Pooja Ahuja Nagpal
Feb 21, 2014

Staying true to its core, Dalda looks to score in oils

Q&A with Sagar Boke, head - marketing, Dalda, on the brand’s re-launch to boost its presence in the refined cooking oil segment

Staying true to its core, Dalda looks to score in oils

Bunge India announced the re-launch of the refined edible oil range under its iconic Dalda brand in January 2014. The 75-year-old brand, which is known for vanaspati, was bought from Hindustan Lever in 2003. The oils portfolio was given a push in 2006 with new variants and a re-launch. One more re-launch was effected in 2009. Neither could push up the brand’s presence in the category. But the current effort is working, claims Sagar Boke, head - marketing, Dalda, Bunge India, in conversation with Campaign India.

What was the thinking behind the re-launch? What was the strategy?

When Bunge acquired the Dalda brand in 2003 from Unilever, the basic premise was that this brand has a huge potential and equity that goes beyond the product format (vanaspati). We knew that vanaspati is a smaller segment and if you really want to grow the brand, it has to have the potential to be staged across formats. We tried to reposition the brand twice earlier but didn’t really succeed. That got us rethinking as to what strategy we should be adopting now.

Dalda was generic to vanaspati the same way Xerox is generic to photo copy. The real challenge was to break this perception. So we designed transparent packaging through which the consumer can see the product. Secondly, we launched a contemporary version of the Dalda logo. Lastly, to address the nutritional requirements of kids, the oil is fortified with Vitamins A, D, and E.

To communicate the changes, we launched a TV campaign ‘Dabba full pet khaali’, conducted on-ground activation across the country, and became sponsors of Junior MasterChef that was on air a while ago.

What is the brand proposition for the oil range?

We decided to go back to the roots of the brand. We did a huge consumer study and found out three things that were central to the core of the brand. First, Dalda always stood for transforming the taste of the food. The second aspect was purity, as quality was always a benchmark that Dalda has had. The third point was the heritage. There are very few brands in the Indian FMCG sector that have endured for the last 75 years and grown consistently.

Most of the brands in the refined edible oil category talk about health. We did a consumer study on the keys that are driving the category, and found this insight: ‘Refined edible oil enhances the taste of food’. So we decided to keep it as the basic proposition of the brand. It also goes well with the core of the brand.

Then we had to zero in on the target consumer that the brand should be talking to. Traditionally, Dalda has always been a mother’s brand and was endorsed by them. But there has been a shift in the mindsets of mothers over a period of time. We met a lot of housewives across India to find out the key thing that really made them happy. The first thing we understood was that mothers were always concerned that their kids don’t eat well and so were worried about their health and development. This was one key problem for mothers across geographies and socio economic classes. We brain stormed with the creative agency and narrowed it down to the tiffin box as the creative device. There is no moment that gives a mother more joy than when she sees her child has eaten the food she sent in the tiffin box (fully). So, the brand proposition is that the food cooked in Dalda oil is so tasty that your kids’ boxes from school come empty and their tummies are full.
What were the reasons behind the unsuccessful re-launches in 2006 and subsequently in 2009?
The biggest reason for the failure is that we moved from the core of the brand and tried to position it on the peg of health. There is something which is inherent to the core of the brand and that is its taste. So when we moved away, we did not fare well. Much in the same way, if tomorrow McDonald’s says that it will offer healthy burgers then its consumers who come in for tasty burgers may not want to buy it.

There is always a set of consumers wanting to buy into a proposition. The moment one moves away from it, the consumer also moves away from you. That was really the reason why we couldn’t succeed last time and this time we are doing so well.

What is the brand’s share in the refined edible oil market? What is the target for the future?

We have been re-launched very recently, so it’s early to comment in the market share. However, I can say that we are growing at 50 per cent where as the category of refined edible oil is growing at 5 to 6 per cent. We are building shares in most of the markets. At this juncture the share could be small but at the rate we are growing, I do expect that in a year’s time we should be one of the top three or four players in the category. We are possibly the fastest growing player in the category.

Which markets contribute the most to the revenues? Which ones would you focus on?

Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Punjab and Maharashtra are the markets that we are growing very well in. These markets are going to be top priority for us. The next stage is to develop metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai.

What is the marketing budget for the brand?

I cannot reveal figures but I can say that at the time of re-launch, Dalda had the highest share of voice in the refined edible oil category, which basically is an indicator of the amount of money that we have been spending.

What was the marketing mix for the re-launch?

Television is going to be the primary medium for the reach it has and also the very low cost per reach. This will be followed by digital and mobile as we feel that both the mediums are underutilised and highly interactive. Sixty per cent of the spends would go on TV, 20 per cent on digital and mobile; the remaining 20 per cent would be spent on press and on-ground activation.

Which are the agencies on record?

Cartwheel Communications is the creative agency while OMD Media handles the media buying. OMD Digital has been accorded the digital duties.

Has Dalda lost out with the unsuccessful re-launches while competitors and newer brands have done well?

First mover advantage gives you a solid foundation. So, possibly, had the first re-launch that took place in 2006 been successful, it would have worked well for the brand and to our advantage. Having said that, in India the per capita consumption of oil is only 14 kilogram per person per annum. This is much lesser than most of global markets. In China, it is 22 kilograms per person. So the market is likely to grow.

Secondly, the trend is of consumers moving to a branded player from local and unbranded players and willing to pay a premium. So there is enough room and scope for everybody to create their own share. If we are able to get our act together and persevere with our strategy, we have the scope to be one of the dominant players in the market.

Campaign India

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