Schmitten Hopes to Challenge Cadbury and Nestle

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing
Published : September 22, 2014
The Rajhans Group launches luxury chocolate brand, Schmitten, in India. But will it be able to make any dent?

Forget what your elders taught you about sharing and caring. It does not apply to a bar of chocolate - so says premium chocolate brand Schmitten.

Created by the Rs 3,500-crore Rajhans (Desai Jain) Group, a real estate major, Schmitten is a brand of luxury chocolates. The Rajhans Group has set up a manufacturing unit in Surat with 100 per cent European supply across all operations. While the coco beans are Ghanaian and the recipe Swiss, the unit boasts of state-of-the-art equipment from Switzerland, Denmark and Germany. But can a chocolate made in Surat be called Swiss or will it piggyback on perceptions and try to chew into the chocolate market pie in India?

Smitten with CH

Publicis Ambience, which handles the branding, packaging and media plans for Schmitten, decided that inserting the abbreviation for Switzerland - CH being the short for Confoederatio Helvetica - as seen in domain names and stamps of the country) would be a perfect fit for chocolate based on a Swiss recipe that is going to make one fall in love with it. This also explains the tagline, 'Love to love it'.

Khushboo Rai

Paritosh Srivastava

"We are a premium brand and India has very few high-end, premium brands and mass brands. What was missing is the mass-premium range - which is where we come in," explains Khushboo Rai, senior manager, group media and communications, Rajhans.

The chocolate market in India is valued at Rs 4,500 crore (according to ASSOCHAM), in which Cadbury owns a major share of 70 per cent. Consumption is likely to grow by 25 per cent annually and cross Rs 7,500 crore by 2015.

Schmitten, the mother brand, has two products. Schmitten is sold in moulds while another product, Hoppits, will be sold as bars. The milk chocolate and dark chocolate variety of Schmitten will be priced at Rs 80 for a 70g pack. The other variants (which come with raisins, nuts, rice-crispies, almond and orange) are priced at Rs 85 a pack.

According to Paritosh Srivastava, executive vice president, Mumbai, Publicis, the brand is trying to break the whole idea of sharing something that is too good. "At the same time, the price point keeps it in the affordable range while being premium. At this price point, we are the only ones who will give you chocolates in a carton and not just a pack. So the packaging and taste is premium, while the price is not at the extreme end."

Schmitten will be available in select stores and premium outlets. In the first phase, which started nearly a fortnight ago, the brand was launched in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi-NCR, Gujarat, West Bengal, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

"We have realised that people do not mind shelling out a bit of extra money if they get a good product. And our USP is the taste. Once you experience it, you wouldn't mind paying more than you do for a mass brand. We want people to taste it, and are confident that when they do experience the Swiss taste, they will be converted," added Rai.

Punishing role

ASSOCHAM says that 70 per cent of chocolate consumption happens in urban markets. Keeping that in mind, the brand has released a minute-long TV commercial which shows Priyanka Chopra singing to warn others from stealing her Schmitten. Through the song, 'Piggy Chops' explains what punishments can be meted out to those who eye her Schmitten. However, unknown to her, a sneaky man follows manages to steal her Schmitten.

Bobby Pawar

Partha Sinha

Designed by Publicis Ambience, the TVC speaks about the possessiveness that the product aims to invite. While the video makes a mark on TV and the digital medium, OOH is abuzz with hoardings and bus backs listing out the punishments that can be given to those who ask for Priyanka's Schmitten. Some of the cheekier ones include - 'If you ask for a bite, sniff everyone in sight' or 'brush a shark's teeth', or even 'get kissed by a frog'.

"The category we are trying to break into is about sinful and naughty chocolates. What India is used to is the kind of chocolates that will replace sweets. But there is more to it than that," explains Bobby Pawar, director and chief creative officer, South Asia, Publicis. Schmitten is targeting the urban youth between 15 and 25 years.The company has set aside Rs 60 crore per annum as advertising budget.

The brand has put up teaser videos on social media. One shows a guy getting an embarrassing tattoo, another is getting his legs waxed while a third speaks about a guy doing the chicken dance in public. In the post launch phase there will be more activities on the digital medium. For now, the longer TVC will introduce the brand, following which shorter edits and more campaigns. A twitter contest is underway where followers can share punishment ideas. Publicis also plans to start a petition to make asking for Schmitten, illegal.

According to Partha Sinha, director and chief strategy officer, South Asia, Publicis, chocolate as a category in India has not developed properly. "What we get here are mostly jaggery-based sweets. Not chocolates. The taste of Schmitten is its USP. And we needed something more than just the sweet kids, heart-warming campaigns for this. We needed something mature."

Will the consumer bite?

Virat Mehta

Sambit Mohanty

Harish Bijoor

According to Virat Mehta, independent marketing and communications consultant, it will be a difficult task. Brands other than Cadbury's and Nestle have only marginal shares. But what makes it even harder is the logistics. India is a hot country and the distribution has to be absolutely spot-on. He felt that most imported luxury brands like Lindt have not worked in India because of similar issues.

"It is a very nicely produced ad, and I am sure they are spending a lot of money on Priyanka as well. It has an almost Chicago-like (the movie) feel to it. But what it has to do with chocolate I cannot understand. The connect is weak. And while the OOH campaign makes you want the product at least once, the TVC has nothing to show about the chocolate, other than the last bit," points out Mehta.

Sambit Mohanty, creative head, DDB Mudra, North, has a similar feeling. He thinks that Schmitten could have learnt from Cadbury Bournville on how a 'Made in India' chocolate brand can exude international appeal. The song and dance around Priyanka has left him wondering what the hoo-haa is about.

"I'm not smitten by this campaign. The lyrics border on being incomprehensible and that's sacrilege for this musical. This so-called 'luxury chocolate' brand is trying too hard and it shows. Saying you're a 'luxury' brand is one thing but showing it is quite another," says Mohanty.

Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults is clear that a product made in India cannot - and should not - be called Swiss. "Swiss chocolates by definition will have to be made in Switzerland, made from the milk of Swiss cows. What is made here, can at best be Swiss-like but not Swiss chocolates."

For feedback/comments, please write to


Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates

We respect your privacy.

© 2014 afaqs!