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My Marie My Startup: ‘Women entrepreneurs can be the change-makers in job creation

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Vinay Subramanyam, Head of Marketing, Britannia Industries tells us how the company’s latest initiative is helping home-makers become entrepreneurs

 

With a 100-year legacy and a turnover of over Rs 10,000 crore, Britannia Industries is India’s leading biscuit manufacturer, also present in many other food categories and with a growing presence across the globe. The brand recently launched ‘My Marie My Startup’ initiative to help women realise their entrepreneural dreams.
We speak to Vinay Subramanyam, Head of Marketing, Britannia Industries, to know more about the campaign.

Here are the edited excerpts:

 What was the insight and objective behind the advocacy initiative launched by Britannia, My Marie My Startup?
Britannia Marie Gold has been the Indian home-maker’s tea-time companion for years. With changing times, the brand has evolved from being a home-maker’s downtime partner to a fuel that enables her to achieve more in her everyday life. Over the years, as the brand spoke to a multitude of home-makers across the country, it was witnessing a silent revolution. Many were becoming ‘homepreneurs’ and none of this was at the cost of their pivotal role as a home-maker.
In a report on understanding Indian Women Entrepreneurship that we commissioned with Nielsen in 2018, financial assistance followed by skill development emerged as crucial need gaps. We launched the Britannia Marie Gold My Startup Initiative to encourage and empower home-makers to fulfil their entrepreneurial ambitions and take a step forward in their journey to become self-reliant and financially independent. Through the annual initiative, 10 home-makers with unique and innovative business ideas are awarded with a seed capital of Rs 10 lakh each to kick-start their own business ventures. In today’s times, the country can do with more job creators and women entrepreneurs can be the much needed change-makers in this regard.

What were the learnings from the first edition?
We got an overwhelming response for season one, with over one million entries coming in from home-makers from all across the country. 10 winners were identified and provided with seed capital of Rs 10 Lakh each to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Take outs from the Indian Women Entrepreneurship survey we conducted in 2018 helped us arrive at skilling as a need gap, nearly as big as access to finance. Hence, this year Britannia Marie Gold’s My Startup initiative was expanded to include skill development as a key focus area of the campaign.

Can you tell us about the campaign for the second edition and what was the response?
We focused on skill development as the additional level in season two, over and above seed capital. We partnered with NSDC (National Skill Development Corporation) in this endeavour. A highly customised, first-of- its-kind skill training was curated for aspiring women entrepreneurs. The 40-hour course will empower women to master good communication skills, financial literacy and micro entrepreneurial skills. 10,000 home-makers will go through this course between June and August 2020 and we are confident that many among them will go on to become entrepreneurs.
This year the initiative received over 1.5 million entries from 32 states across the country. 47 participants were shortlisted to present their business ideas to a jury panel of eminent names from different industries, women entrepreneurs, media and senior Britannia management.

How has brand Britannia Marie Gold evolved over the years? What has been the growth for the brand and your market share?
Britannia Marie Gold is the third largest biscuit brand in the country with revenue in excess of Rs 2,000 crore, and over 60 lakh packs sold every day. It is one of our flagship brands with over 60% market share in the category.

A Marie biscuit is today a generic name for a tea biscuit. What is Britannia’s strategy to differentiate its brand offering?
Britannia Marie Gold is emblematic of the Marie category in India and hence an already differentiated product by way of taste and value that consumers perceive in it.

What has been the impact of the pandemic on Britannia?
We focused on quickly sorting backend issues to get the factories running and ensure continuous product supplies. We applied the 80:20 rule and produced the most preferred, high saliency brands, thereby focusing on efficiency over variety. Being agile and adaptable was key to maintaining a high output operation during the time.

What was the core of your communication strategy during this period?
While the pandemic resulted in an increasing consumption of information through multiple platforms including Television, Social Media, etc. our focus was on strengthening the product strategy. It was important to ensure sufficiency and bring back our brands back to the normal days in stocks. In terms of communication, our aim was to ensure that every stakeholder involved is aware of what we are doing to ensure seamless coordination.

Britannia saw growth of 20% in April and 28% in May. In terms of your marketing spends, are you looking at upping them or cutting back?
We have not paused any of our plans but there has been a definite shift in mediums. On Marie Gold, a significant part of our advertising spends was on TV. That is seeing a shift to Digital, as content consumption is moving online.

How do you see marketing evolving post COVID-19?
Consumer behaviour is changing dramatically, and we have witnessed some striking consumer trends in the last couple of weeks and months.
Home consumption going up dramatically and our product categories are therefore taking share from the perceived risk of eating out- street food, restaurants etc. Some of this uptake in home consumption will stay.
People reach out for familiar, trusted brands in times of crisis. We are India’s most trusted food brand and hence our brands are well poised to leverage this trust.
People will look for hygiene in packaging and supply chain. So the packaged foods industry is bound to benefit.
Digital is the new meeting place and the new shopping place. Rise in digital content consumption and online shopping offers multiple opportunities for marketers. We have increased the number of e-commerce channels through which our products are available to consumers.
How did you execute the digital transformation that was necessitated by the crisis?
Technology played a key role in the execution of the campaign. Right from the ways to enter the competition to the shortlisting and selection process, what stood in season two of the initiative was the reliance on technology. The circumstances necessitated an all-virtual finale to ensure that there are no further delays in helping the top 10 women to start up. It was truly a joy witnessing home-makers across India presenting their business ideas on a digital platform, with a high degree of confidence.

About the author / 

Simran Sabherwal

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