glass of alcohol… you get the drift.

It looks like leading FMCG brand Parle Products was thinking on similar lines, when it announced its entry in the breakfast cereal category. Please welcome Parle Platina’s Hide & Seek Fills.

Parle enters breakfast cereal category with Hide & Seek Fills; can it take on Kellogg's Chocos Fills, Nestle Koko Krunch, Bournvita Fills?

What is it? Think tiny, crunchy pieces filled with chocolate that you can dip in milk or, maybe, eat it as it is. This thought got us (afaqs!) thinking. Does it come under the breakfast cereal category, or is it a snack?

“We've predominantly positioned it as breakfast cereal and want consumers to consume it with milk. But, at the same time, anyone can consume it as a meetha (sweet) snack because of the chocolate filling,” says Krishnarao Buddha, senior category head, marketing, Parle Products.

Krishnarao Buddha
Krishnarao Buddha

This new offering, Buddha tells us, is primarily for kids. If you look at Parle's history, it has mostly focused on “women (mothers, housewives, etc.) and kids. They are the target group (TG).” For ‘Fills’, Parle is targeting the mothers in order to reach their kids.

“Mothers decide what their kids should, or should not, have. They want their kids to have milk, but the kids don’t want to,” says Buddha, adding, “The moment you put Fills into milk, it becomes chocolatey, like chocolate milkshake. Kids love it and so do their mothers. It is a great proposition.”

What, however, sets Fills apart from its rivals is the amount of chocolate filling. It comes with 50 per cent chocolate filling, as compared to its rivals’ 30 per cent or so.

The Parle brand will compete against the likes of Nestle Koko Krunch, Tata Soulfull Ragi Bites, Kellogg’s Chocos Fills, and Cadbury Bournvita Fills.

Hide & Seek Fills is competing against not only these packaged brands, but also desi breakfast items. Idli, dosa, poha, jalebi, parantha, dhokla… And as most folks are still working and studying from home, wouldn’t they prefer hot home-cooked food than something from a packet?

“Not at all,” remarks Buddha. He informs us that the consumption of packaged snacks has “shot up disproportionately. Consumers are fed up of dal, roti, and chapatti. They want something exciting… This is a pure indulgence product.”

The point about indulgence caught our eye because Fills is placed under Parle’s ‘Platina’ range. It is where you will find the company’s premium products, such as Hide & Seek, Nutricrunch (digestive cookies), and Mexitos (nacho chips).

Says Buddha, “The USP of Hide & Seek Fills is the premium rich chocolate filling. We didn't want it to come under any other brand that's popular or massy. We wanted to bring it under Platina. That's why we call it Parle Platina Hide & Seek Fills.”

He tells us that the product is currently available in North India, and will hit the western region by early October. When asked about any upcoming campaigns, Buddha simply says, “No.”

“We do have plans, not in the immediate future, but sometime towards the end of the year. We want distribution to happen before the campaign starts.”

Fills is priced at Rs 10, because it’s a trial pack and will initially be available in general stores, then online and, finally, at modern trade outlets.

Buddha explains that the reason for this structure is the Rs 10 pricing, keeping general stores in mind. Modern trade outlets want the big “Rs 100 or Rs 200 packs.”

Fills is the latest addition to the Parle Products family. A couple of weeks ago, it added three new flavours to its then 16 (flavour) strong Chatkeens brand.

We asked Buddha if Parle is thinking of opening its own digital store, similar to Hindustan Unilever’s UShop, where you can only buy the company’s products.

His response, again, is, “No.”

“Hindustan Lever may have done it, but it has several brands and categories… My strong belief is that you should focus on the things you do best. UShop is a different business altogether… Also, our price points are Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 15, and Rs 20. So, it doesn't make (any) meaningful sense to launch a digital store,” he signs off.

Cover photo by by Isak Fransson from Pexels

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