Taste Marketing


By
Nithin Raj Y.S.
Lal Saraj
Sivaprakash
S2 MBA
Institute of Management in Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram
E-mail:
nithinrajys@yahoo.com
 


The history of Indian marketing is littered with flavour variants on popular snack for food brands that have left a bad taste in the mouth. Companies have tried- almost too hard some might say- to widen the scope of the Indian palate. Especially Nestle, which at various points expanded Maggi's appeal to encompass chat and Chinese noodles among other things, and dabbled briefly with an orange variant on Kit-Kat. Cadbury's perk was once available in everything from strawberry to mint. But few flavours have managed to become a consistent part of a brand's portfolio.

However, companies persist in this seemingly Sisyphean endeavour. This summer has already seen the return of Mirinda apple and Cadbury's pushing strawberry and coffee variants to its Bytes snack. The reason for this is Brands diversify to tap into cultural familiarity and affinity. It makes sense for a brand to acquire acceptance by offering consumers a flavour they can relate to. In the case of Bytes, Cadbury which first launched the chocolate flavour down south entered the markets in the north with all three variants.

Seasonal or event- led variants are an important part of the strategy at Pepsi-Pepsi blue was launched for the duration of the last Cricket World Cup to reflect the colours of the Indian team. In case of Cadbury, variants of it's of its health drink Delight, which are preferred with cold milk, are timed around summer.

Companies also realize that flavours, while often unable to suatain themselves, favoourably impact the mother brand. When the product format per se cannot be changed, the flavour and colour are often easily alterable variables. Researching flavours is a very important part of the process- both before launch and to track performance. The innovations at Frito Lay are the result of year round consumer research. For instance, Chat Street emerged out of consumer feedback which demanded variety in local flavours. Cadbury researches thrice the number of variants it actually launches. At Candico, the company alternates between creating flavours that aren't currently present or to upgrade existing products. It relies on international trends in conflectionery and conducts research to find their relevance to India. An even more important part is knowing when pull the plug. It's something Cadbury claims to have learnt the hard way. For instance, Temptations used to have flavours rotated every three or four months. Also the flavour should be according to strong regional preferences. For example, Chat street and masala are popular in North India, while tomato - based flavours do better in the west and cream and onion works best in the south. CavinKare suggests regional flavours could be effectively used as an entry barrier to other players.

Still, there seems to be some indications about India becoming less flavour-averse with American cream and onion and a few others from Frito-Lay, which were initially launched as special flavours, becoming regular ones. Availability drives choice, which pushes trial and adoption. Therefore, increased trial of variants depends on successful distribution strategies as well as advertising support. Moreover, adaptation of flavours and variants to suit the Indian palette itself is a great catalyst to success.
 


Nithin Raj Y.S.
Lal Saraj
Sivaprakash
S2 MBA
Institute of Management in Kerala
Thiruvananthapuram
E-mail:
nithinrajys@yahoo.com
 

Source : E-mail March 31, 2005

 
 
 

 

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