Sunday, August 21, 2011

129- Driving Growth through Changing Palates

129- Driving Growth through Changing Palates

I have been liking the Cadburys, 'Kuch meetha ho jaye' campaign for a while now. The TV commercials are warm, tell a story, softly tugs at your heart - whether its the eloping daughter TVC or the young teen wanting to walk the girl to her house or the young couple sneaking a conversation at the dinner table amidst family members. Over the last year or so i have also witnessed increasing instances of people giving or recieving the chocolate packs during festivals and other occassions instead of the traditional mithai-boxes. The marketing wallas would probably call this product growth through expanding usage. Within expanding usage it would be a case of expanding the number of occassions that the product can be used or consumed. I think this is a brilliant marketing campaign, which has already made a dent on the established social practices - and if the cash registers at Cadbury's are ringing, i am not surprised.

Every product we are told reaches maturity where its growth plateaus after the initial surge forward. India by all accounts traditionally has not been a chocolate consuming society. The chocolate revolution so to say, either as a sin food, or a food (if at all it can be called as food) indulgence has been a recent phenomena. Not many years ago, it was an item for the elite, particularly those who returned from the foriegn shores. Our sweet tooth was satiated by traditional mithais or sweet dishes - whether its the rice kheer and sewainyas of the north, or the pooran polis of the west or the paisam and mysore pak of the south and the innumerable milk based sweets of the east. Every region and community has its signature sweet dishes, which apart from being sweet also had some or the other food value. But chocolate is a different creature. It has limited food value, but much to the chagarin of the many with bursting waist lines, a very high calorie value. The last two decades has made chocolates the most common indulgence for children - and when they grow up, the chocolate mania in them refuses to grow up - mostly.

How does the marketing guy expands usage? Well, he gets an Eureka idea - how about chocolates usurping the space which traditionally has been occupied with the sweet dishes/foods. Imagine if after food people start having chocolates instead of jaggery or kheer or sandesh. Imagine if people start giving chocolates instead of sweets on every auspicious occassion as shagun. Imagine the consumption possible and imagine the market available? Absolutely brilliant piece of marketing.
I remember a marketing anecdote from my marketing classes. In a room full of marketing professionals the Coke head asks - 'Who are we competing against?' No prizes for guessing the answer - 'Pepsi'. The Head says ' No. Water is our chief competitor, so is tea, coffee and nimbu paani. We must mover from the share-of-wallet to the pursuit of share-of-stomach. Every time a consumer wants to drink something he must want to have Coke'. I don't know if the story is true or not but its another example of trying to expand product consumption through playing with the traditional stuff served. The DNA of occasions has been played with, altering the map of what is to be eaten and served. No wonder, the nimbu-paani has practically gone out of the welcome drink for the guest.

Any lessons for what we sell for a living folks? Think about it.


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