Biscuits seduce youth with coffee twist; a cracker move?

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Biscuit is a category that has witnessed increased product innovation due to strong competition in the past couple of years. And of the latest innovations in the chocolate biscuit space is the coffee flavour. The top two biscuit manufacturers Parle Products and Britannia have introduced coffee flavours in their leading chocolate biscuit brands Parle Hide & Seek and Britannia Bourbon.

While Britannia has stuck to the most popular form of coffee i.e. Cappuccino and launched Bourbon Cappuccino, Parle has chosen a combination of coffee and chocolate i.e. Café Mocha as its new flavour Hide & Seek Café Mocha.

Parle has the largest market share (in terms of value) in the biscuit category with a share of 33.1 per cent followed by Britannia with 32.8 per cent and ITC’s Sunfeast 13.2 per cent in 2010, according to Euromonitor report that came in November 2011.

On the toes to innovate
Experts feel that chocolate biscuits and most confectionery products operate in the space of discretionary consumption. In this space, the brands have to come up with a stream of new news even just to retain their standing in the consumer’s mind. And thus new flavours are one of the key tactics these brands adopt to get consumer’s attention.

Vidyadhar Wabgaonkar, Sr VP Strategic Planning, Draft FCB Ulka agrees, “The demographic segments of 12 to 35 years of age will contribute to a dominant part of consumption in the chocolate biscuit and confectionery categories. These segments love small, relatable innovations in taste. And coffee is one such innovation on their end.”

Shalini Degan, Category Director, Delight & Lifestyle, Britannia Industries

Shalini Degan, Category Director, Delight & Lifestyle, Britannia Industries

Shalini Degan, Category Director Delight & Lifestyle, Britannia Industries, shares, “We found in our research that consumers were looking for more choice in the category. They were looking for chocolate flavour with a twist. These were consumers who have grown with the Bourbon Original and were now seeking slightly more adult flavour in the Bourbon.”

Coffee the new love of youngsters
So while new flavours and innovation is what consumers are looking for, why coffee is the favourite of marketers amongst all the other options? Experts feel that coffee has product has gained wider acceptance amongst the youth especially with increasing coffee retail outlets from brands like Barrista, Café Coffee Day, Costa Coffee and iconic international brands like Starbucks entering the market. Also, the coffee mix brands like Nescafe and Bru have also been aggressively marketing the product amongst the youth. According to the Coffee Board of India, coffee consumption in the country has been growing at a rate of 6 per cent a year and at present the volume consumption is over one lakh tonnes a year. From being a traditional beverage consumed mainly in South India, coffee has become a trendy beverage with a national presence. According to the reports the coffee consumption in Northern India has been growing at a phenomenal rate of over 40 per cent.

All this push from the marketers and evolving taste of the youth has led to coffee being more popular amongst the consumers. Confectionery brands already spotted the opportunity and variants like coffee éclairs have been launched by some brands. And now biscuit brands are relying on this flavour to further lure consumers.

Shalin Desai, Senior Product Manager, Parle Products agrees, “Coffee as a flavour is getting accepted today. We always had a coffee variant in Hide & Seek but we never separately advertised it but now with coffee becoming more popular among our core target group (youth) we are giving more marketing push to this variant.”

To give this marketing push Parle launched a new TV campaign for the variant and also carried a print innovation in leading daily newspaper Times of India. On 29th May 2012 the paper in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad smelled of fresh coffee. The idea was to grab eyeballs and create buzz about the brand.

Naughty quotient
Britannia’s Degan adds, “Coffee and Chocolate also complement each other very well at the same time coffee comes with its own naughty quotient that goes well with our target audience youth.”

Expert feel coffee is a loaded symbol with the youth especially when it comes to the opposite sex. It is this symbolism that marketers are cashing in on. Britannia Bourbon Cappuccino goes naughty and plays with the coffee connotation of the ‘date night’ coming to an end. On the other hand, Parle Hide & Seek Café Mocha focuses on coffee as an ice breaker to start a conversation.

Vidyadhar Wabgaonkar, Senior VP – Strategic Planning, DraftFCB + Ulka

Vidyadhar Wabgaonkar, Senior VP – Strategic Planning, DraftFCB + Ulka

Top line contribution
Since so much of the precious marketing moolah is being put behind the coffee variants what kind of a return are marketers expecting from these in their top lines? Well, the marketers say it’s too early comment about the percentage share yet they agree that it will remain a small contributor the brand’s portfolio. And experts too feel that coffee chocolate combination is unlikely to become a dominant part of these brands’ volume, but it can certainly improve the salience of these brands. Wabgaonkar feels, “Even if these variants are able to contribute about 20 per cent to the brand’s (Hide & Seek and Bourbon) sales that would keep it interesting for the companies.”

Certainly, increasing competition from some international brands has made the biscuit category more competitive. Brands, such as Oreo, had already gained popularity among the consumers and gaining popularity of cookies segment is also creating pressure on other segments in the industry to innovate in order to keep consumer’s interest in the brand. In such a scenario, it is logical that coffee-chocolate combination is being tried to attract fresh attention and trial for the brands. The segment needs this dose of excitement given the active (indirect) competition from cookies that have brought several new and exciting variants in the recent times such as chocolate filled biscuits.

So, be ready to see many such new variants and product innovations from the biscuit brigade in the coming few months.



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Abhinav Mohapatra

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