We are much larger today than we were when we sold our portfolio: Nadia Chauhan

In this series, Campaign India speaks with Indian brands that set up operations in the country pre-independence and continue to dominate their space

Aug 10, 2022 08:48:00 AM | Article | Campaign India Team

Ahead of Independence Day, Campaign India speaks with Indian brands that set up operations in the country pre-independence and continue to dominate their space to understand how they have  evolved. Read on to understand how these brands aim to stay relevant for the next 75 years...
 
Here's an excerpt of our chat with Nadia Chauhan, joint managing director and CMO, Parle Agro.
 
The biggest advantage of being an Indian brand in the Indian market? Does it help gain consumers’ trust?
 
There’s been a considerable shift in the sense of pride that Indians feel towards Indian brands, particularly in the last decade. During that time frame, multiple Indians and Indian companies have left a significant impact in different fields, while creating a strong sense of pride for all things Indian.
 
Hence, we have moved away from glorifying multinationals in a large way, and have begun to value and hold Indian brands to higher standards. Consumers have seen the commitment and contribution of Indian brands in growing the market. You find that an Indian brand which is successful and has done well, has a very positive impact in the minds of the Indian consumer.
 
Today, more than ever before, consumers trust Indian brands, their quality, their standards, and their commitment to consumers and to the market. It feels fantastic to be an Indian company building the Indian beverage industry and developing brands and products for Indian consumers.
 
The marketing strategy when it began versus now?
 
It has evolved tremendously. We’ve traversed a long journey covering almost eight decades. My grandfather, Jayantilal Chauhan, fondly known as the ‘father of soft drinks’, set up the bottling business with his sons. I can proudly say that we were the first ones to establish the soft drink industry in India. Post that, we sold off our brands to Coca-Cola and started afresh.
 
In 1985, we launched Frooti, which at that point in time was the first beverage to be available in the revolutionary carton pack format. During that time, most beverages were sold in returnable glass bottles (RGB) or in plastic pouches. But we went against the industry tide of two-way packaging to pioneering one-way packaging with Frooti. So, a large part of our strategy back then comprised educating consumers. We focused on creating awareness around how to use this beverage pack, how to pierce it with a straw, drink from it and most important of all, highlighting how convenient it is - consumers could just pick up a pack from the store and walk away and didn’t have to stand there to return the glass bottle. Since the market itself was different back then, our marketing strategies too, were very different as compared to what it is today. Nevertheless, to give an overall perspective, our strategy then was to ensure that our brands’ values and propositions were built effectively, while educating consumers on how to use this very novel concept of consuming our beverages from carton packs.
 
Your biggest competitors when you began – do they exist now?
 
It has changed over time, considering our constant evolution. While we started off as a synthetic drinks company on account of our beverages being aerated, we’ve now evolved to a fruit and dairy based beverage company. We’ve definitely upgraded, not only in terms of the health quotient in our products, but also in building an infrastructure that is incredibly superior and technologically advanced. I would say that none of our competitors back then are our competitors today.
 
Toughest marketing decision the company took in the last 75 years?
 
75 years is a significant passage of time. Any company that’s sustained successfully for such a long period, would have taken numerous tough decisions. However, if I had to name two, the first would be selling off all our brands to Coca-Cola. We had to really work hard to gain back the strength and scale of our business. I’m very proud to say, we are much larger today than what we were when we sold our portfolio.
 
A recent decision was rebranding Frooti altogether. Research showed that Frooti was losing its relevance in a competitive environment and was being perceived as a traditionalist brand. So in 2005, we decided to change Frooti’s iconic green-coloured packaging to yellow for improved visibility. It was a calculated risk, as consumer recall centered on the green colour; but we were also trying to break free from its ‘kid-centric’ tag. In 2015, we made another bold move by re-launching the brand in a completely different identity - right from its packaging and appearance to advertising and product formulation. This move worked extremely well for us as it gave Frooti a massive boost in market share.
 
How do you aim to keep the company relevant for the next 75 years?
 
We’ve constantly evolved our product portfolio, adapted and innovated our marketing, communication and branding strategies to the dynamic Indian market. It has certainly been our forte to perfectly stay relevant as a company. We will continue to remain relevant for the next 75 years by moving ahead of the times and setting trends. By ensuring that we are moving at the same pace as our consumers or even faster, we want to create a sense of aspiration around our brands.
 
Your favourite brand campaign from your company from the last 75 years?
 
Not to play favourites, but for me, it would be the first Frooti campaign, after we relaunched the brand in 2015. We completely changed the communication and established a whole new visual language for the brand. I feel like it gave Frooti the respect and the grandness, along with an element of quirkiness that it has always deserved. That’s definitely one of my absolute favorite campaigns, but it’s really hard to pick just one.
 
(This article first appeared in a special print issue published by Campaign India for Independence Day.)
 
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