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Business – Kurkure set to go abroad

Shahana Joshi

Kurkure, Pepsico’s Indian innovation in the salted snacks market, may go on its first overseas trip – soon. Encouraged by its blockbuster success in India, Pepsi is planning to give foreigners a taste of Kurkure, which has become a Rs 700 crore brand in its 10th year.

The foods and beverage giant is in negotiations with Pepsico managements in other countries, especially those in West Asia, to introduce the product there. The vast expat community is the prime target since they have similar tastes. It’s not Kurkure alone, Pepsico is planning to do the same with Aliva, another snacks brand which has done exceedingly well in India.

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Vidur Vyas, executive vice president (marketing), Frito Lay India, wouldn’t comment on the overseas foray, but says Kurkure would look for a gradual progression as it has become one of India’s most loved snack food brands and created a new category of ‘tea time’ ‘snacks. ‘It’s become a lovable family brand, examining Indian traditions with a perspective that is new and different,” he says.

Kurkure, according to Vyas, has been a brand of many firsts – from packaging to flavours keeping Indian tastes and preferences in mind. In 2009, for instance, Kurkure went regional with a vengeance with flavours like ‘Mumbai Chatpata’, ‘ Parar Tok Jhal’ and ‘South Special’, which are targeted at the western, eastern and southern parts of the country. On the anvil are Kurkure Funjabi, Kadai Masala, made with rajma (kidney bean) for the north Indian consumer.

The positioning, analysts say, has been unique. For example, last month, Pepsico came out with a print campaign which told readers how Kurkure is made from what can be found in any Indian kitchen, underlining that the ingredients are as wholesome as what goes into home-made food. Kurkure now on will be less about flavours and more about ingredients.

What it means in terms of branding is that Kurkure will have another differentiation from FritoLay’s other brands (Lays, Aliva et al), apart from staving off competition from a growing tribe of roasted snacks, including Aliva, Parle Product’s Monaco Smart Chips and Parle Agro’s Hippo.

Kurkure has also managed to snack its way even into the highly-lucrative festive season in India, with new tamper-proof packaging along with an online gifting option, where consumers can now send a gift pack of the product via the internet.

Features such as these, say analysts, have helped the brand carve a special place for itself in the Indian snack food market, which would be hard to replicate not just by competitors but also by the company itself. “Kurkure is a classic example of exemplary product innovation and a good marketing strategy. The purely Indian outlook and taste has helped it make a mark on the minds of the consumer”, notes Purnendu Kumar, senior analyst. Technopak India.

Pitching the product on the health platform has also helped Kurkure. While the claims are not direct, the company’s statement that Kurkure has zero per cent trans fats and no cholesterol and that it’s made from corn, rice and gram flour, have helped the product give consumers a ‘guilt free eating’ experience, according to analysts. Its Snack Smart initiative has cut out trans-fat from its products and changed the oil used for Kurkure to rice bran which cuts saturated fat by 40 per cent. An attempt to control portions consumed by users has seen it launch Rs-3 packs. This has pushed sales in the lower-tier towns.

These and the first-mover advantage are reasons why Kurkure enjoys a virtual monopoly in its category. While ITC tried to compete with ‘Tedhe Medhe’, the impact has not been encouarging so far. While ITC did not respond to queries, Anand Ramanathan, sector analyst from KPMG, says “ITC has a great distribution network. But ‘Tedhe Medhe’ is not doing well because ITC couldn’t add anything different than what Frito-Lay’s Kurkure alreday had.

However, new products like Hippo and a few local brands are trying to gradually make their presence felt in the market and ramping up market share.

(Additional reporting by Seema Sindhu)

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February 1, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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