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Business – India;Battle for Bourbon

Byravee Iyer

For five decades now, Bourbon and Britannia have gone hand in hand. The Wadia family-controlled company lords over 70 per cent of the popular biscuit category. The rest of the market is with about half a dozen other brands.

Vijay and Sharad Chauhan’s Parle Products wants to change the terms of the game. One reason is that the market is too good to resist for long. Its annual sale is approximately Rs 280 crore and is growing at 25 per cent per annum. The total biscuit market, estimated at around Rs 10,000 crore, is growing at a lesser pace of 5 to 7 per cent. Clearly, Bourbon’s share in the biscuit market will grow bigger and bigger in the days to come.

The second reason is the overarching presence of Britannia. The Bourbon market, in other words, is not competitive. Some smart marketing can fetch Parle a decent market share. “We analysed the market that is largely dominated by a single player and realised that there’s enough scope for us to create an impact,” says Parle Senior Product Manager Shalin Desai.

Umbrella branding
Parle has decided to make the product a part of its Hide & Seek brand. This way, the company does not have to spend money to build a brand from scratch. Moreover, Hide & Seek is a chocolate product. So, it can easily be leveraged for the Bourbon offering. The consumers would know what to experience from the new product. “Consumers associate Hide & Seek with chocolate-based biscuits. Hence, the new product has been created under the Hide & Seek umbrella to give consumers biscuits with more quantity of rich chocolate cream in their Bourbon biscuits,” says Desai.

No surprises then, Parle has decided to use Hide & Seek’s brand ambassador, film star Hirthik Roshan, for Bourbon as well. In the advertisement, the actor can be seen flaunting his dancing prowess, urging viewers to “try it”.

In addition to the television commercial, the product will also be packaged in purple, like its parent Hide & Seek. However, the communication is a marked change from Hide & Seek’s earlier campaigns which were more story-based. In the ad, Roshan asks a girl for a dance. The girl shies away saying that she can’t. Roshan then tempts her with a Hide & Seek biscuit to which both of them start dancing away. Similarly, the next ad based on the same premise showed off Roshan’s fighting skills.

Vipin Dhyani, founder and creative director of Thoughtshop India, the communication agency that worked on the ad campaign, says the idea was to merely announce the entry of a new player on the block. “For this campaign, the idea was to simply highlight the product and the celebrity,” says Dhyani. Adds Desai, “The entire concept of ‘try it’ is to keep the brand open for evaluation.”

The Bourbon launch shows that Parle is in a combative mood. Last month, it took on Britannia’s 50-50 in the non-salted biscuit category. The reason was attributed to the fact that 50-50, which was launched in 1993, had significantly overtaken Parle’s Krackjack which has been in the market since 1972. Thus, the company reintroduced comedians Krack and Jack to highlight the sweet and salty properties of the biscuit.

Fight strategy
The battle has now moved on to the Bourbon category. Parle, to be sure, did have a Bourbon biscuit called Parle Bourbon. It was priced lower than Britannia’s Bourbon; but the product failed to do well. “Britannia has a strong presence in the category and the perception of our existing product was very low. The fast growth rate (in the Bourbon market) was an added incentive,” says Parle General Manager Pravin Kulkarni. Thus, the company came up with a premium Bourbon that would target young adults, teenagers and children. The target market is split 60:40 in favour of young adults.

Interestingly, even though the product is positioned in the premium bracket, its price is still lower than its rival. Britannia’s Bourbon costs Rs 10 and Rs 22 for 70 grams and 167 grams, respectively, in the west, while in the rest of India it is priced at Rs 12 and Rs 22. Parle’s, in contrast, is priced at Rs 10 and Rs 20 for similar pack sizes. “We are not pricing it low, but we certainly are capatalising on being priced lower,” adds Desai.

The ad campaign with Roshan, the premium positioning and the competitive pricing, Parle is confident, will work in its favour. Kulkarni is confident that within a year, Parle’s market share will be 50 per cent.

But Britannia is not the one to give up market share without a fight. In August, right after Parle launched its Bourbon, Britannia came out with an ad campaign to showcase its new packaging as well as a more youthful approach. The advertisement opens with a girl standing at the door of her boyfriend’s house. Sheepishly, the boyfriend tells her that his friends are over to watch a match. Upset, the girl sits at the dining table, where she picks up packet of Bourbon.

As she eats it, she begins to moan suggestively, catching the attention of her boyfriend’s friends. As the moans get louder, the men’s jaws begin to drop. Irked by this, the boyfriend asks his friends to leave. The TVC closes with a shot of the couple sitting on the sofa with the girlfriend asking: “Tumhare dost kyun chale gaye? (Why did your friends leave?).” A voiceover intones: Bahar se kuch, andar se kuch aur (Something on the outside, something else on the inside).

And just like Parle, the brand which earlier targeted the whole family, Britannia will now focus on the youth with its Bourbon. “The moment we had launched our brand, Britannia decided to come out with this campaign,” jibes Desai.

The contest however is not restricted to just Britannia and Parle. Others in the market place include ITC Sunfeast, Good Day Chocolate and Pure Magic. Clearly, the Bourbon battle has only just begun.


October 20, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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